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Vibram TrekSports

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Vibrams + Molly

I bought a pair of Vibrams TrekSports on Tuesday morning, and I have run the shoreline trail three times and the softer golf course loop twice in them. I love them.

I have owned a pair of Vibrams KSOs for a while now. Like many folks, I got them after hearing about Born to Run, which argues that shoes have altered the way we run, leading to unnatural form and lots and lots of injury.

As interesting as I find the argument, I am not a barefoot running enthusiast. As I read around on the web, many of the reasons people cite for running barefoot (or “minimalist”) are incredibly sentimental, making claims about a connection to the ground or a heightened awareness of the feel.

I don’t care about that. I don’t care about feel. I don’t care about whether or not you can roll the shoes up.

I care about this:

Underpronation

I am an underpronater, which means that I tend to walk/run on the outsides of my feet. I have always done this, and the result is that I am very prone to rolling my ankle during athletic activity. I have broken at least one ankle (and I suspect both) and my foot because of this. I nearly rolled my ankle at our local produce shop when I stepped in a tiny, 1″ deep pothole the other day. I nearly rolled my ankle when I stepped on a little hump of grass while walking through my backyard. When I say “nearly” here, I mean that I also nearly fell down.

Here’s the thing: you cannot really underpronate when you are essentially barefoot, nor can you pivot on the non-existing sole and roll an ankle.

The problem is that the original Vibrams KSOs that I had were really designed to provide the barefoot experience. The sole was a mere 2mm thick, and so I could feel every rock–sometimes really painfully. The TrekSports compromise the barefoot “feel” for increased protection, and that means I can wear shoes that don’t put me at risk of rolling an ankle but that aren’t so thin that I wind up with horribly bruised feet by the end of a run.

On Wednesday, I ran in the shoes on the soft trail around the golf course. I was amazed at how well they protected my feet on the handful of rocky patches. On Thursday, I tried them on the Shoreline trail, which has large stretches that are very, very rocky. For years now, I have run this trail most days, and I affectionately call it a broken ankle waiting to happen.

After hiking up the 700 vertical feet (all within 1 km!) to the Shoreline, I took off on the rockiest stretch of trail–there are lots of large, sharp rocks jutting up out of the ground and sections that are nothing but sharp skree–and, even though I was hopping around to avoid rocks, I found that the TrekSports were doing a fine job of protecting my feet.

Here’s what I mean by rocky:

Rocky Shoreline

I ran the same loop again on Friday, and then a 10K loop on Saturday. My feet are fine.

Don’t get me wrong. There are stretches where I have to slow down and hop around, but I don’t have to move all that much more gingerly than I do when wearing my Asics. Even on the gravel road that marks the 6th km of my normal loop, I find that I don’t even really have to watch where I’m stepping–unlike the KSOs, which require that I pay extra-special attention to where every footstep is going to land. I can just zone out and run normally for most of my run without having to worry about potentially breaking something.

If, like me, you’re an underpronater with a tendency to roll your ankle, I can’t recommend these shoes highly enough.

My only concern now is what to do in the winter. I’m not sure I’d be comfortable in the Vibrams breaking trail in the snow or running when it is below zero.

But we’ll see.

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Written by srogers

August 8, 2011 at 3:49 am

Posted in running

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