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These shoes have made quite an impression!

So, I may have fallen prey to brilliant marketing, but I went out and got a pair of the Vibram Five Fingers Sprints. I wore them out and about all day today, and then took them up to the gym and the thrill mill for a little road test.

My first impression was that I am not used to having my toes apart from one another. It felt like wearing what you might consider the perfect pair of shoes. Each toe is hugged and protected, and there isn't much tentative stepping around like you would if you we're just barefoot.

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They are somewhat adjustable, with a wide strap around the instep, and two straps that act opposite each other in the back. I found it reduced perceived pressure on my great and small toe if I stood up with my weight bearing on my feet to adjust the straps.

I also wore my Injinji socks with them to walk around in and to run in, and I think it contributed the the overall inital comfort of first trying the Five Fingers on. There wasn't much of a break-in to wearing them, but I can say there will be some rewiring of how you think you ought to be walking, with how your body wants to be walking. The big, poofy cushioned running shoes I'm used to wearing have frankly made my feet a little senile.

It is virtually impossible to heel-strike with these shoes on. I thought I'd been incorporating Chi Running in my runs? Oh, so sorry. No. You don't have any appreciation for a soft landing, or picking your feet up, or having a quick cadence until you run with either the Five Fingers or barefoot. If you accidentally heel-strike, you instantly know it, and so do your molars. If anything, wearing these for short runs is a great calf workout.

I planned on only doing a half mile in the Five Fingers initially, so as not to overdo it. But the more I ran in them, the more my body seemed to like it, except when my calves finally started to ache a little from the different form, and the balls of my feet started to land a little tense. I started landing on more of my midfoot and this disappeared. I think there is a tendency to want to hop up onto the toes when you first start running barefoot or with the Five Fingers on. If I relaxed and just let my feet kind of do what they wanted, it was actually quite comfortable.

However, being shod for the majority of my life has left quite the deficit in foot strength and endurance. I wound up doing two fairly fast paced miles in the Five Fingers, and thought it might be best to shelve them for the remaining eight miles of my run, so I wouldn't tax anything too greatly. Running with trainers on for the remaining eight miles was night and day. They felt heavy and cumbersome. But...the cushioning was there to save my lazy feet and finish with a 6:30 pace for the tenth mile.

Of course, after my workout, given a choice between shoes and the Five Fingers there was little contest. Whatever pain I had been experiencing in my toe joint pretty much disappeared in the Five Fingers, and they are actually quite comfortable just to walk around in. Lord help me once they get "broken in" I'll probably never take them off.

The day after my workout in the VFF's, I found that (to no surprise) my calves we're a little bit sore, as well as my feet. It didn't feel any worse than after some of the first few times I ran when I started to run, and I attribute it to just relearning how to run without a lot of artificial support. It didn't feel like injury, or shock had caused the soreness, rather, it felt like new muscles we're being engaged that previously we're not. And that is always a good thing.

All in all, I'd say these are a great transition to barefoot, or at the very least a really good training tool. They're also going to work well for just wearing out and about, given that I dislike sandals with running shoe soles with a great passion. They also make a model that looks to be swathed in neoprene and velcro which would make for an interesting winter running shoe, should I take to running in the VFF's full time.

Drawbacks to the VFF's is the lack of true half sizes, which would contribute to an almost custom-like fit if offered. Also, the heel in the VFF's needs to be addressed. If I am comfortable in the toes, the heel cup feels like it has a lot of wiggle back and forth (almost like it sticks out at an unnatural angle). It doesn't affect the overall performance of the shoe (since you're mostly on your forefoot when "barefoot"), but it does detract from feeling a hundred percent comfortable in them the first time you put them on. I like the way they adjust, but feel like the stretchy sock part could come up a little further and cover more of the instep, which would hug the foot better.

I think they could also use a little more forward flexibility, so you can truly curl your toes in them. You know, for when you're curling your toes (wink-wink). Which is also a good thing. In fact, the sole could probably be a millimeter or so thinner and even more supple, which would lend to a more conforming fit. Also, if the innersole and sole we're made a little more flexible, Vibram could forget about producing half sizes because one size would truly accomodate a wider range of feet.

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Posted in Toys Post Date 06/09/2017






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