Friday, October 15, 2010

Pushing Daisies

I love almost everything about my Vibram Fivefingers. I like to wear them for walks (just like going barefoot, but without the trips to the ER when you step on broken glass!), on the pool deck (like aqua socks, but comfortable and with toes), when I'm teaching kickboxing (keeps my feet from getting roughed up every time I pivot on the floor, yet flexible and thin enough to feel like I'm kicking in bare feet), and of course running. I've worn them so long now that if I wear my old Asics running shoes, I can literally feel how they're trying to make my running form go all wonky.

The only thing I really don't like about the Five Fingers is how whenever I run on grass, I get flowers stuck between my toes. No really! I'm not kidding. Okay, so maybe it doesn't look quite like this, but I regularly have to stop and pick daisies and dandelions out from between the tootsies. As it turns out, when you run barefoot your toes actually kind of spread out just before you make contact with your midfoot/forefoot (as opposed to the heel-striking style of running that's more typical in cushioned running shoes). And when your toes spread out, they collect some flora along the way. I guess if that's my only complaint, it's not so bad. On fields that have been recently mowed or dirt or bark paths, I don't really have too many problems with the flowers. Only on the weedier patches is it an issue.

Check out this interesting video on the science and history of barefoot running. In the last part of the video (about 4:30 in), you can see the slow-mo on a treadmill of a barefoot runner. You can easily see the daisy-plucking part of the stride when you watch how the toes operate. It's fascinating to think how differently even your toes react when you run barefoot.



And by the way, if you are going to buy some Vibram Fivefingers shoes, make sure you get them from a reputable dealer. There are all kinds of ads going around on the internet for counterfeit varieties. A friend of mine bought some on a "great bargain" and the seams were so poorly sown, he got really bad blisters. Clearly counterfeits. Also, if you're converting to barefoot running, be sure to take it reaaaaallllllly slow. I've heard of more than a couple people giving themselves bad running injuries from too much barefoot mileage too soon. If you're not used to barefooting it, your feet need time to build up the muscles and ligaments that would be stronger if you spent your life barefoot as our ancestors had.

6 comments:

Caratunk Girl said...

I haven't tried Vibram 5 fingers yet, but have considered it. I have so many friends who love them, actually, I haven't met a single person with a bad thing to say about them.

It just gets so darn cold here in the winter they don't make sense to me for year round training...I guess that is why I haven't tried the barefoot thing, because I am a little worried I would love it and then we have @ 6 months of me not being able to do it....I should read up on that and see what people say to do. Oh, and I am anti-treadmill, I am viciously allergic. :)

Julie said...

Do you wear your vibrams in triathlons? Seems they would be time consuming to put on. I'm toying with the idea of buying a pair, after reading Born to Run, in which Dr Lieberman is featured.

Robin said...

I don't wear them in triathlons, they are really hard to get on fast! I use a pair of Nike Frees for triathlons, they're the closest thing in a "regular" running shoe.

They do make socks for them, that might help with winter weather. I just got some toe socks from Injinji that work with the shoes.

trifitmom said...

just ran a race and some guy had them on and they were so noisy...slap slap slap ....

trifitmom said...

i just ran a race and some guy used them and they were so noisy ...it was annoying...

Robin said...

That sounds painful! I don't notice them being all that noisy, but they're probably more so than my regular cushiony running shoes. I would hope I'm not slapping my feet down like that.

Still, better than the race I was in once where a guy was using a metronome to keep his cadence on target. beep beep beep beep beep...