"Barefoot" Ted McDonald
April 17, 2006
How did you get started running in FiveFingers?BFT: I started running in my mid 30's wearing running shoes, but I was never able to train long enough to prepare for a marathon. I tried shoes with extra cushioning and shoes with more stability, but I just couldn't find anything that allowed me to train the way I knew I could. A few years ago, I stumbled across the idea of running barefoot. Could it be possible? For whatever reason, I immediately discovered I was able to run pain free and train longer by running barefoot. Running barefoot forced me to run with good form and gently. No pounding allowed. I also found that I liked the feeling and feedback I received from the ground under my feet.
I started to research barefoot running online and discovered I wasn't the only one running barefoot, that there are many, many people who had been doing this longer than I had. The 20th century is filled with many famous, world-class barefooters. I also read about Dr. Nicholas Romanov and the POSE Method of running which improved my form allowing me to run longer and injury free, and I read about and started corresponding with famous barefoot runner Barefoot Ken Bob.
However, I also like to run trails, which can be pretty tough barefoot, especially steep downhills over rocky terrain. A few months ago I had read about FiveFingers by Vibram, I knew they were marketing the product for walking and some water sports, but I thought I would try them for running on trails.
I soon discovered that FiveFingers gave me some of that same feeling I get running barefoot, but they allowed me to run trails and rough terrain for longer periods of time more safely. Now I use them as part of my regular training program.
Although this particular version was not designed specifically for running, it works pretty well. I've even ran a couple 50 mile trail races in FiveFingers.
Do you recommend FiveFingers for other runners?BFT: These shoes have great potential for runners. Athletic trainers, health professionals, and even footwear manufacturers are all beginning to embrace the many health and performance advantages of running barefoot. People are finally beginning to understand that running barefoot, even if its on grass a couple of days a week, can improve strength, balance, agility and most importantly running form. Most overuse injuries are really misuse injuries caused from poor running form. Learning good running form is an important step toward running injury free.
I know that most people are more accustomed to wearing shoes running. While running in shoes may offer great for support, shoes can "cast" the foot, which can lead to some atrophy of the muscles in the feet and lower legs. Wearing FiveFingers, even if it's just for a couple of hours 3 times a week, can help to revive and strengthen those muscles. I would recommend you start by wearing them 1-2 hours at a time for the first few weeks, allowing your foot muscles to adapt.
Are your paid to endorse Vibram FiveFingers?BFT: Actually, I liked the product so much I contacted Vibram to let them know. When I told them how much I liked the product and that I was using them for running they were pretty surprised. Now they provide me with product to test and report back, they help pay for some of my travel expenses for races, but no, I'm not on the payroll. I like working as a Vibram tester, giving them feedback, testing the product under extreme conditions.
In the end, I don't like shoes; however, FiveFingers are not really shoes in a traditional sense. I can endorse them because they really work for me.
Is running barefoot or in FiveFingers a good idea for everyone?BFT: Not necessarily, running barefoot or running in FiveFingers is a very personal choice and not for everyone. Individuals should research this approach to determine if it is right for them. There is a great website where you can learn more at Posetech.com. FiveFingers work pretty well when you employ the Pose Method of running.
But remember, begin gradually, use caution, listen to your body, and as they say at Vibram, you should always consult a physician before beginning, or changing, your regular exercise routine.