Monday, 31 August 2009


Okay. So they're goofy looking. Who among us isn't, on any given day? That aside, the dang things work.

I've been exploring the whole running without running shoes for a while. Have experimented a little (one 4 mile run barefoot, followed by another of less length), and read a lot, plus listened to proponents blather on about the theory and practice. I waited a while to take the plunge, partly because I was somewhat skeptical about the amazing claims, and also because, if truth be told, I couldn't afford them earlier. For what they are they ain't cheap. Last week, however, I ponied up the $80.

My Vibram Five Fingers arrived this morning. They came right after I returned home from a 5 mile run around San Francisco's Treasure Island.

I had decided that I needed to get a run in whether or not the VFFs came today. Figured if they came early enough in the day I could go out again. They did. So I did.

My first run of the day was in my trusty Brooks Beasts. Love those shoes. They have never done anything to hurt me, which is something I can not say for the Asics Kayano 14s I experimented with earlier this summer. Someone asked me recently why I would consider going barefoot seeing that over the course of 28 marathons to date I have had practically no injuries. One of the big claims of the barefooting community is that the modern running shoe is to blame for up to 80% of all modern running injuries. They claim humans are basically running machines and that shoes just clog the works. Clearly my shoes have not hurt me...physically. My reason for looking into the shoeless thing is that if shoeless is a more efficient way of doing what I've already been doing fairly well, why wouldn't I at least check it out?

My run in shoes was pleasant enough, although nothing miraculous. My time was good. 5 miles in 55 minutes. Obviously, 11 minute miles. My VFF run felt very different, in a number of ways. I ran the same Treasure Island route that I ran in the morning. Did 5 miles in 55:53. 11:10 minute miles. Not sure if I was just that tad slower because of the lack of shoes, or just thet fact that it was my second run of the day and I was a little tired from the first.

What was different was the feeling I had that I was so much lighter on my feet. I didn't feel like I was working as hard during the second run as I had in the first. I also didn't check my watch as much during the shoeless run as I had during the first, hoping for my walk break. I ran through the walk breaks at least three times, during the barefoot run. I hardly ever miss a walk break when I'm running with shoes. I think, and this jury-of-one is still out on this, I didn't feel I needed the breaks as much, when running in the VFFs. That, duh!, could only mean one thing...faster times.

For those who may be a little skiddish about running with so little on your feet... I ran on a number of surfaces today in the 5 Fingers...ranging from grass, to a gravel-strewn dirt road, to some very rough blacktop and equally smooth concrete. I did feel the pebbles on the dirt road, but they did not hurt. If and when you try this out I believe you will be amazed at how quickly your feet respond to any surface or obstacle that may potentially hurt. They automatically recoil. The VFFs rubber sole does the rest.

My previous two runs without shoes were revelations. I knew then that barefoot was something that deserved serious consideration. However, my feet did hurt after both of those trial runs. The VFFs gave me the confidence to give it a real go this afternoon, reassured that there would be no injuries. It freed me up to "just run".

I've got the Rochester Marathon in less that two weeks. I will not be doing it in my VFFs. I think it's too soon for that. But I am fairly certain, barring any currently unforeseen setback, that I may be ready to take that leap for Santa Barbara International Marathon, the last in the 12 in 12 challenge, in December.

Gotta run!


CewTwo said...

I'll monitor your blog b$ I buy!

Great update. Thanks for sharing!

Ted said...

Great blog. I am a newbie to your blog. Just bookmarked it. Like you, I just ordered a new VFF KSO and waiting for the VFF to arrive.

I see that you are prepping up for Rochester Marathon. I have done the Rochester Marathon two years ago and the Rochester Half marathon. It is a small marathon but a "homey" feeling. You are going to enjoy running along the Erie Canal. Good Luck !

Maddy said...

I'm interested to see how the VFF work for you.

Not sure that I'm ready to make that leap, or if I ever will be...

Good luck with your VFF!

Anne said...

These shoes are getting a lot of attention these days. Just read a piece in the NY Times on them last week. Good review. Thanks.

Jocelyn said...

Really really interesting. I have seen those shoes before and thought that they were weird looking. Always wondered what they'd be like. Thanks for sharing! :)

theFerf said...

How did you choose which VFF to buy? It looks you did not get the ones with the mesh or neoprene uppers... did it feel like the shoes were slipping at all?

Barefoot Josh said...

Congrats on taking the plunge! I've been running in VFF's for a few years and finally made the transition to no shoes.
The cost is a big step, but believe me... they last much longer than any other pair of running shoes.

In response to the comment above mine: Short of running through deep mud I have found little need for anything beyond the classics. Sprint's are more secure, and KSO's do keep the grit out, but they are not necessary most of the time.

leslie said...

Thanks for the info, Michael. I think VFFs will be on my Christmas list this year. :)

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