Update on the Vibrams 5 fingers

I like my new minimalist shoes. They make me feel light and they certainly help my cadence. I used them for all my runs this week so far, which I know is not very sensible, but then when it comes to running I can be very daft.

Today I wanted to do a long run, 14k. Since my half marathon in May my distances have dropped off. First of all holidays, then we seem to be doing things every weekend which means I can't sacrifice a whole morning to running. So I've been doing 10ks most weeks, but nothing much further. About time to start building up again, especially as I have the day off.

So the first long run in the Vibrams. I ran my fastest 10k in 3 months without reaching worrying heart rate levels, but the last 4K were quite tough and the final kilometre was horrible. The only real problem I have with the Vibrams is my left heel, which feels bruised (it probably is). And every run I seem to end up stomping on a stone with that heel. This time a tree root really hurt and I was limping a bit for the last 600m. I had wanted to go on to 16k, but at 14 I called it a day and sort of semi-hobbled home. It's nothing serious (and to be honest, 14k was probably a bit ambitious considering I'd only ever run 6 in them before!) but I am wondering how I can harden my feet up.

Next run is on Sunday in "normal shoes" and I'm going to be a running tourist, as we're going to Austria for the weekend. Can't wait!

15 Replies

  • Ouchie.... ouch ouch... I felt that stone and the tree root!

    I was wondering how they were working out..didn't one of the runners a while ago have these ? Cannot remember who though?

    What can you do about the heel issue I wonder... I have hard heels, and hard feet... ( I think because of barefoot running when I ran as a teenager!

    Some ideas here...


    Have a super, super time in Austria.... running all around the Tyrol in your normal shoes :) x

  • Thanks, that's really helpful. I go barefoot at home whenever I can, walk a lot and my feet are actually in better shape since I started running. But this heel business is a pain, literally.

    I hope to post lots of pictures of my run in Kufstein - I really love running tourism and am so excited! But the real reason we're there is a gin-tasting evening, so I hope I'm not too hungover!

  • Look forward to the photos.. have super time and take care of that heel xxx

  • I'm a bit worried about that heel. I hate to be a kill joy when you are doing so well, but that's what plantar fasciitis feels like when it first starts - a bruised heel....please keep an eye on it...

  • OK - it did occur to me. But it's not worse in the morning with easing off during the day. And I'm pretty sure there was a bruise when it first occurred. But definitely something to watch out for - thanks!

  • I've had it for ages, it's on the way out now. Yes, first thing in the morning, and getting up after a while sitting down are definitely the worst times. And after running. Your's probably isn't then, but calf stretches and heel raises won't do any harm.

    I'm following your progress with these shoes, thank you for posting!

  • Thanks for the update, interesting to hear how you get on but I don't think they will be for me and my poor sensitive feet.

    Enjoy your holiday.

  • Progressive toughening of the feet (not necessarily the skin) develops over time, when running in minimalist footwear, so take it easy while you adapt towards a zero drop shoe.

    Other than the thin rubber outsole between the skin of your soles and the ground beneath, you're essentially running barefoot. As such, the muscles and connective tissue of the feet and legs need to time to adapt accordingly.

    If heel striking seems to become commonplace during the latter stages of your runs in the VFFs, it suggests that fatigue is setting in.

    However, since your left heel has troubled you from the outset, give the brusing a chance to recover, by either reducing distance or running in footwear with a little more cushioning in the heel.

    As a fellow and experienced barefoot runner, the aftercare provided, through continued strengthening of the muscle tissue, maintenance of skin/nails and sufficient rest each plays its respective role in ensuring that distance can be increased upon at a sustainable and comfortable rate.

  • I'll give them a rest next week - the suggestion that it may be plantar fasciitis is a bit worrying. If it is, I have a long-term problem on my hands (or rather feet). I really do walk a lot every day and I need my feet!

  • It could be PF, if the discomfort has increased gradually over a few weeks, but if it's only occurred since beginning to run in VFFs, it's most likely due landing upon your heels.

    Although you may be struggling with a forefoot landing, as the foot hits the floor, make sure that the toes and ball of the foot land directly in line with the upper torso, allowing your knee to bend a little more than it already does. The heels do touch the ground as well, but they're the last area of the sole to do so.

    Try to imagine that you're landing almost flat footed.

    Don't neglect strengthening exercises for your plantar and calves either, since they help to progressively toughen your feet

  • How are your feet landing with these new shoes??? Not on the heels I hope?? :)

  • I find it difficult to run on my forefoot - but I am trying!

  • Find a length of safe concrete path - maybe 100 metres - and run slowly on it in bare feet. You will soon learn how to run NOT landing on your heels :) To learn even quicker - run it with your hands clasped behind your back - it is almost impossible to land on your heels while doing this as the hands behind your back forces you into a forward lean.

  • In addition to the drill suggested by Bazza, also run it backwards, as it'll help you to understand how lifting of the knee becomes important in developing a comfortable mid-foot landing

  • Fastest 10k = good :) Bruise = bad :( I remember when you said you first ran in them though and you thought you stepped on a stone, so hopefully it is still this and not PF.

    Running tourism, how fab! Have a wonderful time, and take photos, please, so we can enjoy too :)

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