God knows how long I was pining for these shoes. Oh, most of you know too because of this old post: My Birthday Wishlist last May 2009.
Good things come to those who wait. Last month, local distributors of Vibram, Barefootwear Inc., gave me a pair for road testing.
BACKGROUND OF VIBRAM
Vibram is an Italian brand which is behind the soles of brands such as Prada, Ferragamo, Nike, and Merrel. Three years ago, they decided to make their own footwear called FIVEFINGERS. Last 2007, Vibram Five Fingers was awarded as one of Time Magazine’s best inventions of the year.
Last May, Barefootwear Inc. opened the ONLY stand alone Vibram Kiosk anywhere else in the world at Powerplant Mall in Rockwell. (Let’s go Pinoy!)
Vibram Five Fingers is designed to mimic the feeling of walking or running barefoot making us walk or run in the most natural way – the correct way for that matter which is with the forefoot / mid foot first. They are designed to improve and enhance the natural capabilities of our feet and legs..turning our body into the TECHNOLOGY and not depending on other rubber shoes for the technology.
BENEFITS OF BAREFOOT RUNNING
According to Barefootwear Inc., here’s why you should run barefoot:
- Stronger muscles in the legs and feet – since FiveFIngers mimics the sensation of being barefoot, wearing it allows you to exercise, stretch, relax and strengthen muscles you normally don’t get to use when wearing rubber shoes or leathers shoes
- Corrects the way you run – makes you land on the balls of your feet / mid-foot – as compared to wearing regular shoes which give us the tendency to land on your heels first. Landing on the heels of your feet releases more pressure/shock to your legs/knees and slows us down.
- Allows your feet to rest and relax – perfect for post-race/post-activity since it can relax and stretch your feet after running or being enclosed inside a shoe. It’s like giving your feet a vacation.
CHOOSING A PAIR
Carlos and Cherry of Barefootwear Inc. showed me the various models.
Vibrams have five different styles to choose from with SPEED and BIKILA (named after barefoot runner and Olympic gold medalist Abebe Bikila) as top picks for runners.
- SPEED P5,540 – designed specifically for a more natural walking experience. Built on an entirely new platform, the Speed features a Dri-lex® covered 3mm polyurethane insole (thickest under the ball) and a 3 mm anatomical pod outsole design, that offers more plating protection and distributes forefoot impact without compromising important ground feedback, essential to a proper forefoot strike running form. A more athletic padded collar and topline, a lace closure and Mesh upper for improved ventilation.
- BIKILA P5,750 – encourages a more natural, healthier, and more efficient forefoot strike. While many have been running in their Vibram FiveFingers for years, the Bikila is the first model designed specifically for near barefoot running. Also features the same insole and outsole technology like the Speed.
- CLASSIC P3,950 – for Fitness Training, Cross Fit, Travel, & After Sport
- SPRINT P4,450 – for Running, Fitness Training, Cross Fit, Yoga & Pilates, Water Sports, Flats Fishing & Travel
- KSO P4,950 – for Running, Fitness Training, Cross Fit, Light Trekking, Bouldering, Water Sports & Travel
I was pleased to know that Vibrams have undergone some improvements from the first time I fitted a pair in Singapore last December 2009. Soles are now thicker and provide more protection for the feet. This was definitely a welcome change as I had hesitated about purchasing a pair before.
Don’t let the tiny selling area fool you. The store, no matter how small, allows you to test the shoes on various kinds of running surfaces: grass, rocky, or concrete. If you’re not satisfied, they allow you to walk or run towards the end of the mall. Just make sure you head on back!
I chose the bright pink model which was released only before the last Boston Marathon.
First time I wore my Vibrams was at the Mommy Milkshake Marathon. Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive and conscious about wearing them. It attracts a lot of attention, not just from curious adults, but also from kids who, for some reason, find it utterly cool. More than that, I was concerned about running an easy 3k on the pavement of Bonifacio High Street. I threw caution to the wind and hoped for the best.
As it started to rain during the race, I literally got my feet wet but I was thrilled. I initially thought I would be extra careful where or how my feet landed, that I would be conscious of my form, or worse, I would encounter pain. But, there was none of that. It was so comfortable and natural that I was able to focus on the race (and my daughter), not the shoe.
I wore it again when hubby and I took the kids biking and running in Filinvest. It was nice to know my first experience wasn’t a fluke. Again, I felt comfortable in my Vibrams.
When I removed the Vibrams and walked around the house barefoot, I seriously felt like my feet were more attuned, if you will, to the ground. I felt a more pronounced arch, as if it had been sitting on an arch support for hours. Great to know it wasn’t just my legs that got a good workout, but those tiny muscles in the feet too!
- very functional – if you wanna go barefoot, this is one safe way to do it without worrying about injury from elements on the ground.
- ample protection of the sole and toes
- comfortable and snug fit
- attractive design
- washable – throw it in the washing machine for easy washing
- stinky and sweaty feet – My friend Alvin warned me about this and he was right. Once you start sweating, you feel your feet doing the same inside the shoe. Perhaps one should try wearing ininji socks in them?
- price – costs almost the same as most running shoes
For the serious runner who wants to practice barefoot running safely, I highly recommend the Vibrams. It’s a well-made, high-quality barefoot running shoe that protects your feet from harmful elements while still allowing you to feel the road.
I plan to use my Vibrams once a week in easy runs below 5k. Admittedly, I am not ready to run above 10k in them. The jury is still out regarding the real benefits of barefoot running. I also don’t know if it’s recommended for a flat-footed runner like me. But, I can attest that the Vibrams truly exercised my feet, which I would like to believe will strengthen them in the long run. If this is true, then I should have super strong feet come New York City Marathon and all my future marathons. Vibrams, that I will have to thank you for.
Vibram is at Level R1 Bridgeway Kiosk, Powerplant Mall