“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Barefoot/Five Fingers Running

A lot of folks lately have been posting their curiosity about the Vibram Five Fingers shoes for running and walking. Thought I'd share a bit of my experiences and a running plan that works well for starting with them.

I picked up my KSO Treks back in October. Got a little bit of running in them before winter interfered, and then picked it up again as spring has started. Also I wear them around the house as just casual shoes, and with the warmer weather have taken to doing so outside and around town.

So far I love them. It definitely takes a little bit to get used to them - the feeling of your toes being separated, and the intimate contact with the ground even through the thicker soles of this model. The first few weeks I would notice some muscle soreness after prolonged wear, mostly in the feet and calves, and which was just due to the fact my foot was working differently than wearing my normal boots or shoes. Once you get used to it though they somehow "feel" more natural - I don't notice it when I wear them out and about now so apparently I've adjusted.

One other important thing you will learn quickly though is that they don't protect the rest of your feet the way shoes do! So watch out for stubbed toes and the like - you'll adjust soon enough.

The first few wears are definitely tight til the leather stretches to your foot, so it may take some time to wiggle each toe into place - again, if your feet are anything like mine, your toes have to relearn positions after years of entrapment.

Downsides? Well - no protection or insulation for the foot, so these aren't a cold-weather item by any stretch. You can pick up pebbles and such into the shoe if you aren't careful, but they aren't hard to clear out at all. Some folks think they are pricey for what is essentially a slipper, but I didn't mind given the benefits. And they don't provide any ankle support or real arch support, so if you have problems with these areas I'd build up slow to let the muscles strengthen.

Only other "downside" is that sizing them definitely takes a few minutes - I recommend finding a store & trying them on, as opposed to ordering online & having to send them back and forth to get the fit right. You want them very snug at first, they will loosen up quickly and not slip then.

Not sure if I personally would wear & trust them as regular hiking footwear yet - think I'd like the foot protection and ankle support myself with a pack, but that is just me. For around camp after a hike though they will be exceptional and very lightweight to carry.

Overall though, a great buy. Highly recommend you try them even if just as casual footwear.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the product. I also wanted to share a bit of a running program to help those new users who were curious. I do not take credit for this - it is a mix of one we used for pre-training candidates in the service and one that was developed for the shoes by some Crossfit trainers in Virginia Beach. This should help you adjust soon enough without injury. Anyway, here it is:

Week 1 Run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 7 times. Conduct 3 times/week
Week 2 Run 4 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 5 times. Conduct 3 times/week
Week 3 No running. Walk in the shoes for at least 20 minutes 3 times/week. This should minimize the risk of stress-fractures.
Week 4 Run 6 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 4 times. 3/week
Week 5 Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 3 times. 3/week
Week 6 Run 6 minutes, walk 2 minutes, run 10 minutes, walk 2 minutes, run 10, walk 2 minutes. 3/week
Week 7 Run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 3 times. 3/week
At this point assess how you feel - if you are experiencing pain then repeat the above cycle before proceeding. When ready to proceed run at least 3 times a week, more if you enjoy it and feel ready.
Week 8 Run 13 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 14, walk 1
Week 9 Run 15, walk 1, run 16, walk 1
Week 10 Run 16 minutes, walk 1, run 18, walk 1
Week 11 Day 1 Run 4, walk 1 (faster pace) repeat 6 times
Day 2 Run 9, walk 1 (faster pace) repeat 3 times
Day 3 Run 15 walk 2 repeat 2 times
Day 4 Run 30 minutes
Week 12+ Increase or alter as desired - plenty of options, but by this point you should have adjusted nicely and built a good base.


Momma Fargo said...

Thanks for the tip! I have been afraid to try those shoes.

It's Turtles All the Way Down said...

Nice post. I bought a pair a few weeks ago strictly for running. I normally log about 20 miles a week and I did NOT realize that I should work up to that (again) with the new shoes). That being said I've not really had any significant issues other than a little blistering (addressed with toe socks) and some soreness in my calves that I attribute to the different workout geometry.
I DID decrease my pace (from ~8 min/mile to ~9 min/mile) but this was intentional (to keep my heart rate in a certain zone for the duration of my run). I noticed that my stride shortened significantly and this is, perhaps, why I haven't had any serious problems. I consistently run 10k (both inside and outside) in these shoes with no problems (other than an occasional rock in my midsole).

Verdict...try them. I don't know if the hype is true but I do know that I enjoy them and running is quite comfortable.

roaming_gnome said...

I have 2 pair, and while I don't run (much) I love them. You do tend to shorten your stride whether walking or running because you are landing with your mid- or forefoot rather than a heel strike, which means taking a shorter stride. I am waiting to get the Flows, since they are neoprene and warmer, and can be worn during the winter and rainy weather.

Moe said...

Those are weird!

Firelady said...

I don't regret getting mine. I've got them on now, and have been wearing them instead of any other shoes when offduty. I haven't been running in them much due to the weather, but that's changing so it's time to really move.

I adjusted pretty easily, but I also prefer being barefoot. I'm sure that helped me considerably.

It's Turtles All the Way Down said...

Update for my comment:

Last night I did my first full-on trail run in my KSOs. All in all they (I) did well with the only problem being that I came down once on a neat rock with my heel. Hard. My fault. Bruise.

BUT - this was definitely a successful run and I will have no hesitation about repeating it as soon as time permits.