Running in my Vibram FiveFingers
I’ve been using the Vibram FiveFingers I was given a little bit since I’ve been back from New Zealand and I think I like them!
As I’ve said before you need to start off slowly with such things and do some short runs in them at first and then gradually build the volume and intensity of your runs. If you don’t then you risk injury as it is a completely different way of running for most people. I was lucky in the fact that I’ve always been an extreme forefoot stricker so running in the Vibram FiveFingers didn’t really affect my gait too much. Depsite that I still started off with short, low intensity runs and gradually built it up just in case.
To start with I felt fairly slow in them but I think that was just due to a lack of confidence. We have become so accustomed to running with plenty of cushioning and support that the barefoot experience of the Vibram FiveFingers make you feel a little vulnerable at first. You end up running in a much lighter way, gently putting your feet down and looking after them. This is great at it means less stress through your body, less jarring and hopefully therefore fewer injuries.
I did go for a faster run in them last week. Again, only a short 2.5 mile run but it was at 6:25 min/mile pace and they felt great. Their light weight means you soon forget about them and your feet can fly. As soon as the substrate below your feet gets a little irregular you can really feel your feet twisting, flexing and responding to the terrain. In turn the feedback from your feet seems to make your whole body respond better to changes underfoot and I end up feeling more balanced and as though I’m reacting to the world better. The thin soles certainly provide some feedback but they also protect your feet from stones and other sharp objects too.
It may sound silly but running in them makes you feel more ‘at one’ with our surroundings and you feel freed from the shackles of big clumpy running shoes. It’s quite a liberating experience and really brings out the enjoyment of running just for the sake of running.
I’m going to go for a longer run in them today to see how they feel over a greater distance but so far they get a thumbs up from me as far as fun and enjoyment goes, they have so far been a joy to run in. The jury is still out on whether or not they improve performance. I think I’ll still be faster in a pair of lightweight shoes, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be perfect for training in. As far as injury prevention is concerned then only time will tell but if they help in that respect too they could end up becoming my ‘shoe’ of choice for training runs just because they are so much fun to run in.
That said, it is getting a little chilly out there at the moment for them. You can’t wear them with socks and they are pretty flimsy so as soon as you run through anything slightly damp you end up with wet feet – all part of the fun I guess and the experience of being at one with nature!