Thursday, August 19, 2010

Trail Running in Vibram FiveFinger KSO Treks

I've not ran in shoes in a very long time. I have fully transformed my running style this summer, thanks to my VFF's. I used to be a knee pounding running that sat back in my stride and let my legs pull me forward. In only 6 months, I've re-taught myself how to run more efficiently.

My stride is more foot and leg friendly now. I've taken tips from a few friends, I've read many blogs from other minimalist runners, and I've also learned a lot on my own through trial and error. I've learned that posture and leaning along with toe strikes and a slightly angled lean can make anybody run more efficient.

Here is my new stride, and I must say that it works:
  • Hands hanging in front of my pelvis
  • Elbows slightly bent, not raised to be parallel with ground
  • Chest up and shoulders back
  • Shoulders relaxed against my body
  • Knees bent slightly at all times (during landing and pushing off)
  • Pelvis tucked in, but not too exaggerated
  • Lean at the ankles, not my waist
The last tip was taught to me by my buddy, Dan. He told me about this technique from a book he read Chi Running. I've not read the book, but I've adapted Dan's explanation to me with great success.

It used to be that when I would get tired out on the trail, I used to tilt my entire upper torsoe forward and slump over in exhaustion. I would let my legs catch me as I fell forward with each step. This resulted in stomping and quad thrashing. It almost took more effort to keep myself upright with this stride.

I now keep my waist strait and tuck in my pelvis, then with my shoulders back and chest out, I tilt at my ankles. This works much better! I still fall forward, but in such a way that I can maintain my toe strike and allow my feet and knees to act as shocks while my center of gravity keeps me moving forward. I no longer rely on my legs to pull my slumped body forward. I let gravity pull me forward and I use my feet and legs to keep my from falling on my face. :) It really works and there is hardly any extra effort used with this new approach.

Injuries have not plagued me this summer with my new running style. The only "injury" related complaints that I have are from running on gravel in my KSO's. These shoes were not made for running on average-to-large sized gravel rocks. My feet get bruised and this is really the only thing slowing me down now. Therefore, if I decide to run a Gravel Marathon or something, I'll be sure to wear my shoes. Otherwise, I'm in my VFF's.

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