Vibrams: Those Funny 5-Fingered Shoes

>> Thursday, July 8, 2010

I bet you're thinking: What's the deal, (never home)makers? Last week, Stephen wrote all about his slow approach to barefoot running in his review (Making the Switch) of the ProGrid Kinvara, Saucony’s new lightweight, minimalist shoe. Why do you now see two spankin' new pairs of Vibrams on our feet?

Well. We've both been incredibly interested to give them a try. I've also been lusting over them in the gallery on Ashley's blog. But after visiting store after store and not finding any in our sizes, our interest had faded. Shortly after crossing the border into Maine, we found exactly what we'd been looking for . . . and on a discount ($10 off each pair!).

A swipe of the debit card later, and we were on our way.

That evening, we took a 3-ish mile walk in them. We didn't do any real running in them for several days. Just walking. Getting used to the feel. But last night, I went wild and ran three miles. It felt amazing. My feet felt free. I'm seriously in love.

Of course, everybody is different. Every BODY is different, too. At first, they felt a little strange. My toes seemed a little long or just not right for the fit. But the shoe adapted. I adapted, too. And -- happily -- my stride has always landed with more of a mid-foot strike, so the low heel doesn't really make me change my form. I was waited to get injured. Waiting for some kind of ill feeling.

It didn't come on the run. So, I thought I'd wake up this morning with major leg and/or foot pain. So far, absolutely no aches at all. At least nothing out of the ordinary. I attribute my success to my usual mid-foot strike, but also because I walk around barefoot a lot (and in tricky sandals).

However, I keep reading and reading that even if you don't experience pain or strange sensations at first, you must ease into wearing them. It's easy to get super enthused about how great they feel, but you need to remember that you're shifting from cushioned running shoes to, well, gloves. I mean, look at the difference between Vibrams and my regular running shoes:

What I read most frequently in my searches is "enjoy, but enjoy with caution." Many excited runners started out like me. They experience a fantastic run . . . then continue on with their mileage -- trying to do Vibrams every time. Then they developed a variety of foot problems. The way I see it, running the barefoot way is like starting a new sport. You're using new muscles, so you truly need to take your time getting used to the new challenges you're putting on your body.

This is a post that is definitely a "to be continued" one. I'm going to go easy on running with them for the next couple days (so, no -- I won't be rocking the Boilermaker 15K in them this Sunday). Take some walks (they're seriously great for just wearing around, too!). Barring any horrifying injuries, though, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship! By the end of the summer, I think it'd be cool to race a 5K in them. That's the goal. We'll see if we get there!

If you're looking for more information and tips about how to get started, check out Ashley's post with all the gooey details. She has some amazing information in there -- including how to not go crazy and go too fast/far too soon.

Who else out there is trying the barefoot running craze? It's definitely the "popular" thing to do right now, but do you think it will stick? Is it all just a fad . . . or is barefoot running genuinely good for form and longevity? Maybe there's a reason we've added all this cushioning over time to our shoes? No matter your opinion, we'd love to know your thoughts. Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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