Friday, July 29, 2011

Vibrams Running Shoes, a First Impression

They felt like dance shoes, at first, especially when I wore them inside the gym for a work out with weights (you know, to break them in). Like ballet slippers or Capezio jazz flats, the Vibrams Five Fingers gloves seemed to wrap themselves around my feet, almost as if they had been shrink wrapped or laminated, even more so than the way socks feel.

Like aqua socks is more accurate - they weren't as buttery soft as ballet slippers. But they were certainly flat. I might as well have been barefoot, which I think is the point. And like dance shoes, the new Vibrams allowed me to reach a little further in dance-stretches than my usual cross trainers do.

Julie was the sales person who helped me at REI store. She looked like an expert on camping, with her short hair and sporty work outfit of a polo shirt and capri length cargo pants. She asked me if I had already run barefoot before. I had to admit that I had not. She warned me to start with a short distance, only a mile, even, and to build up from there. Only a mile? Pshaw. I've been doing six miles in an hour this summer. I was sure I could do half of my usual jog in my new Vibrams, first time out.

Two young Asian sisters in the store made fun of my new shoes while I was trying them on. "They look like alien feet, don't they?" I asked them. Or frog feet, sort of. What did they know? They were too young, still, to understand the need for shaking things up a bit when hitting a plateau in your normal exercise routine.

Okay, so maybe they were just young enough to not buy into this current fad of weird looking shoes, shoes that appeal to those of us that are desperate to be distinctive.

Julie was right. Today, I aimed for the intersection a mile-and-a-half away from our house, but I cut it short and turned around when I reached the traffic signal that was a half mile closer. It didn't hurt to jog in the flat-footed, no-support-at-all gloves, but it sure felt different, sort of like running barefoot on the beach but without as much of the shock absorbing give that sand has.

The new shoes also slowed down my pace. Songs on my iPod were ending quicker than I was used to before I was able to reach the usual half mile increments. Also, I didn't breathe as heavily as I normally do, even in only the first mile or two, so I don't know if I'm getting a less efficient cardio workout or not.

I'll try again tomorrow. I think I'll be able to reach the mile-and-a-half mark, this time, and complete three miles in my second attempt.

If I'm able to get out of bed, that is.


Mr. Macabre said...

I've got a pair and it wasn't the wisest thing I've done having flat feet. Still, I like mine but it takes a (long) while to get used to them.

contrarymary said...

Hi Peter. Great to read that you are running. I will warn you to continue with a slow break in period with the Vibrams. I, personally, am not a Vibram wearer but hubby is and so are a few friends. One eventually ran a half marathon barefoot and one ran in the shoes. Another got a stress fracture while running a 5k. They all stress taking your time to start running full distances in them. Although, I think that dancers may not need as long an intro period because of all the things we do in bare feet or minimally supportive shoes. Will be interested to hear how things progress.

Peter Varvel said...

MM, yes, I'm understanding that much more acutely, now. Yikes!

CM, I was able to do three miles today - and I am feeling it, but not in horrible way. I will take tomorrow off and try three miles again the next day. So far, so good (I'll report to you in person next month, in rehearsal!).

Cheryl said...

This post made me nostalgic for the jazz boots I saved and saved for in high school.

Is "camping expert" code for "lesbian"? :-)

Peter Varvel said...

Cheryl, yes - and thank you for "reading between the lines." ;)
I am a little sad that eventually let go of my extremely worn out jazz boots. They were cool dance shoes!