Yesterday Rhianna and I took our new Vibrams for a spin around our normal cemetery route. I was amazed by how different it felt to run with this barefooting feel. It seemed to "open up" my calves. My calves are notoriously tight and well, I don't have a problem with shape or muscle there. Running in these shoes made it feel like I was elongating everything. Also, it felt good the way the toes grip the ground.
I was anxious to see how this good feeling translated to cross-training so we wore them to Body Boot Camp. You get so used to the idea of shoes with shock absorption and cushioning that the thought of plyometrics without that is a little curious. Well, there is a lot to be said for no cushioning and shock absorption except the God-given kind. It was AWESOME. Rhianna was so impressed by how she felt - she said it made her feel like she could jump even higher (and that would be impressive, indeed, because she is like a Tigger). Plyometrics felt great; everything did. The balance benefits were noticeable immediately, but particularly with the single legged deadlifts. Also, they made all of the yoga stretching feel more natural.
It was as if someone had dropped off a black suitcase with a superhero suit (like in Greatest American Hero). We felt injected with energy. So torqued were we, that even after the 65 minute kick-butt class I had put together, we still felt like running. We head out for a 55 minute trail run, cell phone cams ready for the beautiful scenery. I got to experience stubbing my foot on a big root - almost wiped out - but it DID NOT hurt more than when I do it in standard running shoes. Rocks were no problem. Now there were some acorns on steroids that did feel uncomfortable, but I'm pretty sure they would have felt uncomfortable in any shoe. Running on the trails - which have experienced a bit of erosion since our last run there - gave our feet an amazing sensory buffet of different textures. Rocky ground, sandy ground, pine needles, grass, roots and clay, stubbly who-knows-what. Rhianna likened it to a massage. And hills - running up hills felt good. Actually good. Really! And I usually am not a fan of hills.
I can't imagine going back to regular Asics or Sauconys. The freedom to feel the ground beneath you like never before is just too wonderful. Then there is the way it seems makes all my muscles feel more fluid. The Vibram site talks about the biomechanical advantages of barefooting running...well, now I'm a believer.
And...I really don't mind if my feet look funny! Rhianna plans on getting a pair of hot pink ones for in the gym. I wouldn't mind going with grey or khaki.