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    Sack of Potatoes's Avatar
    Sack of Potatoes is offline Junior Member
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    Transitioning with Vibrams

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    Hey all, I have always had an issue with plantar fasciitis as a runner. Whenever I manage to build up my mileage and quality running, it comes back and I have to stop. Last year I decided to pick up a pair of Bikila's and found to my delight that my "barefoot" form is so different that I don't get PF. So I started running a lot more, even ran a race a month through January. When I got a stress fracture. Twice I have tried to restart the running at drastically reduced pace/mileage and last time I felt I was getting another stress fracture. This time I don't want that to happen. What would you think is the safest way to transition as a dramatically deconditioned runner? All the advice I find online assumes you already have a mileage base built up. For goodness sake, I'm only running 10-20 miles a week during these last 2 attempts! How low must I go?

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    geekgrrl's Avatar
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    have you had your bone density checked?
    If we’re not supposed to eat animals, how come they’re made out of meat? Tom Snyder

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    My transition was easy, but apparently not very common. I also don't have PF at all. What types of surfaces are you training on?

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    Sack of Potatoes's Avatar
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    Hey thanks for checking in! I'm training on my treadmill only at this point. I WAS doing about half treadmill/half road when I originally got the stress fracture, and I believe I got it during a road run of about 6 or 8 miles. I recall a footfall feeling "wrong" and after sitting down some after the run, I could barely walk on that leg.

    I asked my specialist if I needed my bone density checked and he almost laughed. So no, but I'm 32 and though young, active, and rather overweight, I also have family history of bone density issues and also am very bad about taking my multiminerals. So I assume I'm not bad but not great in the bone density department.

    This go 'round I'm trying to intersperse walking and running. I'm literally starting with mile and a half walk/jog sessions about 4-5 times a week.

    I'm bummed that it's this hard for me to build a base without injury. Time was, my current "workout" wouldn't have even served me as a cooldown. I'm so glad not to have problems with PF any more but it's amazing to me how unprepared my lower legs are for barefoot running.

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    You didn't mention where the stress fracture was so it makes it hard to offer any advice (not a Dr and should listen to a Dr if anything I say goes against his recommendation for the fracture). I am a fan of Cross Fit and Cross Fit Endurance (CFE) as a training plan for day to day fitness and when I feel like running a race longer than 10km, I train using CFE. I have found that using CFE allows me to train to a respectable level and allow me to compete with people my age (39ish) and do well but by no means am I an elite level athlete. CFE is based on short intense workouts without a high volume of running.
    I also wear VFF and have worn them in my last race in May. I trained in VFF using CFE and I placed 14 out of 70 runners. Like I said I was competitive but not elite. Using the CFE allows you to do short intense workouts and should reduce the amount of miles you run while allowing you to train effectively. I have heard that some stress fractures can be caused by the endless amount of miles run in the typical running plan that are common practice in many of the running magazines and web sites.
    The best advice I would give is let the stress fracture heal completely before starting any training plan that could injure it, start training as if you were just starting out (don't go out and do what you USED to do for training), progress slowly and avoid your old training plan if that it was what caused you to have the stress fracture in the first place. By starting out as if you were new to running in your VFF it will allow you to transition to wearing VFF all the time for running. By not letting your body heal completely you are actually increasing the amount of time that you are not able to train and do as you want instead of constantly re-injuring yourself. Remember insanity is doing the same over and over and expecting different results.
    Good luck.

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    Sack of Potatoes's Avatar
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    Thanks. This is what I've been doing, essentially. I let the stress fracture (left shin) heal for about 4 months before beginning again. My weekly mileage was between 10-20 when I began again, all easy pace running. After a month or so I started feeling ominous feelings in the same shin but a different place, so I stopped again. I actually had sinus surgery 2 weeks ago too, so I've kept off it and I'm certain there's no more soreness in that area. This week I started back again with the walk/jog thing. I was hoping I could get some feedback about whether that plan would realistically be easy enough to avoid injury.

    I can definitely tell you that CFE would kick the poop out of me, so no go. They tell you CFE is for people who are decently conditioned with standard CF first. Also any pace faster than my 10-minute mile plod would probably be too much strain right now. Those faster paces are for people with a good base built up.

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    Shhted's Avatar
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    I'm all for the softest available surface training method. Trails & grass > blacktop > concrete. I'm not doctor, pediatrist or otherwise, but I know what has helped me add endurance and speed. That's been the aforementioned surface selection, and baby-steps when adding distance. I wish you quick and long term healing.

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    My advice would be to get off the treadmill and get on grass in completely bare feet. I really think that if you intend on transitioning back into real running then you need to build up to it by subjecting yourself to the exact same forces you experience during normal running. I don't have any evidence to back this up, but I don't think treadmill running and "real running" are exactly the same biomechanically. They may be very similar, but I believe there are differences. I think you're asking for trouble if you build up your ability to run on a treadmill, and then go outside expecting to be fine.

    The reason I suggest completely bare feet as opposed to VFFs is that you're more likely to run gently and with perfect form in bare feet. I personally think too many people get into running with VFFs without having the form perfected first -- and often this leads to injury. Start slowly in your yard or at a local ballfield or something. Do this for a couple weeks at least. Perfect the form, get your feet strong, and then you can transition to Vibrams for the longer runs and more abrasive surfaces (if need be).

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    I would recommend rolling your bare or vibramd feet on a golf ball or lacrosse ball prior to training. under your arches, slowly and with a lot of pressure (put as much weight on it as you can). This makes a tremendous difference in my form running and relieves the occasional discomfort of a tight mid-foot. Other than that be aware that it will take a few months to strengthen the muscles in your foot to be fully barefoot comfortable - until then I might suggest shorter running durations.
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    For shin splints/stress fractures, we used to do a lot of toe raises- lean against a wall with your hands behind your back and feet about a foot from the wall. Slowly raise your toes up and down to build your shin muscles.

    *Note* I did this in high school because my coach told me it would help. I don't know if it really does or not. I never had problems, but others on the team had chronic issues doing the same workouts on the same terrain.

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