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15457 Views 40 Replies Latest reply: Mar 10, 2011 5:06 AM by Wideguy 1 2 3 Previous Next
nudelbomber Amateur 19 posts since
Aug 9, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Sep 21, 2010 1:51 PM

Sick of hearing about Vibram FF and barefoot running

Is anyone else tiring of hearing the interminable gospel of barefoot running and the Vibram Five Finger running thing? I've never heard so much constant preaching about anything, much less something as insignificant on balance as running shoes. I was recently running a 20k race during which I had the misfortune of listening to a gentleman (running at my pace) verbally bash ALL running shoes based on his positive experience with Vibram. When a fellow runner asked him what benefit they provide, he replied with a really weak retelling of the arguments put forward by McDougall in Born to Run. It took all I had to not tell him to leave the pack alone.Why are these people so self-righteous? (I say while being self-righteous)


I've seen McDougall deliver his treatise on barefoot running live and in person, and understand its historical and (somewhat) scientific underpinning. It's a strong sales pitch that appeals to the conservationist/minimalist/back-to-nature-ist in all of us who enjoy communing with nature on our long runs. But its just incredibly weak on empirical proof, and it feels like a sales pitch. I've read multiple accounts recently about metatarsal issues arising b/c of Vibram use/misuse. Not to mention the practical issue that most of us run on roads based on necessity, and don't have access to the soft surfaces that barefoot or Vibram running basically requires.


Anyway, just a rant. Interested if there are others out there who feel this way.

  • Basscycle Legend 236 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007

    Personally, I'm more intrigued by the talk. In the end, I think that it's a good thing for the sport as it's my guess that this will lead to studies by guys in real white coats instead of a bunch of armchair scientists on the internet. Up to this point, I haven't seen any studies by shoe manufacturers and I don't believe that there are studies confirming that minimalist is the way to go to prevent injury either. But, I am hoping that, now that the topic is front and center, we'll start to see a bit more accurate information coming out. Until then, push hard and drop the pedantic Vibram prognosticator like he's standing still. We see these guys all over the place, in religion, politics, and yes, running, don't let 'em bug you. The research will be done and we'll all see if he's right or wrong. While the jury's out though, I'll be keeping an open mind.

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  • Surfing_Vol Legend 848 posts since
    Nov 6, 2007

    Nothing wrong with a good rant, but I can't make fun of the guy who beat me on a really technical (rocky and steep, really steep ups and downs) trail race.


    I agree that there is a lot of salesmanship that is offputting, but it is putting money in McDougall's pocket.


    Surfing Vol

    "Victory through attrition!"

    Charleston Half-Marathon 1/15/2011 -- 1:52:03

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  • Marykb Legend 1,347 posts since
    Jan 16, 2008

    I read the book.  I thought, " interesting".  Then I put on my running shoes and went running!   Yeah, I'm kind of sick of hearing about it too.  Maybe it works great for a lot of people.  Its just not my thing, though.  My feet are actually in much better shape now since I've been running a few years (in shoes!) than they have ever been.  I have strengthened my feet to the point that I have developed an arch from a totally flat foot and corrected my lifelong overpronation.  I can't argue with what works for me.  And I can't argue with what works for someone else either.  But I won't preach at them if they promise not to preach at me.

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008

    I have to say, the attitude of many of the proponents annoys me greatly.  It's what bothers me most about the "movement" - it's like a religion to some of them.  And you're either with them or you're doomed to running he!!.


    That said, I do some barefoot running, no more than 10% of my weekly mileage.  I think it has some benefits for improving foot strength and stride mechanics.  Fulltime barefoot (I consider VFFs minimalist, not barefoot) is for the few.  Barefoot/minimalist does NOT require soft surfaces.  I have done (almost) all of mine on pavement with no particular problems.  I ran on grass once but I have allergies and ended up with red spots all over my feet.  Another time I ran on a composite track but it was only comfortable where the track was well worn.  I wouldn't try it on any of the trails I can access (rocks, roots, etc.).  If the roads are reasonably good it's surprisingly comfortable.  The roads I run on are just suburban roads but are pretty free of debris.


    The interesting thing about Born to Run (unless I mis-remember) is that there's very little barefoot running, and McDougall did no more than experiment with it (if that much).  Even the Tarahumara wore Huaraches (sp?).  McDougall's improvements over the course of the book were due to extensive training with several professional coaches, not to any epiphany of barefoot/minimalist principles.




  • Haselsmasher Legend 538 posts since
    May 25, 2009

    lenzlaw wrote:


    McDougall's improvements over the course of the book were due to extensive training with several professional coaches, not to any epiphany of barefoot/minimalist principles.




    EXACTLY!  This point seems to have been lost.  Some of the real zealots make the claim that barefoot "forces" the right form.  In my opinion that's bunk.  You can run incorrectly barefoot - and get injured as a result.  On the one hand I'm a big believer in the "more minimal" movement in general, but I think a bunch of the real hard cores that aren't pursuing it deliberately are not just running, but they're running toward their doctor's office - and they don't even realize it yet.



    "Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."

    -- From the song FM by Steely Dan

  • runningman400 Legend 191 posts since
    Aug 26, 2009

    Easy killer!


    As like all things in life, their are some people that are very passionate about certain things in their lives.  I do see your point about how some minimalists can be preachy about the movement, but I've heard people rant the same way about a particular brand of shoe, style of running and even socks. 


    As for my personal experience with VFF' was an intersting experiment and they still have a place in my training, but I am by no means a minimalist.


    Just try to relax and remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and next time, just state your reasons why you don't agree and have a civil debate...who know, you both may learn something.




    Good luck and relax!



  • Leadville Fan Pro 177 posts since
    Oct 8, 2009

    I understand where you're coming from. I dislike when anyone gets too preachy about any topic; although it is usually due to be passionate about the topic.


    I have been a to a lot of races and have seen people run in VFF, I have never had anyone get preachy with me about the. My first half, a guy started by me who was running completely barefoot. He had 1/2" calluses on his feet.  I asked him a few questions and he didn't get preachy (inwardly I was jealous, as a kid I was able to run barefoot on coarse gravel in the summer and as an adult, I need to wear shoes at least 10 hours a day which would soften those calluses).   I have commented several people on their shoes (I have a pair I use for errands, walking around the house, etc, but not for running) and they have just said they love them and they're comfortable, nothing preachy (and this is before I disclose that I have a pair).




    I suppose it's just those for whom wearing the shoes is a measure of pride that rub me the wrong way.

    Could very well be; it's the people who are boastful or put themselves on pedestals that make the rest of us feel uncomfortable. Often in other things I think they're hiding/compensating for something; with the shoes I have no idea what it'd be---except they're probably people who follow fads like they are air, food, and water---they don't know how to think for themselves and only regurgitate what they've read/heard before.

    adult running life commenced: March 2009

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  • runningman400 Legend 191 posts since
    Aug 26, 2009

    I do see your frustration with the people that do treat VFF's and barefoot running like a "magic bullet" and I completely agree with your thought that it is "dangerous" for people to look at it that way.

    I started out my experience with VFF's trying to make a move into minimalist running, long story short, after a frustrating injury and and even more frustration at the thought of how much time it would take just to get back to my old training distances, I decided to only use them as a tool instead of my primary shoes.

    When ever anyone posts on here about buying them and then launch into stories about they have injuries and problems and they want VFF's to fix them, I always respond with my story as kind of a warning, that they need to completely research what they are getting themselves into.



  • rbird Legend 1,073 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007

    I saw vff’s prominently featured on a billboard advertising a local outdoors outfitter on I-4 in Orlando today.


    The buzz about these shoes extends beyond the running community.  They continue to gain in popularity so I think you're going to be hearing about them for a long time to come.

    2010 Space Coast Marathon 4:27:39

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  • ChelseaFCfan Rookie 1 posts since
    Sep 21, 2010

    I didn't think there was such a hate for vibrams FF and barefoot running. I got sucked into the fad for a while and they are ok. I just bought some Nike LunarGlide +2 and they blow vibrams out the water. Its a fad, Im sure It will pass. Its just like how vegetarians and meat eaters argue (vegetarians are better). Its just all about what your comfortable with.

    Road House!

  • crl8686 Legend 1,313 posts since
    Nov 11, 2007

    It seems to me that minimalist shoes have been taking on an aura of political correctness, which is well over and above their potential training tool benefits. My 18 year old son just got a pair about a month ago - and he doesn't even run; he's using them for casual wear and light hiking. Yes, he got them because a number of his friends have them. But at least he doesn't preach about them. OK, he did ask me to consider buying a pair for running, but he backed off real quick when I drew a little sketch of my knees and reminded him why I use motion control shoes.


    Some runners do get easily caught up in what they consider to be the latest hot trend. This year it's minimalist shoes. Next year it will probably be something else. They forget that there's often a wide range of what's reasonable, safe and common sense, and that not all runners have the same needs and preferences.

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  • Surfing_Vol Legend 848 posts since
    Nov 6, 2007



    The problem about "trends" and "fads" arises from (1) the lack of legitimate research being done on runners and shoes and (2) the overuse of guides by manufacturers, runners' magazines, stores and websites as to what shoes you "should" wear.


    You mention that you wear motion control shoes.  Are you aware of medical study commissioned by the US military, studying young soldiers in boot camp, that motion control shoes resulted in more injuries in runners than any other type?  The scientists are probably doing more studies on this, but the implication is very troubling.


    If I were to wildly extrapolate from that study, I could claim that no one (or almost no one) should wear motion control shoes because runners are significantly more likely to get injured as a result of wearing motion control shoes.  This assertion, however, would be misleading because the study found a relationship between motion control shoes and injuries, but not a causal connection (i.e., the study didn't prove that wearing motion control shoes will lead to a significantly increased risk of injury).  We simply don't know now whether such a relationship exists, much less why.


    Stepping back, the issue for all runners is WHY manufacturers have developed all these different types of shoes?  There is no science behind almost any type of shoe other than "shoe x results in lower strike forces / less pronation in tests performed by (a) the company's robot or (b) the company's test runners."  There are numerous problems with those tests, the least of which is that the human body is adaptive.


    The argument by barefoot running and minimal shoe advocates is that we, as runners, have increased the risk of injury by "dumbing-down" our bodies through increased cushioning and motion control/stability in our footware.  I think that this is a critical question that needs to be addressed by the scientific community and the shoe manufacturers.


    So, at the end of the day, I agree with your observation that not all runners have the same needs and preferences.  I differ from your other conclusions, though, because (1) we -- the running community -- still lack adequate information as to what type of shoe we should wear and (2) the running industry still wants us to fit into one of three categories of footwear, based on arches, weight and only a few other variables -- cushioned/neutral, stability or motion control.  I hope that the barefoot / minimal debate will blow up those categories and the old "rules of thumb" for which shoe you or I should wear.




    Surfing Vol

    "Victory through attrition!"

    Charleston Half-Marathon 1/15/2011 -- 1:52:03

    The Scream! Half-Marathon 7/16/2011 -- 1:56:00

  • Violina Expert 42 posts since
    May 10, 2010

    as someone who recently switched to VFFs I think it might be just a matter of over-excitement. I'm sure vibrams/ barefoot running isn't for everyone, but my first run in them blew me away because it felt so good. and then I started thinking about the fact that I've never, ever, read any actual research showing that we need shoes to fix our supossed "over-pronation", yet the running shoe industry constantly makes us feel that we have to have motion control shoes. and that they have to be replaced after x endless cycle.


    so for me it was rather freeing to learn that I can just trust my own feet to do the running the way it's supposed to be done, and that I don't need high-tech shoes to fix anything.


    I still wear regular running shoes when it's cold/ wet/ muddy out but I think I really benefit from having learned to trust my instincs as far as my stride. I can now run comfortably in all sorts of shoes, but I have asked myself how come more runners don't wear VFFs (they're not really common where I live atm). my stride has gotten lighter and feels more natural to me, so I find the experience very beneficial to my overall running form.


    I'm sorry you got so annoyed by someone's raving about them, but I can relate in the sense that it's hard to shut up about them if you tried them and had a good experience.

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