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Posts tagged “vibram

Gear Me… Running Shoe Showdown.

For the last year and a half or so, I have really embraced running. Running is something that I have always done from time to time, but for the first time in my life, I have actually enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because I am now in my 30s, and my body is reacting a bit differently than when I was in my 20s. Or it could just be that running is a very inexpensive, and low time commitment way to stay in shape. Don’t get me wrong, I love mountain biking, but it is very nice to just leave from the front door and hit the road or woods for a quick half hour run. That said, here are the shoes that I have been putting to the test…

From bottom to top: Vibram KSO, New Balance Minimus, Merrell True Glove, and Saucony Kinvara 2.

Vibram Five Fingers KSO
These are the shoes that made me enjoy running again, and made me hate it all the same. I posted a rant about them some time ago (read it here) and after my little toe issue, I took a nice long break from them. After that break, I started to work them back into my running routine, and now I am back to liking them. These shoes really shine for trail running or hiking, but only when it is dry. Wear these shoes when it is muddy, and you will have a trail running session that is similar to ice skating. Since they are so light, they are also a great choice for having around the campsite after a day in hiking boots.

New Balance Minimus
These are my go to shoes now a days. Primarily a trail runner, I find that these shoes are an all around delight for my feet. They feel very similar to the Vibrams, but with a more aggressive tread pattern, that hooks into the ground very well. Wet trail downhill running? Yes please. These shoes connect with the dirt unlike any running shoes that I have worn. I also like running on the pavement with them, but this is not the popular view on this model.

Merrell True Glove
I have been a fan of Merrell’s products for a while now, and when they embraced the minimalist running movement, I was intrigued with their models. I ended up with the True Glove, and after quite a few runs I decided that these were not for me. The feel of them seemed dulled down, as in the rubber seemed too hard, or not as flexible, and they just did not feel right to me. So, I have been wearing these shoes to work, and after two and a half months they look like this:


These shoes have not held up to a little bit of running, and a lot of time at work. The other shoe has completely separated at the toe from the sole. So add shoes that don’t last and bad ground feel, and that equals shoes that I will not buy again.

Saucony Kinvara 2
After my Vibram incident, I went out looking for a more comfy shoe, and I ended up going with the Kinvara 2s. Compared to all of the shoes on this list, they are like running on clouds. Not a true minimalist shoe, but more of a transition shoe. Any time that I feel like pushing the miles all on pavement, these are the shoes that I reach for.

So there you have it, the shoes in my current stable. I have been running quite a bit more here the past few weeks, mostly due to having a slight tailbone issue, and also due to Venturepax having a running challenge on their site. Head on over to accept the challenge to win some Altra running shoe swag!

Just keep running…


Vibram Five Fingers… Friend or Foe?

This year I have really embraced running. Not really sure why, running is something that I have always dreaded. This year though, it became part of my life. There is just something about taking off from your front porch, and going. Sure, while you are doing it, it normally is no fun, but after, the feeling that you have in your lungs is all worth the struggle of the trip. It is a great way to stay fit, and a great way to cross train and mix it up a bit from cycling.

This summer, after a buddy and I competed in theWarrior Dash, I started my search for new running shoes. I researched for quite some time before setting my sights on a pair of minimalist running shoes. If you are not familiar with the minimalist running movement, this is a good read on the subject. That article can sum it up better than I can. Basically, it is running in a more natural state, with less of a shoe. The more that I read about the subject, the more I became convinced that this was for me. So, after hours and hours of researching, I went to my local store to pick up a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.

I decided to go with the KSO model, which is one of the most popular models. I really wanted to get a feel for the shoes first and foremost before going with the running specific model, the Bikila. If you are thinking of buying a pair, I would recommend going to a running specific store. It is always a good idea to try them on in person and see if you even like them compared to buying online, plus, you can usually ask questions about the product. Luckily here in the Cincinnati metro area, we have such a store by the name of Bob Roncker’s Running Spot. At the running spot, I was cautioned on the ill effects of the VFFs if not worn correctly. I absorbed all of the information, had a nice chat with the knowledgeable staff member, and out the door I went in my new shoes.

At the advice of the Running Spot, I started slow. And by slow I mean walking. I wore these shoes for a solid month before even thinking of running. I wanted to be sure that I was doing everything correctly, and not rushing into it. The first month went by, and so it was time to start running. My first run was around a half mile. It was a weird sensation. Lots of muscles burning in my legs that I have not used in quite some time. It became addicting. So, slowly but surely I built up the miles over the next couple of months to where I was running anywhere from 3 to 8 miles at a time. At times there was some different types of pain. First came the calf pain. Second came the top of the foot pain. Both of which seemed “normal” from the research of different forums. Seriously, if its on the net it is true right?

So enter yesterday. I had signed up to run the Fox and the Hound 5k in downtown Cincinnati. Great course, nice and flat, and very scenic. Everything during the run was going along as planned, maybe a little faster pace than normal for myself, but everything felt good. Then at the half way point, my right foot started to hurt. Seemed like some “normal” top of the foot pain that I had experienced before. So I kept running, slowing my pace a bit. At mile 2.5 I had to drastically change my footing, so it looked as I was running with a cramp. This kept the pain down a little, but enough for me to keep going. After crossing the finish line, I could tell that this pain was not normal. Usually if there is any minor pain, it will start to feel better during stretching. Not the case with this pain. I tried a few different methods of stretching on my foot, then decided to limp my way back to my truck for my drive home. And a painful drive it was, just using my foot on the pedals hurt more than my foot has hurt before.

Once home, I iced my foot for a time, drank a beer to self medicate, and went to bed hoping that tomorrow would be a new day. Instead, I woke up to more intense pain in my right foot. Off to the doctor I went and they confirmed I had the “normal” injury of a stress fracture in my 2nd metatarsal. Great.

My reason for this post is to hopefully inform people of the real risk from wearing these shoes. I really enjoy them unfortunately, and I feel that I worked my way up slowly. I don’t understand how I could run longer distances, with no negative instances, then run a shorter 5k and have an injury like this. Granted, this is not a huge injury, I do not need surgery or anything major, but it is a huge inconvenience. It just does not seem to make sense to me. So now the process starts over, researching shoes once again. I do plan on keeping the VFFs, but I will not be running in them anymore. That was an expensive and painful experiment…