Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vibram FiveFingers Follow-Up

The short answer to “How’s it going with your VFFs?”: I LOVE THEM!

I’ve owned my VFF TrekSports for two months now and I’ve put a whopping 43 miles on them so far.  Underwhelming numbers?  Yes.  But I really didn’t want to ruin this whole minimalist adventure by jumping straight to maximum miles and hurting myself (again).  I admit, I ran in them (.65 of a mile) the very first day I got them, which wasn’t super smart, but since then I’ve really taken the time to get used to them slowly.  My longest run in them so far is just three miles, though I’ll be pushing it to four miles this week.  I’ve been  wearing them around the house and just this week started wearing them out in public and even wore them to work Monday and yesterday.  I’ve done two short runs in shoes since I started wearing the VFFs and discovered that I really don’t like shoes anymore.  My [name brand unnecessary because they’re great shoes, just not great for me] shoes were uncomfortable and heavy, and my Newtons did quite well, but were still…well…shoes.

Here are the answers to some of your questions:

  1. Have your calves gotten used to the forefoot/midfoot strike style of running?  Yes.  The first few times I ran in the VFFs, my calves were begging for mercy, but they’ve adjusted quite nicely since then.  It took about three or four runs, plus a week or two of walking around in the VFFs for my body to get used to using my calf muscles for forward motion.  Also, when I first started out, the forefoot strike was much more exaggerated, because I was trying to figure it out.  Now, I’ve learned exactly how to land on my mid-foot without feeling like I’m running on my tippy-toes.
  2. Are your calves huge now?  Honestly, no.  I thought I would see some real muscle development in my calves, but they don’t seem all that different to me.  See for yourself:

Pahlas Tri 001September 2008, when I was still in my 30s.  *sigh*

P's Sprint TRI 011Ha!  Almost the exact same picture, two years later.  This was last July, when I was still just 40.  *double sigh*

Calves 011Taken in my kitchen just two days ago.  Yes, I asked IronHubs to take a photo of my calves for my blog.  Nerd alert!

3.     Are they comfortable?  Yes, absolutely!  These past few days, I’ve really extended my wear time by wearing the VFFs at work for a 4-5 hour shift and they’ve been great!

4.     How do people react when you wear them in public?  OMG, you would think I had grown an extra head when I wore them to work the first time!  People went nuts, it was the talk of the club all day long.  I started to feel like a weird fetishist or something because everyone wanted to touch my shoes to see what they felt like.  Every time I said, “They’re running shoes,” people responded with a hugely shocked, “You RUN in those?!?!?!”  Reactions varied from “Oh, those are so cute, where did you get them?” to serious questions about running style/form and stories about friends or family members who also wear them for running.  Some of my older clients swore that their podiatrists told them everything that was wrong with them was because they went barefoot so much.  EVERYBODY who saw me had some sort of reaction and something to say about the VFFs!

5.     Do you still run in other shoes?  No.  Other than those two runs mentioned above, I’ve been running in VFFs exclusively since I bought them.  As it happened, I was recovering from sciatica/back problems when I got them, so I wasn’t running at all for a few weeks.  With the “gotta keep my mileage up” pressure nonexistent, I was able to convert completely to VFFs without feeling like I “needed” to run in other shoes.

6.    Are you going to keep running in them?  I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t.  So far, “going minimalist” has been a terrific experience.  I’m still in the adjustment period, working out all the tweaks in my ankles and feet while they get stronger, but I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

7.     Are you going to wear the VFFs for your Half-Iron?  I’m still undecided about this one, but I’m leaning heavily towards “yes.”  It’ll be my longest run in them, by far, even with my increasing mileage between now and May 22, so I’m nervous about injuring myself, but there’s the risk of injury no matter what I’m wearing on my feet!

8.     Are you running any faster in them?  Not yet.  I’m gaining some speed as I get used to the VFFs, but between recovering from injury and learning a new running style, I figure it’s going to take me awhile before I’m back to my regular speeds.

9.     Do you think going minimalist is the right choice for everyone?  Nope.  I’m no expert and honestly never considered going barefoot until I kept suffering injuries one after the other for about six months.  The VFFs were sort of a last ditch effort for me to save my running, because at the rate I was going, I was seriously thinking about giving it up.  My unsolicited and inexpert advice, though, is if you are thinking about getting VFFs or going barefoot, TAKE IT SLOW!  Give it time.  It’s just like starting to run for the very first time, because it is that different from the running you’re used to.

Happy Running, Friends!!

15 comments:

Aimee said...

Awesome post! Seriously, I could have written almost the exact same post except my injury was my IT band and I wear the Bikilas! :)

Jogging with Fiction said...

This is great! I have vff that i wear for walking the dog and I've worn around town a couple of times. People look at you like you're insane.

Matthew Smith said...

I'm glad they're working out so well for you. I have to admit that when I see someone rockin' them, I take a double take.

misszippy said...

Awesome that you are liking them so much and that you've found your midfoot! And smart for going so slow.

I wore my VFFs today on a hike with my kids and another family. Their 6-yr. asked me "what's wrong with your feet?"

I've been doing straight BF, mixed in with my Newton's--struggling now with some top of the foot pain. I think I've done too much, too soon. Has me worried!

Tricia said...

this was great, thanks for sharing!

MCM Mama said...

Great post! I pretty much agree with everything you said. ;o)

I went refrigerator shopping in mine today - the guy at Home Depot was more interested in talking about the shoes than in selling me a fridge LOL.

Alma said...

Oh thanks! I've been WONDERING...! I'm so tempted to try them. I am starting to tell a big difference simply between my "neutral" shoes and "motion control" shoes in terms of thickness. Definitely liking the neutral shoes more because there is LESS to them. Hmmm...

Carrie said...

Thank you so much for this post!! I've been thinking about converting for the same reasons (injuries injuries and more injuries getting me down). I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on VFFs and how they've been treating you so far! And speaking of how they're treating you...I'm so glad they've helped to keep running in your life :)

Zaneta said...

LOVE this post! I haven't really thought about converting to minimalist, but i sure have thought about getting a pair of vibrams :)

Caratunk Girl said...

Nice, I plan on moving toward something like that myself post IM. Glad they are working out for you and it sounds like you are taking it slow (smart!)

Jessica said...

I just bought my VFFs a few months ago. I don't think I'll run in them, I"m having a lot of luck with my Brooks Green Silence (but maybe someday, when I work up the nerve). My husband runs in his and loves them.
I have a question for you though, I'm not working up to running in them, but I've noticed that wearing them even just an hour or so around the house and my feet HURT! Not like injury hurt, but super duper sore. Did you go through that? Does it go away? Please tell me it goes away! LOL!!

Carrie said...

Also, I linked your VFF post on my blog :)

ratherthecouch said...

Very interesting read. I just got a pair myself. I already run on my forefoot/midfoot so I didn't think I would need to adjust really. And while I'm running in them I really don't feel like I'm running any differently than I always do.

But I do feel like my calves have been a bit sorer than they usually are so I'm thinking I must be doing something a little bit different. Not sure what...

The main thing I've noticed is my forefeet hurt more after running in them for a bit because of the lack of cushioning. (This could be due to the fact that I really only run on cement and other kinds of hard surfaces.) It'll be interesting to hear if you have that problem when you start to run longer distances in them.

Average A said...

Very good post -- it's fun to hear your take on this. Thanks for spelling it all out for us!

Austin said...

i totally feel you. love my vff. keep breaking them in - or letting them break you in -slowly!

can't wait to hear how/if they do in your 1/2.