Vibram Fivefingers Running: Random Thoughts from a Part-Time VFF Runner

Vibram Fivefingers KSO on Ice

My posts on the Vibram Fivefingers have been fairly popular, particularly the following two posts that I wrote on my first couple of Vibram KSO runs:

Running in Vibram Fivefingers: First Impressions and Running in Vibram Fivefingers: The Day After

Because these posts were written way back in August of last year, and the Vibram craze continues to grow (apparently the soon to be released VFF Bikila is going to be very hard to come by when released due to consumer interest), I get a lot of questions about whether I still run in my Vibrams, and if so, what I think about them. Below are my answers to those questions, as well as some random thoughts on Vibram running.

1. With the exception of a month-long period spanning the time between the Hartford and Manchester City Marathons last Fall, I have been running regularly in my Vibram KSO’s at least once, and sometimes twice a week. This includes a number of runs in the dead of winter in temperatures hovering around 10 degrees Fahrenheit (for an example, check out the video below). I’ve seen a number of people commenting recently that they can’t wait to get back out in their Vibrams now that the weather is warming back up, but I can honestly say that cold was never an issue for me when I wore my Injinji socks with my Vibrams. I’m a huge fan of the Vibrams, and have every intention of continuing to use them regularly going forward into the future. If you have any questions about my Vibram experience, feel free to ask (comments/e-mails are always read and appreciated)!

Runblogger Runcast #2 – Winter Running in Vibram Fivefingers from Pete Larson on Vimeo.
Runblogger Runcast #2 – Winter Running in Vibram Fivefingers. Join me as a run along a wintery country road in New Hampshire in my Vibram Fivefingers KSO’s. If nothing else, this episode shows that it’s never to cold to go for a VFF run! Posted at: http://www.runblogger.com/2009/12/runblogger-runcast-2-winter-running-in.html.

2. My approach to Vibram running is not full-time. I tend to view Vibram running as a form of resistance training for my lower legs and feet. It’s an almost universal experience that people will suffer delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in the calf after their first few Vibram runs, and this is largely centered in the soleus muscle (lower portion of calf). This is a testament to the different type of workout you get when you remove the cushioned sole from a running shoe. I like to mix things up with my shoes (I run in Brooks and Vibrams), and basically feel that the more I can throw at my legs in terms of varying the biomechanical forces they experience, the stronger and more injury-resistant they will be under any set of running conditions (I have no evidence or scientific data supporting the injury part, just a gut feeling).

3. Vibram running is ridiculously fun. I can’t overstate this enough – some of my most enjoyable runs have come in Vibrams, particularly when it’s raining outside. Splashing through puddles in Vibram Fivefingers really does make you feel like a little kid.

Vibram Fivefingers KSO
Vibram Fivefingers KSO’s in Grey/Palm – These are the VFF’s that I Own

4. The new VFF Bikila is set to be released around the time of the Boston Marathon (mid-late April). This is the first runner-specific model, and I’m really excited to give it a try. Keep an eye on this blog, and if I’m lucky I might have a review in the not too distant future.

5. If you are in any way considering buying a pair of Vibrams, do it! As I said above, they’re a blast to run in, and on many days the thought of being able to do a VFF run is all I need to get me out the door. You may get funny looks, but to be honest, that’s part of the fun of the Vibram running experience!

6. Another final that cannot go overstated is that you must be careful and ease into Vibram running. If you do too much, too fast, you are at risk of injuring yourself. To hear my somewhat exhaustive thoughts on this point, check out my podcast on the subject.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll ad to this post if anything else pops into mind. In the meantime, enjoy your running!

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. icosahedron says:

    I agree with your last point. I’ve had issues with my feet since running in the Vibrams. I think I went too far too fast and had to stop for a while from a stress fracture in my left foot. Just now starting to get back into it.

    I would also recommend that people run on trails or softer ground than asphalt or concrete their first few months of running in Vibrams.

  2. I just started running a few months ago; I started running in my KSOs during the summer and fell in love with running. I live in Chicago and have gone for a few runs since its started to get colder, and my feet have been fine. However, the other day it was raining and about 34 degrees, and I turned back after half a mile. What has your experience been with running in the cold rain or snow?

    • Pete Larson says:

      For cold rain and snow I avoid Vibrams and go with something more
      protective. However, if it’s just cold, I have found the Vibrams to
      work fine, particularly if I add Injinji socks.

      Pete

      On Friday, November 26, 2010, Disqus

  3. SpringBak says:

    Ay yi yi easing into them is a major issue.  While initially I admittedly went too fast and far my first run in them, the four runs since then have been an up and down experience.  I had to stop my latest run at 1.5 miles because of bad pain in my right calf.  So it’s still a work in progress.

    That said, the switch to vibrams has been a liberating experience.  My entire life I’ve naturally run on the balls of my feet, not my heels.  Some of my friends speculated that was why I was a fast sprinter.  I even walked around my house as a kid on my toes, and my wife still occasionally catches me doing it today (it’s a kick when I catch my own two young boys doing it, too).

    After hating long distance running my entire life, but then having to quit rugby, I had to take up distance running just to stay in shape.  I eventually learned to heel-toe in the last 5 years, which seemed completely unnatural to me, and not without knee pain that prevented me from running more than 2 times a week.  I was diagnosed an “overpronator” and got inserts, but the truth is I’ve had flat feet my entire life, so it never made sense to me that NOW I needed something to straighten out my feet.

    I am really, really looking forward to getting past the calf pain and running in the vibrams on a more regular basis.  I feel like the societal norms of running have caught up with my natural way.  I’m a freak no more!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Great to hear that you’ve found something that makes running fun again, that’s what it’s all about. definitely be careful and go slow for the first few months – injury risk is higher during transition, but calf pain will typically subside as you adapt.
      Sent from my iPad

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