Vibram FiveFingers Review
I’ve had my Vibram FiveFingers for a few weeks now. A lot of you had asked me to let to you know how I like them, but I really won’t be able to do that until I’ve built up enough mileage in them to go for longer runs. At this point I’m only wearing my VFF’s for 3.5 miles at a time, once or twice per week, for fear that any more will put me at risk for injury since the smaller muscles in my feet and legs have not had time to develop. (When I write “VFF,” I can’t not think “BFF.” What is wrong with me?)
So even though I can’t give a full, fair review yet, I can tell you how it’s going so far. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Running is much more fun when you can feel the texture of the surface you’re running on, the way you’re meant to. It’s just one more sensation to connect you with the earth and your surroundings.
- Running is much less fun when you step on an isolated rock about the size of a marble without much cushioning. It hurts.
- The fear of stepping on something causes you to run more cautiously, with smaller, lighter steps. And that might be the point.
- My calves and shins were extremely sore after my first three-mile run in the VFF’s. The same way they are if I start lifting weights after a long layoff.
- There is a protruding seam on the instep of VFF KSO’s (the model I have) that caused painful, tiny blisters on both feet the first few times I wore them. Justin from Birthday Shoes told me that this is common and gave me some suggestions. You can buy socks with five toes, but I’m hoping to avoid that. I’ve started to develop callouses there and didn’t have a problem last run.
- The soles have a lot of traction on wet surfaces. I’d love to wear them on a real trail run, especially since there are no socks to get soaked when I have to run through streams. But because of the aforementioned pain from stepping on rocks, this is probably a long way off.
- People look at you funny when you wear VFF’s to the grocery store.
VFF’s, by the way, owe a lot of their recent popularity to the book Born to Run. If you read it, you might also be interested in my attempts to make pinole and chia fresca, to get me some of that Tarahumara superhuman endurance!
Channeling my inner Doc Brown
My running life has been unrecognizable since I qualified for Boston over three weeks ago. It’s as if my obsessive focus on that goal prevented me from trying new things, which is sensible. When you want something badly, you work hard at it, at the expense of other things. But now that it’s done, it’s like there’s this alternate running universe of things far more interesting than regular road running, like trail running and the almost-barefoot running. I can’t remember a time when I’ve been so excited about running as I am now.
In what can only be described as excessive zeal after my very first trail run, I signed up for a 50K (31 mile) trail race near where I live, in March. It’s put on by some of the guys in the group I’ve been running with, and when they told me that spots were filling up, I decided to just do it. Sure I could wait, build up mileage on trails and make sure this is for me — but as Doc Brown so famously says in Back to the Future, “I figured, what the hell?”
Doc Brown’s “what the hell” saved his life. Mine will not do that. But if there’s a running analog to wearing a bulletproof vest to save you from Libyans shooting you because they’re pissed that you stole their plutonium, then I fully expect it to happen.
Indeed, what the hell.