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From Shoes to Unshod, and My Love Affair with FiveFingers in Between (Part 2)

by Christine Skelly » on Apr 10, 2011 1

This is part 2 in a series on transitioning to barefoot running by Christine Skelly.  You can read Part 1 here.

It may be a year ago to the day that I found out about VFFs.

I had been participating in a campus-wide “Day without Shoes” which if you do not know about, is promoted by TOMS shoes every April 5th to raise awareness about children that go barefoot because they cannot afford a pair of shoes. My friend and I spent the day shoeless and made several jokes about others thinking we were hippies and we “ouched” our way across asphalt exploring all of the surfaces that our feet hadn’t felt in years, ending in the park where our feet reposed in the soft spring grass. Being unshod was a foreign concept at the time, the kind of idea that seems novel, silly even, but if given a chance could spark worlds of possibility. That spark came when we ventured home and I saw a man wearing black shoe-socks with toes. The next day and for days to come I Google searched “shoes with toes” and any variation that would help me come closer to this strange phenomena. I found my answer in these contraptions appropriately called “FiveFingers” that were meant to conform to the foot and allow for better posture as well as a natural feel when walking and even running. I read over the provided facts which were of course foreign ideas at the time, but soon I couldn’t shut up about the shoes and set to work finding a retailer in our Norfolk or Virginia Beach area in Virginia.

At the time (early May 2010) these babies were scarce, and correct sizing was even harder to come by. Eventually I found a store where I could try them on in Virginia Beach. The 80 person waiting list told me these were new and still under the radar, but the demand was already sky high. They were selling out as soon as shipments came in.

I test ran them in the store, gave them a good walk about, but it is hard to tell how you feel about a pair of shoes in the safety zone of the shoe store. Soon after this trip I came to own my very own pair of blue and green size 39F Sprints by finding them at another store.

That summer I fell utterly in love with my Sprints and wore them everywhere. I learned to love running and did so a when I had time outside of my job renting boats at the beach where I wore my sprints in lieu of flip flops. I was of course asked by dozens of customers, what were they, where did you get them, and were often called cute by the female patrons who wanted to get a pair for the bold fashion statement that they were. I told people everywhere I went about them, and when asked gave the whole 5 minute spiel because of my excitement. It took about 4 months for me to reduce my story about how incredible the VFFs were to “they are healthy for your knees and back”, “they make you love running” and other anecdotes that told only a percentage of my love for my FiveFingers.

I ran my Sprints into the ground that summer, and by the time August came I was already able to see the cloth innersole through my right shoe. The combination of running on concrete as my main terrain and the summer heat of that concrete are the two main factors I believe that led to my VFFs’ decay, but I still wear them when I want a lighter shoe, where the sole is thinner (certainly more so than my KSO Treks which feel like a tank in comparison) and my foot is lighter. I still adore my Sprints despite the holes, and reserve them for especially sunny days where I can dance and feel my steps fall so lightly and my feet can enjoy the warmth with me.

Please come back for my take on getting used to the VFFs and a first hand account of the benefits!

1 Comment

  1. Shaun Faulkner

    June 09th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I hope that five fingers will become more affordable in the UK. They are very expensive and as a passionate runner I’ve always believed it a sport/activity that required little to enjoy, but now there are typical running trainers that costs loads which are now apprently bad for you to be replaced by a minimalist shoe that isn’t minimal in price, strange. However I really do want to get a pair as it’s not possible to run much barefoot in my country, infact I’ve had nothing but months of punctures while cycling to work so doubt I’d be running it barefoot nay time soon. No local running tracks which is absurd but still I get some barefoot running done on a 25m stretch of astro turf that is for cricket. I’m uilding up the strength so that when I can afford a new pair of VFF I can enjoy all the lovely mountain trails in my area with the barefoot experience that I crave but with the protection or some rubber soles. Patience


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