I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath (ha, ha!!) to hear my thoughts on my new “feet gloves,” so here’s a quick review of my first week. I know I’ll have a lot more to say about them as I wear them more.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS and THE BUYING PROCESS:
I made the mistake of going to a store I don’t like to try on the Vibrams. Ugh, why do I do that? I’ll let the store remain nameless, but I will tell you that the customer service I received there consisted of the “helpful” clerk plunking the Vibram sizer on the ground and saying, “Well, you might be a 38, but you might be a 39,” then handing me two boxes of shoes and remaining stubbornly unhelpful while I struggled to put them on until it looked like I was done, then asking, “Are you going to wear them out the door?” Um, no, I will not be purchasing these shoes from you, my friend.
Next stop, Fleet Feet, where the incredibly patient and knowledgeable staff spent about 45 minutes helping me with my buying decision. Aaaah, this is what shoe buying should be like! I tried on the Bikilas, the Sprints, the KSOs and the TrekSports. The clerk who helped me was something of a Vibram skeptic, but she answered my questions and helped me choose the right shoe for my needs – the TrekSport has a little more protection underfoot than the Sprint (my first choice) and was, for me, a lot more comfortable than the Bikila or the KSO.
While I was trying them out, one of the other customers asked me, “Are those SHOES?” which proved to me that not everyone who shops at Fleet Feet is a runner. Who knew? I left the store with a box of shoes that neither look nor smell like new shoes and a stern warning to ease into using them S L O W L Y. Uhh, no problem!
- They are so lightweight, it’s unreal.
- Once you figure out how to put them on, they’re more comfortable than you might think.
- I’ve run on the sidewalk and asphalt, over twigs, pebbles and the regular road debris and feel like they offer my feet plenty of protection.
- They’re nicely ventilated for the weather I’ve had so far – between 40 and 60 degrees. I’m not sure how they’d feel in colder weather, but I suspect they’ll do fine in warmer temps.
THE RUNNING EXPERIENCE:
Running in Vibrams is completely unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure I’m doing it correctly! I’ve been allegedly running with a forefoot strike for about a year in my Newtons, but obviously was still falling into a heel-strike for a significant amount of my run time. I say “obviously” because I have plenty of photographic evidence of said heel-strike and because if I had truly acclimated to the forefoot strike, this transition wouldn’t be so tough. But it really, really is. The Vibrams require intense concentration (from me, at least, I am a natural blonde you know…) to maintain form for even short distances. So far I’ve been able to run about a half mile at a time before my brain starts to lose focus and my calf muscles cry “Uncle!” (Or maybe they’re hollering, “Shick-wuh!”)
About those calf muscles…mine have been terribly under-used all these years and are pretty confused about the load I’m asking them to handle now with these shoes! Wow. After the first wearing, I was sore for several days, but I’ve run in them two more times since then and with proper post-run stretching, haven’t been sore at all.
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT:
Learning how to run properly is going to take a real time investment on my part, which I am prepared to do. With the sciatica and the degenerative disc stuff, I have cut back my mileage to nearly nothing anyway, so I’m not feeling impatient to run longer in the Vibrams and risk (more) injury. I am determined not to treat this new running style like something I’m “trying out,” but rather like a gradual and permanent change. Who knows? Maybe by this time next year the blog will be called The Adventures of a Barefoot Athlete!