Raymond's Quick Transition to Running 30K Races in Vibram Five Fingers
A few weeks back Raymond — Vibram Five Fingers fan and Dutch blogger over at wegloper.nl (@rsneekes) — let me know he'd finished a 30K race running in his black KSO Vibram Five Fingers and that a few photos would be forthcoming.
Above you can see Raymond running amidst some snow in that 30K in his VFF KSOs! I asked Raymond to share a bit about his transition to running in Vibram Five Fingers, and it turns out that he was fortunate enough to experience a very, very quick adjustment to the natural running you get with the "barefoot alternative" (VFFs!). Here's Raymond:
When I started running during the summer of 2008, I already had my doubts about all the support and cushioning in running shoes. But because everybody says you need "good" running shoes, I just went with the flow.
During my first "real" running injury (runner's knee) my doubts returned and I started doing some research. I soon found out about alternative running methods and also about running barefoot and Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs). At the the time it sounded a little extreme to me, but I kind of liked the VFFs.
Around the same time the Ecco BIOMs came around, and although not really minimalistic they let me run pain free for the whole of the summer. During experiments with more "normal" shoes, pain returned especially my shins.
Although still fascinated by the VFF, I still didn't dare take the plunge, so I bought another pair of BIOMs. But after recovering from another bout of runner's knee, which I now blame on a medicine I got at the time, I seriously started thinking of finally buying a pair of VFFs.
So in the beginning of January I finally ordered a pair KSO's over from the USA (at the time I couldn't find any local stores with KSO's in my size). Two weeks later they finally arrived, and they fit like a glove.
After a couple of days of getting used to them and a successful trial walk/run, my first real run was February 1st. Because of all the calf pain stories I read, I hoped I could manage a 5k. That 5k became a great run of little over 5 miles without any real pain or soreness. The day after that I ran 11km (almost 7 miles) which also went reasonably well, a little more soreness but not that much.
After that I did one run in my Ecco's and, because of all the calf pain stories, I waited a bit before for my next run with my VFFs, again an 11k run. That was one my best runs ever!
I had planned a 30km long run for the next day. Not knowing how long I could run in the VFFs, I took the car to a nearby forest with my regular running shoes in the trunk so I could switch shoes if needed.
To my surprise it was on of the easiest long runs I ever did. 30k became almost 32k (20 miles) all in my VFFs. Usually my quads are a little tired/sore after that distance, but not today. They felt as good as before the run. Calves were a little sore, but again not that much. I only got some blisters.
From that point on, I only ran in my VFFs. That action shot was taken on February 14th, so almost two weeks after my first real VFF run. It was a 30k race and I finished in 2:18:11, beating my personal best by almost 18 minutes.
My calves were a little more sore, but again my quads were feeling great. Also the first run after that my feet were a little more sensitive, but the day after that also was back to normal. That calve soreness also disappeared in a couple of days, and during the runs after that no pain or soreness has returned.
I don't know why but for some reason it seems I already can run any distance in them. I think the lower heel to toe ratio of the Ecco's already helped making this an easy transition. Also at work I already walk in my socks the whole day, and at home that's something I did all my life.
Obviously at the last two races I did get a lot of strange looks and a lot of questions from interested people, but also some less positive remarks. But for me these are great shoes for running, and I also regulary wear them to work.
In addition to the photos above, Raymond ran a 27.5k the following weekend in his KSO Vibram Five Fingers (photo). And my favorite shot from that race, where's Raymond (click the photo to enlarge):
As many Vibram Five Fingers runners can attest, it can take an inordinate amount of time to transition to running in Five Fingers. Between the biomechanical / running form adjustment, the rehabilitation of atrophied foot, ankle, and calf muscles, to who knows what other dynamics are in play, it can take months of training to reach your pre-Vibram Five Fingers running mileage (kilometer-age?). Note to readers: Raymond's fast transition results are not typical, so don't think you can get VFFs today and run a 30K in two weeks!
Anyone else used the Ecco BIOMs? I've seen them around on the 'net, but hadn't really seen much mention of them in the minimalist community.