Sunday, 6 November 2011

My new Vibram FiveFingers

I've been running for about 4 years now, having completed a number of 10k races and two half marathons, my PB being 1:58:20 in October 2011.

For many of those years, I've hankered after a pair of Vibram FiveFingers.  Why?  It's a good question.  I've read many articles about barefoot running and footwear and I've seen the pros and the cons of this type of footwear.  Maybe it's the big kid in me that things it would be good to run without trainers, or perhaps it's because I've taken to heart the views that barefoot running (or at least running with minimalist footwear) can lessen the chance of injury and lead to better posture.  Most likely it's the fact that for the first year and a half I suffered with chronic shin splits, and I started thinking 'there must be a better way'.

Whatever the reason, last week, after months of looking at different websites, blogs and pictures, I finally ordered myself a pair of Treksports, size 38.

When they arrived, I could barely bring myself to open the box in case they didn't fit, or I didn't like them.  When I tried them on, they seemed quite tight, but everything I'd read said they should be a snug fit, and that they'd give a bit after a few days use.  In particular, I found the big toe seemed to pinch quite a bit and press down on my nail, which felt a little uncomfortable.  I also struggled to get my little toes in their pockets, because I have hammer toes, and my little toes squish round and press on the next toe in.
As suggested in all the stuff I'd read, I only wore my 'fives' round the house to start with.  I did brave the outdoors and wore them to the local shop to buy some bread (just a short car trip away) - I was worried that someone would notice them, and then a bit peeved when nobody did!  Today, a week after getting them, I went for a short run.  
Day 1

On the day of my first ever run in VFFs I felt quite apprehensive, partly because I didn't want to have to explain my rather odd footwear to anyone, and partly because I really didn't know how I'd get on with them (and it's a lot of money to take a chance on!).  I ran about 3/4 mile in total, just down to our nearest main road and back. I'd read that VFFs encourage you to run on the balls of your feet, and I did wonder whether this would be the case for me too.  Without any effort at all, I found myself doing just that, running in a considerably more forefoot running style - I don't think my heels touched the ground at all.  Whilst I could feel the ground - stones and lumps - they didn't dig into my feet at all.

As my short run progressed, I could feel the balls of my feet really warming up, and I also really noticed my lower calves and ankles were getting much more of a work out.  But it felt great, really much more natural than I'd anticipated.  As I returned home, I took a slight detour down a cul-de-sac because I didn't want the run to end, but then I erred on the side of caution and went home.  I was really tempted to go straight back out again, but told myself I needed to be good and not overdo Day 1 with my fives.

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