More ‘barefoot’ running (with some VFF advice)

My last two runs (Monday and today) have been ‘barefoot’ (e.g. not actually barefoot but in my Vibram FiveFinger KSOs).

Following the blood blisters I got from the Eastleigh parkrun on Saturday, I decided to give my big toes extra protection from rubbing by covering them in stretch fabric strapping. It seems to have done the trick in that the blisters have got no worse and in fact seem to be healing ok.

I really think I’ve found the right form now. I read somewhere that it should feel as if you’re running across hot coals and that’s the feeling I’ve been getting.

Had a friend of a friend interested in VFFs and sent her some advice. I’ve copied it below in the hope it’ll help others:

Interested to hear that you’re interested in VFFs. I was lucky enough to win some KSOs a month or so ago and have been using mine for a couple of weeks.

Have to say that they are quite different to the running shoes I’ve been using. Not only in looks (they look very odd with the toes!) but also the fact that they have so little padding underfoot.

I’ve read quite a lot about barefoot running with and without ‘shoes’ and it’s clear to me that there are benefits of using some of the techniques that barefoot runners employ. In fact, when running barefoot or in minimalist running shoes like the VFFs, you almost automatically adopt a ‘better’ running form (shorter stride, landing on mid/forefoot rather than heel, faster cadence/turnover, light landings). In fact, you feel as if you’re using a technique that you’d use if you were running over hot coals. Anyone that’s pro-barefoot will say that today’s running shoes encourage heel striking and that can lead to injury.

As I say, I’ve been running with VFFs now for a couple of weeks. There’s lots of advice to say that you should transition slowly and I agree wholeheartedly. I ran 1 – 2 miles for each of my first 3 runs. I then did a 5 mile run and ended up with a big blister on one heel. At that point, I decided to avoid getting more blisters I’d invest in some toe socks (Injinji do some which are available from various places including LoveThoseShoes.com). That stops any rubbing (as there’s no/little padding in the VFFs, there’s plenty of opportunity to get sore spots, hot spots and blisters).

The other downside of the new running form is achy calf muscles. Even after only running in them for 10 minutes, my calf muscles screamed for a day after. It’s amazing how a relatively insignificant change in where you land on your foot can use different muscles. After about 4 – 5 runs and I’m now not getting any pain.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when I revert back to my normal running shoes (for a run over 5 miles for example), I am able to adopt the ‘improved’ running form and don’t land on my heel. When I do, it’s amazing just how comfortable all that padding feels though!

Prior to using the VFFs, I’d upped my weekly mileage and was starting to get achy knees. So much so that I had to resort to Ibuprofen before going out for a run. However, since transitioning to VFFS, I’ve not had any knee pain at all! It’s almost magical!

So, would I recommend VFFs. Yes, definitely! You’ll get some strange looks. That doesn’t bother me. You’ll hopefully not get any injuries (especially if you transition slowly) or at least should get fewer injuries. You may get some blisters, sore spots etc so be aware of that. Your feet may harden a little too (as they’re not enclosed in lots of cushioning).

Some final bits of advice is related to purchasing them and sizing. There’s a massive problem at the moment with fakes and fake sites selling them. There are some issue with stock and there are few approved retailers in the UK. http://www.LoveThoseShoes.com, http://www.purefootwear.co.uk are definitely legitimate. Anyone offering 40+% off or cheap Vibrams are fake.

In terms of sizing, make sure you following the sizing guide on the Vibram FiveFingers website or the YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/vibram5fingers#p/a/u/0/Tuuzpz7q0LU

Hope that helps! Feel free to ask me any other questions!

Next run is Friday for a 4 mile easy run.

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