10 Things You Should Know Before Running Vibram FiveFingers

by Heather

Today’s post is from the fabulous and gorgeous Teri. Ever wonder about running in Vibrams? Teri knows a thing or two about them and has agreed to share her experience with you. Enjoy!

Hi SoS readers! I’m Teri from A Foodie Stays Fit. I’m so happy to be visiting With a Side of Sneakers.

[I should probably tell you that I don’t have blonde hair right now. But that’s another story.]

Heather and I are both NC-ers but sadly, rarely see each other! However, we did have a blast hanging out in San Francisco last fall and at a bloggy Holiday Gift Exchange dinner last December.

Today I’ll be sharing my experience about running in Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs). I’ve been running for over 10 years; the first five years in Mizunos, the last five in Asics. And last July, I started running in VFFs. Today, I’m going to share some VFF secrets with you…

10 Things You Should Know Before Buying Vibram FiveFingers

10. You’ll get blisters. It could be a result of less-than-perfect form, treadmill running, no socks, or all of the above. You just have to find solutions. I’m still working on finding a solution since I have issues wearing the Injiji socks with my VFF (they don’t feel comfortable to me).

9. People will stop you constantly to ask about them. Do you like them? Do you run in them? Do you weight train in them? Can you solve world peace in them? etc.

8. You’ll need to start with very low mileage. Even if you are in marathon shape, your first run in your VFF should be less than a mile. You can read how I built up my mileage here.

7. They’ll get stinky. But you can just toss them in the washer on a gentle cycle and air dry them. Voila!

8. You’re calves will hurt like helllll for the first 2-4 weeks. They force you to change your running gait and you’ll be running more up on your forefoot, which really works the calf muscles. It will get better, but expect some major soreness and tightness. But, you’ll  soon have super-sexy calves!

7. You can run really long distances in them. Or maybe you can’t. Everyone will be different. I ran a half marathon in them but I know others who have major discomfort after just a few miles.

6. You’ll hate other shoes. When I wear regular shoes now (sneakers, heels, flats, boots, anything), I feel almost claustrophoic in them. I love the free and “connectedness” to the ground that VFFs give me.

5. Soreness is different than pain. You’ll know the difference. If your feet/calves/ankles feel achy, like they got a workout (which is kind of an odd feeling), you’re probably OK. If you feel sharp pain, discontinue using the VFF and see your doc. Some people have developed stress fractures from improper training in the VFF.

4. Your ankles and feet will be sore. You are running in a whole new way and forcing muscles to play that have been sidelined for a long time.

3. You’ll get an earful from non-believers. There are many skeptics out there that are convinced everyone needs really padded, structured shoes. And hey, some people probably do. But you are not everyone and you can decide what you want. You know how I deal with Vibram haters?  Them: “You know those are so bad for your joints and feet and you’re going to get hurt right?” Me: “Huh. Haven’t had problems myself.” I don’t get into it with them because sometimes, arguing just ain’t worth it with those that already know that they know. Ya know?

2. All your running injuries will disappear. FOR-EV-ER. Or not. Who knows? Everyone is different. For me, my IT band problems are gone. I had major IT issues for over 6 years and since switching to VFF, the problem has completely disappeared. I wouldn’t say that’s a result solely from running in VFF, but more an issue I had with form. And for me, running in VFFs helped me improve my running form to where my body could run more easily without that pain. But others may experience new injuries from switching.

1. Your experience will be different than mine. I have had incredible experience with VFF and have heard multiple other success stories. But I’ve also heard stories of woe and pain. Listen to your body. Read (with a grain of salt) others’ experiences. But ultimately, you’ll just have to see how it goes for you. But i hope it’s a good switch.

If you want to read more, check out these links on my blog:

Would you ever run in VFF?
What color would you want?
I love my hot pink ones. They definitely get noticed!

*Remember, I’m not a doctor or running coach, but am just sharing my experiences. Please check with your own health professional before making changes to your exercise routine and always consult a professional for injury diagnosis and treatment!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or chime in }

Lauren February 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

I first heard about Vibrams after reading Born to Run, and I was in need for new running shoes. I went with the Saucony Kinvaras (a minimalist type shoe), which isn’t quite VFFs, but there’s less structure than regular shoes, and it supports midfoot vs heel strike. I can tell a difference in my running form since wearing them, and eventually, I’d love to switch to Vibrams. It’s good to know that you ran a full half in them without problems!
Lauren Just blogged…Running Seasons

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Heather February 20, 2011 at 8:42 am

That’s the book that first got me interested in minimalist shoes too!

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ashley @ ashley's adventures in alaska February 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I sooooo want to try out the Vibram Five Fingers. In pink, my favorite color. Pink and black would be optimal. :) I think they would be great for my calf/shin issues and hope to try them in the next year. We’ll see!
ashley @ ashley’s adventures in alaska Just blogged…A quick fashion tip from a non-fashionista

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Teri [a foodie stays fit] February 21, 2011 at 6:59 pm

The pink ones are the best! :)
Teri [a foodie stays fit] Just blogged…The Weekender Weekend Happenings in pictures

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Liz @ IHeartVegetables February 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Interesting! I’d like to just try them out, but I don’t know if I’d want to run in them all the time. I’m not too picky about my shoes, but I do notice that if I try to run in like, my old cheerleading shoes, instead of my running shoes, I’ll get pain in my knee or my shins.

Thanks for the informative post! :)
Liz @ IHeartVegetables Just blogged…Ethiopian Adventures!

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Teri [a foodie stays fit] February 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm

eek, yeah – I bet cheer shoes hurt your knees! They have a really stiff sole which isn’t great for running.
Teri [a foodie stays fit] Just blogged…The Weekender Weekend Happenings in pictures

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BroccoliHut February 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Great post! I am just recovering from a drawn-out hip injury, and I have been considering getting a pair of Vibrams for myself.

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Katie @ peacebeme February 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Great post. I think everyone should read this.
Katie @ peacebeme Just blogged…Get the worries out

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Mary February 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I really appreciate this post! I am a relatively new runner/workout-er. I never wear heels or anything that gives me support in my feet so slipping into vibrams was fast and easy! Lately I’ve been getting a lot of crap at the gym from musclemen telling me they are bad for me! But I love them!!! Thank you for your encouragement towards five fingers!

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Nata October 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Thanks for this post! It’s refreshing to hear people advise common sense when discussing the Vibrams. You’re right- they may not be for everyone, but what kind of shoe is?! I got my first pair of FiveFingers at the beginning of this year and I love them. It did take some time to get used to even walking in them, but I’m running up to 8 miles in them, and they’ve been great. My knee and back pain are long gone. I have put over 700 miles on them total and have literally worn a hole one of them, but I’ll definitely replace them with another pair of Vibrams!

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spike johan March 25, 2013 at 9:59 am

Good post – you have a couple of conclusions that I totally agree with: soreness is different than pain and your ankles and feet will be sore.

I transitioned from NB Minimus to sandals 3 months ago and have been upping my running time.

I am running 2-3 hours every day (in sandals) but not without soreness. I am looking around the web for possible solutions – my right Achilles is killing me (yes, I know – ice) and the balls of my feet get traumatized – but I’m running mostly on rocks down here in Michoacan.

I am also an old duffer but I love to run. I just need to see if I can’t find some solutions to the unrelenting soreness issues.

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