guest post—> teri z.

by Janetha on January 31, 2011

in moves

Hi Meals & Moves readers! I’m Teri from A Foodie Stays Fit. I’m so honored to be doing a guest post for Janetha while she suns it up in Mexico.

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

I also have a special love for Janetha since I’m a Utah girl too. Unfortunately, we didn’t know each other when I lived there and I’ve since been transplanted to North Carolina. But hopefully someday we’ll be in the same state. Better yet, neighbors.

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. Last July, I started running in VFFs.

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I wanted to try VFFs because I have been dealing with running injuries for years and had heard from others that minimalist running helped reduce their injuries. When Ashley from The Edible Perspective raved about her VFFs, I decided to finally get my own; I trust that girl’s opinions considering she researches everything.

If you want to read about my first-ever run in Vibram FiveFingers, click here. For this post, I’m going to answer some of the most common questions I get about running in VFFs.

The most common question: So, how do you like ‘em? I don’t like ‘em. I LOVE them.

Which VFFs do you run in? I run in the Sprints. There are many different models depending on what surfaces you’ll run on and if you’ll use be using them for other activities.

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Does it make your feet hurt to walk on the ground in VFF? No, not at all.

But what if you step on something? Well, watch where you’re going! clip_image007 Every once in a while I’ll hit a tree nut or a large rock but I’m pretty good at avoiding those, and little rocks don’t hurt.

Do you have to run differently? Yes. I’ve always been a major heel striker (see blurry, pixelated – sorry! – picture below) and now have to run up on the balls of my feet much more. I’m not running on my tippy toes, but more like a mid-foot strike. And consequently, I’m developing toned calves for the first time in my life! Score!

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Does it feel harder to run that way? Surprisingly, no. It’s much less jarring on my body and I feel like I look like the runners I’ve always envied…you know, the ones who look so light on their feet? I pretend I’m a Kenyan runner now instead of a clomper.

What about injuries? My running injuries have nearly all disappeared. Last year while training for a marathon in standard running shoes, I developed issues with my SI joint (located in the lower back/upper butt area). Even after months of physical therapy, I could still feel the ache in my SI joint after a couple miles. However, I haven’t felt ANY pain in my SI joint since I’ve been running in the VFFs. If I’m not training appropriately (e.g. too much mileage too quickly, not enough recovery, not enough stretching), I’ll start to ache like any runner in any shoe does, but I blame that on a poor training regimen, not the VFFs.

I think the change from being a heel striker to a mid-foot striker is probably the main reason for the reduced injuries. Being a heel striker was pretty jarring to the SI joint area. I’ve also struggled with IT band problems for over 6 years, and haven’t had any issues since switching to the FiveFingers. Do you have to wear VFF to be a mid-foot striker? Absolutely not. But I had tried for years to change my form and couldn’t until the VFFs forced me to.

Do your Vibrams provide good arch support? There is very minimal arch support as you can see below. The bottom is a sort of rubber, flexible sole. However, I have read multiple studies about people who had flat feet and wearing VFFs drastically improved their arches. Their feet strengthened from wearing VFFs and the arch of their foot developed; they claimed you can “build” arches if you have flat feet and that flat feet are a result of not properly utilizing your feet. Make sense? But, obviously, check with your doctor since this is all hearsay and I have no personal experience with it.

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What if I have weak ankles? Same thing as arches…studies have been done that running barefoot helps strengthen ankles and also reduce foot injuries such a plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon issues.

Do you still run in your normal running shoes? I did at first (alternating runs or switching to my Asics after 2 miles or so just so I could get in some distance) but rarely do anymore. I tried to wear my Asics on a treadmill run last Saturday and my ankles and knees started to hurt, and it just didn’t feel comfortable running in the “big” shoes. I switched to my VFFs and finished my 7 miles in those.

So how do I get started? I started wearing them as much as possible, just walking around the grocery store or whatever. Also, I’m always barefoot in my house so I think that helped build the muscles in my feet…running in VFFs uses the muscles in your feet in a different way than traditional running shoes. When you want to start running in VFF, take it very gradually to avoid injury, particularly stress fractures in your feet and arches. I followed this schedule (approximately):

○ Week 1: run ½ mile, 3 times a week on non-consecutive days; I ran Monday, Wed. & Sat)

○ Week 2: increase each run to 1 mile, following same schedule

○ Week 3: increase each run to 2 miles

○ Week 4-6: mid-week runs are around 3-4 miles; I stayed at this distance for a while just to continue to strengthen my feet and calves

○ Week 7 and on: mid-week runs stay 3-4 miles. I also started to add one mile to my longer runs on the weekends, progressively increasing until I hit 11 miles before running a half marathon in them in December.

In the beginning weeks, when I wanted to run longer, I switched to my Asics after the initial mileage in the Vibrams.

What’s the furthest you’ve run in them? 13.1 miles. I ran a halfmarathon in them last December. And it was the first halfmarathon I’ve run where I didn’t deal with IT band issues during training or on race-day. (Note: It took me over four months to build up to that mileage in VFFs. I didn’t want to hurt my feet so I added mileage very gradually to avoid injury.)

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Have you used your VFFs for any kind of strength training? I was very nervous about strength training in VFFs. I wore them for about a month before I did strength training in them since doing squats without a lot of support under my feet freaked me out. I now do all my strength training in them and actually feel that I have much better balance. (I do 99% of my strength training in a Body Pump class which is all free weights and balance is key with free weights.)

Do you run in them in the winter? Yep. I wear Injiji socks with them, which are socks designed for wearing with VFFs. But just like any winter running, you gotta be careful about ice and slippery roads.

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Can you run on the treadmill in them? I do. I know some people don’t like running in them in the treadmill but it doesn’t bother me.

What about blisters? Well, yeah…gotta be honest, sometimes I get pretty wicked blisters when I wear them without socks. The blisters are never painful though – it’s not like blisters like a pair of new shoes that rubs the wrong way. I really never know I have a blister until I take them off and see a blister – usually on my heel or up by my toes. I wouldn’t let that deter you though, because you can slip on a pair of Injiji liners (thinner socks) to eliminate the problem. I just haven’t bought any yet.

Do people still want to be your friend when you wear them? Oh yeah. People like me more because they are just so dang sexy. ;) It’s kind of like having a dog; you suddenly have people stopping to talk to you all the time.

Other tips/notes:

Your feet will be sore. It’s kind of weird. They don’t necessarily hurt, but they get sore after runs. If you experience pain, definitely take a few days off!

Try to land lightly. You naturally will anyway, but try to make it a conscience effort, especially in the beginning.

I wear them without socks most of the time. However, when it’s really cold and I’m running outside, I wear Injiji socks. f you are going to wear socks a lot, you may want to go up a size in the VFFs since I have a pretty hard time getting mine on over the Injijis.

Please let me know if you have any more questions or head over to my blog. On my Popular page, I have a few links to more Q&A about VFFs.

Question for YOU: What’s your favorite distance to run? I love 7 miles. It feels like a decent long run, but it’s not so long that it takes tons of preparation or takes up my whole day. When I’m not training for a race, I usually seven miles for my weekend run.

*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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Lauren January 31, 2011 at 5:10 am

Teri, this headshot of you is BEAUTIFUL!!!!! I know I’ve seen it before, but I was just reminded how beautiful you are! Thanks for sharing on the lovely Miss Janetha’s home. :)

Teri [a foodie stays fit] January 31, 2011 at 10:31 am

oh my gosh, thank you Lauren! You are so sweet!

Erika January 31, 2011 at 5:14 am

Great post Teri! I’ve always been curious about those Vibrams that I hear everybody talking about! Sadly, I’m more of a Cross Country runner and not only are they not regulation (for school) but I doubt they’d have enough grippage for the uphill/rocky parts. I’m definitely keeping these in mind for the future though… :]

Teri [a foodie stays fit] January 31, 2011 at 10:32 am

eek, ya! probably not a good idea for Cross Country!

Eates-a-lot January 31, 2011 at 5:15 am

I LOVE MY VIBRAMS. I’ve had them for about a year.. I’m on my second pair. I will never buy athetlic running shoes again.
I even wear them to Jazzercise. My feet look muscular.. and a little smaller. My ankle for the first time in 10 years never hurts. My calves are ridiculous looking. These are the best things ever.

I will say, when I first started running.. I noticed that just below my calf hurt.. it was a wierd spot. But since then, nothing.

BTW – I love your colors… I have a black pair.. and a grey/red pair. I like the new style that has some sweat soaking up material. (Never knew my feet sweated until I wore these!)

inmytummy January 31, 2011 at 5:59 am

I’m with you on the 7 miles for favorite distance. It really feels like an accomplishment but it doesn’t wear you out for the whole day. I’m also a fan of 8 miles. 9 and up, not so much!

fittingbackin January 31, 2011 at 6:48 am

Very, very interesting. I’ve had “feet problems” and was thinking about switching to these per my friend’s request. My concern is that my problem is in my big toe (fractured fibular sesamoid; bursitis) so I don’t know if going away from heel strike would help or hurt. I’m considering trying it – I figure it’s not getting better anyway and I miss being able to run. :( Thank you for your tips and any thoughts you may have on these shoes for people like me with ‘ball of foot’ problem is much appreciated!!

Thanks!

carolinebee January 31, 2011 at 6:54 am

Great post Teri!! Ha, i’m not a fan of Vibram’s for style purposes…but your pink ones are pretty hawt! Sock picture too ;D

I loveee Body pump- and I’ve heard that flat, more true to foot shoes are much better for balance and muscle strengthening! I wear Nike Free’s right now and I’ve noticed a big difference..thanks for all the info :D

Freckled Foodie January 31, 2011 at 6:59 am

awesome post, teri! i’ve been wanting to try vibrams for EVER. it looks like so much fun!

xo.

Kathie @ Frugal Fit and Fabulous January 31, 2011 at 7:52 am

awesome post, teri!!! i actually just heard about vibrams last week and have been oh-so-curious but have been a bit hesitant because i tend to over-pronate on one of my feet plus i have meniscus tears in both knees (but i run with braces and they help out a lot). I might just have to research these a bit more and give em a go

Salah January 31, 2011 at 8:42 am

I have been wanting some VFF, and the sprint ones at that! Great post!

Nicole C. January 31, 2011 at 9:05 am

Interesting post, I really liked it! I have seen the VFFs around but not too much. I only know of one person I know buying some but I hadn’t heard a review on them. Helpful insight thank you!

Sarah January 31, 2011 at 9:36 am

i love this post! honestly, i still think vff’s look a little strange, but i would love to try them! i wish they weren’t so expensive!

momma b January 31, 2011 at 9:52 am

Thanks for a great post Teri!! I’ve have been SO curious about these so I was super excited to have you give us the scoop on VFF. I have done strength training barefoot and you’re right balance is a lot better.

I’m not much of a runner so to me 7 miles sounds like a whole marathon! I stick with the BFL HIIT and that’s enough running for me :)

xo

1970kikiproject January 31, 2011 at 10:20 am

thanks for the great info! i liked your q & a format.
i really appreciate the build-up schedule that you provided for easing into VFF running. i have two pairs, and have built up to wearing them for an hour + of walking…it’s too cold here now to wear them (canada) so in spring i am going to ease back in, then get into running with them. love that you did a half marathon using them!
i agree – seven miles = great training distance.
thanks again for sharing!

Mrs. Unger January 31, 2011 at 11:58 am

Hooray! I love the idea of barefoot running (or VFF running – same thing. :-)) I started playing soccer barefoot when I was a little kiddo because my dad told me it would make me a better soccer player. Since then, I’m dabbled with barefoot running, and almost ALWAYS do barefoot strength training (since I work out in my garage) – I couldn’t agree more!

Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather January 31, 2011 at 11:59 am

Thanks for all this info and your thoughts on VFFs. I like 6 miles as a comfy long run. I want to try and keep that as my long runs each weekend now that my half marathon training is done.

Katy (The Singing Runner) January 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Super interesting! I am looking at trying these out at some point. I have had bad IT band problems in the past and maybe it could help me!

runyogarepeat January 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I’ve really wanted to try these after hearing about reducing injuries and reading Born To Run. Instead, I bought Saucony Kinvaras, which are a minimalist shoe in between regular running shoes & Vibrams. They support midfoot strike, are super light, and still have some support.

Maren January 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Hearing that you struggled with IT Band AND SI Joint issues before and they are practically gone, REALLY makes me want to try these out. I’ve always been weary b/c I’ve dealt with these issues for 7 years as well as falling arches. I am so intrigued!! Thanks for a great post. Oh and they have pink?! Score!

C. January 31, 2011 at 1:48 pm

i LOVE my VFF’s!!

no knee pains since I’ve made the switch about a year ago. Never will go back to normal shoes. LOOOOVE THEM.

Allison @ Runs A Latte January 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Hmmm…I used to think people in those shoes were crazy, but I think you’re on to something. I tend to have hip issues with distance. I am curious if these shoes might help…

carlee January 31, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Okay…so I have a hard time runnin, especially on treadmills becasue it jars my back out of place and gives me bad headaches. Do you think I would be able to NOT jar my back out if I used those?

Pure2raw twins January 31, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Teri we love you!! And we really need to try those shoes, you make it look so easy :)

Carolynne January 31, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I have been thinking about vibrams for a few months now. I went to try them on and didn’t really like them. I don’t know. I know that I just have to give them a good try. I so love your review on them!! It really makes me want to try them out again. Thanks!!

BroccoliHut January 31, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I’m with you–7 miles is perfect for me!

nancyrunswild January 31, 2011 at 11:07 pm

This was really interesting. I don’t think I will switch any time soon but I enjoyed reading about the Vibrams.

Little Miss Fitness February 3, 2011 at 10:08 am

My friend wears those! and loves them. :)

kissmybroccoli February 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Ok, so I’m a little late to the game on this post, but I have been SO curious about these things! My biggest concern is that I will feel the same way about these as I do toe socks…I HATE toe socks! For some reason, I always feel like my toes have gone numb after wearing them for about 15 minutes. Do your toes ever feel funny in them?

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