Friday, 29 July 2011

Kennys Day Out with Vibrams

(this image is from google, identical though to my own Vibram Bikila LS)


These shoes are ugly as hell, I thought. The first time I saw them (it was that black and green one), I was like ewww, whats that, please scrape it off your feet, mister. Anyway I saw it more and more around the place, its clearly the latest fad/craze. I thought nike must have made it, based on all the hype. And the fact that their running shoes have really sucked so far (I have reason to change my mind a bit on that one too, but thats for later). Anyhow, I never thought I would get on board the Vibram Five Fingers bandwagon, mainly 'cause I thought it looked ugly, and would be expensive.

Change of mind

I became open to the idea after reading about people wearing it all over the place, like to bars. If there is one thing I struggle with, its regular use footwear. I pretty much hate everything I have owned so far. For different reasons. I obviously am not a stiletto-type girl (or, for that matter, much into leather, not that there needs to be a connection). I rarely rise off the ground in my shoes. Despite the fact that my hunk-a-man is a foot taller than me and we might look more like a couple if I made the effort. Still didn't think I would try it out as running shoes till I did a Yasso-800 workout recently.

Sprint work-out, and Spring trip

The Yasso was fun. I did 6 rounds of it with jog/walk breaks. Every single step of it though, my asics felt like lead. I should be flying, if my shoes weren't weighing me down, I thought. I tried a couple of slightly fast runs with my nikes (which are, btw, better for this purpose than the asics, I have a couple of very basic nikes which have lasted long and look like dung but I do like them). Still, the mind started being open to something lighter on the feet, for the sprint workouts.

I don't like very flat footwear - I have tried them before, as regular use footwear. Hurt like hell. Felt the ground in a not pleasant manner. Balls of my feet felt wooden and burned. When MSB forced me to try the VFF on though, I felt awesome. Its *not* like the very flat slippers you get in Mumbai pavements. Its not like those stylish (meaning, crappy) women's chappals you get in the stores. It has a sole. Which I appreciate. It has some stuff going on in the sole, which may or may not make sense, but I am happy for it, anyhow.

Style statement

I wore them around the house a bit. Wore a blue shirt and wore them to work with that blue shirt one day. People still stared more at my face (and my beautiful nose) than my feet. Someone commented that it looked like prosthetic feet. So what?

My background

I am not much of a heel striker. Nope. I do pronate, I have flat feet, have had flat feet for as long as I can remember, used to be a fairly speedy runner in my youth. I used to run exclusively on my toes in youth, have developed a more healthy mid-foot (ish) strike of late. In terms of injuries, my ankles are shot. I occasionally suffer shin and knee pain. I have increased mileage subtly over the years and its broadly been okay. I lay off and rest when I sense anything going wrong. For the most part, I think I know my legs. And I have a few advantages. Low center of gravity (as I like to say it), for one. Decent musculature (fat calves I inherit from maternal family). Craziness. I am not into speed (yes, I avoid the drug too) much any more. It makes me uncomfortable. Oh yes, my back, for what it is, its strong. I mean, in light of C-section and giant pregnant belly (doc, are you sure its not twins?) a mere (!) 7 years ago.

First impressions

So, for a non-heel striker, why is my right heel sort of doing this? That was a first revelation. That although I assume I am not a heel striker, that I might be one, sort of. Otherwise, I did feel comfortable the entire duration of the run. I was a bit conscious initially but I settled in and enjoyed the feeling entirely. This is not saying much. Happens when I run in the asics/nikes too. But still, it felt good. I had some gravel getting in, was worried about it, but not enough to stop and shake it out. My little toe is disproportionately small so was worried about the fit there, but it worked ok. I suspected that the overall fit was a bit on the loose side for me (I have 'thin' feet but my second toe is super long; I fitted the shoe in the store in the afternoon, as recommended, so my morning feet felt a bit small in them). Didn't feel it though, as I ran. Initially, I felt a bit, uhh, how do I say it, bouncy? as I ran. Strange considering how very small I am in the breasts department. Definitely something different in how I am striking the ground, I guess. But I forgot about, and I feel fine now, no pain/chafing, and we save a review of sports bras for a later post.


The shoe is overall slung low on my ankles. As a basketball player (just retired) and an asics-wearer, this is new, plus my ankles are not known for their stability. So I am a bit worried about this. Gravel is another issue as its not as snug a fit, and I didn't buy the socks (yet). Have to see how these pan out! I have one blister on the upper part of my foot. Small one.


Rest of everything is great. Looks really nice (another change of mind? maybe its just that its blue, the black/green one is pretty blah). Feels pretty comfortable. Didn't sweat as much as I expected it to. Held up okay on both road and mud-track.

Final words

For now, take it slow, thats the plan. Wear it on weekly short/speed runs. Am running a trail half later in September, don't think I will run that in VFF. Its a tough trail, will depend on Asics for that. I don't expect to see any new muscles (I am an old hand at this, people!), but hopefully, I get stronger, even as I age. And yes, maybe I will get one each of the other VFF models at a hundred bucks a pop, to wear to work, and to TASMAC stores...


Choxbox said...

OH MY GOD. Saw these in Singapore and thought it was an interesting design! Going back to read your post now.

Space Bar said...

I've been wanting a pair of these for a year and more now. Envy!

Airspy said...

Yew..!From what planet have those descended

kbpm said...

Girls, seriously, they are awesome-ness. Airspy, I thought of you especially this morning, they will totally rock your world.

dipali said...

They look very interesting, to put it mildly!