Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vibram Five Fingers Update

I've had my Vibram Five Finger shoes (the KSO version) for 2 months now and I am closing in on 100 miles of running with them. My original Five Fingers shoe review was after just 3 weeks. Here's the update...I have been taking it rather easy with lots of slow jogs and walks on mostly tame trails with a little road and paved bike path running thrown in for variety. Nothing too fast and nothing too long. My longest run has been 10 miles. My fastest has been at around 9:00 pace. The first few runs resulted in very sore calves. The soreness would retreat after 1-2 days. Now I can run 5 miles in them with no sore calves or feet. I believe my feet are already getting stronger and I know my overall running bio-mechanics are better. I take shorter and quicker strides. I keep more of a bend in my knee and I don't heel strike. The combination of a short, quick stride with a forefoot landing reduces impact on the entire body. If you run completely barefoot, that's how you'll stride. The Five Finger shoes emulate the barefoot feel quite well.

I have also gone barefoot a few times in the last month and you AUTOMATICALLY adjust your stride for minimal impact. It's a cool sensation! For those with big fancy shoes, be warned that they do not provide extra protection from the pounding. Your foot (actually your brain) demands the sensation of a stable landing--if you have cushy shoes, your foot will land harder as the body attempts to get that solid and stable landing. Those same supportive and cushioned shoes are making your feet weak. The combination of weak feet and extra impact is not good...toss those shoes and try more minimalist (and natural) running! Start easy with some barefoot walking and short strides. Move to longer runs in minimalist shoes (Five Fingers or racing flats). I hope to eventually run a 50K trail race in my Five Finger shoes.

I encourage everyone to try a little barefoot running. If it appeals to you, try the Five Finger shoes too. They provide a lot more protection from rocks and roots while still encouraging (demanding?) a correct posture and running mechanics. I think your body will thank you.

For those interested in reading about other people's barefoot or Five Finger experiences, check out my blog links on the left side bar--particularly Running Barefoot, Birthday Shoes, Who Needs Shoes, and Barefoot Ted. They have great stories and pieces of advice for both experienced barefooters and newbies.

8 comments:

Ragfield said...

I'm really enjoying mine as well. At first I was mostly walking in them (a knee injury kept me from running), which I think was good because it got my feet used to the different sensations. Lately, I've been running in them once a week or so and I'm really liking them. I've even done some semi-fast runs in them.

Chris said...

Hey Rob,
Yep, my next step is some faster running. Most likely fartleks on the Lake of the Woods trail in my VFFs. I run in them about twice a week. That may increase to 3 times/week now that I've adapted pretty well. I just like them. I even got a pair of smart wool five finger socks (Injinji) so I can keep running in the winter (I hope).

Heidi said...

You're making me want these more and more. Are they expensive?

Chris said...

Yeah, more expensive than they should be for a "minimalist" shoe! The Classics are about $70, the Sprints $75, and the KSOs about $80. Not sure how long they last. Mine don't show any wear yet, but I've run a little less than 100 miles so far. I'll likely buy a pair of Flows (KSO with extra "insulation") for winter running. I think they run about $85-90.

GTI said...

Hi, Chris!
A friend sent me this article from the grand "paper of record." It's not a lot of new information for you, but it was interesting, and offers both sides...

"Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants":
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/business/30shoe.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&emc=eta1

Chris said...

Thanks for the heads up. Good article in the NYT. Once it's in the Times, you know people are starting to talk! I love my FiveFinger shoes.

justin said...

Thanks for the shout out.

I'm going to have to get out for a full-on barefoot run soon. The auto-form aspect just seems too cool not to experience firsthand!

Chris said...

Justin,
Love your site. I know this barefoot and VFF trend is going to continue, but it's nice to have a site like yours dedicated to the cause!