One of the things I enjoy the most about running this site is the connections I have been able to make. Sometimes those connections come with great stories and I am always happy when I get to hear someone’s story of running. I’ve always wanted to get stories and share them on the site with everyone and this is the first! Robyn wrote in to tell her story of secret barefoot running so she didn’t get in trouble with her college coaches (she’s a rower). I love a good rebel story and I share Robyn’s here. Thanks for writing in Robyn. I hope you have many years of happy running whether you have to hide it or not.
My name’s Robyn. I just found your site about a week ago after doing some searching about extensor tendonitis…and I’m so addicted that I’ve spent a great deal of my (little) free time looking it over.
I’m a senior at Mount Holyoke College in Western Massachusetts (hence, the precious “little” free time!); although I’m not a typical college senior…I’m 29 years old and returned to finish my BA in Neuroscience after years of having to put education on hold to work 2-3 jobs.
About 1.5 years before I returned to school, I learned how to row out of a local club in Marina Del Rey, California (I’m from Los Angeles). I started school at MHC in 2008 as a varsity rower and thought that I had found the athletic love of my life. Crew was the end all, be all. However, this past summer I started doing something I’d never done before (but always wanted to do): running. I started small, doing maybe a mile a day, but, by the end of the summer, I was doing anywhere from 4-8 miles a day, often going out to run more than once. I will always love rowing, but in running I had found a place where I could be kinda “zen”…it was just me, my music, and the road. And I can’t explain the infinite pride I felt being able to call myself a “runner.”
I was crushed when, returning to school this past semester, both my athletic trainer and coach forced me to stop running. They were afraid that the long distances would break down important bulk muscles for crew. So, for 2.5 months, I didn’t run. It killed me. It was terrible, especially so soon after finding my new passion. When I started running again in November (once crew was out of season), I had to start all over again, building my base.
However, I did one huge thing when I started again to make rebuilding my base just a bit more fun: I decided to go bare. Well, minimalist…I got myself a pair of VFF Sprints. I started running in them mid-November. My goal was to have my distance worked up enough by the beginning of December to run in a 5K on December 6th completely in my VFF’s. I knew, especially from all the research that I did, that this was a stupid idea–there’s no way my body would adjust fast enough to do so. But, I pushed it anyway.
I ran miles everyday in my VFF’s. I hurt so bad after my relatively short runs (only 3-ish miles, but you have to remember that I was also starting at the very beginning again), that I had to ice, advil, and walk like a goof because of the searing pain in my calves. But, after about two weeks of my calves screaming for me to quit, the pain subsided to a background ache. Then, BAM, came the extensor tendonitis. I found your site looking for a good explanation of what was happening for myself, so I could understand what was going on in my body, and for my athletic trainer, who really knows nothing about barefoot running (as soon as I found your site, I forwarded it to her).
Bottom line, I ran my very first 5K on December 6th. I ran it all bare (well, in my VFF’s). And I did it in 27:32…which is nothing to brag about, but something I am privately proud of. I’m getting every last drop out of running before my coach and trainer force me to quit again in February.
I just wanted to write you and thank you for your great site, for the detailed information, and for sharing your experiences. I’ve come across a lot of barefoot sites in my quest for information, and yours has been one of the few that I stick with consistently. Thank you thank you thank you 🙂
Thanks again Robyn and I hope that I can continue to provide a site that you find helpful and enjoyable as you continue on your barefoot running journey. Keep in touch and keep the stories coming guys!