Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Vibram Five Fingers

I bought some Vibram Five Fingers 9 days ago. In that time, I wore them at home a couple of evenings, and then I walked to the grocery store and another time to the coffee shop. Tonight, I went running at Wash Park. The trail around Wash Park is flat and manicured, so no worries about twisting my sprained ankle (from my Thanksgiving run), and no sharp rocks or tree roots to worry about poking my feet.

I figured running in Five Fingers would take getting used to. It's not quite like I expected, though. When I think about it, my hips, thighs, and core tighten up. When I don't think about it, my hips open up and it seems so natural. For one thing, there's no annoying 1"+ padded shoe heel that keeps reaching to the ground each step. You can actually step more naturally under your knees without your heel "landing" from some stupid shoe design.

On the other hand, without the padded and structured shoe under your foot, your foot has to work harder, and it takes more abuse. Five Fingers are part of a process - not a final solution. They're little more than rubber slippers, but the toes keep your foot from sliding around and giving you blisters.

A warning about sizing...
I normally wear a size 10.5 shoe. for ultra-running, I wear a size 11. Manufacturers vary in how they size their shoes, so I might wear anything from size 10 to 11.5. I figured that Five Fingers were supposed to be worn barefoot, with no socks. Since I intended to wear Injinji socks, I figure I'd be wearing at least 11.5 for Five Fingers. Well, not even close. I ended up with size 10, and maybe I should have grabbed 9.5? I think maybe 9.5 would be too small, with socks. Without socks, 9.5 would be perfect.
So these are not items to buy online. You'd better try these on. (Okay, I know you sneaky readers try things on in stores and then buy them cheaper online!) I get an REI dividend, so I bought them in-store.

Tonight, I ran 2.5 miles without stopping, then I walked a bit to make sure all systems were "go". My feet were sore but they're ALWAYS sore these days, without any running. It was the plantar that I was concerned about, and that seem fine. So I ran some, walked, ran, walked another 2.5 miles.
Total of 5 miles, and my feet feel fine.
My calves are another matter. They have atrophied. They are so sore.
These Five Fingers will exercise muscles you aren't used to exercising, which is a good thing, but that exercise will cause those muscles to tighten up more, which is what caused my plantar faciitis in the first place! So anyone using barefoot running or Five Fingers to help needs to do it as part of an overall program that emphasizes stretching above all else. Seriously, until your PF is gone, stretching, ice, and massage are the #1 therapeutic remedies - not necessarily in that order.

I'm SOOO happy I can run (some)! I know I suck, and my runs are a shodow of the ultras I used to do, but I'm actually able to pick one run each and EVERY week!!!!


  1. OHMYGOSH this is so funny because I wore the Five Fingers around the house for the first time last night for 15 minutes. My goal is to build up to going out for a walk, then a run in them.

    It's sooooooo delicious on your feet, so feel your feet move naturally.

    I'm elated to hear that you're doing some running again, yeah! Also, your words of caution regarding the Five Fingers is spot on!

    Thinking of you and your PF recovery!

  2. Geeeez. All the cool kids are gettin' them. I just read The Book (no, not that one...Born to Run) as well...
    and you never know! You might see me wearing those goofy things on my secret-secret backyard trail. I'd tell you about it, but I'd have to kill you.

  3. You kill me anyway, Leslie! LOL


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