My New Running Shoes

Aren’t they hideous?

So, I know I’m not supposed to wear these kinds of shoes. I have flat feet and I’m supposed to have lots of arch support so I don’t hurt my knees and put too much pressure on my joints and so on and so forth. But here’s the thing… I hate shoes. I never, ever wear them. I’m the epitome of “barefoot and pregnant” and even when there’s snow on the ground, I’d rather run outside to check the mail without shoes than put on a pair. The only times I ever wear shoes are when I’m going out and when I’m running. Which led to these…

Today, I decided to run a while on the treadmill, barefoot. I’ve been working on my form lately and watching some videos that were recommended to me by Chris at Trax Running. So when I decided to put the things I’m learning into practice, I wanted to do it without shoes so that I could FEEL what I was doing. When I’m wearing shoes, I feel like I’ve got blocks of concrete on my feet and I have no idea what my feet are doing. Am I heel striking? Pushing off the toe? I’m clueless about what’s going on down there.  And although I really like the shoes I recently wore for the half marathon, they still feel awkward and… well… like shoes.  So I did some intervals on the treadmill, sans shoe, and felt GREAT. But then, just before mile two, the treadmill died on me. I threw on my shoes and headed outside to finish my run, but it felt like I was moving through quicksand. I just could NOT get my feet to do what they had been doing and I felt awful. Fed up, I kicked off my shoes, threw them in the grass, and kept running in my socks – and felt amazing.

When my husband got home, I told him about my experience and he reminded me of a strange dream he’d had not long ago, where I was running a marathon in Vibram FiveFinger’s and telling him about how well they’d worked for me. Well, who am I to argue when the Almighty gives my husband a sign? 😉 In all seriousness, I have no idea whether these shoes are going to help me or hurt me, but I’m going with my gut (and my husband’s dream) on this one.

For now, here are my thoughts:

Running without arch support may hurt my knees and lead to injury.

Running in shoes with arch support definitely irritates my feet and makes me feel slow and clumsy.

Either way, I figure these will be great on short runs when I’m trying to pay more attention to my form and build up my calve muscles. I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to run with them over long distances, but at the very least I’ll feel more comfortable on my short days and have a much better idea of what my feet are doing. I’m betting that will transfer over to the long runs, even if I do have to wear “normal” shoes for them (which I promise, I’ll only buy at Trax Running!  Is it strange to feel like I’m cheating on my running store by wearing shoes from somewhere else?  I feel dirty, somehow!!!)

If nothing else, I have great conversational piece that I can take almost anywhere… even if they won’t match anything in my closet.

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So, I’m curious…. what about you guys?  Has anyone else ever tried out Vibram FiveFingers?  Have any of you ever run barefoot, or know anything about how barefoot running affects those with low (or no) arches?  Any thoughts?

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Categories: Running

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10 Responses to My New Running Shoes

  1. Patti Milam says:

    Rina, Brandi brought hers home last year and I tried them on. My biggest problem was I had surgery on my left foot and they really hurt and I can’t bend my big toe on that foot due to the surgery. I also had a really hard time getting them on and off. I bet for a normal person they would be great though. I think Brandi wears hers to work out in.

  2. maggsworld says:

    I have seen them, but never even been tempted to try them. I love being barefoot at home but the ground gets so hot here even macadam melts, so I rather like the feeling of having sole between myself and the ground. I appreciate your sensation of block of concrete and inflexible ones at that!!! But I have become inured to the support and even comfort of sturdy stolid supports around my feet.

    • Rina says:

      WOW, I can’t imagine it being that hot! (I really can’t imagine running in that kind of heat!) 🙂 From what I understand, people who are used to wearing shoes all the time, or who log tons of miles running in regular shoes, probably aren’t very well served by switching to VFF’s unless they want a pretty long transition period. I did some research and there is a lot to back up the fact that VFF’s can really cause a LOT of injury if you transition too quickly, especially if you’re used to wearing shoes all the time. I think my husband would hate them, but for me so far so good! I wore them all day today and they felt AMAZING and then ran 3 miles in them a little while ago. My legs and feet are pretty sore, but nothing over the top, and the run itself felt SO much better.

  3. jamie jarboe says:

    I have considered getting some of these as well. If you have time in your training schedule I would hold off any mileage increases. Everyone who have talked to who has switched has run into some “trouble” during their transition–anything from an actual injury to just new-weird aches and pains as their feet/ankles/hips/knees adjust. Good Luck!

    • Rina says:

      Thanks, Jamie. That’s definitely the plan… Especially since I have NO IDEA whether these will be good for me or not. I’d already planned to take my milage way down after the half marathon and build back up, just to give my body some more time to adjust to what I’m asking it to do. I have six months until the marathon in Cinci, so I’ll be taking it slowly for a little while and see how these work out.

  4. run4joy59 says:

    I haven’t ever tried them, but I have a blogging buddy who loves hers…I’ve got problems with my right foot, need surgery, keep putting it off…not sure how these shoes would fit with my foot issues…might give them a try sometime tho, just to see…

  5. Rina- check out the posts at katysays.com on alignment, footwear and biomechanics. I think you’ll find some useful information. I love my barefoot Merrills.

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