Barbara Zaragoza 4:30 p.m., May 25
Have you seen the “toe shoes” that appear to be taking over? They’re everywhere from the gym to road running and even trail running. The brand is Vibram and they’re called FiveFingers. I’m assuming the finger thing is to let us know these shoes are like gloves for our feet.
When I first picked up a pair about four years ago there were three choices. Today, on the fivefinger website, there are 13 choices for men, 15 for women, and 3 for kids. In addition to Vibram, toe shoes are now made by Fila and Adidas.
The explosion in popularity started with the book Born to Run. It’s a good read and gives us an almost utopian description of a running culture hidden in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. I’ll admit that after reading the book I couldn’t wait to get back into my Vibrams and try them out again.
You see, after trying to run in the Vibrams on the road, I felt beat up and had relegated them to beach run duty and nothing else.
After reading Born to Run, I had some nuts-and-bolts advice on how to modify my stride. I went out to Torrey Pines, skittered up the hill and then flew back down. I kid you not, I did the whole “airplane arms” thing while gliding down the hill in the twilight.
If you’re considering a minimal shoe for running, understand this: You must modify your stride. Interestingly, the modifications that must be made restore the body to its natural running state.
As legendary ultra-marathon champion Anton Krupicka says, “I think some people look at minimal shoes as a panacea, but that’s definitely not what it’s about. Wearing a minimal shoe doesn’t automatically make you a better runner. It forces you to become a better runner.”