Running

Why I Stopped Running Vibram FiveFingers (Part 1)

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while, and after a few of you asked the question, “Why did you stop running in Vibrams?” it gave me an extra motivation to get it done. So thank you, readers, for letting me know what you’d like to see on the blog!

I’m going to cover this topic in a series of three posts so one post doesn’t get too painfully long.

  1. Why I started running in Vibrams FiveFingers in the first place
  2. Why I stopped running in Vibrams FiveFingers a little over a year ago
  3. How I transitioned out of Vibram FiveFingers into normal running shoes again

So, let’s jump into Part 1, shall we?

Why I started running in Vibrams FiveFingers

I start running in Vibrams in 2011 in a desperate attempt to combat persistant running injuries. I was dealing with almost constant IT band and SI joint issues. I’d been in physical therapy for 6 expensive months to even get me to race day in a 2009 marathon, had my gait analyzed over and over to get fitted for shoes, regularly stretched and did yoga and foam rolled. I was doing everything “right” and was still having issues.

Then, a friend (Ashley from Edible Perspective), suggested I try Vibram FiveFingers. I trusted her (still do, especially with anything food related 😉 ) and I started doing a lot of research. Once I started analyzing my running form (by having friends watch me run, looking at my shoe wear patterns, and looking at race pictures), I realized I was a heel striker. And a pretty intense one at that.

That aligned with what my PT had told me – that I was jarring my SI joint with the way I was hitting the ground. His solution was ongoing PT and extra cushion in my shoes, but I couldn’t afford life-long PT and extra cushion or running shoes with increased stability seemed to make things worse.

So, I bought a pair of Vibram FiveFinger sprints and began the slow transition to building up my mileage in them. I blogged about how I did that here – it was not a quick transition. And I credit my slow and deliberate transition into Vibram FiveFingers with the success I had with them. I didn’t jump right in, I let my body slowly adapt and build up the muscles necessary, and I avoided seriously injuring myself like so many others who jumped on VFF bandwagon.

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I ran successfully in VFF for 4.5 years. I trained for a marathon and did a 22 miler in them. (This is why I didn’t run that marathon – nothing to do with VFF! Warning – gross pictures are in that link.) I ran countless races – 5Ks, 10K, half marathons. I broke every PR I had prior to VFF. And, most importantly, I fixed my running gait and was no longer a severe heel striker as you simply can’t heel strike in VFF; it hurts like the dickens if you do.

TL

I became a mid-foot runner and my injury rate decreased substantially. I blogged about other things that helped decrease my injury rate here. And decreasing my injury rate is one the most important factors that helped me significantly increase my running speed.

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I’ll be back soon with part 2 – why I stopped running in Vibram FiveFingers. Let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to address in any of these posts. Or I can answer in the comments too.

Have a good Thursday!

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Kyle @ SKORA
    at

    Looking forward to part 2!

    Before SKORA was around, I used to exclusively run in Vibrams and even did my first marathon and ultra in them. It took me a while to realize that for some runs, cushioning isn’t a bad thing.

    Now, I wear our most thin soled shoe as my everyday and short/easy run option, but typically go up in cushioning for harder or longer workouts.

    But my flat and “over-pronating” feet till do quite well in neutral shoes.

    I think one of the biggest mistakes people make with shoes is only running in one pair, style, or type. I really feel regularly wearing both a minimal and a cushioned pair of shoes for running does a great deal for my injury resistance 🙂

  • Reply
    Julie
    at

    This is very interesting – can’t wait for parts 2 & 3! And thanks for the gross pic warning on the link; that was very sweet of you to remember. XO

  • Reply
    Courtney
    at

    I’ve been meaning to ask you about this for a while! Need Parts 2/3 ASAP!! 😉

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