I’ve had my eye on Five Fingered or “barefoot” shoes for a few years. I think the first place I ever saw a pair of Vibrams was when I walked into a Crossfit gym in Halifax, Nova Scotia about 4 years ago, and ever since then they’ve always intrigued me. I was so intrigued by them that every time I saw someone wearing a pair, I walked up to them and asked about them. The benefits of running barefoot have long been supported by scientific research. And there is ample evidence that training without shoes allows you to run faster and farther with fewer injuries. I don’t actually want to run barefoot, but Vibrams are the closest you get to doing it without actually kicking off your shoes completely.
I really don’t know why I put off buying a pair for so long because I’ve wanted them so badly, but finally, last Thursday I got a pair!!
Being the type of person that is easily excited, when I first got my new Komodo Sport Vibrams, all I wanted to do was put them on and go for a 5k run. But, being the type of person that researches the hell out of anything fitness related that he does before doing it, I knew that with the barefoot shoes you need to take it slow at first. And when I say slow, I mean SLOW. Check out Vibrams Training Guide for the full details.
The reason you have to take it slow when you first start with Vibrams is because you have to compeletely change your running style. I’m not going to break down the exact mechanics of barefoot running, but basically, instead of being a “heel to toe runner” you actually run on the mid ball on your foot. This is what can cause pain to your calves and feet when you first start because they’re not use to taking the entire weight of your body and need time to adjust.
When I first got mine I put them on and walked around my house for about 30 minutes. Seriously, I just walked around the house (and maybe did some bouncing and jumping too because I was excited) to get use to them. Actually, when I first got them, I cursed and swore for about 20 minutes because I kept putting my baby toe in the same toe hole as the little piggy who had no roast beef and I couldn’t figure out how to put them on properly. But once I got them on (you have to spread your toes out), I just wore them around the house doing every day stuff and even while watching TV or working on my computer.
The next few days I worked out in them at the gym. Did some box jumps. Some burpees. Clean and Press. Some tire flips… It felt weird at first and I almost rolled my ankle on the first box jump (I was actually jumping on a 26” tire), but then I got use to them and I was in love.
After working out in them for 5 days and having minimal soreness in my calves, I thought it time to go for a run. I’m not a long distance runner to begin with, so I decided I would run until I felt uncomfortable, stretch it out and then run back home. At 1.25 km in to my run I still wans’t feeling any pain or soreness but figured after everything I read and knowing that you’re not suppose to push yourself, I decided it was time to stretch. I ran my 1.25 km back home and stretched it out again. Within 5 minutes of my run being over, my calves had tightened up and it was like they were baseballs. I continued to stretch it out and actually stretched for about 30 minutes.
The next morning I woke up feeling good. My calves were tender but it was a good tender and felt nothing more than the soreness after a good leg workout. I was happy. I decided to talk to some fellow FitFluentials about my inaugural run and they all warned me about how I probably ran too much and that I needed to be careful. I was still feeling fine and thought they were all just a bunch of wusses and laughed at them. Muahahahaha. Wusses…
Because I was feeling so good last night, I decided to wear my Vibrams again for my workout. We were going to be doing 500 pushups for time with 5 star jumps every minute until we were done of our pushups. To warm up was a 600m run. It was a great workout, I’m feeling it big time today, and my legs weren’t actually that bad after I was done, so I decided to go play softball for 3 hours (wearing baseball cleats, not my Vibrams). Wow, was that a bad idea!
After ball, I stretched it out again but by the time I got home, I couldn’t walk without looking like I pooped my pants. My calves were SO unbelievably sore. Seriously, I’ve never felt this way before. Maybe I did push myself too much on my first run…
Because I couldn’t really move or walk I decided to take a hot shower and crawled in to bed.
This morning I woke up and before even getting out of bed, I stretched my toes, feet and calves out for 30 minutes and they actually felt 357613867652.16 times better. They’re still tender today (day 2 after my run) but at least I can walk without looking like I sharted. I think the only thing that has saved me is the mass amount of stretching I’ve done i the past 48 hours.
So, what have I learned from this experience?
Don’t be stubborn. Listen to what others have to say when trying out new exercises and/or fitness gear. Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard. And maybe the biggest one for me, stretch more often.
I’m going to take a few days off from the running in the Vibrams but keep working out in them and when I do start back up running, I’m going to take it SLOOOOOOOW. I want to do this right and I want to benefit from the Vibrams, not hinder my progress.
Have you ever run in Five Finger shoes or do you do any barefoot running? What’s your experience with it?