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Old 02-16-2008, 01:07 AM   #1
Elliot Fuller
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Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

If I'm trying to improve my running in general, is it worth investing in barefoot running shoes like the vibram fivefingers? I'm not going to be training for marathons or anything like that. But my running is atrocious ... I can't even hit an 8 minute mile right now (on a treadmill, no less). My max speed is like 7mph and even that is brutal.

My typical run is done heel-striking in running shoes that are designed to lighten the impact. Lately I've been trying to get into POSE and BOF striking.

I imagine it's beneficial to lose the heel-strike, whether in running shoes, or running barefoot.

So if I plan to, in the future, do the majority of my running in shoes/boots, are the Vibram Fivefingers worth getting in order to teach myself proper running mechanics and improve my shoe-based running as well?

I've noticed that while trying to BOF-strike in my current shoes, my shin splints are non-existent. However I get calf pain, occasional Achilles tendon pain, and just recently (though I'm not sure if it's from my running specifically), think I've pulled my right quad. But at least the impact-related pains seem to be non-existent.

I don't think they'll let me run barefoot in the Marines, which is why I'm asking.

So basically I'm trying to do whatever I can to improve my shoe-borne runs. If running barefoot for a while will help, then I'm all for it. But I don't wanna drop 80 clams to find that they really only are going to help me if I continue to run barefoot.

This might be a common sense question, but I've got absolutely nothing when it comes to running.
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Old 02-16-2008, 01:59 AM   #2
Kirez Reynolds
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Re: Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

I'm an experienced runner, but new to POSE running, and far from an expert on this. I'm only saying the little bit I do know. Others can give you more help, I expect.

You can easily transfer from POSE / barefoot running, to running in boots. You cannot go the other direction as easily. Your preparation of barefoot / POSE running will definitely help you to prevent injuries when you switch to running in boots. Lower leg injuries, mostly from running in boots and soft sand, are responsible for most of the medical failures in SOF training.

It will be difficult to lose the heel strike in boots, and attempting to do it can cause you to run on your toes which will be harmful. Be careful with that. Training with barefoot shoes first will help you with this --- to develop a proper BOF strike before you start the heavy boot running.

I don't know about the marines, but I know that 95% of all your PT in the Navy, Air Force or Army, you'll have the option to run in your own shoes, and they shouldn't give you any trouble over fivefingers --- buy conservative colors, though, not the red or blue. SOF training tends to be much more full-battle-gear PT oriented. If you're going to force recon, you may rarely have the option to use your own shoes.
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Old 02-16-2008, 11:38 AM   #3
Elliot Fuller
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Re: Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

Thanks Kirez. I'm hoping to find an MOS that will allow me to do grad school in the process, so in all probability infantry and Force Recon probably won't be something I look at until/if I decide to re-enlist. Sounds exciting, but gotta make the best of my time while I'm in.

I too had heard that for the longer runs in RT you could use your own shoes, which is cool. I just didn't want to be the guy in Fivefingers getting all of the attention from the DI's, y'know?

Also, I'm not necessarily practicing POSE at this time; I should have been a little more specific. I don't think 2-3 months is enough time to really master it. So for the time being I'm really just trying to effectively lose the heel-strike because I think that's probably half the battle right there.

I have too many other things to improve on at the moment to really give POSE the attention it deserves -- I'm trying to increase my speed and distance in runs, and if I'm learning POSE, odds are that most of my runs for the first few months are going to be very short "form training" runs.

Anyways, if barefoot will significantly help my form both in and out of shoes/boots, then I'm all for it. Think I may actually go get fit today.

Appreciate the advice!
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Old 02-16-2008, 11:32 PM   #4
Angel Andre Liu Orozco
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Re: Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

i ran a half marthon two weeks ago in my vff classics. i was super sore on my calfs and lowerback for the following four days( would have been longer if i have not seen my buddy chiropractor)
overall:
Take a pose cert- this will help your run game.
And buy the vff if you want super feet- strong plantars and calfs- you wont be dissapointed!!!
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Old 02-17-2008, 07:48 AM   #5
Elliot Fuller
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Re: Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

Not sure you read my post, Angel

Don't have the time or the money to attend a cert at present, and if I did, odds are it would be a Level I cert instead of pose/jump rope/kb's/etc. Those would be nice, but gotta prioritize.

Sounds like the vff will be good to improve my overall mechanics though, which is exactly what I need. I found a place in town that sells them but unfortunately they are closed on the weekends (which I discovered after a 30 minute drive out to their store... note to self: call first!).

All in all I'm just trying to:

- Lose my heel strike
- Avoid shin splints (big problem) and knee injuries (not quite as big a problem)
- Be able to do 10K at slow pace (6mph/9:00)
- Be able to do 5K in 20:00 if possible (not very likely in only 2 months)

Anyways, I think I've gotten the perspective I needed now, thanks
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Old 02-17-2008, 08:06 AM   #6
Erin Davidson
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Re: Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

I know you've already thanked "us" but...

I've got VFF and they've definitely improved my running skills (even with shoes when running or walking otherwise). I can feel that my feet/ankles/calves are stronger.

Just make sure you try training (other than running) in them as well. Besides sprinting, that's when I love my VFF the most. And that should make them more than worth your while after you're running in boots.

Good luck!
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Old 02-17-2008, 09:10 AM   #7
Matt Thomas
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Re: Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot Fuller View Post
I can't even hit an 8 minute mile right now (on a treadmill, no less). My max speed is like 7mph and even that is brutal.
Just wanted to comment on this real quick. If you want to test your fastest run times a treamill is not the way to go. I can run six minute miles on the street, but I can get on a treadmill and sprint all out and barely hit seven minutes. I think I have to run on something like 12 to run a six and a half, which is freakin ridiculous. So if you're testing how fast you run, run on the street, or a track.
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Old 02-17-2008, 10:42 AM   #8
Kirez Reynolds
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Re: Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

Elliot, besides waiting for the 'simple cure' of putting on a healthy pair of shoes, the tried and true method for preventing shin splints --- and the same way the vff help the same --- is simply stretching the calves and achilles tendon.

So don't wait for the passive measure of wearing the vff. Start stretching. Except for cases where people really have limited ROM and mobility, this is about the only time I emphatically recommend stretching --- new runners, who are extremely prone to shin splints.

Otherwise, just spend as much time as you can barefoot.


Matt -- most people find treadmills are faster than on the street, for a few reasons including wind resistance, the soft/elastic rebound (can go both ways actually, slower or faster), and the fact that the treadmill is pacing for you. Search on treadmills here in the forums. Most people say if you run on a treadmill, you need to set it at a 2% incline to be equivalent to running on the street.
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Old 02-17-2008, 12:10 PM   #9
Matt Thomas
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Re: Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

Seriously? I dunno. I've ran on one at my house and then ones at two different gyms and I hate them. I seriously have to run at a dead sprint to break a 7 minute mile, which I can easily do on the street. And that's just not pracitcal. Maybe I'm just wierd. I do aggree that it is easier to run on a treadmill. If I run my pace on a treadmill I can go forever because of all those things you mentioned. But that also puts me at about an 8 minute mile. I just think maybe the way some treadmills are set they underestimate your distance? Either way, if you're not going to be running your PT test on a treadmill then don't train on a treadmill.

Last edited by Matt Thomas : 02-17-2008 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 02-17-2008, 12:37 PM   #10
Elliot Fuller
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Re: Using Vibram FiveFingers to improve "standard" Running

Erin, Matt, Kirez: Thanks (again)

I'm not really a "new runner." I started running in Jan/Feb of 2007, around the time that I started crossfitting. It just never really progressed, for reasons that I've already mentioned. When I started I couldn't even do a full mile at 6mph... I have CrossFit to thank for getting me up to 5K at 6mph, or approx 30:00 (treadmill, again). But any further than that, or faster than that, and it's really been a lost cause due to shin splints and just general incapacity/inability to run faster.

Everyone says to run sprints, so I've started a system to incorporate 1 day of sprints/HIIT plus 2 days of LSD (5K) a week.

Matt: Interesting perspective on the treadmill. You may have a valid point, as a mile seems to last years on a treadmill as opposed to on a trail by my house. Maybe one of them just isn't measuring a mile correctly, or maybe it's one of the other factors. I think I'll try doing more outdoors from now on because
Quote:
Either way, if you're not going to be running your PT test on a treadmill then don't train on a treadmill.
seems like it should have been painfully obvious

Kirez: I'll take your advice into consideration regarding the stretching. I'm curious though why stretching the calves and Achilles lessen shin splints? Note: I only get the shin splints when I heel strike. If the affected muscle (I don't know the anatomical term) is on the inside of the shin, I'm curious how stretching the calves would really affect that?

Either way I've been trying to do some comprehensive stretching post workout every day and I think it has at least helped in recovery to some degree. I haven't had shin splints since I started trying to land on the BOF, but my mechanics are still poor, and my speed is still just blah.

VFF + outdoors + stretching + HIIT = recipe for success, i hope

Going to try and get some tomorrow (Monday) and break em in this week. Thanks all
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