Revolutionary Shoes...or just a new toy?

You have probably heard of Vibram Five Fingers by now.

Every now and then, somebody goes and reinvent something so simple and obvious which makes you think: "Why haven't I thought of that!?!?!"

I am a sucker for technology. First was the 2XU compression tights and now my eyes are set on this new product that's causing a bit of a stir in the runners' circle. 

So, out of curiosity, I dug deep into my pocket and bought myself a pair of Vibram Bikila. (No, not Bikini). Apparently, the product is named after the designer...unusual name. Makes me think of Bikini......

Anyway, it's well designed. I bought a pair just like the one shown below.

I had my doubts about this kind of shoes being used for marathon running. Hey but then, there are some bare foot runners out there running faster than I. So, does it work? Obviously for some. But will it work for me? I have yet to find out.

So, I have tried it on. It feels very snug and comfortable. Like wearing a tailored glove for the feet. I personally feel that toe socks may not go well with it. With the socks, it can feel a bit constrictive at the toe level. Buying a size bigger may not be a great idea as it is likely to expand after using for a while.

I went out on a slow run with it. For the first time, it feels very strange indeed. For us who are accustomed to the normal running shoes which pretty much focuses on shock absorbent qualities etc, this is a real shock! Nothing. No support at all. Just your feet against the ground. I feel so naked. It's a bit embarrassing. Aside from the fact that people are just staring at you, probably thinking: "What on earth is that contraption?!?!"

It was just a short run. Just to break it in gently for my feet. After all, still recovering from ITB and fasciitis. So, I won't want to push it. The last thing I need from this is to incur more injuries. Then it'll be very hard to justify investing in this kind of "shoes".

Running with Vibram gives my feet a sense of freedom. And also without the constant fear of stepping on broken glass, pebbles etc. I can see why some like barefoot running. But the question that remains unanswered is whether this is actually suitable for running a marathon, personally....I don't know. I have to try out longer distances to find out. Suffice to say for now, I like it.

The recommendation is that one should really start off with a short distance to first get accustomed to it. The calf muscles may feel a bit sore initially but it will gradually adapt. I think that makes sense. I felt a bit of tightness in my calf after the run. But does it aggravate those with existing knee/ankle injuries? Personally, I don't feel it. But that depends on the individual's level of exertion. In other words, the effect may be more obvious if you run fast or longer distance. However, at this point, I don't want to find that out just yet. Let my injuries settle first.

So, would you spend MYR350-400+ for this kind of "toy"? I think the idea is a great one. Hats off to the person who invented it. But it is probably not for everyone. Much like an acquired taste. An expensive taste for going "bare". Even with good reviews or excellent comments from some Olympian runner, it will probably take a while for the idea to warm up to most. But for most of us who hardly have the time to run, a good old pair of Nike or Brooks may just suffice for now.

I shall update you when I manage longer distances with Vibram in the near future....


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