Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vibram Five Fingers versus High Arches: Round 1!

I've had foot problems for as long as I can remember. I have what my friends and I like to call "Barbie Feet" - really high arches with a very pronounced heel and ball of the foot. This, coupled with the fact that I'm 6'3 and not a small guy, leads to a LOT of weight coming down on one small point every time I step. It's worse when I run.

Not only does this make it hard and painful to jog, it also means that I tear through shoes like no one's business. I can take a new pair of nice running shoes and flatten the support down to nothing in three months. Keeping nice shoes on my feet is a pretty expensive proposition, and running with bad support is a terrible idea long term.

I was resistant to getting a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for a while, for a number of reasons. Not the least of which - let's be honest with ourselves - they're really silly looking. I was also not sure that they would accomodate my strangely shaped feet. But after my latest pair of shoes gave out, I broke down and decided to see about sizing and prices.

After taking them out for an inaugural run, here is my initial Vibram Five Fingers review:

I like them. A lot. I didn't feel any of the foot or ankle pains that I'm used to associating with running (which can't be good for me, long term). Because of that, I felt like I could run further and faster. They're not too expensive, either. My pair was $85 from REI, which is less than I would pay for a pair of running shoes.

Here's a piece of advice for anyone getting started with Vibram Five Fingers or barefoot running in general: Start small. You're going to be running on totally new parts of your feet, and you aren't going to have the callouses you need there yet. I wound up running a few miles out before I realized that I was rubbing some nasty spots into the bottoms of my feet. I probably looked pretty silly hobbling back home in my Vibrams. Start with a mile loop around your house instead of trying to dive right into it.

I'll put up more thoughts and experiences with my Vibrams after I get some more mileage on them.

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