Barefoot Running Shoes
Several years ago barefoot running came into vogue after an adventurer and long distance runner visited an indian tribe known for their amazing running feats. The tribe members are capable of running for long periods of time and covering great distances. To make it even more amazing they do not run along nicely groomed sidewalks in parks or along waterways where you can find a Starbucks nearly every block. They run on rock strewn, dusty, snake and bug infested trails with vultures soaring above just waiting for someone to keel over from heat stroke.
This was a tribe that was not overly concerned about the price of gas since they had no cars or motorcycles and to survive they ran, and they ran a lot.
This generally kept their family vacations closer to home especially when great grandmother kept wanting to take a break every 100 miles because of her bunions. As you know, it can be difficult to vacation with the elderly.
Although the tribe was gifted in running, they fell short when it came to shoe construction. They pretty much got along with a piece of leather tied to their foot, but at least they could brag their footwear was not only handcrafted but custom made to order.
“Sir, if you would be so kind as to step on the dead cow skin and I’ll make a quick outline of your foot. OK, great that should do it. Come back in three moons they’ll be ready. Should I put that on your Crow Claw or will you be using beads?”
The adventurer came back from his adventure and took the “less is more” idea and began promoting barefoot running. Out of this developed barefoot shoes. Vibram was one of the first to market these shoes at a rather high price point which made them even more desirable.
10 years ago, a poll was taken of shoe enthusiasts. They were asked if it was possible to design a shoe that would be uglier than a Croc, many of those polled responded with a resounding “No!”
Imagine their surprise when barefoot shoes came out.
I have logged over 500 miles in barefoot running shoes. I’ve also worn them in Tough Mudder and Savage Races.
Here is my take on Vibram KSO versus Fila Skele-toes.
Cost: Vibram KSO will set you back about twice as much as Fila Skele-Toes
Effort to Put On: Vibram KSO takes longer to fit your toes into the shoe. Fila Skele-Toes has a combined 4&5 little piggy slot making them easier to put on.
Size of Rock Bruise: Vibram KSO will give you about twice as big rock bruise. Note: This is not a defect. The KSO is billed as a thinner sole.
Looks: Both are ugly but the Vibram KSO costs more so it has a bit more swagger to barefoot shoe enthusiasts. Otherwise, the general comments I receive when wearing the shoes are. “Bet you could climb a tree in those.”
Durability: Soles are durable but the tops, being light weight, don’t hold up to sharp things very well. I stubbed my toe in the Skele-Toes but repaired the tear with needle and thread.
Comfort: I find them both incredibly comfortable. Most people I’ve talked to who have tried barefoot shoes, rave about them.
Smell: They smell just as good as most sweaty fitness shoes worn without socks. Fortunately you can throw them in washer or hose them down while bathing the dog.
Learning to Run Barefoot
If you want to learn how to run barefoot, watch a 3 year old run barefoot across the grass and do what he does, except don’t wave your arms around, it just looks silly.
The key difference between barefoot running and running on padded heel jogging shoes is that you run on the balls of your feet instead of landing on your heels.
Your stride will be shorter than when landing on your heels and until you get used to it, your calves will feel like they are going to explode. It took me 3-4 runs of a few miles to condition my legs.
There are a number of advantages and a few disadvantages to barefoot running. One advantage of running on the balls of your feet is that the impact to the body is lessened. This helped me return to running after years of not being able to run. Some people have reported foot problems.
One of the best benefits is that they are so much easier to pack running shoes. They are light, flexible and take up less room in the gym bag.
Makes a great gift for great grandmother as well if you’re planning a long trip.
Enjoy and Go Horns High