For the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to retrain my body and learn to run in Vivo Barefoot running shoes. So far? I’m a little bit obsessed with them.
I’ve always had a hankering to learn to barefoot run. Years of constrictive trainers and a naturally slouchy posture mean that I’m pretty sure that my self-taught jogging technique leaves quite a lot to be desired, so I was very excited indeed to test out Vivo Barefoot’s vibrant Stealth road running shoes (£120).
These babies are like no trainers I’ve ever worn before – insanely light and super flexible, they’re incredibly comfortable to walk about in, and their soles are so malleable you can roll them into a ball. They also look great, as they’re tons more streamlined and close-fitting than normal running shoes.
Unfortunately, you can’t just lace up and go off for a jog in these revolutionary barefoot shoes. Investing in a pair is a commitment to working on your posture, your running rhythm, your technique and, eventually, your entire state of mind. It takes patience, too – I usually run 5k of an evening and cross country distances on weekends, and I was initially rather reluctant to go back to basics and practice standing and walking instead of pounding the pavement.
Luckily, Vivo’s training tips and video guide are fantastic at explaining the basics of getting the right posture for barefoot running. Learning not to land on your heels is easy – it really hurts if you aren’t wearing cushioned shoes, so you’ll quickly stop! Keeping your back straight and head up is harder to enforce, and it takes a conscious effort to walk correctly and not revert to what feels natural.
When I progressed onto short runs, though, it all started to work together, and the shorter, bouncier rhythm that Vivo recommend adopting feels amazing – it’s such a comfortable way to run that it’s hard to make yourself stop after a mile or two.
I’m now running 1k-2k in the evenings and I think I’m addicted. My feet feel like they’re really in contact with the ground and barefoot running is definitely engaging different muscles – my lower calves feel stretched and my back is more in tune with my legs. The hardest thing is actually sticking to short distances – after a long day at work I really want to thrash out a 5k run to give my body something to do, and limiting myself to a mile of gentle jogging is pretty frustrating.
Hopefully a few weeks of free time for cross country running over Christmas will give me time to build back up to my usual distances injury-free and let my body adjust as it learns how to run. Again.