Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport Initial Review

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!

THE SHOES:

  • 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!

10 comments:

Jim ... 50after40 said...

I'll be interested to see how you like them, they seem like they would be really tough to fit for each individual foot.

Katie V. said...

Very exciting! I'm debating a pair myself, however my classics (what were those called?) are probably still good for another season. I wore them right up to the start of december down to about -1 celcius (um....30 farenheit?) and my feet were just fine. Sometimes cold for the first 5 minutes and then warmed up right away.

Average A said...

Awesome. I've been wondering how these are going for you -- please keep us posted. Also, maybe post some pics of how awesome your calf muscles look after wearing them. Okay, I was kidding.)

xoxo,
A

Jogging with Fiction said...

I really like my vibrams for walking, but the running scares me. My husband has been running completely barefoot for about a year now and he's a complete convert to changing form, etc. Says it's the best running choice he's ever made. Good luck!

Alma said...

Yeah! Keep us posted on your progress. I'm SO very curious about those shoes (and Newtons).

Char said...

I can't get over thinking that I'd look like a Hobbit if I wore these. Hope they work well for you.

Anne said...

I'm curious about the Vibrams although I already wear a very minimal shoe. With the help of my PT, I now run with a much improved form and it's so much easier on the body, but my calf muscles really took a beating the first few times. My PT had me follow a progressive transition - like when you're coming back after an injury.

Good luck and I look forward to following along! :)

misszippy said...

That's very cool. Keep up that cautious approach to it and you should be able to make it. And hopefully it will lead to a reduction in future injuries as well! I hope to join you soon...

Michael said...

Hello, I'm new to your blog, but enjoyed reading about the Vibrams. I will be very interested to see how they work for you.

Chris K said...

Ugggghhh, I've been trying to get off my heel for almost a year now. It's not easy. I may resort to the VFF for my recovery runs.