I know…what could I possibly have to yammer about now? My toe gloves of course!
Introducing my Vibram 5 Fingers [official website]
Ahhhh finger toes!!! When I first saw my girl Kelsey with these I thought she was nuts. I believe I said “Those are the most ridiculous things I have evAR seen!! How can those be better than shoes!?” Well Kelsey went on to tell me that they were fabulous and her runs were so much more effortless. At that time [in August] I had just bought a new pair of sneaks, so I couldn’t go buying the Vibrams just yet.
Once we were all moved out to Colorado, I started running on the hilly trails, behind Pat + Nat’s house. I was going about 4m, 3-5 days a week. It took awhile for my lungs to adjust and my legs felt like I was stepping in puddles of molasses [well not that bad, but they felt heavy!]
You may remember me
complaining talking about the 2nd mile of all my runs being the w.o.r.s.t. This was true when I was training for my 1/2 marathon as well. It just always seems like my legs are not in sync. It would make more sense if it was the first mile, but I never seem to make much sense….soooo…yeah 2nd mile Grrrrrr
So then Chris read this book, Born to Run [that I still have to read], it completely changed his perspective on running. He reads a lot and said this was probably the best book he has ever read! He definitely enjoys cycling more but wanted to give running a shot. And after reading that book there was no way he was going to buy regular running shoes.
So. We converted. [sorry for harassing you Kelsey ;)]
The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised.
FiveFingers footwear connects you to the earth and your surroundings in a way that is simply not possible in conventional shoes. It puts you in touch with the earth beneath your feet and liberates you to move in a more natural, healthy way. FiveFingers stimulate the muscles in your feet and lower legs to build strength and improve range of motion. Our customers report an increased sense of balance, greater agility, and visibly improved posture. [source]
Vibram has quite a few different models of these shoes. I would say the 2 most popular are the FiveFingers Sprints + FiveFingers KSO’s. Chris and I have the Sprints. The biggest difference between the two styles are their material/strap coverage. The KSO’s stand for “Keep Stuff Out.” They are meant more for trails because the material covers your whole foot to help keep stuff out [clever]. Chris and I chose the FF Sprints because they were a just a better fit for us. They have heal adjustment straps that we needed to get the shoes to fit more comfortably. I have never had a problem with getting stones/dirt in the Sprints.
Tips when buying/trying on Vibrams:
- They will feel EXtremely weird the first 1-5x [or more] that you have them on your feet.
- It will be really hard to get your toes into the right slots! Don’t worry, I can slip mine on with ease now.
- You want them to fit snuggly but you don’t want your toes to be curled up.
- They fit nothing like regular running shoes and are European sizes. You will wear a smaller size than your normal shoe.
- A little bit of room in your heel is o.k. but not much, they will stretch out a tad, but again you want them snug!
- If you have odd length toes [really long or short] these might not work for you.
- If you have a little wiggle room but the next size down doesn’t work, you can always wear 5 finger Injini socks that Chris + I wear.
How to ease yourself into Vibrams:
- Start slow.
- Start slow [oh I already said that….well, I mean it]
- You want to ease yourself into these. You will now be running in a completely new way [up on the balls of your feet!] and all those bones and muscles in your feet need time to adjust. And by slow I mean, it could take up to 6wks to get up to your normal mileage.
- Start with 1/2 mile, take a day off, then another 1/2. If your feet and calves are up to it, maybe run 1 mile for your 4th run and then run 1 mile for a few days. I didn’t start this slowly and paid for it later.
- Have patience, it’s worth it!
What to expect?
- Your calves are going to be sore.
- Running on your toes will build up your calves a lot. These shoes make it nearly impossible to heel strike. If you do land on your heel, it does not feel good. You will naturally be up on the balls of your feet.
- Your body will naturally be more upright. This instantly helped my breathing.
- I noticed almost an instant difference in how my joints felt. Heel striking puts pressure in all the wrong places. Landing on the balls of your feet actually helps absorb much more of the shock and take a lot of stress off your joints.
- Remember my dreaded 2nd mile? No longer. I feel much lighter on my feet and running is much more effortless, just like Kelsey said. What a smartie that girl is ;)
What did I do wrong?
My feet were feeling great with my first few runs, but my calves were on fire! As my calves eased up [a good 1-2 weeks] I ramped up my mileage to 2, 3, then 4 miles. I was running pain free and felt great. However, I increased WAY too fast and had 2 weird injuries on the tops of my feet. They were in different spots on each foot and I’m pretty sure it was just due to new stress my feet were not used to. I took about a month off from running and focused on incline treadmill walking to keep my stamina up [totally works!]
How are things going for me and the VFF’s now?
I started running in the 5 fingers again about 1 month ago. My plan was to not push it as hard this time, and it’s working! I started by running .5 - 1 mile every other day for a week or so and felt great. I amped it up to 1.5 miles and now am up to about 2.5m after 4 weeks. I have felt a few twinges of pain/soreness in the tops of my feet but then they’re fine in the morning. [I should start icing to be extra careful!] The only frustrating thing is not getting in my normal mileage for so many weeks. It’s a bit frustrating to start so slow and take so long to work up to my typical 4 mile runs throughout the week.
My body has been feeling great! I have had knee problems in the past but have been totally fine with these. And like I said before, I am breathing better, and running easier. My legs feel lighter and my pace has picked up a bit. Running up hill is easier and it is much easier to run faster downhill. These are just the experiences I have had. Vibram is not paying me for this…although that would be nice! ;)
- Take a long time to ease into them [Although Kelsey was fine right away, I think it’s different for everyone. Just start with caution!]
- They might rub on your toes. Chris has a hot spot on one of his toes. The socks help but not completely. I don’t have any hot spots with mine though.
- When I ran without the socks my 2 big toes blistered up pretty bad from the friction. Now I wear the socks. [I recommend the thinnest Injini’s you can get. They have a few different thicknesses. The thinnest pair are maid from bamboo fiber.]
- Also, when I wore them without socks, the heel rubbed on the back of my right ankle.
How much do they cost? They vary depending on which style, but range around $75-95.
I have heard good things about wearing the 5 finger socks even in your normal shoes. I only wear them with the Vibrams as of now.
You can find MANY more reviews online about these along with more specific information on beginning training plans to break them in. I’m so excited to attempt a 1/2 marathon in them and am glad I left myself plenty of time to work my way up! The 1/2 isn’t until mid May.
Overall, I really like these new + crazy running shoes. I feel SO much better running in them and feel like my body is already thanking me for making the change. If you’ve never heard of “toe running” do some research. I now strike down on the mid to ball of my foot area and it feels so much more natural.
There is definitely a debate on which is better [toe or heel], but I guess the most important thing is to do what works for you and to stay injury + pain free. And right now, THIS is working for me! :)
Aaaand a hilarious quote about typical running shoes:
But we’re good at running barefoot. We’re not good at running in marshmallow-based shoes with padding, support, and protection. In fact, we get injured because of these shoes. There is some data that shows, in fact, that the more expensive the running shoe the worse it is for your feet and legs. I knew something was wrong when my feet would fall asleep while I was running. Something was up.
I really recommend reading the brief article where that quote came from!!
Any questions???? Now on to typing up my daily post……