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Thread: Minimalist Running - Sore Calves page

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    Raven29's Avatar
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    Minimalist Running - Sore Calves

    Yesterday I went for a 4 mile trail run/hike and I used a pair of Speedo water shoes instead of my usual trail runners. This morning I woke up and my calves were very sore. I assume this is due to the technique of landing on the balls of my feet as opposed to my usual heel strike. Is there any exercise I can do to strengthen my calves or will they just adapt to the new running style over time?

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    Dirlot's Avatar
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    You can do calf raises etc...but probably the best think is to run barefoot. 4 miles is a long first time, build up slow and you will adapt.
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    Start off with shorter distances. All that impact that used to go into the padded heels of your shoes, your ankles, knees, and hips is now getting distributed to the soft tissue of your feet and your calves. It'll take a few weeks to really get used to it.

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    Took me 2-3 days to recover enough to run again when I first used my VFFs. Used to get the worst ever muscles cramps too, searing pain and a stone hard calf.

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    Be sure that your heel touches the ground - don't just run on the forefront of your foot. Land on the forefront, let the heel TOUCH the ground, then spring off again.

    And, start slow - it is a different muscle pattern, and your body will adjust.

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    AFAIK this is normal. It took me about 3 weeks for my legs to adapt, haven't had the problem since.

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    It can take a long time to get used to it. I have found that so long as I don't think about what my feet are doing, everything works a lot better. Trying consciously to run forefoot or midfoot only makes everything worse.
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    seaweed's Avatar
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    i used to get bad sore calves from barefoot running down hills. i was fine on the flat. so maybe as you were trail running you did some downhills?

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    Raven29's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the comments. The soreness slowly went away over the course of 2-3 days. It sounds like 4 miles may have been a bit ambitious for the first time running in minimalist footwear. My calves feel good enough now that tonight I will be doing my weekly Tabata sprint workout. I will probably wear my normal running shoes for this and afterwards go for a light 1 mile jog in the water shoes.

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    Althaur's Avatar
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    Take it slow. I told my CSM to break into it slowly and he assumed he knew better than me. Until 2 days after his 5 mile in his new VFF's. He went to get out of bed and fell over in agony when his calves cramped. I loved saying, "I told you so".

    RaeVynn, good advice except for the springing off. I've done a lot of barefoot running and you learn very quickly if you "spring off" or push off with your toes you lose skin. The ball of the foot should land on the ground and the rest of the foot should settle down. You then PICK the foot up with your thighs and set it back down. Pick it up, set it down. That mantra used to roll along in my head over and over when I was running barefoot.

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