Leslie Peterson and I were going to do the Little Cottonwood Trail today. We have both been struggling with motivation these past couple of months and she has been hiking for a lot of her training. She agreed that she would try and run down the trail after we walked up if I kept it slow.
I thought one way to slow down on the downhills would be to wear my Vibram FiveFingers, so I showed up for our workout with those on. FiveFingers have about 1/8 inch of rubber soles to mimic barefoot running and they take a while to get the feet to adapt to the stress on the muscles and bones and skin.
The 3.25 miles uphill was not too bad and my feet were only a little painful as I hit rocks. However, I realized on the walk up that the trail was much rockier than I remembered.(I think I just ignore most of the rocks when I am in trail shoes). My gut was starting to clench at the thought of how ‘fun’ the run down was going to be.
When we hit the top we took a five minute break and then started the run down.
I can’t remember the studies, but I know I have read some that involve the difference in impact on the feet between walking strides and running strides. There are also numerous studies about the difference in impact on the lower body between flat, uphill and downhill running. Let me tell you – I can verify those studies are true.
Imagine 3.25 miles of the most painful running I have ever done. I felt every single rock that my feet encountered and running downhill on them was significantly more painful that walking uphill in the FiveFingers. I was very grateful that I had done a lot of training in the FiveFingers so that my feet were relatively tough at this point in the season.
Leslie was able to stay ahead of me a lot of the run. It would only be when we got to some sandy or less rocky sections that I was able to catch up to her. I could actually feel my shoulders relax and I would heave a big sigh of relief anytime I could have a break from the constant pounding.
Next time – I’m not going to handicap myself when running with Leslie!