After reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (review coming soon), I became extremely curious about barefoot running.
The explanation in the book, I’m summarizing, is that human beings ran for millions of years barefoot without any problems. Within the past 30 or so years companies like Nike and New Balance have “scientifically engineered” shoes to “prevent injury”. Yet despite the millions spent on their research and development the injury rate of modern runners is 100%. How can that be?
The theory is that modern running shoes “box in” your feet and cause many of the tiny muscles to weaken and atrophy. Barefoot running, on the other hand, allows your feet to adapt and conform to the ground. This keeps all those muscles happy and healthy.
So I did a little more research about running barefoot and it lead me to Ethiopian runner Abebe Bakila. Abebe was the gold medal winner in the 1960 Olympic Marathon. And guess what… he ran all 26.2 miles barefoot!
While Googling Bakila, I stumbled upon a company called Vibram Five Fingers. Vibram calls their product a “barefooting alternative” and have a huge cult following. Five Fingers have been used for years for outdoor sports, but to my surprise they just launched their first running specific shoe, the Bikila.
I went right out, bought a pair, and have been running in them for about a 6 weeks. It is recommended to “work you way into” these shoes as your foot muscles need time to adjust. So I have been using these only twice a week and on my shorter (3-5 mile) runs.
Here are my observations:
- WOW are these fun to run in!
- They are extremely light. My Nikes feel like lead boots in comparison.
- My cadence (foot turn over) is much faster due to the lightness.
- The minimal design of the shoe really does change your running form. I immediately straightened my back and took smaller steps.
While this is a “work in progress” I am already seeing results. When I started running with them I averaged around a 9:3o pace. Tonight I finished my run with an 8:10 mile! Note: I am faster in my Nikes, but the gap is closing!
Anyway… enjoy the unboxing pictures below