Do’s and Dont’s on Going Minimalist by Guest Blogger Julia Buckley

The first time I read Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run it inspired me to seek out a pair of the latest (at that time) minimalist running shoes, Vibram Five Fingers. Try as I might, I just couldn’t find any up here in the North East of Scotland and I wasn’t keen on mail order until I had tried them for size. I headed to Canada to get married & honeymoon in 2010 and I was certain I would be able to pick up a pair then, or at least, that was the plan. The sole (no pun intended) stockist that I found on my travels only stocked one model and even that was out of stock. So, I never did get to try trail running in VFFs!

I was reading with interest about a new trail specific version of the VFF, the spyridon. If anyone has any experience with this shoe, please drop me a tweet to let me know how you found them:

Fast forward a couple of years and VFF are now running minimalist running clinics although, unfortunately only in London for the meantime.

Julia Buckley, MD of www.fitnessrocks.co.uk and a frequent contributor to fitness magazines, has been attending the clinics and blogging about her experiences.

Given my interest in all things running and considering that I am looking to embark on some minimalist running of my own, I have included one of Julia’s recent posts, the ‘Do’s and Dont’s on Going Minimalist’, from August 1st 2012.

Thanks to Julia for letting me include this on www.pixelscotland.com.

Do’s and Dont’s on Going Minimalist

In yesterday’s post I said that going along to one of the Vibram FiveFingers clinics would be the perfect way to get an introduction to minimalist running. But I’ve been getting a lot of messages on twitter from people who are keen to give it a try but can’t make it to any of the London clinics. I know that Vibram are planning a national tour in the near future, so hopefully there’ll be a clinic near you soon. But I thought I’d share some of what I learned at Monday’s clinic to give you a few pointers if you’re keen to get started right away.

Don’t be Afraid!

I’ll admit it – I was a bit scared of those weird looking shoes to start off with! Being so used to ordinary trainers I thought running in something with so little cushioning might hurt. I’d read a lot about making “the transition” to minimalist shoes and it sounded like quite a technical process. But I can report that it was fine. I put the shoes on and I ran. It felt good. The way I ran did change, but I didn’t have to think about it – my feet seemed to automatically know what to do!

Do Take it Slowly

Having said all that, you don’t want to go out, buy a pair of Vibram FiveFingers, and continue running your normal distances in them as if you’ve just replaced your shoes like-with-like. Because you will be changing the way you move, your body will need time to adapt and you should build up gradually.

As with most things, everyone’s different and you should listen to your body. But, as a general rule of thumb, Vibram advise people to start out running about 10% of their usual distance in the FiveFingers shoes for the first couple of weeks. Then you can gradually increase the distance by 10-20% every two weeks afterwards. They also recommend taking rest days between runs for the first month.

Don’t do Anything that Hurts

If it hurts, stop. That’s a rule you should follow whatever you are doing really! Never try and push on through pain when you run or you could turn a minor niggle into a serious injury that will keep you out of training for much longer than if you rested up right away.

Plus it’s supposed to be fun – as Corrado said at the clinic, “We already have a job, this is not work, running is to be enjoyed!”.

Do Ask the Experts

I know I had lots of questions for the guys at the Vibram Clinic and talking to them really helped me feel confident in the shoes. If you’d like to go along to one of the clinics you can get free advice and a training session with them too. But if you can’t make it in person you can reach the team on Twitter or Facebook and they’ll be happy to help.

Menorca And The Camí de Cavalls

My last race of the year will be The Speyside Way Race on 25th August and then, shortly after, I will be heading back to Menorca with Leanne. We visited Menorca for the first time early last summer and thoroughly loved it, although the heat did impact on my ability to run long distances and, as a result, my training and subsequent race times suffered. Or at least, that’s my theory. It could also have had a lot to do with the really fine food on offer in Ciutadella where we stayed. It would have been rude not to make the most of it!

Whilst touring the islands’s many attractions, we visited Cala Galdana, situated on the south coast of Menorca and known for its towering cliffs and horseshoe beach. One of the things that immediately appealed to me in Cala Galdana was the Camí de Cavalls, the ancient coastal pathway completely circumnavigating the island of Menorca.

We spent some time walking along the Camí de Cavalls last year at various points on our travels and I was particularly impressed with the trail in and around Cala Galdana.

So, rather than immediately rest up upon conclusion of my SUMS season, I plan to make the most of the running opportunities afforded by the Camí de Cavalls. The trail east starts right at the back of our accommodation, with little more than a few hundred yards before hitting the trees. The trail west is a short distance across the famous horseshoe beach.

Both directions offer unlimited running potential and access to beaches unspoiled by tourism. I have no plans to run huge distances and my plans may or may not be curtailed by the heat. However, the intention is to make the most of the trail, probably early in the morning for most runs and then again for leisurely walks with Leanne later in the day.

I am looking forward to a change of scenery after a particularly wet summer running in Scotland and am hopeful for some decent weather (Temperature averages are from around 21°C to 24°C at this time of year).

The only thing from last year that I would be keen to avoid would be my ‘session’ with the jellyfish while snorkelling. Having only given the jellyfish guide at the hotel a cursory glance upon arrival, I was not sure whether ‘my’ jellyfish fitted into the imminent death/anaphylactic shock category or the stings like hell but you will live category. The fact that you are reading this now points to the jellyfish being of the latter variety although, at the time, I wasn’t so sure, especially given that it felt like a combination of a bad burn and electrocution (neither of which I have admittedly experienced – thankfully!)

So, jellyfish aside, I can’t wait to return to Menorca!

Thanks to http://www.menorca-net.co.uk/ for providing me with some excellent PDF maps of the Camí de Cavalls route. No excuses for getting lost now!