Running Update: Vibram Fivefingers

A couple of months back I gave a quick update on my attempted transition to Vibram Fivefingers as my running shoe of choice. Unfortunately, I had a couple of setbacks trying to ramp up mileage too quickly for a half marathon, and ended up wearing my old Nike running shoes just to make sure I could finish the Brooklyn Half Marathon. The things a person does for the 9+1 guaranteed entry to the NYC Marathon

Before I recount my injuries, I want to note that I completely blame my terrible running form for all of them. While Vibram settled a class action lawsuit recently regarding false marketing tactics, I’m still under the impression that anyone who injures themselves likely either transitioned to aggressively or didn’t adjust their form to account for a natural running style. I’m likely guilty of both.

The Injuries

Right after the blog post I mentioned above, I strained my right calf (and subsequently my left one a week later). Both of these were due to the poor form I mentioned in that post, regarding my overuse of my calves while playing with different running form. I chalked those up to learning, considering I was coming from a heel striking background.

Once those injuries healed (only took a handful of days), I overexerted myself with a 6 mile run, trying to keep pace with a half marathon training schedule. I didn’t realize it during the run, but over the coming days I would realize that I strained what I’m pretty sure was my tibialis posterior (if you can trust pictures and articles on the internet). That was a particularly annoying injury that I found uncomfortable to run in, although for whatever reason I had no issues wearing basketball shoes and playing (perhaps the added support). I think I took 2-3 weeks off after that (icing and compressing) and got to the point where I only had soreness after longer runs, but only for a short time.


Considering my lack of training and my sore foot, I didn’t plan on running the half marathon (it would be stupid to with a 6 mile peak run a month before…right?). However, after running a 4 mile race I had signed up for the weekend before, I felt pretty good. I had switched back to some old Nike running shoes to give my feet a little support, and figured worst case I was comfortable walking in them.

As for the half marathon, physically I held up, and even found a good stride, but finishing was my primary goal so I ran a very relaxed pace. Some of the typical knee soreness associated with a long run and lack of preparation that went away after a couple days, but no foot issues. Mentally, I’m glad I’ve run a marathon before, because once you’ve run that far 13 miles seems surprisingly reasonable to your mind.

More importantly, with the same lack of training I had, Joyce was able to complete the race in her Fivefingers. She noted that the primary soreness she had was the bottom of her feet (expected based on the minimal padding and 13 miles of smacking asphalt), but with much less knee soreness than she had experienced in her normal running shoes.

I’m still hoping to switch back to the Fivefingers sometime this summer, but am waiting for my foot to feel completely healed first.