Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers -- The Backstory

A few months ago, I read the book, Born to Run. There was much talk about this book all over the running community. I slowly watched all sorts of people get into minimal shoe running or barefoot running after reading the book. Honestly, I was a little scared to read the book because of this trend. I already get enough strange looks for running in skirts... I didn't want to think about the looks I'd get running in skirts and funky or no shoes.

But I did read the book and it is great! I highly recommend it to every runner. For me, the book wasn't even about running barefoot. The information behind the science of humans evolving as runners was fascinating!

There was a part of the book which talked about how humans evolved as runners to hunt food. We aren't very fast but we have amazing endurance. So long as humans kept the animals moving (who cannot effectively keep cool while on the move) they would eventually tire the animals out and succeed. The Bushmen of the Kalahari desert were featured and I was tickled when the average pace for these hunts was reported at about 10:30 min/miles. Dude! Even I can do that!! The average time for success in a persistence hunt was 2-5 hours which was pointed out as being the range for a marathon (more goosebumps here)!

The book did touch on barefoot running and how modern day running shoes changes the mechanics of our strides. Supposedly all the cushioning in running shoes encourages a heel strike which exerts more force on the body. When unshod, people tend to land more on their forefoot which absorbs the shock of impact better.

This video explains it better than I ever could:

I don't remember how Boyfriend got wind of Vibram Five Fingers (which mimic barefoot running while protecting your feet). I never mentioned I wanted to try them (and didn't want to). So it was a total shock when I got a pair from him for Christmas (he also bought himself a pair, to my dismay).

Bottom line is, I think these things are pretty darn ugly. But, now that I have a pair there isn't anything else to do but go for a run in them! Next up will be my experiences thus far running in the "Toe Shoes."


EndorphinBuzz said...

I saw someone running in these ballet slipper-like shoes at a 10k race a few weeks back. Must have been cold and hard on the frozen pavement!

d. moll, said...

Waiting breathlessly for the next installment!

ShirleyPerly said...

There was a guy sitting next to me on the plane who was reading that book and asked if I had (I was the runner and he was NOT!). It did sound interesting but I'm not much of a book reader, unfortunately. But, I have seen a few folks wearing these shoes. They are sorta cute in an ugly way, I think, but if it helps them run better I think that is good. Look forward to hearing how they work for you!

cliff! said...

i wanna see a vid of you running in them!

OUT OF THE WAY PUNY HUMANS! HULK RUN! (you should get those hulk fists when you go out and run in them).

so are you trying to say that you would be an excellent hunter? i guess i can see you with a rifle and hunting knife out in the wilderness, stalking prey.

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

That book was AMAZING and did get me thinking about minimalst shoes even more than I had been. I've been writing about this lately. I really want some Vibrams but umm my big ol 11 lady feet are hard to fit, so I'm still looking

Kristi said...

Looking forward to the hearing how the shoes work out....have been hearing a lot about barefoot running lately too.

Alisa said...

Jen just lent me that book.

I have enough problems with my feet to try barefoot sounds torturous!

I'm excited to hear about your journey.

justin said...

I'm impressed he was able to get you the right size! The aesthetic will grow on you over time :)

BTW -- if others are looking to get into VFFs, if I may be so bold, I recommend this guide:

If you have any feedback on ways to improve it, please let me know!

zbsports said...

When i first choose running on vibram five fingers shoes I feel I will not regret it and yes. I'm not, it is a very good shoes I ever had.