Doing the Ultimate Hike in FiveFingers - Help Alejandra Out!

Doing the Ultimate Hike in FiveFingers - Help Alejandra Out!

The following is a guest post by Alejandra Aldana

On May 4, 2013, I will be participating in Ultimate Hike, a 28.3 mile hike benefiting CureSearch for Children's Cancer. My goal is to not only complete this very long hike in one day, but also help raise awareness and $2500 in funds for CureSearch.

CureSearch for Children's Cancer, a National Childhood Cancer Foundation, funds and supports targeted and innovative children's cancer research with measurable results, and is the authoritative source of information and resources for all those affected by children's cancer. CureSearch funds both local and national research, ensuring that a cure will be found as quickly as possible.

I have decided to take this challenge for a number of reasons. I want the opportunity to help give back to those affected by cancer as well as improve my life and fitness. Part of what I hope to accomplish other than raising funds for children in need is becoming part of a community and pushing my boundaries.

I plan on completing the 28.3 miles completely in my Vibram Five Fingers and while many people are advising me against it, I just don't see myself doing it without them. It is going to take a lot of building my feet up, but I am more than confident I will be able to do so. If you are able to donate to my fundraising that would be great. If not that will be fine, too. What I would love to get out of this, is the opportunity to share my journey with others. There is nothing more powerful and exhilarating than a sense of community for a great cause. If you are interested in joining me on my minimalist journey please let me know as soon as possible (we have already started our first training session). If you would like to help follow and share me and my cause you can do so at 10littlepiggies.tumblr.com.

You can also donate directly by following this link.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement!

The Inaugural Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore - in Luna Sandals (Venado/original)

The Inaugural Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore - in Luna Sandals (Venado/original)

You're out on a run. Your nose is getting stuffy, so you lean to the side for a quick farmer's blow. It's cold out, but you didn't realize how cold until you go to wipe your nose with the back of your glove to clear off any additional moisture -- only to find that it's already frozen around the edge of your nostril in mere seconds.

Welcome to the inaugural Asheville Marathon, held on the grounds of the beautiful Biltmore estate. "Well," I thought dramatically at around mile 20, "At least I'll die somewhere majestic."

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First Half-Marathon in Toe Shoes (Vibrams)

First Half-Marathon in Toe Shoes (Vibrams)

Got a note and the above photo from Matt in the mailbag about him completing his first half-marathon — and doing it in FiveFingers! Check it out:

Hi Justin,

I had a great time running the 30th Annual Kaiser SF Half Marathon earlier this month in my 5 Fingers KSOs (sans socks)! It was a wonderful event with over 5,000 participants held in beautiful Golden Gate Park.

Although I had run in high school and college, over the years I had never run anything farther than a 10k (many years ago). Needless to say, I was a little nervous about signing up for a 13 mile race. I began my transition over to toe shoes in 2010 in a search to alleviate my nagging lower back pain. I wanted to keep running, but the pain was draining my enthusiasm. Stretching, pilates, and yoga all helped but the final key was toe shoes!

I trained using Hal Higdon's beginning training schedule. While I didn't break any records, I didn't have trouble finishing the race. The race was on Superbowl Sunday, and by Wednesday I had recovered and was back to my regular workouts.

Congrats, Matt! Glad to hear you had a speedy recovery.

The question is: what's next?

Research Study Looks at Foot Injuries from Transitioning to Vibram FiveFingers

Research Study Looks at Foot Injuries from Transitioning to Vibram FiveFingers

Recent research released late Feb. 2013 implies that there's a good chance transitioning to Vibram FiveFingers may cause injury—specifically, bone injury.

The study was titled "Foot Bone Marrow Edema after 10-week Transition to Minimalist Running Shoes," and the abstract can be found below. In brief, the study did the following:

  • Looked at 36 experienced, recreational runners, divided them into two groups, kept 17 running in their traditional shoes for the 10 week study period, and had the other 19 transition to running in Vibram FiveFingers over the 10 week period.
  • They used MRI scans before and after the 10 week running period to look for "bone marrow edema," which is an indication of injury/inflammation as fluid builds up inside the bone.
  • The experimental group undergoing transition to FiveFingers running followed "[A] plan based on one offered at the time of the study (early 2011) on Vibram's website. In the first week, they did one short run (1-2 miles) in Vibrams. During the next two weeks, they added another short run in Vibrams each week; that is, by the third week they were to do three runs of at least 1 mile in Vibrams. After the third week, they were told to increase the amount they ran in Vibrams as felt comfortable, with the goal of replacing one short run a week in conventional shoes for a short run in Vibrams." [Details per RW]

The study found that slightly more than 50% of those transitioning to running in FiveFingers showed increases in bone marrow edema in at least one bone at the end of the 10 week period.

A cursory interpretation of the study would be that you've got a 50% chance of injuring the bones in your feet on transitioning to toe shoes like FiveFingers. As you might expect, the research is making waves in the minimalist/"barefoot running shoes" community.

What would a more nuanced take on the study be? I wanted to know, so I reached out to a few of the usual suspects—runners who have transitioned to minimalist/barefoot shoes including Vibrams and have personal experience around the subject.

What follows (after the jump!) are their thoughtful responses to this study. Read on!

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Hiking Despite Osteoarthritis in Barefoot Shoes

Hiking Despite Osteoarthritis in Barefoot Shoes

I recently got the above photo from Ron. Ron is a 60+ guy who was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in one knee—after some 32 years of running.

What follows is his story about what the doc's had to say about how he should handle the news, and as you might guess, some FiveFingers came into the picture:

I call this my victory photo.

Last year, at age 60, and after 32 years of running, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the left knee. It hurt to walk, let alone, run. My general practitioner doctor suggested minimalist footwear as part of a program that included stretching and strengthening. [Meanwhile, both the] knee specialist and the physical therapist said to back off and use orthotics.

I took my general practitioner's advice.

Well, here I am a year later, relaxing at over 14,000 feet on the top of Mount Bierstadt in the Rocky Mountains. This was just one of several hikes I took during a 6-day vacation. I totalled nearly 35 miles of hiking and every step in my Vibram KSO Treks.

I proved to myself that I wasn't too old to make such a big change after 32 years of walking and running in the most expensive and most cushioned shoes. Of course, I still have osteoarthritis in the knee, but I am back at it, thanks to the therapeutic value stretching, strengthening, and minimalist footwear.

(I go barefoot alot, too!)

Ron A.

Fantastic to hear, Ron! And kudos for following your intuition and having success despite adverse conditions.

Hope you have many more successful hikes!

Muddy Paintball in FiveFingers

Muddy Paintball in FiveFingers

This is the muddiest photo of FiveFingers I think I've ever seen.

What's the story? Enter Michael, who picked up his pair of TrekSports as an all-purpose pair of toe shoes though he specifically planned to use them for paintball:

I've been trying to paintball regularly for a year or so now, something more active then my usual regime of computer games and TV. I'd scoffed at Vibrams the first time I saw them, but the more and more I spotted people wearing them the more I wanted to at least try them on.

Once I started paintball I figured I'd finally had a real excuse to have wear them passed the novelty so I was on a mission to eventually own my own pair. A few months ago I was able to venture to my local Hikers Haven and try on as many pairs as would fit, finally deciding that a pair of KSO Treksport would be the best for the job (as well as seemed to be the only pair that would fit my APPARENTLY abnormally tall dorsal area of my feet). Unfortunately they were lacking on my perfect size and I was lacking in actual funds.

Skip ahead a few months and a new job gave me the opportunity I needed to snag me a pair. They instantly turned into the comfiest and most expensive pair of slippers I'd ever owned.

Eventually I got the chance to head back out for paintball. I generally try to go on dry days, as I hate getting mucky (a bit of an oxymoron when paintballing), but of course that morning was a downpour, leaving the field a minefield of puddles and mud. Within the first 15 minutes of arriving, we had to walk about 50 meters through a river of inch deep mud. At that point I tossed my inhibitions to the wind and had a great time being a mudder. It was of course still winter and the puddles were cold, but the pair of Injinji socks I was wearing were able to keep me warm enough.

I'm convinced that I was more agile, less tired, and much more happy wearing the Five Fingers than I would have been wearing my usual clunky Merrell sneakers, which would have been impossible to clean.

I'll be bringing my Vibrams with me to every paintball day, and hopefully will start doing more things to wear them more often.

Michael T. - Toronto

Glad you've found some use for them!

All that talk about mud reminds me of Stuart running his 255km jungle marathon in Spyridons.

Thanks for sharing, Michael!

SeeYa, Speed FiveFingers Back in Black!

SeeYa, Speed FiveFingers Back in Black!

Did you know that Vibram has snuck out two new colorways of the men's SeeYa and Speed FiveFingers? If you didn't, read up!

The Speeds are now available in a flat black (see above) and the SeeYas in a black/grey mash-up (also above), which is infinitely less eye-catching than the day-glow SeeYa colorway that came out last year.

In a "but wait there's more" moment, one retailer has both the SeeYas and the Speeds on sale at 20% off through 3/31/2012—and the sale includes these new colorways.

You can find both FiveFingers models at these links:

One catch: free shipping threshold is over $99.

If you'll recall, the black KSO FiveFingers were quite possibly the most popular colorway of all time (see here if you don't believe me!), so I'm sure these new color combinations are likely to please.

What do you think?

P.S. If you're looking for some minimalist-if-lightly-modified "troop" boots (and other sytlish shoes by OTZ), there's a huge sale/deal on them, too. Details here.