After work a few weeks ago I picked up Ellie and headed out to purchase our first pairs of Vibram Five Finger (VFFs) shoes. Brian had already purchased his and was raving about them. I figured hey, I'll give it a shot. I did some initial obligatory research---and by that I mean I skimmed through their website to realize they had a lot of ugly color combinations---and figured I had to just try some on and see what they were about. The initial idea intrigued me: running barefoot was better than the $120 Asics that I've come to rely on. How could no arch support, no heel padding, and barely any fabric be good to run with? Like everybody else I
Who wouldn't want these?
grew up to want the best sneakers with the LED lights or air pumps. I figured they were only $80 or $90, cheaper than a new pair of running shoes, which I needed anyway because I ruined my good Asics demolishing the roof of my father-in-law's house. I figured what the hell, lets give it a shot.
We headed to our defacto sporting good store, Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) because I knew they had several varieties and they offer a student discount of 15% . . . I am a student of running? We walked in and found that there is a whole section devoted to these shoes. They have trail running, street running, hybrid trail and street running, cross training, hiking, strange dress shoe-looking varities, all of which looked pretty much the same to me. Fortunately for us, there was an amazing person on staff who was able to guide us through the basics, and she was very clearly a runner and athlete. She mentioned she had a couple of different pairs that she used and liked, and recommended. She was nice enough to bring out about a dozen boxes between the two of us, and so the real fun began . . .
If you've never put a pair of these things on, it truly is an art form. It took me over an hour to get my first pair on. I was sweating, cursing under my breath and sometimes not under my breath, and dieing to get the stupid shoes on. This is where my first piece of advice comes in:
If you have never worn toe socks, get a pair and try them on. If you can't stand the feeling of something in between your toes, do not even bother getting the VFF shoes.
After eventually getting on one pair and walking around, it really was interesting. It felt like I was walking barefoot, with a tight glove on my foot. Cool. So I took this pair off and proceeded to spend another half hour trying to get the next variety on.
Suck it up if you need them
Evenetually, Ellie took pity on me and grabbed one of the toe socks they sell for me to slip into. This made it exponentially easier to get the stupid shoes on. I think what happened was I was so frustrated and sweaty that there was too much friction for me to get into the shoes. With the socks, it slid in relatively easy, and I was able to get my toes situated fine.
If you are struggling to get the shoes on, don't hesitate to ask if they have a toe sock that you can try on. This will greatly help you get into these shoes, as it separates your toes out.
One thing I wanted to bring up in this first post is that no, your feet aren't deformed if you struggle to get into these shoes. It is hard, and took me a solid week to learn how to bend and twist my foot into the proper slots without socks. Ellie had no problem at all, so everyone will be a little different.
Sizing is different for these shoes, make sure you ask to measure your feet specifically for these shoes. Then, I seriously recommend trying the size at which they measured you, then one size up, and one size down from this original measurement. They feel very different, so it isn't about what you are "supposed" to be, but what feels the best. Don't be afraid to ask to try a ton of kinds out.
I ended up picking up a pair of the Vibram TrekSport, while Ellie picked up the Bikila, which is also what Brian is using.
One more important thing I wanted to note: I talked to my brother Mike and he told me not to be one of those tools that wore them around town when you aren't running. I tend to agree with him; don't wear these to a restaurant. If you are walking the dog, sure; going to the grocery store . . . not so much. Pick up a nice pair of classy, minimalist, non-five finger shoes for every day use.
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