My Vibram Fivefingers Shoes (ongoing story for potential users)

For anyone thinking of going the barefoot route now or in the future I am going to outline my story from pre purchase through hopefully to use in a marathon. It's my opinion and my story so if yours is different, note I have no axe to grind, I don't nor have I ever had any affiliation to any sports manufacturer and if you have any tips for me then great chip in. A couple of years ago I was doing a weekly park run of 5k with a PB of around 24 minutes when a friend invited me to do a half Marathon in Dallas. I ran in Asics Gel Kayano 18's but found them a little cumbersome and had a couple of persistent toe blisters with the shoes, but I finished in 2/10 in awful weather. Nearly a year later and with six months using the Hal Higdon Marathon app on my IPhone I ran a marathon in 4/17. My shoes of choice had become the Newton Motion and they were actually really good but after about 350 miles use I suddenly had a sore ball of my left foot. I put this down to old shoes and decided to try Newton Gravity shoes next but this did not go at all well. I went back to Newton Motions returning the Gravities under the 60 returns policy. Unfortunately the injury appears to need a slow return over about six weeks (or more) so I decided to incorporate that with another change of shoe to Vibram Fivefingers. I did a bit of research and decided I wanted to try before I buy so headed for a retail outlet. Yesterday I tried and purchased a pair of Komodo 2 shoes. THE BUYING EXPERIENCE The salesperson had a templates for measuring foot length but did make the mistake of only measuring one foot, and despite the fact some shoes come as broad fitting this was not measured. I checked my second foot when he went to get some shoes, and I decided I would probably know if the shoe was too tight width ways. I queried the need to get a half size bigger to avoid black toe nails and he assured me this was not required. The shoes were comfortable but snug, and there is no doubt they feel strange to wear. Separating your toes is certainly not natural at first but you don't feel any pain. I bought the Vibram socks but I have to say they will be temporary as the quality is poor and they don't stay up very well. I have already been on the Internet for something better. More to follow...........


  • With my purchase I was given a transition tips leaflet. If I had seen it before purchase I might have not bothered as it seems I will be a long process but I have time and I want to do it right.

    The points relevant to barefoot running and not runners in general (common sense) are 1, Take your time to transition, months rather than weeks. 2, Start at 10% of your normal distance and add 10% per week/ fortnight. 3, Never run in the shoes until you have worn them daily for 2 weeks.

    Yesterday, I wore my shoes for about 2 hours and so far today I have been wearing them for about 4 hours. So far so good, I think.

    I decided to walk to the gym which is about 2 miles, do some rowing, some barefoot running stationary drills and walk back. I thought this would be a good bedding in exercise and to see if they were suited to gym use.

    Firstly the stroll to the gym highlighted the fact that the Vibram socks do the unforgivable namely creeping down into the shoe. I also noticed that with the cold weather and snug fit I had very cold toes in fact I think maybe slightly numb. Perhaps they will give a bit over the next 2 weeks before I run in them. I also felt like maybe I will get a heel blister though I might blame the riding socks for this.

    Part of my route is along an unmade pavement and I walked on a couple of stones that quickly reminded me there is little between my foot and the ground.

    For me these shoes won't be in the gym any time soon as it was impossible to row in them, and any stretching where the top of my toes were in contact with any hard surface was very painful. If its not an all rounder I am not changing my gym routine to suit the shoe. So back at home now still wearing the shoes and thinking am I really comfortable in these shoes, and is this going to be worth the hassle in the end. Watch this space............
  • Straight into my shoes for a couple of hours this morning as I can't wear them later. My heels feel a little tender though no broken skin or blisters showing. I wasn't expecting this at all from such supple footwear so hope this will soon pass. Shoes still feeling very snug but only about 7 hours wear clocked up so far. Despite hundreds of miles in my Newton "barefoot" shoes these are totally different and I am far from ready to run in them so the 2 weeks pre run use and plenty of barefoot drills in the interim are probably a must for anyone making the changeover.
  • Just received a couple of pairs of Injinji Mini Crew Lightweight Toesocks and whilst they cost another ??2.50 more than the Vibram socks (??7.50) they are worlds apart in quality. The new socks actually fit better, have a heal and are much better suited to the barefoot experience as you hardly notice you are wearing them. I was already noticing a hotspot on my little toe also which appeared to be sock related so it will be interesting to see if these resolve both or one of my problems. For reference free delivery was within 48 hours of ordering online. Well done Freedom Footwear for prompt service.
  • I think the butler did it
  • Mars bars

  • The trolls have arrived, now there's a forum noveltyimage
  • I'm not sure how you would know it's a novelty based on your 8 posts ?

  • too many words! Can't compute!

  • This is pretty dull though, isn't it?  Guy buys Vibrams, guy buys some socks, guy wears them around house, guy goes to the gym in them and desn't like it, guy wears them around the house again without injury, guy buys some more socks... 

    Can we at least fast-forward to the bit where you run 10miles in them and you get a nasty tendon injury?

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    Keep going Howard.  I'd be interested to hear where if anywhere you develop blisters. I started getting them under all the toes except the big one.

  • I'm still gob smacked that having paid a fortune for "fancy footware"  he has spent £20 on 2 pairs of fancier socks !!!

    For a tenner a pair I'd expect my socks to go out training themselves

  • Thanks T Rex, if the trolls can't afford the products I don't know why they bother to read the thread.

    Shoes and socks are "gear" unless I have missed the point.
  • Tenner a pair.. They're not just socks they must be  M&S socks !!!

    We read the thread for amusement and to see what the adverts have suckered people into now

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Just because the products are expensive it doesn't mean you will become a better runnner.

    Yes I can't afford 2 pairs of Newtons and some Vibrams but my 2 of my best performances have been in shoes that cost less than 40 quid a pair.
  • loving the term 'trolls' HowardS

    i dont know many people who cannot afford the socks but may choose not to buy themimage.

    looking more like a blog of your day to day routine, your telling us too early in the stage like the ally said, why not leave it for a few weeks so you can tell us of the experience after running in themimage


  • I knocked 1 minute per mile off my PB wearing Newtons so if I want to spend my money why shouldn't I.

    This is just a review on Vibram shoes not a discussion on amounts of money that to me are unimportant, I never brought cost onto the discussion at all, the troll did.
  • It pure jealousy
  • Brooks Beast. Now there's a shoe.

  • XX1XX1 ✭✭✭
    HowardS -- Stick with it, I'm interested.

    I don't want to get into a debate about trolling but I can't understand why people bother to post on threads in which they claim to have no interest... Why not find a more interesting thread or go and do something more worthwhile?
  • But I am Interested.
  • Ok, to answer a couple of criticisms:

    The reason I was reporting the daily use during the first couple of weeks is because the makers specifically state you should not run in the shoes at all during that period and therefore if you get blisters doing next to nothing then I would consider the shoes are not great. Also the shoes allegedly can be worn with or without socks and I have read that others have developed blisters so I am trying to ascertain if certain socks can prevent or minimise blisters. Toed socks are obviously the only ones that can be worn and are more expensive.

    I actually don't care if the shoes end up in the bin, I just wanted to try out the minimalist shoes available and see if Zola Budd and barefoot Kenyan runners were doing something my feet could never manage. If I end up injured so be it.

    If you are not interested in barefoot shoes then don't criticise my efforts as I am not here seeking your approval.

    I noted the comment about getting to the run and injury but a thread that read "Bought some shoes, went for a run, tore a ligament, put them in the bin" would say nothing about the "gear", though from the lack of support here many would love to hear from someone who is more of a loser than they are.

    The shoes require a slow transition as explained above so I may not do a Marathon in them before Berlin, or as I said, they may end up in the bin long before that.
  • Keep going, I can't wait il you run in them........
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    What is the process now before you are allowed to run in them?
  • there isnt one really, i ran in mine on day 1, all be it just a 1 mile run on grass, you just need to build it up slowly, your calves and achilles certainly let you know when you can go longer in them. i found it easier than my friend since i'd ran the previous year in a minimal lower drop shoe, he went straight from a kayano to them whcih is a huge difference. 

  • What I found interesting is that you don't seem to stick with anything, and that you didn't realise there was a transition to be made. Were they bought on a whim or did you plan to go barefoot. Just curious about your motivation as you said Newton Motion suited you but they wore after 350 miles. If somethin worked for me I would stick with it.
  • What I find interesting is that people seem more interested in how I enjoy my hobby instead of my impression that the "Gear" section of a running forum would have people interested in an on depth full life review of something relatively new.

    I have never seen any computer forum tell someone reviewing technology that they own too many computers or should only buy from one maker.

    Still I will press on and answer.

    I started wearing negative heel shoes about 10 years ago (Earth shoes) but never for running, I have also worn MBT's. The earth shoes were not washable and the MBT'S were very heavy. Both did what they said but technology and research continually moves forward. I try different shoes because I can and I never wear them to destruction. I put them in a shoe bank to benefit someone with no shoes if they don't work out or I find something better. I have healthy feet according to my masseuse but being older I have to try and eliminate unnecessary issues and I am doing many foot exercises to create strength and flexibility. I changed to Newtons to try an help my knees which did work and i have run about 1000 miles in Newtons. I still have my Newtons and will not be getting rid of them any time soon, i will also try the Distance S version due in the UK in March. They will probably remain my training shoes for 50% and if the Vigrams work out they may take 50% + or -.

    My plan hopefully is to run under 4 hours in 2013 and better form and a lightweight shoe is part of that strategy. It's too late for me to be a record breaker.

    Running is my hobby and hobbies allow for frivolous expenditure and if there was only one shoes for everybody then the shelves would look pretty boring. I have only one UK marathon planned for this year and the rest are abroad so please someone tell me I am stupid to visit other countries when I can run here for freeimage)

    Surely that is the next logical criticism.
  • Mark, the makers do suggest a strategy and the seller told me about a woman who bought the shoes ignored the advice and the next time he saw her she was back complaining it was their fault that she was in a knee length plaster.

    I am trying to ascertain if by following the strategy I can avoid an injury attributable to the shoes. For reference, I don't consider blisters are a necessity and any hint of something serious and I will consider the shoes are only suitable for the lucky few.

    For reference both Newton and Vigram do more than just change the colour of their shoes annually, and my Newton supplier tells me historically some major changes have taken place so if I buy a 2013 shoe it is likely to be different to my last model anyway. That is not my boredom.
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    What made you pick Vibrams over some of the other "barefoot" manufacturers?
  • I chose the Vibrams because they came up a lot when I put barefoot running into google and because whilst I could not find any proper reviews I could not find anyone saying their experience was a disaster.

    Despite being a pretty satisfied Newton user I bought them as a barefoot experience and now realise the term is being used in a pretty vague manner.

    It is my conclusion that any shoe that does not separate the toes allowing the foot to splay out and share the load is not a true barefoot shoe. It is that experience that I am investgating as much as anything else.

    The second reason was my ability to visit an outlet with all Vibram shoes in all sizes and a dedicated Vibram seller. I knew from research that there was more to barefoot running than buying shoes and doing my normal run, which I was pretty much able to do when I moved from my Asics to my Newtons.

    My only worry so far with my Vigrams is that they are snug and I can't see that blisters or black toe can be avoided, so if they have cracked this potential problem they could turn out to be great shoes.

    If anyone considers there is a better shoe available fitting the criteria then please point it out as somewhere down the line I might give it a go.
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