Over a month ago I started using a Five. It’s a funny looking shoe. No, really! Everywhere I walk with it on people stare at my foot. It gets quite an attention (a conversational piece!) but besides its awkward look the FiveFingers packs more than it’s funky design.
I’ve used it on several runs and am surprised how comfortably natural it is. I’ve been consistently running under 7km/min (with 4 record Nike+ runs) compared to my erratic 8km/min to 10km/min since I started last year with a Merrel trail running shoes and a Nike trainer. What I’ve noticed, although I’m not a consistent runner, is how my gait improved my stamina – particularly my feet’s. With the different stride using a Five I don’t experience muscle pains in my 5k runs. My erratic run paces has been due to my frequent stops to catch my breath and ease the pain in my foot. I’ve done better back when I was a kid using only slippers. So what has made the difference?
It’s the complete motion control and making use of the natural springy arches of our feet. The arch support and high heel cushion of traditional running shoes keeps my feet from using it’s maximum performance. With the promise of great heel support I’ve also started to adapt to how I should run with the traditional running shoes. My heel goes first and that really hurts. Some runners may say to do it mid-sole first but that doesn’t really help either – it is still close to being a heel strike. With the FiveFingers I get to use my arches with gusto. Its 2-3mm sole protection is just enough to protect my feet but allows me to run with natural gait. I can’t explain it enough than just show you a video of the difference.
And here’s a video from Daniel Lieberman
It’d help if you could read this article too on how using a VFF allows for ‘recovering’ your natural gait.
So how does a VFF feel for someone switching from a traditional running shoe? When I got my KSO (Keep-Stuff-Out) wearing it was a new experience. It’s a snug fit. The 2mm sole protects my feet from pebbles on the road but still allow me to feel the road – even its temperature (hot, warm or cold).
My first run I have to adjust my gait a couple of times. Using traditional shoes for a long time had forced me to do a heel-strike run. Of course that hurts on a Five without the thick cushioning of shoes. After a minute or two I got used to it and finished a kilometer before stopping. Just as any first-time VFF user I got blisters on my toe fingers. Ouch! That shouldn’t stop any of you from trying it. It’s the natural coping ability of your body as it ‘re-learns’ running. On my third use I’ve never had blisters again – except on times when I forget to clean the soles from sand and small pebbles.
I use my KSO for when I get a chance to use it aside from running – when I’m not forced to use leather and/or casual shoes. I have used it for walking (especially on vacation tours), on a beach and for trekking. A word of advice – don’t use it if you’d be trekking on rocky trails with rocks the size of half your fists. You can still use a Five but you’d be slower than those with thick cushioning trek shoes.
The KSO (Keep-Stuff-Out) has velcro strap around your front foot and a breathable stretch mesh to “Keep Stuff Out”. The Classic and the Sprint is cool too but since I use my Five on almost anywhere I prefer to keep sand and dust off my foot. It’s wrapped by protective polyamide and Vibram’s TC1 rubber soles. After a month of using it it’s as if I’m not wearing anything at all.
I’m glad Vibram opened a store here in Rockwell PowerPlant Mall I got myself a new grey/black camo. I’m practicing running for a 5K marathon later this month with fellow VFF friends (a couple of friends got convinced in using it 🙂 ). Will let you know how it goes.