Vibram Fun

Running, Climbing and Transitioning to Vibram Fivefingers

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The past month has been particularly busy, as Spring is finally here in full force and I’m happily spending as much time outdoors as possible while squeezing a ton of activity into each day. The sun stretching across so many more hours of the day means my energy is renewed and I’ve successfully sloughed off the winter urge to hibernate. I even got talked into competing in my first rock climbing comp, The Ring of Fire held by Central Rock Gym (my favorite Boston-area indoor rock gym).

ImageIt was a bit of a last-minute decision as I went in to climb the Monday before the comp and the woman working the front desk really encouraged me to sign up. I didn’t realize most comps have a Women’s Beginner’s division. I had already been planning on coming to watch the pros climb, so I figured why not give it a go. All-in-all I didn’t do terribly well (flashed the first wall, fell on the other two) but I had a lot of fun and learned a ton. I’d definitely do it again! I’m really not a competitive sports person so it was quite a surprise that I both did it and enjoyed it. Also, watching the pro finals that night was outstanding. Ashima Shirashi and Delaney Miller blew my mind, and I was seriously impressed by everyone who climbed.

The real reason I was drawn to blog today though is to address some information that’s making the rounds about Vibram Fivefingers. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you may know I started blogging when I first did the Couch-2-5k program back in the Spring of 2010. I had always hated running and used the excuse of “bad knees” to get me out of even thinking about it. I was encouraged to try running with C25K and Fivefingers as I read there were benefits of running barefoot. The biggest benefits for me were that it encouraged using a more natural stride (mid-sole/fore-foot strike instead of heel strike, working on pushing up/being springier) and increased awareness of the environment (eyes learn to scan the terrain to avoid stepping on sharp objects). I personally experienced both of those pros and also found it was the first time in my life I could run without knee pain and shin splints. I also enjoyed running for the first time as it felt like playing when my feet could really feel the textures of mud, sand, gravel, etc.  It was such a positive experience for me that I’ve bough three pair of Fivefingers in the past four years and I use them for running, hiking, paddling and swimming. I even just ran my first 5K in them last weekend (note, I just started walking at this point so that heel coming down is not my normal running stride):

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While I’m obviously a fan of VFF, I also realize they’re not for everyone. Depending on your foot shape and bone structure they may not be for you. I’ve also seen quite a few people injure themselves due to switching to VFFs and not weaning into them properly. VFF shoes use muscles in the feet, ankles and calves that you may not be used to using on a regular basis. This isn’t true of just VFF shoes, it’s true of beginning any new physical activity or picking up an activity after months without it. For example, how many of us know people who have become injured after heading to the gym and doing the same weight routine they did four years ago when they haven’t touched a weight in months?

So to me, it was no surprise when this research study came out citing the potential for increased foot bone marrow edema in those transitioning to VFF shoes. The thing is, some people are seriously misinterpreting this study to mean VFFs are terrible and horrible and, as one post mentioned, “will fuck up your feet”. Whereas in reality the study clearly states: “CONCLUSION: Runners interested in transitioning to minimalist running shoes, such as Vibram FiveFingers, should transition very slowly and gradually to avoid potential stress injury in the foot.” Well, that makes sense.

But let’s take a moment to break down the study. It involved 36 experienced runners, 17 in the control group ran in their normal shoes, while 19 transitioned to Vibrams. The transition plan sounded reasonable. Runners continue their normal running routines (which are 16+ miles) and use Vibrams for 1-2 miles to start and gradually increase. The thing is, the study gets a little wishy-washy from there. “It should be noted that some subjects stopped logging their runs prior to the 10th week of training and 4 of the 19 Vibram subjects did not document their training at all, though they did participate in both pre- and post- testing and therefore, were included in the statistical analysis in this study. This lack of documentation presents a limitation to this study.”  That’s kind of a big strike here. The people running the study also don’t note how runs were tracked. It’s alluded to that the runners all self-document, which leaves quite a bit of room for error. I was surprised they didn’t have them at least track their run with a smartphone app. Not that those are perfect, but it would be a bit more scientific than giving them a logbook and sending them on their way.

The study goes on to explain that they used a MRI before and after the study with each included participant to check for bone and soft tissue damage. There was a noticeable increase in edema and a small incidence of stress fractures with those using VFF shoes. Incidences were higher in women than in men. This is certainly concerning and not something to brush off. I do personally feel this warrants more study, since the control group was small and there were issues with the data collected, but their conclusion draws upon common sense.

“Although most runners will not know about the presence or degree of bone marrow edema, our results suggest that if a runner transitioning to VFF feels pain, they should modify their running regimen.” Yes, this. They also concluded that if you are a long-distance runner, it’s advisable to transition over a period of time greater than 10 weeks. I’m totally down with those conclusions. Not only do these rules apply to running with VFFs, but they’re common sense rules for exercise in general.

Rebecca’s Simple Rules to Avoiding Injury

  1. If you feel pain make modifications to your exercise.
  2. Transition slowly into new exercise routines.
  3. Properly warm up the body before engaging in physical activity.
  4. ALWAYS stretch and cool down after physical activity.
  5. Support your body with proper nutrition to fuel your workouts and support your recovery.

And lastly, since our society is so friggin’ litigious, Vibram Fivefingers was sued for making unsubstantiated claims about their footwear (basically saying it was a healthier way to run). So if you purchased VFFs after March 2009 you may be eligible to collect from this class action suit. So if that applies to you and you’d like to be a part of it, keep an eye on this page for updates on how to register. For the record, VFF still claim they did nothing wrong, so this is a settlement, not an official ruling.

As for me, I’m going to continue rocking my Vibram Fivefingers. And I’m especially excited to use them for paddling season!

 

Raising The Bar

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I started week two of C25K this week. So far it’s noticeably easier this time around and I feel that’s a testament to how my level of fitness has increased over the years. It’s also a huge help that I’ve kept up with a daily yoga practice. My legs were sore last week but daily stretching with yoga, plus a longer class on Thursday night, has really helped make the soreness barely noticeable. This week I also upped my speed in half of the segments that I’m running. The program this week has me alternating running for 1.5 mins and walking for 2 mins for a total of about 29 minutes. I was excited to break the two mile mark yesterday and will try to up my speed when I run again tomorrow. I will say I’m missing my HiiT workouts. I had to shift things around to make room for running so I’m taking a break from HiiT and Kettlebell 2-3 days/wk to running 3 days/wk. While running is great to build my cardio, it’s also a bit boring (especially when compared to HiiT), and it’s not dynamic so it’s uber-focused on legs and core so the rest of my body is just happy I’m continuing to climb and do yoga to keep it active.

I reached a new height in climbing today by killing a 5.9+ route. Regular climbers may not find this impressive, but for me it was a big deal. I specifically chose the route because it had very few jugs and was mostly slopers, pinchers and globes. I hate all of those, though slopers and I have become friendly lately. I’ll also admit the two globes thrown into that route proved to be really nice resting points. But pinchers? We’re still not cool, pinchers. For the non-climbers that read my blog I will eventually explain more about those different holds so sorry if you feel left in the dark for now.

I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a new smoothie recipe, so here’s my current favorite:

Pineapple Mango Smoothie
Pineapple Mango Smoothie

Pineapple Mango Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp flax seed (if your blender won’t pulverize this buy it ground)
  • handful fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen mangos
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple

Blend it up in the mixer of your choice! I still love my Vitamix and make smoothies for myself and my partner every morning. If you’d like to indulge in the rest of the meal pictured above, make yourself some Scrambled Eggs with Spinach!

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach (yes, this may sound simple but I’m posting the recipe because I believe my scrambled eggs are recipe-worthy)

Ingredients:

  • two eggs (preferably free-range organic, even better if they’re local)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (recipe here, omit vanilla and sweetener)
  • handful baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or fat of your choosing)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in pan over medium-low
  2. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper until slightly frothy.
  3. Add eggs to pan and move continuously. This is the biggest trick to making light, fluffy eggs; keep them moving constantly. I like to use a heat-safe silicon spatula to keep folding them in on each other.
  4. When eggs are barely firm (maybe 20-30 seconds in the pan) add the spinach.
  5. Continue moving constantly until they reach desired firmness and spinach has wilted.

Now have your smoothie and scramble and go take over the world! 😉

C25K Redux & Climbing for the Top!

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In spite of it being 0ºF at my doorstep this morning, I’m thinking towards Spring! This year I signed up for my first official 5K. For anyone who’s been following my blog for a while, you know I began running back in April of 2010 using the Couch-to-5K program with the Get Running App. I also chose to run close to barefoot with Vibram Five Fingers (first KSOs, then the Treksports and now the Spyridon LS). I’ve continued running off and on since then but I generally don’t run much in the winter because I’m neither a fan of treadmills nor am I a fan of being cold. I also honestly don’t enjoy running as much as I enjoy climbing or yoga or HiiT workouts, so it tends to fall near the bottom of my list.

All that said, my school is involved in a 5K so I’ve decided to support them by participating. This is a big deal for me because I really don’t enjoy crowds so while I love obstacle courses and trail running, I haven’t been competitive about it. While I probably don’t technically need the C25K program this time around, since I’ve maintained good physical fitness, I want to take it slow so I can work on my form and rebuild any running-specific muscles that I may have been neglecting in the winter months. Unfortunately, this means using my treadmill right now (at least until all this %&*@# snow melts), but that does give me the ability to maintain consistent speeds and challenge myself to go faster in my runs. I specifically like to alternate running speeds, which is not part of the C25K regimen, because it both helps keep me engaged and builds better cardio by keeping my body guessing.

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In addition to the running, I’m working on leveling up in climbing! I’ve been climbing off and on for a couple years now but became a member at Central Rock Gym in January and have been hitting the walls 2-3 times per week since then. It’s amazing how addictive it is. I’ve found myself devouring climbing videos on YouTube and the more I watch others climb the more confident I’m getting in my own climbing. Above you’ll see my first bouldering route with a heel hook (which was super fun!) and since then I’ve been working more on my technique and was stoked to kill a couple V2’s at the gym yesterday!

My top roping has also improved. I went from climbing a 5.6-5.7 to now successfully completing 5.9’s. Once I get confident with the 5.9/5.10 range I can begin learning lead climbing, which means I’ll be responsible for hooking in my own rope on several preset lead carabiners along the route. This will help prepare me for outdoor climbing, which I’m hoping to try this summer.

For a girl who’s afraid of heights I’ve come a long way! The thing I really gain by climbing is when the confidence I have in myself is greater than my fear of heights. I’m not afraid of falling when I know I can hold myself up. Obviously, this can be applied to many facets of life, which I’m finding is the real thing I seek with physical fitness. Yoga teaches me to find moments of calm even in the most stressful situations. High intensity trainings and climbing both help me gain confidence in my body and mind and challenge me to push further.

They’re not kidding when they say “strong is the new beautiful”. 🙂

Pies and Pushups

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It has have been a while since my last entry but I’m still going STRONG on workouts and sticking to my food allergy/healthy diet.  I’m really enjoying seeing my muscle tone improve and I’ve been taking on new challenges.  I’ve fallen in love with kettlebells and have also added some heavier free weights to my collection.  My biggest struggle continues to be learning to do pullups.  So far I can do ONE unassisted and that’s a good start.

To keep my workouts interesting I’ve been varying things a bit.  I’m generally doing two Zuzka workouts per week (I’ve shelled out for her new ZGYM and in full honesty the first two workouts were worth more than the $10/mo price tag; they’re way harder than her free ZWOWs).  I also do two workouts inspired by myomytv.com, which offers awesome free kettlebell and bodyweight workouts.  I say “inspired” because while I sometimes outright do one of their routines, I’ve been experimenting with creating my own routines and so far I’m kicking my own ass. 🙂  I also do 1-2 pilates or yoga workouts per week.  On top of that I’m still running 1.6 miles per day, happily on the Mad River Path with my pup.  This has been a good mix for me and gets me moving at least an hour per day six times a week.  I take a day off to rest.

I’m going to start posting my self-made workouts here.  I’m not comfy recording videos yet, but I think I’d like to in the future.  So here are my three most recent WOD’s.  If you need a better description of the exercise just ask!  I’d consider these intermediate->advanced.  If you want to do them just listen to your body and adjust as needed.  Beginners should use lighter weights, shorter reps and a longer resting period.  If you’re more advanced use heavier weights, longer reps and a shorter resting period.  In general I’m using a 25lb kettlebell (or two for doubles).  My free-weights range from 5lb->20lb.

For an interval timer I’m using Seconds on my iPhone.

6/10/13 – Set interval timer to 3 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest
  1. Goblet Squat (20kg)
  2. Alternating KB Swing
  3. Alternating Curtsy Lunge (14kg)
  4. KB Single-Leg Deadlifts
  5. Skater Hops
  6. Renegade Row
  7. Chin-Up
6/11/13 – Set interval timer to 3 rounds 40 sec activity, 15 sec rest
  1. Glute Bridge Booty Pump
  2. Single-leg deadlift R
  3. Single-leg deadllift L
  4. Eccentric Focused Chin Ups
  5. Push Up Lean/Push Up/Push Back Combo
  6. Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollout
  7. Dumbbell Hammer Curl
  8. Dragon Flag
6/19/13 – Set interval timer to 2 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest
  1. KB Reverse lunge
  2. Snatch R
  3. Snatch L
  4. Around-the-world KB swings
  5. Single-Leg Deadlift R
  6. Single-Leg Deadlift L
  7. Side-crunch R
  8. Side-crunch L
  9. Weighted sit-up
  10. Double KB Swings

And now for recipes!  This past Saturday I hosted a large dinner party for my family.  Along with accommodating my long list of food allergies, I also had to make the meal low-carb/sugar for my father who’s diabetic, low-salt for his wife who has high BP, dairy/gluten free for my sister-in-law (this is in line with my own diet too) and garlic-free for my brother.  Even more importantly, I wanted it to be FREAKING DELICIOUS to help show that you don’t have to eat crappy-tasting food just because you have a dietary restriction.  Also, since my family showered me with a ton of pie-making paraphernalia for Christmas, I made the meal Pie-themed.

Bring In The Pies!!

86aa7b8cd6c011e29c6622000a1f9e4a_7Paleo Shepard’s Pie (adapted from Elana’s Pantry and The Functional Foodie)

Ingredients – Makes ~1 large deep dish pie

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 lb ground grass fed beef
  • 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 1/4 lb ground pork (I used a mild chorizo sausage from my local butcher which gave it a nice kick)
  • 1/2 lb uncured bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced mushrooms of your choosing
  • 1/2 cup low sodium beef or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I used a merlot)
  • 2 tsp coconut aminos (can use Worcester Sauce if you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp chopped mixed herbs (I used basil, oregano, thyme and parsley from my garden)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 large heads cauliflower, trimmed, chopped and steamed until very soft (I used one white and one yellow)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance or Virgin Coconut Oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.  Add shallots and cook for another few minutes.
  3. Add bacon and sauté until cooked, ~10 minutes (note: the bacon will not crisp, that’s ok).
  4. Add the carrots, celery and mushrooms and sauté until soft (it’s ok of the carrots stay a bit firm), ~10 mins.
  5. Add the meats, herbs, salt and pepper and sauté until browned.
  6. Add the stock, wine, coconut aminos and a paprika.  Stir and cook down broth until it’s ~60% evaporated.
  7. Meanwhile, add the cauliflower, coconut milk, Earth Balance/VCO, and a pinch of salt and pepper to your food processor and blend until it’s the consistency of mashed potatoes; this will not take long.  Taste-test and see if you need to add more salt and pepper.
  8. Pour the filling into a pie plate and top with the cauliflower mash.  Add a pinch of smoked paprika to the top for decoration if you like.
  9. Cook at 375ºF for 30 minutes, or until the inside is bubbly and the top is slightly firm.  Let cool for ~10 mins before serving.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (Gluten and Dairy free, no sugar added to filling)

Ingredients

Crust (and trust me, it’s GOOD, the non-gluten free folks loved it!):

  • 1 cup Almond or Pecan flour (I was out of almond so I ground pecans in my Vitamix which worked out beautifully!)
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour (my sister-in-law says next time I should try Bob’s Red Mill Shortbread Mix)
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Palm Sugar (you can use cane sugar if you’d like, I’m just allergic to it)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ cup Virgin Coconut Oil (room temperature)
  • 5-8 tbsp Cool Water

Filling (adapted from here):

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped red rhubarb, fresh
  • 2 1/2 cups de-stemmed, washed and cut strawberries (in larger pieces)
  • 2 tbsp minute tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance cut into small slices
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Directions

Crust:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a mixer.
  2. Add the coconut oil and beat until dough forms small balls.
  3. Add the water one tbsp at a time while mixing until the dough reaches the proper consistency (it should hold together well but not be sticky).
  4. Separate into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap or parchment and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out dough and add bottom crust to a greased and floured pie plate.

Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, tapioca, flour, zest and juice of lemon, dash of cinnamon, and vanilla.
  3. Mix well in a large bowl and pour out into bottom crust.
  4. Dot with butter.
  5. Roll out top crust and top the pie (if you want to do the lattice design I did use a pizza-cutter to cut strips of the rolled-dough and a long spatula to carefully lift the crust from the counter to the pie).
  6. Brush top of crust with beaten egg yolk.
  7. Wrap aluminum foil loosely around the outside edge of the crust to protect the crust from burning.
  8. Cook at 425ºF for 15 minutes, then drop the temperature to 375ºF and cook for another 40 minutes.  The crust should be golden brown and the filling should be bubbling.  I found the gluten free crust cooks faster than when using traditional flour so keep an eye on the pie so it doesn’t get over-cooked.  Cool before serving.

I’d love to know if you try my recipes or workouts.  Please pass along your feedback!  Now it’s time for a run!

 

It’s Trekkin’ Season!

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For those of us up here in the Green Mountains, we’re finally just starting to find Spring popping up all around.  While today’s blustery winds brought a mix of snow and rain and there are still small heaps of ice and snow coating the wetlands behind my house, the flocks of birds at the bird feeder and blooming crocuses in my front yard let me know the end is near.

We had a long winter this year and some unusual thaw and freeze patterns.  That mixed with the recent floods and thunderstorms has done some real damage to my most trekked trail along the Mad River.  While I was sad to see the downed limbs, broken branches and layers of debris spread along the almost-washed-out path, I couldn’t fight back the urge to come out of my cocoon and get my butt back outside!  It’s not surprising that it was just about a year ago when I started barefoot running.  Today, I received my second pair of Vibram’s in the mail.  It’s true, I’m hooked.  This time I picked up a shiny pair of the new Vibram Fivefingers Treksports.

My KSO’s are holding up beautifully, despite all the running, swimming and hiking I put them through last year.  However, there were several reasons why the Treksports lured me in.  I recently started working with a personal trainer.  Naturally, I brought my KSO’s with me.  The first day, I took her spinning class prior to my personal training intake and I immediately regretted my decision.  The pedal of the bike I was on rode right on my arches, the softest most vulnerable part of the foot (aside from, perhaps, in between the toes).  I was visibly in pain,  My trainer moved me to another bike with a wider pedal, which helped, but overall I found the KSOs were just not the right choice.

My main reason for seeking personal training right now is that I have some big plans in mind for my summer.  Now that the weather is warming up I’m just itching to be outdoors as much as possible and I really want to push myself this year.  Running was fun, but I’m not necessarily looking to run as much this year.  I’m thinking of trying climbing and taking on more adventurous hikes.  I also need a shoe that can continue to play with me while I kayak, canoe, and splash around in Vermont’s rivers and lakes.

While the KSO’s did a fine job of keeping up with my water-bound activities last year, the Treksport’s plated midsoles and lightly cleated outsole really appealed to me.  I never fully felt comfortable using my KSO’s on adventurous hikes because of those few moments of stabbing pain on my arches when I hit a rock at the wrong angle, and the fact that I slipped quite a bit in mud.  For running, they were perfect.  For hiking, they just weren’t beefy enough.  However, the kangaroo leather upper on the KSO Treks didn’t jive well with my love for water or my being slightly put-off by wearing kangaroo hide on my feet.

So, on to the part you’re probably most interested in: a picture comparison. Disclaimer: keep in mind my KSOs are a bit worn.

The first time I slipped the Treksports on I definitely felt they had more continuity, but I still felt a firm connection with the ground and easy articulation.  My first test was to wrap my arches around a pointy piece of wood and the plated arch definitely works!  More on that later.

Let’s start by talking about the posterior difference:

As you can see, the Treksport have some padding around the Achilles.  This triangle-shaped pillow rises from the heel and makes the heel look wider than the KSOs in this picture, but when worn it hugs the heel nicely and provides additional stability.  Both feature the same strap design and both have a loop on the rear.

From the front there are some fun differences.  The Treksport toes have additional texture to them and the tips of the toes are reinforced:

While I haven’t experienced this with my KSOs, several folks online have complained that their non-reinforced toe Fivefinger shoes show signs of wear and ripping on the tops of the toes.  In the champagne color Treksports, the reinforced toes are clear and shiny.  I’ve read other reviews that the dark colored models have black reinforcing.  Regardless of the color, this is an important feature for those of us who really want to put our Vibrams through its paces.

Laterally, there isn’t a huge difference between the KSO and the Treksport with the exception that the Treksport sits a bit higher on its cleated sole.  It also appears that the outside rubber comes up just a hair higher on the Treksport.

Medially, there’s a noticeable difference between the two.  The KSOs actually have greater coverage on the medial part of the sole which causes the Treksport to appear to curve more at the arch.  While I haven’t played around with these enough to know yet, it does appear that the Treksports have more arch support whereas the KSOs are fairly flat with just a mild curve for the arch.

Now here’s the real money shot:

Oh, let’s see that up close!

The biggest visible difference between the KSO and the Treksport is the sole.  While my KSOs are a bit worn, the texture on the bottom of the KSOs are minimal.  The Treksport has noticeable grooves and mild cleats to provide better traction and grip in various terrain.  I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t want the Treksport if I was new to barefoot running.  “Real” barefoot runners already poo-poo us Fivefinger folks, and the Treksports push that line further.  Yes, it’s still much less padding than a sneaker and one can certainly run in them, but it wouldn’t be my choice.

However, with the additional grip and the reinforced arch I will definitely feel more comfortable trying the Treksports out in environments I shied away from with my KSOs.  One other thing to note is that the midsole is much thinner on the Treksport.  I have narrow feet and after walking around in these for a while I felt no discomfort or insecurities.  If you have wide feet you might want to really try them out in a store before making the investment.  I’ve only read positive reviews on the midsole width so far, but it’s something to take note of.

I’m super-stoked to take my new Fivefingers out for a ride!  Now that I’ve come out of winter hibernation, expect to hear more of my Treksport adventures!  Let’s hope they can keep up with me. 😉

Oh, and for those of you who are only here for the dog stories, here’s Toby and his new buddy, Charlie, enjoying some VT April showers.  Seriously, this white death falling from the sky has got to stop!

Feet at Play

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I apologize for falling off the face of the Earth for the past month.  Work got intense there for a bit and then I took a much needed vacation.  Luckily, despite my fingers not getting their blogging workout, my feet have been rocking the Vibrams in all sorts of fun adventures.  While I’ve continued to run I have cut down to only one day a week for now.  Much to my acupuncturists delight, but my chagrin, I’m no longer having any issues with my left foot so the new schedule appears to be helping that, but I plan to start alternating running twice a week every other week.  Luckily, I’ve had plenty of physical things to do and with the addition of a FREE bowflex to my basement I’ve been working on strength training once again.  This came in very handy on my vacation!

A Wet Dog Is A Happy Dog

There’s Toby, working on his favorite summer activities; swimming and stick retrieval.  I’ve been on several quests this summer and a big one has been checking out local swimming holes.  The above picture shows Toby at Swain Pond in Maine, which unfortunately wasn’t fit for human swimming, but Toby had a blast and I enjoyed canoeing around with him in tow.  Quick funny fact: while Toby enjoys kayaking, he is adamantly against getting into a canoe.  Even after I bribed him with cookies and sat with him in the canoe on land (all the “get your dog to boat with you” techniques), he still freaked out as soon as I tried to start paddling.  Instead, he chose to follow me on land or by swimming next to the canoe.  On some of the lakes this meant he got quite the workout.  Luckily, he had his lifejacket on at all times so if he got tuckered out mid-lake he wouldn’t drown and I was prepared to hold him while paddling if necessary.

Last year, I bought a pair of Keene Venice H20’s, which I really love.  I went swimming with them here in Vermont and in Aruba where I swam in rocky waters.  They were good, but after doing some side-by-side comparisons with the Vibram KSO’s there’s really no competition; the Vibrams win.  I find walking on moss-covered rocks in the Keenes can be quite the challenge, as their hard solid sole is inflexible so the surface area that I could grip the rocks with is slim.  This meant quite a bit of slipping and sliding and at one point I slipped off a rock and ended up with my foot wedged between a couple rocks underwater.  Luckily, I didn’t twist when I fell because I could have easily broken or sprained my ankle.

The Vibrams, on the other hand, still offer enough protection so when I’m walking on rocks or sharp objects it doesn’t feel painful (though I do feel it more than with the Keenes), but since I can contort my foot to the rocks I’m climbing on I find it’s much easier to get a good grip, keep my balance and have more accurate proprioception.  Granted, both the Vibram and the Keene sole are a little slippery, but I feel much more confident in my Vibrams.

The other detail with the Vibram KSOs is the mesh top.  With the Keenes, the toe is covered but anything that gets into the shoes from the top strappy-area just falls into the toes so when I wear the Keenes I find myself regularly slipping them off to shake out the debris that’s collected in them.  With the Vibrams, the only thing that slips through the mesh top is sand and small pieces of dirt which I usually don’t notice while I have the shoes on and once the shoes are dry it’s pretty easy to shake them out.  Overall, I feel more protected in the Vibrams and have been happily swimming with them all summer.

My vacation was all about fishing!  I canoed and fished in Maine and both canoed and shore-fished in Vermont.  I have to say that once again the Vibrams were super-awesome for boating and wading in the water.  I wore my Keenes one day and noticed when going from the water into the canoe they drag a good amount of water with them.  The Vibrams are easier to shake off before stepping into the canoe and since they’re so form-fitting there was no real way for them to add much water to the boat.  There’s also just a huge fun-factor to standing in water with a fishing pole and feeling barefoot, but knowing there’s protection if I were to step on any hazards under the water.

In the past week alone I’ve climbed over piles of rocks, balanced on logs, tip-toed around beaver nests and beat my labrador in a couple water-bound stick chases.  My feet are happy and playful and my body is reaping the benefits of all this outdoor fun!  Just thinking about it makes me want to hop in the car and head back out to Eligo Lake with my fishing pole.  Well, it is Labor Day, I think I’ll just do that!