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:
- 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.
- 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:
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!!