Funky Feet (yep, it's ok to giggle!)
Marathon Countdown: 20 days
I know, I know. I’m an extremist. I tend to go off the deep end, jump on bandwagons, and get fixated on weird stuff. Ach, it makes life interesting.
Like this new tangent.
You see, shortly after deciding to walk a marathon, I began reading everything I could about walking. All of these books talked about footwear. One of them, Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results mentioned trying an extremist shoe called the “Vibram 5 Fingers” shoe. He said that it was like running in bare feet. I thought that sounded dangerous.
When my sciatica showed up, I bumped into a book called Fix Your Feet: Build the Best Foundation for Healthy, Pain-Free Knees, Hips, and Spine and he’s a big supporter of being bare foot as often as possible. Still sounded a little extreme, even for me!
But here’s the premise: If you always wear good supportive shoes, the muscles in your feet no longer have to work, and they begin to atrophy, causing all kinds of problems in your legs, hips and back. Also, if you wear shoes with super spongy soles, your feet have trouble adjusting to your weight and the impact because they can’t read the signs properly.
Here’s the rub. The shoes are wierd – I mean, look at them! They also cost $70 and up. To pay that much for an extremist shoe that looks stupid and might not be all it’s cracked up to be was too much of a risk.
But my $170 shoes aren’t holding up very well. 300+ kilometers a month wear them out pretty quickly. I’d rather replace them with $70 shoes if I can.
So, here’s the great news. Steamboat Springs has a shoe store that carries them, and they were on for 50% off (I guess they’re ugly enough to put off the general population!) and so I took the risk.
My verdict? I LOVE THEM! It’s a bit like walking in Ballet slippers (though they don’t look quite as graceful, LOL!) You somehow feel really connected to the ground, and you feel all the small pebbles and groves and bumps, but without pain. Your feet kind of “spread into the earth” as you walk, and it’s a really cool experience.
My first test was just walking around town here (kudos to Tom and the kids who didn’t die of shame while walking with me). Then I took them on a one-mile nature hike over stones and twigs and very uneven ground. I didn’t turn my ankle once – which is unusual for me – and it felt wonderful to feel the earth beneath my feet.
The next test was 5k on concrete and asphalt to see if my heels could stand the jarring. No problems there.
Now, here’s the funny (sad?) bit
Then I tried a 16 mile (26k) hike up the mountain. I had a 26k endurance walk scheduled anyway. This seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a colossally bad one (understatement of the century). The shoes come with a warning that you need to get used to them slowly. Anyone with half a brain would have realized that going from 5k to 26k, and from smooth pavement to really rough mountain terrain with gravel, rocks, roots, and twigs all over the path, would have known that that was probably not wise (Duh!). I seem to have left both halves of my brain at home that day.
Actually, I did the first 15k without incident, and, in fact, really enjoyed the feel of the earth beneath my feet. Even the rocks were fine. The next 5k began to get uncomfortable and the final 6 were painful. I spent the afternoon and evening icing my feet and massaging them with anti-inflammatory cream, unable to walk. The next day was more of the same. PAIN. They healed pretty well by Sunday, enabling me to walk about 10 miles through Yellowstone Park – which was GREAT.
Did this discourage me? Not in the least. My stupidity does not mean the shoes are bad.
The result? I got a second pair at 50% off before I left Steamboat Springs, and I’m ordering the thermal shoes for winter training once I get back to Calgary. These are going to be my new favourite shoes!
VERY stylish, don’t you think? I think I could start a new trend here!
(yep, those are my feet and my Vibram 5 Fingers in the photo)