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Seret and Husband in Blue Ninja Feet (Vibram Five Fingers KSOs). Hiking shots!

Seret and Husband in Blue Ninja Feet (Vibram Five Fingers KSOs). Hiking shots!
Seret and Husband in Blue Ninja Feet (Vibram Five Fingers KSOs). Hiking shots!
Seret and Husband in Blue Ninja Feet (Vibram Five Fingers KSOs). Hiking shots!
Seret and Husband in Blue Ninja Feet (Vibram Five Fingers KSOs). Hiking shots!

In a recent comment regarding fivefingers sizing across genders, Seret mentioned that both her husband and her have "matching blue KSO Ninja Feet!"

I'm a big fan of the blue KSOs (and sorta wish I had garnered the gumption to grab them!). I hope Vibram comes out with some similarly styled red ones. Or maybe some red and black ... hmm ...

Anyway, thanks Seret for sending in "birthday shoes shots" of your Vibram Five Fingers a.k.a. Ninja Feet!

Sprinting through the Airport in the KSO Vibram Five Fingers

Sprinting through the Airport in the KSO Vibram Five Fingers

We should know have known better. Memorial Day weekend is just about to begin, and if you have ever flown anywhere on this holiday, which we have on numerous occasions, the airports get a bit overwhelmed and things start going a little haywire.

So it went that we arrived at the Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson airport exactly (only!) an hour before our 4:15pm flight to DTW. We were immediately taken aback by lines at all kiosks, people everywhere, and just general airport chaos. We immediately marched back outside to the skycap check-in, which had no wait.

Only one problem. Our "Northwest" flight wasn't showing up in their system. At this point, we were directed inside to the "Northwest Check-in," or so we thought. It seems that there is an exceedingly complex relationship between what qualifies as a NWA flight and just a NWA-marketed flight. Furthermore, only official NWA flights can use the "Northwest Check-in." Too bad you can't determine if your NWA-booked tickets are officially NWA or not until you've waited in line and speak to an agent.

At this point, we try the kiosks. Yep, they tell us to seek out an agent, too. It's now about 3:20 and we are tasked with standing in a snaking line that appears to be going nowhere fast.

I know, I know. You've all been there, right? Did I mention my wife is 29 weeks pregnant?

About ten minutes later a Delta employee (whose job title must be "Line Supervisor") appeared. I informed her that our flight was supposed to leave in 45 minutes. I'm not sure I got the joke, but she muttered something, smirked, and then walked away.

The airport fire alarm starts going off at this point, and no one cared.

3:45 pm. After what feels like an eternity, we finally get to the agent. He tells us we are too late to check our 42 lb. suitcase (Numerous wedding outfits for all the weekend's events: this is an Indian wedding) and that we will have to take it through security and check it at the gate.

Seeing the task before us, I grab the boarding passes, the huge suitcase, and my 20 lb. duffel. Preggers (yes she lets me call her that) grabs her rolling carry-on and we take off for security, fully expecting to lose all of our liquid and gel-based toiletries, accepting our fates whatever they may be.

In the interest of science, TSA experimentation, and time, I again chose to leave on my fivefinger KSOs. Furthermore, we left the toiletries bag in stow in the large suitcase and just rolled the dice.

And we made it through no questions asked.

Atlanta's airport terminals are all connected by a subway. On the train, no fewer than three fellow passengers quizzed me about my "socks." We were at the first terminal (A lucky break), and as soon as the subway doors slid open, I grabbed that forty pound suitcase and my duffel bag and took off.

I actually managed what I would consider a "run" up the extra-long escalator to the terminal. An adrenaline surge later I'm racing through the terminal and see our gate in the distance — but no people around it. Am I too late?

Relief. I made it. Bent over and panting as I greet the agent at the gate, she checks my bag (For free! I guess you don't get charged for the bag when you lug it all the way to the gate!), a minute later my wife shows up, and we board the plane.

I'm guessing I'm presently around twenty or thirty thousand feet up in the air (I splurged on the airplane wifi), and we're already making our initial descent.

A common joke in the paleo, primal, evolutionary fitness community is that you should "run like your life depends on it" or to "imagine a lion is chasing you."

Well, in our modern day, it's a rare time where we have to bust out an all out, spur-of-the-moment, adrenaline-pumped sprint, but I'm happy to say that when that time came today, I was ready. And whether or not my fivefingers saved me any time or made me any faster or more agile, it's hard to say. What I do know is that my VFFs were a seamless part of my farmer-carry-style airport sprint, and that's all that matters.

Five Fingers Fan Forums are UP!

Due to popular demand (and the fact that setting them up just made a ton of sense!), I bring you:

BirthdayShoes.com Five Fingers Forums!

Screencap of the Five Fingers forums

hese forums will serve as a place for the VFF community to share ideas, reviews, pictures, successes, activities, and on and on.  It's a place for open and productive discussion: let's start talking!

As you might expect, registration is open/free.  Bear with me as I iron out the kinks of getting these set up right and designed so they are looking nice.

Register and say "hello!"  Go to the VFF forums!

Adrienne So's "Barefoot Nation"

Adrienne So over at Willamette Week Online has published a new article titled Barefoot Nation. It's primarily about the barefoot running movement, but also talks about Chris McDougall's upcoming book and lobs out a couple of solid critiques of Nike (As well as Nike's "barefoot" tennis shoe, the Nike Free).

Though the article is primarily about running, it also gives a shout-out to FiveFingers. Here's Adrienne talking about her VFFs:

I can’t stop laughing.

The salesman at REI looks at me skeptically, as if he and everyone he knows already own shoes that make them look like they have Muppet feet. But come on. These are ridiculous. These Vibram Five Fingers “barefoot” running shoes look like dorky rubber toe socks. It takes 10 minutes to sort my digits into each toe pocket.

Why am I puttering around in these crazy things? ...

Which brings me back to my peculiar footwear. I requested a pair of Five Fingers to try out a few weeks ago, and started wearing them to run errands in the afternoons. I can already feel the difference (and I’ve been getting a lot of thumbs-up in the street, too). I strike the ground with my fleshy forefoot as I instinctively try to lessen the impact on my bony heels. Even when carrying groceries, my steps are lighter and more delicate.

After a week of barefooting in the afternoons, I took my show into the backyard. The dog looked at me curiously as I ran through a few drills—grapevines, ladders and three sets of two-legged and one-legged hops. After five minutes, I kicked off the shoes and wriggled my liberated tootsies in the grass. The afternoon sun felt good on my shoulders, and the breeze smelled like honeysuckle.

Isn't that a common experience? It is with me. Workouts in my "birthday shoes" become more like play when my feet have the freedom to do as they please.

Once Adrienne gets some more VFF time in, I've no doubt she'll become a pro at putting them on quickly. These days, I'm able to put my Classics on without using my hands! The KSOs have become much easier to put on as well (Yay for velcro!).

Here's a nice quote from Chris McDougall making a fairly salient critique of the Nike Free:

“The problem with the Free is that it allows a kind of running that’s not like barefoot running,” McDougall says. “It has a heel, arch support, padding. If you try to run in a Free, you’re going to run like you’re in running shoes. With bare feet, you can’t overstride ... and you can’t overtrain. Your feet will be tender.” ...

I couldn't agree more. Thanks for the great article! It's always encouraging to see more and more barefoot (and effectively barefoot) awareness, whether it's running specific or otherwise.

Finally, I'll include my comment about the article, which should show up over at wweek.com soon (I hope!):

Nice write-up. The barefooting movement isn't limited to just running. Whether it's traditional weight lifting (even Olympic lifting), kettlebells, CrossFit, hiking, kayaking, ultimate frisbee, grocery shopping, or just going for a walk, you'll find barefooting enthusiasts.

It seems the greatest deterrent to going barefoot is not only that the world has become concrete, hard, trashed, and dangerous to our exposed skin, but that it's also culturally unacceptable to not wear shoes, despite it being completely legal to be barefoot in public places in all 50 states (and even driving).

This is why fivefingers are a great product: they provide just enough protection from the sharp and dangerous concrete jungle while still being shoe-like enough to pass as weird-looking, but socially acceptable -- even cool.

Fivefingers are so enthusiastically endorsed by wearers (I have two pairs) that I founded a fivefingers fan site for people to talk about sizing, fit, uses, etc. (You can find the site at birthday shoes dot com - just google birthday shoes -- forgive the plug, but the site is a budding and fun community!).

One gripe I have with the authorities is their skepticism about going barefoot (or effectively so as with five fingers):

"Mainstream docs are not convinced of the benefits of bare feet, either. 'There’s been increasing interest in the past five years, but not a lot of conclusive studies [on barefoot training],' stresses Colin Hoobler"

What a funny statement. Why do we need conclusive studies to tell us that being barefoot is acceptable? Human feet were engineered by blind evolutionary trial and error to be unshod! We need more trials and studies to tell us something that nature provides instinctively? I'd recommend Colin observe a toddler walking barefoot -- it's midfoot first.

Having said that, since most of us have lived the majority of our lives engaging in any sort of activity in more conventional footwear, foot atrophy is to be expected, which is to say that some level of rehabilitation is to be expected. So take it easy, and ease into dumping your arch support (The most powerful arch support, of course, is that which comes from the arches in your feet!).

Anyway, great article!

Are VFFs any different between gender styles? What about wide feet? [FAQ]

It's a common question: for the same size foot (measured in inches or whatever), if you grab the correct numerical size to fit that foot in both women's and men's Vibram Five Fingers (assuming a size exists for both genders — there is some overlap), is there a difference between genders?

The answer is "yes." And don't take my word for it, this is what Vibram said about it directly to one member of the VFF fan community:

[T]he woman’s shoe have a more narrow fit in the heel and the ball of the foot. The men’s widths are wider.

Original post with updates:

[Updated at 3:50 pm] I received the following question from a member of the facebook birthday shoes / Vibram fivefingers fan group:

I wish i could help but i do not have VFF's yet. I do have a question about size though...

I measure at 10 1/4 in. I really had my heart set on the womens clasicVFF's but they don't go big enough for my big feet! :)

My question is should I get the mens? I am worried that they will be to wide for me. Any thoughts?

Thanks so much!

An interesting question, here was my response:

Kristi,

Hey - I have a couple thoughts about this:

1) I talked to a couple where both have sprints. Based on the girl's eyeballing the two pairs of Sprints, the men's appear no wider than the women's.

2) There are no "wide" versions of VFFs. Vibram has said (though I can't put my finger on where) that people with wide feet should have no problem wearing regular VFFs b/c the way fivefingers are made allows them to expand widthwise without problem. About 40% of those who have responded to my survey (so far - if you haven't already, please take the fivefingers sizing/fit survey here! Only takes about five minutes.) have wide feed, and none of them cite it as a problem.

Update 3:50 pm: Per Seret's comment below, women's VFFs may indeed be more narrow than men's:

Although they had the Men's size in stock, my husband prefered the Women's KSOs. He has narrow feet. So the oppisite can be true for Kristi. Try the Men's! They look the same, except when it comes to color in different styles. Right now, my husband and I now have matching blue KSO Ninja Feet!

So the jury is still out (or maybe in?).

Admin note: I got the grey KSOs, but secretly want the crazy blue ones!

FiveFingers in Jamaica? No problem, mon!

FiveFingers in Jamaica? No problem, mon!

You might have noticed it was fairly quiet around here over the past week. That's because I was in Jamaica. My wife and I were celebrating our "babymoon:" this is the last ditch pre-first-child vacation for expecting parents. Yes, I think "babymoon" is a goofy sounding name for a vacation. Some people think it sounds "cute."

The only footwear I brought along for the trip were my Classics, KSOs, and Chacos. I wear my Chacos less and less these days as they just feel increasingly heavy and clumsy. I wonder why. I normally would have brought along some flip-flops, but I couldn't find mine.

Beach Impressions: My Classics served as my all-purpose footwear and I wore them throughout the resort with the exception of dinnertime when I needed to wear more acceptable footwear. As it went, the 5 finger Classics worked exceedingly well for time by the pool, gallivanting about the resort, and for brief walks across the beach (Normally, I took them off for beach-time!).

I was surprised to find that the gaping open-topped Classics allowed very little sand into the shoe. My hunch is that, unlike "flip"-flops, the integrated foot/sole design of VFFs reduces the flipping of sand particles into the air (and thereby into the footbed). Don't hear this as saying you won't get any sand in your fivefingers at the beach, and furthermore, you shouldn't be wearing your fivefingers on most beaches, anyway (excepting cases of overly shelly beaches or in times of beach sprints): beach time should be 100% barefoot time! Take advantage!

Other notes from the trip: virtually no one remarked on my fivefingers. This was a break from the gawking norm, and I can only assume it was due to the prevalence of traditional water shoes (Most people likely just assumed I had eccentric taste in water shoes).

I also got busted by the resort fitness director for being in the gym in my Classics, which weren't "proper footwear." I attempted to explain to him that I lift in my VFFs all the time, and that sneakers aren't going to protect your feet much from the crushing force of falling iron. It didn't work (And I had just finished my brief 50 pull-up workout, so I didn't press the issue) and I went to the pool.

Shortly thereafter, he sought me out and we had a very long conversation about fitness and I learned about his five year stint as a Jamaican cage fighter. And he acceded my point and said I could still workout in them. CYA is the same in Jamaica as anywhere else, I suppose.

More TSA experiences with birthday shoes socks! Egged on by a new fivefingers friend, "MC" over at begin2dig.com, who has yet to be asked to remove his VFFs (Flows, I believe) while proceeding through airport security, and wanting to see if I got a repeat performance of TSA stink eye, I wore mine through all security checkpoints on the return to the states. As you might expect, there was "No problem, mon!" in Jamaica — not even a pause from their security. After proceeding through U.S. customs at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, you're required to go through TSA security. I did, and here's what transpired:

TSA Lady: [Waves me to proceed through metal detector]
[With a chuckle ...] "I have never seen anything like that!"
[Holds up her hand to halt anyone from following me through]
Me: [Unsure if she's also wanting me to stop] "They're called five fingers"
TSA Lady: "No, they're called socks!"

And that was that. She loved my birthday shoes ... er ... socks!

Stay tuned! I got to test out my KSOs on Jamaica's Dunn's River Falls (Wiki), which is a large waterfall that flows into the ocean. Visitors get to climb up the falls directly in the water, on the rocks. I wore my KSOs and my wife, who opted to pass on the experience, took a few shots. So I'll be blogging a review of the wet ware use of KSOs soon!