From Skeptic, to Barefoot Runner, to a Collector of Vibram Five Fingers
Lindsey started out as a skeptic, but like so many of us, ended up with a closet full of Vibram Five Fingers. Now she not only runs in them, but wears them everywhere. Here's what Lindsey had to say:
I first heard about VFFs in the fall of 2009, and while I was initially very skeptical of barefoot and minimalist running (translation: I thought it was CRAZY), I decided to give it a try. I am joining the military this fall, and as a result I need to be comfortable with regular running. I am a novice runner, and had struggled for the better part of a year with starting a running program (in conventional running shoes), but never got far along due to shin splints. After researching barefoot and minimalist running techniques, it made sense to me and I bought my first pair of VFFs (KSOs). I started slowly by running on grass and quickly discovered that running didn't have to hurt. Like a great number of people new to VFF running, I over did it and spent a fair amount of time resting minor injuries from overuse or improper form. But I educated myself further on technique, tried to play around barefoot a bit to improve my form, and listened to my feet. I'm now on track with my running, enjoy it, and attribute my success to learning to run properly thanks to barefoot and VFF running.
I'm now running about three miles, four times a week in my Sprints, and starting to implement speed work and long runs into my training program. Even on my vacation in New England, I found the motivation and desire (key word!) to go out and run a couple of miles every other day on the local track. The VFFs help me actually want to go out and run, and have fun. My VFF use initially started for running only, but I now wear them whenever I can. I now have five pairs of FiveFingers: two pairs KSOs, two pairs of Sprints (my favorite!), and one pair of Bikilas I will be using for running on asphalt and other harder surfaces. Unfortunately I can't take the VFFs with me to train in this fall, but until then I will use them to improve myself as a runner, and I look forward to returning to them next spring. I currently plan on using the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 for my military training. Nothing can beat the Sprints though!
Speaking of New England, I took several pairs of my VFFs with me. I enjoyed some light hiking and exploring, and taking the Sprints to the rocky Maine Coast was a blast! They're just as good climbing around on rocks as they are on the track.
I get a lot of questions and comments about my funny looking shoes, and I do my best to tell people about them. I am always excited to see new people at the gym with VFFs. Vibram really has a unique and useful product, one that has made a wonderful impact on my life and has helped me enjoy running - something that will be a regular and important part of my new career. I've always been a very athletic person; I used to be a professional horse trainer, and I play competitive ice hockey. But running has never been a big part of my life until now. I hope the success continues so long as I take it slow and consistently. To those struggling to run in conventional running shoe contraptions: consider the Vibram barefoot alternative! They worked for me. I definitely suggest spending some time running truly barefoot first though, as it will help your form and prevent you from over doing it from the beginning. Take it slow and listen to your body. If you do, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Thanks for sharing the story of your transition to Vibram Five Fingers. Sorry you can't wear them in the military, but the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 racing flats might be a good choice (See our recent interview with runner Edmond Edwards who runs in these racing flats).