Friday, February 4, 2011

I have FiveFingers.

Well, actually...I have ten fingers. And ten toes, which I put into my FiveFingers. We ran 5K yesterday, me and my ten toes and FiveFingers. My ten fingers are still wiggling in the air with spirited excitement. Confused? You need a visual.

Ten toes in my Vibram FiveFingers. NOW do you get it? I knew you would. And yes, I really did run a 5K yesterday. Clocked in under 30 minutes, too which I'm fairly proud of. It takes some time to get used to running in FiveFingers, and I think it's now safe to say that I'm getting used to it. Can't wait for the ground to thaw so I can really test 'em out. It's so hard to run long distances on a treadmill. BO-RING! But I digress. Back to the FiveFingers. The above is what they call the Bikila model, made "exclusively for a more natural running experience." And I'd say that's exactly what it does—for me, at least. As obvious as this sounds, it really does feel like you're running barefoot. While you think that might be uncomfortable, it's actually not. But you can't just slip on some Bikilas and go. You have to ease into it, which I've been doing since I got them for Christmas. A little bit of running here and there, a lot of walking. Circuit Sculpting, too. This is all because you have to get used to the forefoot striking method, rather than the heel striking style of running (which is what we all typically do in a standard pair of running shoes). That's why the bottom of the shoe looks like this:

Lots of pads here and there to protect the "26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments" inside your foot. Yeah, and you thought it was just a foot with toes and a heel. Your body fooled you!

So here's what I've learned (so far) about running in the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila shoe:

1) Go one size up if you fall in between, and measure according to the instructions on the FiveFingers
    website. They've got it down to a science. And not all Vibrams run the same, so be sure to check out
    their Size Conversion chart, too. Also trustworthy.

2) You really do feel barefoot. It's true! I liken them to water socks. Or sturdy flip-flops in terms of
    comfort, though they far surpass both in support. Believe it or not, FiveFingers do support your feet.
    Just enough, really. That's what makes them so cool.

3) They will draw attention to your feet. Every single time I wear them, someone makes a comment. It
    ranges from "do you like those?" to "what the heck are you wearing?" to "how far can you run in
    them?" to "your feet look like frogs' feet." to...well, you get the picture.

4) They don't offer much lateral support. I have to be really careful when I wear them in my Circuit
    Sculpt class because they make side-to-side movements a little tricky. But really, you don't run that
    way so I expected as much.

5) If your feet sweat, expect to feel it. Probably my biggest complaint, but's not that bad. I
    feel it more in these shoes simply because I don't have socks on. But you can find socks with
    individual toe slots, so I probably just need to buy a pair.

6) It's super easy to wash them. Warm water, gentle cycle. Air dry. Done and done.

7) Start out with about 10% of your typical distance and build from there. You know the rule about too
    much too applies to FiveFingers, too. Take it easy, don't expect to jump right in. Your body
    will need to adjust and it will. If it doesn't, just back off and take it even easier.

8) I barely even notice the toe factor. It's like that strap on a flip-flop sandal. You know it's there, but it
    doesn't bother you.

9) You'll feel it in your calf muscles, so it's going to be fairly essential that you stretch them out every
    single time you slip a pair of FiveFingers on or off.

10) Hold on to the little tab in back to successfully get your foot in, then adjust your toes. Someone
      else might tell you a different way to get them on and off, but I find this works the best for me.

I am certain that I've still got much to learn, so I will keep you updated as I progress. Until then, I feel compelled to share yesterday's mid-afternoon snack. Jason and I met up at the grocery store salad bar for lunch, and I purposely ate a smallish salad because what I really wanted was a smoothie. I knew that I had the ingredients for one at home, so when I sat down mid-afternoon to write this here post—I ended up indulging in what can only be described as one of my best creations yet.

I don't like to brag, I can't get over it! Ingredients? Two tablespoons each of plain Greek yogurt and Peanut Butter & Company's Dark Chocolate Dreams, one cup of milk, one small banana and one teaspoon each of Chia seeds, crushed almonds and natural vanilla extract.

Sssllluuurrrppp. And gone.

Question: Do you run in FiveFingers? What tips can you offer?


h said...

HI Tara,

I bought a pair about two years ago. I think your advice is very wise!! Actually I like them for just trucking around in, they make my feet feel strong. I have running clients that absolutely swear by them! One gal ran all winter long (upstate NY) in them in preparation for a marathon. I still like running shoes, definitely geared towards minimalist, and I like the feel of the Vibrams. The hardest thing about these things was getting my little toe in them!!! took like 5 mins for each shoe!

TARA said...

Hi Josh! Thanks for reading...totally agree with you about the "trucking around" thing. I wear them at the gym when I'm training clients and it always reminds me of stepping on grass for the first time after a long, boot-filled winter. So comfortable and refreshing. And I love hearing about people running long distances in them. Just signed up for an 8K and would really love to put the Vibrams to the test! And yes, I have issues with my little toe, too. Sometimes it slips out. If only it were longer...

h said...

I did some muddling around in the UP with them last year, climbing escarpments and running through streams! perfect! The other thing about Vibrams is that they are becoming really really popular! And so buying them isn't so easy anymore. Some people can't even wear them because the little toe is so low!! Also, I would suggest that you buy them from a store and not online!! You got to get the fit right like you said!

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