“You will never run again.”
This is what the doctors, 3 different ones, told me in August, September and the last one in October of 2010. On October 9th 2010 I ran my first two, very slow, very painful miles. It took me just over 23 minutes to do it, I wanted to quit several times and when I got back to my house I thought the doctors were right, maybe I was done with running.
I was a runner, for as far back as I can remember I ran everywhere. My dad used to tell people that if I went somewhere, even to the fridge for milk, I ran there. I dabbled in cross country in high school, disliked to competitiveness and dropped out after half a season. I joined the Army and ran almost every day because you had to. I fell in love with running when I came back from Iraq and me and a few buddies became fitness freaks. I worked out in the gym for 45 minutes, ran 4 miles, did our morning fitness with the platoon and ran in the afternoon; I was in the best shape of my life.
I had my ankle reconstructed ( a brostrom procedure) in May 2010 after too many trips to the medics with rolled and or sprained ankles. The result of this procedure was “You will never run again”. After a few weeks of physical therapy in the pool and in the clinic, my therapist recommended I get a pair of Vibrams to help strengthen my feet and the muscles of my lower leg. This is how it began!
I got a pair of KSO’s and used them in the clinic, walking the dog, going to the store; everything except running. About 10 days after that first excruciating 2 miles, I attempted to hit the trails with my former running buddy. We used to rack up about 20 miles together before my surgery and I had got him back into running about 6 months before I went under the knife. A simple 5 miles on the trails behind our houses, really slow, wearing my KSOs…sounded like fun. I stopped several times, had to walk about a mile of it but finished with a strained smile on my face and the stupid determination in my head that I was still a runner.
I started to look into barefoot running after an old boss finished a 50 miler and said he had been training with Vibrams and barefoot and I should check out Chi and Pose running. I started my research and soon became consumed. I was up to about 10-12 miles a week at this point and was ready to try something new. I started taking the dog for a 2 mile walk barefoot, running the trails in my KSOs and attempted a 2 mile circuit of the neighborhood without shoes of any kind. I stayed in the grass and kept it at about 11 minutes per mile, finished and had some sore feet for a week. I went out again and again and eventually pushed myself up to a 6 mile barefoot run each week with some Vibram trail runs and still using my trusty Asics in the gym on the treadmill.
January 2011, I put up 3 solid weeks in a row of 30 miles. Long runs of 8-12 miles and I only wear my shoes for about 10 miles a week (I am still in the Army and we must wear running shoes). I run about 10 in Vibrams and the rest barefoot. I have competed in several 5Ks and am running the Mardi Gras ½ marathon and the Austin ½ in February. The doctors were wrong…I am a runner and barefoot running saved my life!
James Buzzell, Fort Polk Louisiana, February 8th 2011