First Run in Vibram FiveFingers Classic

For Christmas my girlfriend got me a pair of Vibram FiveFingers Classic. However,  due to sizing issues and stocking issues I didn’t get them until about a week ago.   I’ve been eager to go for a run in them, but haven’t had a chance…that was until tonight.   I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was thinking it might be a little similar to my run with my Nike Free 5.0’s.  However, after my first run I can definitely say that running in FiveFingers is very different than any shoes I’ve ever run in.

I never have or been a ninja, but if I were to imagine what running around like a ninja would be like I would guess it’d be similar to running in FiveFingers shoes.  It’s a very different feeling.  A very liberating feeling.  You don’t feel isolated from the road or ground and instead you feel much more connected with it.  I would say it’s akin to driving a convertible versus a regular hard top car.

All the barefoot running guides out there all tell you to slowly build up endurance when you first start barefoot running.  I’ve never really officially ran barefoot (other than a few times just messing around), but I figured if I was going to do this I was going to just jump in and see what happened.  I went for 2 miles.  The first thing I started noticing was how the temperature of the road seeps into the shoe.  You would think with its rubber sole that you would be more insulated from the road, but that wasn’t the case.  It was a chilly night and I felt that cold.  Later about a half mile into my run I stepped on a stone and I definitely felt it.  Like I said you feel a lot more connected with the road.

One of the running techniques I’ve been working on is trying to run with more mid-foot strike versus heel strike.  I tried this technique with the Nike Free 5.0’s, but I had trouble maintaining the form throughout that run.  However, with the FiveFingers Classic running mid-foot / forefoot strike was very natural and didn’t take much if any forcing.  It was like you were meant to run like this.  Running in this fashion only increases the ninja-like running feeling.  You kind of feel like you are shuffling forward as you run.

I did feel some aches and pains, but different from previous running outings.  About a half mile into my run my left calf started to feel some pain and both of my Achille’s heels seemed fatigued.  The Achille’s heel was probably due to not being used to running with the mid-foot strike, but I’m not sure about the left calf.   A mile later the balls of my feet started hurting mainly due to the repeated thumping they were taking again due to the new running technique.  Even with these slight aches and pain I plodded through.  It was bad enough where I had to stop.

After the 2 miles I did a half mile walk and that’s where the real fun began.  It’s such a surreal feeling once you stop running especially since I wasn’t used to running barefoot.  I was walking all funny and felt like I was floating.  I felt a my calves a lot more tired than they ever get while running.

Overall, the run felt great and it was fun to experiment with these shoes and a new running technique. I’m definitely looking forward to putting some more miles on these shoes and seeing how I progress.  The Nike Free’s were pretty good, but I definitely like these Vibram FiveFingers Classis more for running.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • JaneyWaeny April 6, 2011, 12:37 am

    You are using improper biomechanics. Heel-to-toe strike is the natural form that any human should use during ambulation or high impact activity. We are built in a particular way so that if you divert from this gait pattern, your body will eventually suffer overuse injury. Sprinting is an exception. You are on your toes while sprinting. Long distance/duration running and not using proper body mechanics will (if it hasn’t already) get you hurt in the long run. I’ve treated many patients who’ve had lower extremity injuries that were do to overuse (improper body mechanics). All that pounding and force is–currently–not being properly distributed. Instead of going to places that are built to support that weight, it’s going straight to weaker parts of your lower half which were not built to uphold such force. Your body will break down at some point and you’ll definately be able to blame it on your improper gait pattern.

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  • JaneyWaeny April 6, 2011, 12:44 am

    ..Actually, my ex-husband did not listen to my advice even though I’ve worked in a PTA for years while in the military. He bought vibrams. I guess the shoes validated his reasons for continuing to run with a midfoot/ball-of-foot strike pattern instead of heel-to-toe strike. Everything felt great until he finally broke his tarsals. Laughing and him and giving him the “I told you so” was terrific. He’s an extremely fit guy. Can do just about anything without getting winded. A freaking ant when it comes to lifting… a “billy goat” climber. Unfortunately, fitness-level has nothing to do with using improper mechanics and since we are all mere humans… we’re never immune to injury.

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  • Robert April 11, 2011, 3:43 pm

    Please ignore the advice of JaneyWaeny.

    As someone in the medical profession and not over the age of 35, I can tell you that barefoot running is perfectly fine, and likely more beneficial for your posterior and anterior chain in the long run once you build up your muscle structure. Medical professionals who didn’t grow up with the internet tend not to keep up to date on medical literature, and instead cite the same 40 year old science which has been falsified repeatedly. One such claim is that low fat diets are healthier than a diet with moderate amounts of fat consumption, but that’s another topic completely.

    There are tribes of barefoot runners who run hundreds of miles routinely barefoot, or in sandals. The vast majority of them are midfoot/forefoot strikers, and they rarely succumb to running related injuries. There is the tribes of Kenya, and tribes in Mexico that average distances of a dozen miles or more daily. Despite often being malnourished, and in the case of the Mexican tribes often hungover, they rarely sustain serious injuries when running massive distances.

    You are absolutely correct in saying that the midfoot/forefoot strike is the natural gait when running, when walking however humans tend to heel strike. There’s one caveat however, when running long distances however it is essential that your heel also strike the ground as well in the motion of your foot.

    A lot of barefoot running injuries are caused by heel strikes, some of them are caused by striking with the mid or forefoot and not going through the entire range of motion and also letting your heel lightly graze the ground. It’s important not to simply ‘stay on your toes’ during a prolonged run, and instead go through the full toe-to-heel motion.

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