Sunday, April 11, 2010

5 Mile Walk around Lake Miramar in Vibram Fivefingers

I decided to take my Vibrams on a longer walk today.  I chose Lake Miramar because it is a paved trail, but also has a dirt trail closer to the water that walkers may choose to use.  The loop around the lake is 5 miles.  I was going to bring a backpack with an alternative pair of shoes if things were to get rough with the Vibrams, but then I decided I would tough it out . . . I am glad I did.  The walk went well, but I did learn a few things.
1.  I was concerned about the blisters I got on the back of each foot from my first walk earlier in the week.  I did some internet searching and found someone who used duct tape to protect his feet from blisters in the Vibrams.  This idea is right up my alley:  much cheaper than band aids.  So I tried it today.  I cut the tape about 3 inches long, and then put a rectangle of paper towel in the middle so the adhesive would not stick to the sensitive part of my foot where the blisters are.  This worked like a charm!  The tape stuck fine, and gave real protection from the chafing from the shoes.  After the walk, it came off easily.  The blisters did not get aggravated at all in the 5 mile walk.  I am hoping I can build my feet up not to need this kind of intervention, but for now this is great.  I am also resisting the idea of wearing Injinji socks for the time being.  I really want to see if I can manage the blisters and become able to wear these without socks.  We'll see.

2.  So I conquered the blister problem, but by the end of 5 miles I found my heels were chaffed.  They actually were burning at the end of my walk!  I don't know what to make of that yet.  As this week proceeds I will come back and add comments to this post to report on how long the chafing lasted.  Hmmm.  I hope I don't wake up tomorrow walking on two blisters on the bottom of each heel!  The article I cited in my last post says "Let your skin be your guide" because when you protect your skin, you protect everything underneath. My chaffed heels give me a sense of that today.

3. Lake Miramar has a dirt trail closer to the water.  I walked about a mile on the dirt trail today.  It is pretty rocky in places, so this gave me a good idea of what trail hiking in my Vibrams will be like.  I was amazed at how much more taxing this was for my legs.  When I take these on my first real mountain trail, I will definitely be taking an alternative pair of shoes and will not attempt more than a mile on the trail to start.  I have to build myself up to this!

In conclusion, I got the Vibrams as part of my long term program to become a runner once again.  Since I cannot do any aerobic exercise at this point, I am working on building my strength.  I love walking and hiking anyway, and the Vibrams seem like a great way to get more out of my walks and hikes.  I am not disappointed, even with the blisters and chafing.  After all, if I had attempted to walk this 5 miles in literal bare feet today, I probably would not have made it more than 100 yards.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Impressions of Vibram Fivefingers

When my Vibram Fivefingers arrived in the mail on Monday, I was eager to put them on.  I have read, however, that wearing them too much too soon can cause muscle pain, etc., because our feet become weak from years of wearing shoes.  So, I have used a lot of restraint this first week with the Vibrams.  There is a good article about getting started in Vibrams here.

First of all, they are fun!  My first walk was for 45 minutes on a flat, paved surface.  My feet felt nice and snug and warm.  When I ordered, I opted for the KSOs because they cover the top of the foot.  I will be using these for hiking on trails and in the woods, so I wanted a way to keep pine needles, twigs and pebbles out.  Also, even though I am living in San Diego for another year to study, my real home is in New Hampshire and I wanted them to be reasonably warm.  I looked at the Flows for warmth, but decided that since I am in San Diego right now the KSOs were the best choice for me.

I have not experienced cramps or leg pains since wearing the Vibrams.  I think that is because I am starting slowly and because I have been doing long barefoot walks indoors to prepare for these.  My muscles went through the initial cramps a few weeks ago when I started walking barefoot.  I have had the Vibrams since Monday, but have only walked in them twice.  I am taking seriously the advice on different websites to start slowly!  My only trouble so far has been a small blister on the back of each heel.  That seems to be because I had the strap too tight the first day.  The second day I kept the strap a lot looser and fared better with the blisters.  I am looking forward to my first walk on a trail with these.  Flat pavement is one thing, but rocky trails are another.  I will be sure to report on how it goes!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A bit more on barefoot running

We may become barefoot running nuns yet!  My Vibram Fivefingers are on their way, and next week I hope to start short outdoor walks in them.  Meanwhile I have been doing indoor walking barefoot, some days up to three miles in one workout.  So, I am on my way to being a barefoot "walking nun."  My plan is to be used to barefoot  already as I ease back into running over the next several months.  (I am still waiting for the doc's approval to start running again, but he was very enthusiastic about my barefoot hiking plan.)
Sister Maximilan is also interested.  Since she runs eight miles a day right now (she runs two groups of kids, 4 miles each group) barefoot will be a slow, careful transition for her.  She's waiting for my reports on the Vibram Fivefingers before she makes her decision.

To learn more about barefoot running I have embedded Bordon Pirie's book at the bottom of this blog.  The book apparently never went to print, but I have found it to be highly recommended to understand how the body was made to run.  Unfortunately I have not had time yet to read it myself, but I will definitely post on it when I have read it.  

The link to the book is here.