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.

NYTimes "Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants"

Amy Cortese published an article Saturday in the New York Times titled Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants. The article gives a hearty shout-out to barefooting, generally, and minimalist footwear and Vibram FiveFingers, specifically. I was actually contacted by Amy a bit over a week ago as she was looking to talk to folks who were running the recent NYC half marathon in VFFs though she wasn't able to work in any of my leads.

Below are my thoughts on Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants, an article that will surely further the "FABLA movement." And if Amy happens to read this, perhaps she could tell someone over at the NYT to review Christopher McDougall's Born to Run already!

As I read "Wiggling," I was reminded of NY Magazine's You Walk Wrong as well as the UK Dailymail's The Painful Truth about Trainers. "Wiggling" asks the question, is less more? Is there something to minimalist footwear? Barefoot running? For ease of discussion, I'm going to lump the minimalist and barefooting movements into a single movement — the FABLA movement — Feet Are Best Left Alone*!

As you might have guessed, Wiggling quotes a handful of "experts" who naysay FABLA outright or indicate that "more research is needed," a statement almost as silly as saying "human beings need to breath oxygen to survive but more research is needed."

And really, the experts sound more silly than convincing:

“In 95 percent of the population or higher, running barefoot will land you in my office,” said Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, medical director for the New York Road Runners, the group that organizes the New York City Marathon. “A very small number of people are biomechanically perfect,” he said, so most need some sort of supportive or corrective footwear. ...

Simon Bartold, an international research consultant for Asics, said advocates of barefoot running “are propagating a campaign of misinformation.” ... [later in the article] Mr. Bartold ... said the industry had runners’ best interests in mind. “It’s all about trying to protect the athlete,” he said.

Dr. Maharam's comment is, of course, completely ludicrous — are we to believe that human beings are crippled by design? That humanity evolved over tens of thousands of years despite being completely handicapped by their faultily designed and biomechnically inept feet?

Surely not.

Bartold gets to the nuts of the issue: "protect the athlete:" wrap up the athlete's feet in a cast of cushioning and "corrective devices" intended to perfect biomechanics.

Don't any of these guys see how absurd all of this is? How do you know what correct biomechanics are if you're thwarting the bioengineering via highly-padded, high-heeled, spring-loaded, shoe casts? This dogmatic and dogged reasoning just chases its own tail.

If you're paying attention, you'll notice that Cortese tees up this little gem, which is promptly hit home by a sports research manager at New Balance:

But for all the technological advances promoted by the industry — the roll bars, the computer chips and the memory foam — experts say the injury rate among runners is virtually unchanged since the 1970s, when the modern running shoe was introduced. Some ailments, like those involving the knee and Achilles’ tendon, have increased. ...

At the same time [in the 1970s], millions of Americans began taking up running as a pastime. Those twin trends ushered in a golden age of biomechanics research. “There was a lot of concern about injuries because of the boom,” said Trampas TenBroek, manager of sports research at New Balance. The logic, he said, was that “if you build a heel lift and make it thicker, you take stress off the Achilles’ tendon.”

Whoops! The whole stress-off-the-Achilles' thing has been working out pretty well, right?

What I liked about the article is that Cortese does a solid job of illustrating the sports shoe market. You've got a $17 billion sports shoe market. Then you've got Vibram, an upstart** shoe manufacturer that is growing like crazy but is only slated to have "revenue of $10 million this year in North America."

Vibram (and others) is like the proverbial David up against the Goliaths of the sports shoe industry — Nike, Asics, Adidas, Reebok, New Balance, etc. These giants are all clad in their showy marketing and padded, "protective" armor while utterly missing the naked point — feet are best left alone! Quite trying to reinvent the foot! The best any footwear can hope for is to simply get out of the way.

But the giants don't get it—even when they try. Just take Nike. Nike spent untold amounts of money researching barefoot running and designing their "barefoot" shoe, the Nike Free, and what did they come up with? Something that still looks and functions a lot like modern sneakers, high heel and all.

And even if they did get it, could the giants untangle the mess of misinformation they've been pandering now for four decades? Would they be willing to implicitly say, "Hey, we were wrong: our shoes have been doing more harm than good." I'm skeptical.

What I am optimistic about is that the FABLA movement is gaining momentum. And why shouldn't it? It's founded on the evolutionary backing of a few tens of thousands of years of bioengineering.

With that kind of history, do we really need more research to understand that feet are best left alone?

* If anyone can come up with a better acronym, I'm all ears!

** Upstart because Vibram has been a sole company up until the past three years!

Taking a Helicopter for a Spin in Five Finger Classics

Taking a Helicopter for a Spin in Five Finger Classics

Mike recently posted to the birthday shoes forums about his 30th birthday present, which was a ride and chance to pilot the above helicopter, which, of course, he did in his birthday shoes!

I asked Mike if it was a scary experience and here's what he had to say:

Yup, very scary.

I've played alot of flight sims, especially helicopter sims and I know the theory behind helicopter flight. But nothing could've prepared me for when I got to hold the cyclic (the joystick) at 1500 feet. It felt really unstable, although it really wasn't, but just the slightest movement and it felt like we'd tip over. The pilot told me to watch the horizon and that helped alot to keep it steady, then he told me to keep an eye on the instruments so that we maintained the correct altitude, I told him I would not be doing that since I didn't want to look away from the horizon.

So yeah, quite scary at first.

Then I got used to it and it felt pretty good.

Once we were on the ground again I got to try hovering which is far more complicated then just flying, every limb is working. Before we went up the pilot said that I shouldn't be ashamed if I didn't managed to hover because that usually takes around 50 hours of practice. I did manage however, it wasn't pretty but I did it. He told me that he could tell that I knew what I was doing, all those hours playing helicopter sims actually helped.

Many VFFers talk about how fivefingers make for good driving shoes; and others have often praised their comfort while travelling aboard airplanes; but I think this makes for the first time I've heard them used while flying anything (other than a hang glider or a parachute, that is!)

Well done, Mike (And happy belated birthday!)!

Hiking Old Rag Mountain in VFFs with Michael and Tim [Video]

Hiking Old Rag Mountain in VFFs with Michael and Tim [Video]

Tim Kelley, who now has run two triathlons in Vibram FiveFingers (The first was posted about here, the second — just see the fist pump and jump above — was completed at the Outer Banks.

Just this past week, Tim and his friend Michael went hiking up Old Rag Mountain (in the Shenandoah Mountains). Even better, they filmed the experience, uploaded it to YouTube, and set it to Axel F.

Read the rest of this post »

Jason Runs in Red Sprint FiveFingers

Jason Runs in Red Sprint FiveFingers

Jason ("Ardent" on the forums) sent in the above photo of his slightly muddied red and black Vibram fivefinger Sprints*. Jason's been regularly running in his Sprints now since early this year. Here is what he had to say about the experience:

At the time this pic was taken (feb) I was converting from ordinary run shoes to vffs alternating from one shoe to the other and slowly increasing the amount of runs in the vffs. I now only run in vffs. Road, pavement, fields, paths, tracks, whatever. However, back in Feb we had snow, to be fair it was melting at this point but plenty undisturbed in the fields. Looking at the sole of sprints tells you there is going to be minimal grip when it comes to snow, mud and sludge. I was right. I set off along a bridal path and was skittling about like bambi on ice and having a great time. The thing I always remember was the thought of the expression on peoples faces that followed. All these seemingly barefoot footprints.

Even though I had been running through snow my feet where strangely warm (wet suit effect). The sprints were only this clean as crossed a stream shortly before the end of the run. I have gone on to clock over 220 miles in the sprints. Done the Prestwold 10k in June, caused many double takes afterwards.

Jason regularly blogs about his training pursuits, including those in his VFF Sprints at his blog here. Thanks for sharing, Jason!

* My favorite color combo**, the red and black Sprints make your feet look irradiated—like anthropomorphized Martian feet. They look particularly creepy in darkly lighted rooms (like movie theaters).

** I'm a University of Georgia alum, what can I say?

Vibram Five Fingers, Fjords, and Fjell

Vibram Five Fingers, Fjords, and Fjell
Vibram Five Fingers, Fjords, and Fjell
Vibram Five Fingers, Fjords, and Fjell

Received the above photos of Mark taken at various places in Norway (Top to bottom: a fjord on the island of Tustna, on the top of Jørenvågsalen, and on the top of Fjellstua). Here's what Mark had to say:

I have enclosed some pictures of me in my five fingers KSO's taken during my trip to Norway this summer. (Fjell is Norwegian for mountain). I wore them for most of the time, including climbing two peaks of nearly 3,000 feet, canoeing, and trekking through forests. They handled everything well, although it would have been nice to have a pair of the new treks for the mountain descents...the thin KSO sole did mean I had to tread extra carefully so as not to bruise my feet on the way down. All in all I was very impressed with them as an outdoor shoe, it confirmed what I already suspected - these things are brilliant!

The three photos are:

- Near the boat houses on the fjord on the island of Tustna

- On top of Jørenvågsalen, the second highest mountain on Tustna

- On top of Fjellstua, a small mountain overlooking the city of Ålesund


You can spot a "Pantheist" t-shirt in the top picture — that is Mark's band.

Thanks, Mark!

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 8/23/09

Below are the past week's latest reviews of Vibram Five Fingers:

  • FiveFingers in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness at Whole Health Source [Sprints]:

    I had a few converstions with my parkour instructor Rafe Kelley, during which I realized I had to re-teach myself how to walk and run correctly. Rafe is well-versed in natural human movement due to his background in MovNat, gymnastics, martial arts, strength training, parkour and anthropology. Modern shoes allow us to walk and run in a way that our bodies did not evolve to tolerate. The padding in shoes allows us to take large steps, in which we overshoot our center of gravity and contact the ground in a jarring manner. It also allows us to strike with our heels when we run, which is not comfortable when you're barefoot.

  • Vibram Five Fingers at tri life adventure [Classics]:

    The beauty of these shoes is that they essentially allow you to run barefoot without the hassle of dodging thorns, shards of glass and other vagaries that render true barefoot running impractical. There is also no doubt about the effects of a bad foot strike as the pain is immediate but after a few minutes you find the sweet spot and from there you could basically run all day.