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Monday, May 6, 2013

Vibram Treksport Review

I love slipping my shoes off and slipping into the Dojo. There is something about bare feet that just feels right. Especially during those special summer outdoor training sessions. My love for being bare foot, lead me to take interest in the not so new Vibram Five fingers. A shoe designed to simulate the barefoot feel while offering protection during outdoor activities.

After a year or two of getting over the initial shock of how ugly and strange these shoes seem at first glance and a lot of research I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a pair.  Now I am not the kind of guy to go out and buy the fanciest shoes, I hate to spend more than $50 on a pair, or the newest equipment and I avoid jumping on most bandwagons but as conversations grew in some of my favorite health and fitness forums about the minimalist running revolution I realized I was already on board.

Now I am not a runner, I love running but I have a hard time keeping motivated without a good running partner; however I have been on board with the idea of minimalist footwear for a lot longer than I had realized. Ever since I got into hXc in the early 2000 I cast my runners aside and replaced them with low profile Vans and Converse. Since then I have collected a few pairs of FeiVues, some kung fu shoes, a pair of wrestling shoes and even a pair of heel less rubber soled dress shoes.

Now I have had my Vibrams for a little while and I have really enjoyed them for cycling and going to the gym but I hadn't really given them a trial run until this last weekend when I did a 7k hike up a rather relentless mountain called Ishizuchisan 「石鎚山」. This was my second time to do the hike and I absolutely love it. The first time I did it the weather was a little dreary but this weekend we had clear skies and thanks to the pockets of snow here and there the Golden Week 「ゴールデンウィーク 」tourist rush had gone elsewhere.

I will admit as I trekked along I got quite a few comments about my shoes. Many people asked if my feet hurt and one guy gave me a thumbs up as he was also in a pair. I guess I should have expected the attention considering I bought a bright orange pair of Trek Sport’s.

So did my feet hurt? No not at all. (remeber I have been training barefoot, in the Dojo at least twice a week, since I was 12) I will admit when walking on sharper stones I had to be a little more careful but I found the minimalist sole made me more responsive to the trails. I would notice loose rocks more quickly and was able to maintain stability at all times. Walking over roots and softer ground felt like a much welcomed foot massage and climbing Ishizuchisan’s famous chain ways was easier than ever.

The next day, my feet felt better than they have in weeks. My right foot gets tight now and then, likely as a result of an old knee injury, but the morning after the hike it felt great. My only complaint was my calves were a little tight but then again so were the calves of my hiking partners one who did the hike in traditional hiking boots and the other in a pair of Nike 7.0’s (she did role her ankle making the last 2k rather difficult).

I am a huge skeptic and it really took me some time to buy into Vibram’s crazy toe shoes but after this weekend I am a believer. They really are a versatile well made shoe ideal for anyone who is into keeping an active lifestyle. They may even work well to help people transition out of their shoes and into training barefoot in the Dojo, a concern for some older students. My next adventure in minimalist footwear will be to give a pair of running sandals ago. If anyone wants to send me a pair I would be happy to review them.

Need a pair of Vibrams in Japan, check out they got me my shoes in less than a week. I actually think they showed up the within two days of my order and I was able to pay COD.

Come back next week for: Five rules for your five fingers

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