Saturday, June 4, 2011

First Wear: Vibram Five Finger Women's KSO Trek

In my research into accessory navicular syndrome (which I was vaguely familiar with for years, having a weird bone sticking out of my foot), I have learned that many others who suffer from this problem have turned to minimalist shoes for relief.
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I am far too lazy to get into the technical research of how and why, but the consensus seems to be it reduces pain associated with this syndrome immensely. So, I jumped on the Vibrams bandwagon. Should I be ashamed to admit this? I thought they were weird, but mostly, I thought people who bought them were just on a fashion statement. Alas, no. Now that I have worn them myself, I must admit, they are quite fun and quite comfy.

I did a lot of research into what kind to get. I resorted to reading plenty of reviews, trying on a bunch, and looking at a lot of pictures to assess the obviously important cool factor.

Where did I look? Birthday Shoes. This wonderful website is chock full of reviews, information, pictures, guides, resources, so much information. More information than my poor little brain was prepared for in my searches. Why couldn’t someone just look at my derangely shaped foot and say “you need X Vibram”? No. Instead, I had to read about all sorts of models, their uses, pros, cons, things to consider, etc. If you are interested in minimalist shoes/barefoot running and such, check this site out. They’ve done a fantastic job of offering information, especially for n00bs like me.

And, just a little tidbit about me - when I do things like jump on band wagons, I like to go all out. No halfway business for me. I figured if I was going to go minimalist shoe, I should get the most darned minimalist Vibram I could find. But no. That wouldn’t make sense, especially since both my ankles are damaged from long term/chronic injuries. Coupled with the fact that I love running on trails, more than the road. To me, it’s just more interesting and feels more challenging. And indeed, for someone as... unaware... as I am, it’s quite the challenge to pay attention to where I’m stepping, which rocks look loose, which tree roots are sticking up so high that I need to jump over them, and more attention-requiring events of the sort.

In the end, I settled on the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek, which to me, held the best of both worlds. Both words being, the standard series with the smooth, razor-siped sole (where the ultra versatile, comfy KSO can be found), and the high-tech sole, where the Treksports are found. But I wanted black. I’m not quite ready for the whacky albeit fun colors offered. I found the KSO Treks which are super comfy and have that sole built for rocks (but still feel very minimalist). Hooray!

Mine are the black leather. I was a little weirded out by the kangaroo leather. And I love animals and am now proud to call myself a flexitarian. What the crap is that? A vegetarian except I eat meat that is free-range or organic animals and animal products. And only chicken, turkey, fish (obviously fish are not the classic definition of free range but in this case, sustainably fished), and beef. I would steer away from meat more but I am violently intolerant of soy and cannot tolerate it on the best of days. Anyway, back to the roo leather. They are really comfortable. The KSO Trek, in my uneducated, very unlearned minimalist shoe world, were softer inside than the Treksport so I was sold. I look absurd in them. Come to think of it, I should have gotten brown because I am also brown... (Sorry for the crap pictures. I could barely bend my feet to get them back into the Vibrams after running, let alone stand up and balance to take pictures. Also, they're a wee bit dusty from mushing around on the pebbles of the river bed.).
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First run today. Data as follows (using a Garmin Forerunner 305 + heart rate monitor + foot pod)

Distance: 2.18 miles (don’t laugh!!!)
Time: 46:36.35 (I hear you snickering.)
Avg Speed: 2.8 mph (how embarrassing. I was getting used to them, okay?!)
Max Speed: 8.7 mph (This isn’t too shabby. Makes me look cool.)
Calories: 177 (I used a heart rate monitor so I assume this is relatively accurate)

Now, I realize this just over two miles bit is not impressive. But I have heard and it was recommended that I ease myself into wearing these bad boys. So I ran 1/4 miles, four times. And walked/jogged the rest. By the time we were on our cool down and heading home, I was wishing I hadn’t gone so long. A few hours later and I know, I’m going to regret it tomorrow. My calves are aching and I’m very aware of muscles I didn’t know existed when I walk around. Being somewhat of a crazy person, I very much love the feeling of sore muscles. Means I did some good work! But I’ll laugh at myself tomorrow when I have to drag myself around. They held up really well to the jumping, climbing, hiking and rock-jumping-on that I did. Only once did I step on a really small, pointy rock that I felt a little jab on the sole of my foot and the pain was gone almost immediately.

First impression is a huge thumbs up. It was really fun. And fascinating to be so aware of my feet. No foot pain from accessory navicular yet!

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