So I finally broke down and bought Vibram Five Fingers. I had been using an old pair of Teva Proton water shoes for WODs at Crossfit Ignite, rowing, and stand-up paddling, but these are not appropriate for running, and I wanted to give the barefoot running thing a try because my knees are bad and getting creakier every year. Here are my first impressions.
1. They are great for running. My calves still get pretty sore and I still get blisters with no socks, but my knees feel great, I feel like I’m running on air, and generally I run faster than I normally would. I am up to 6 miles without feeling like my calves are being drawn and quartered. I still haven’t tried long distances or trail running but I think I’m on the right path once the calves get strong. Trail running could be challenging because I have loose ankles and I probably need to develop the stability that regular shoes masked.
2. They stink for jumping rope. I am not a great rope-jumper, and I get the rope caught between the toes and lose a lot of time untangling it in WODs. Shoes without the “toes” are much better.
3. They are great for things like burpees and deadlifts. I find that I am able to get my feet more directly under my body without having my feet slide around inside the shoes as they did with the Tevas. Because they weigh so little, I can move the feet at higher speed and get better range of motion.
4. They stink for rowing on the Concept2. The foot angle and the strap hinging on the ball of the foot causes a couple of my toes to slip out. This doesn’t affect performance but it’s annoying, especially for WODs requiring a short piece on the Concept2 followed by a transition to an exercise where you need the toes to be in the right spot.
5. I believe that they are going to be AWESOME for stand-up paddling! Being able to work individual toes is going to be huge. Looking forward to that.
6. They are going to be questionable summer footwear in New Jersey. In California, no problem. In Jersey, I will probably be regarded as a freak. But who knows?
7. They are AWESOME for business travel. No more size 12 running shoes taking up half the suitcase, no more separate sandals, etc. They are MADE for carry-on luggage!
8. The jury’s out on dealing with cold weather running. Talk to me in 6 months 🙂