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Opposable Toes: Vibram Edition

For the past several weeks, I’ve been trying to think of a blog post to write that would produce a torrent of ridicule and mockery. How does one troll themselves? Well, I think I’ve figured it out.

I mentioned recently that I’ve been doing a little bit of running over the past few months. Like hundreds of thousands of others, I’ve been bitten by the barefoot / forefoot / midfoot / oh-god-if-you-tell-me-one-more-time-how-people-ran-for-2-million-years-without-the-help-of-running-shoes-I-will-forefoot-strike-you-in-the-armpit bug. I’ve run about 150 miles in a pair of Nike Free Run+, and they are great. They are far less supportive than typical heel-strike shoes, but they’re still pretty squishy. Despite being quite a departure from traditional shoes, the Nikes are more like wearing a running shoe than running barefoot.

So, I picked up a pair of Vibram FiveFingers:

To be clear, I’m not obsessed with the idea of running barefoot. Frankly, it sounds like it hurts. Also, I like shoes. Shoes are great. I will probably wear shoes every day for the rest of my life. Also, I realize I can simply remove my clothes and shoes, walk out my front door, and run barefoot. But this is a time of great innovation! They make shoes that are designed to feel like you’re not wearing any shoes! And if someone has gone to the trouble of producing a product to help with something, is it not my duty to acquire said product?

Enough blah blah. The VFFs showed up yesterday. I immediately put them on. Gia immediately vomited on me. Mattias peed and started crying. These things are glorious.

I took them out for a short maiden voyage this morning. I have heard many stories of people going too hard, too fast, too soon, and ending up more injured than if they had continued a life of heel-strike in marshmallow shoes. As such, my goal was to run 2 miles at a VERY comfortable pace with laser focus on technique and paying close attention to messages from my body.

Things went eerily well. I was expecting all kinds of strange new aches and zaps, but aside from a couple strongly-worded emails from my achilles tendons very early on, I felt as good as I can remember. I ended up running just over 2.5 miles mostly because I ran too far from home, so, by the time I made it back, I was over my goal. And, honestly, despite trying to set a limit and ease into the new kicks, the main thing that brought me back home was the fact that Gia had to play tennis. My calves were a little spicier than normal, but I felt like I could have kept going for miles.

I like to think of myself as a function-over-form person, and few things that I can think of epitomize that more than the ol’ Vibram Opposable Toes. I mean, ninjas would laugh at you (if ninjas laughed). All I can say is, after one run, I am a fan. Time will tell. And you all will probably spin your wheels telling me how ugly they are.

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