Lickey Woods? Lick My FiveFingers!
I was a bit disappointed to see it had rained overnight, but bravely slipped on my Vibram FiveFinger KSO’s and headed off to the Lickey Woods (near Lickey End *sniggers*) to give them a proper first try out.
One thing I noticed about them straight away is that having a much thinner sole than normal shoes and trainers, my jeans were too long for them! They drag on the floor, and you can feel when you’re treading on them through the soles, too! I could have worn shorts, but decided against it as it’s still only March here and in single-degrees-celsius, and more importantly you may have noticed from other pics my legs are so white it’s often been suggesting that it was the glare from them that sent Stevie Wonder blind. Before I was born.
After having to nip into a local supermarket against my will I was surprised not to have people pointing at me and laughing. I bought the black pair not because I want to look like a Ninja, nor did I buy them because I like the idea of wearing chopped-off gorillas feet over my own – but in the hope that they were a bit less noticeable. It seems to have worked.
Which brings me to something else I was looking forward to trying: Driving.
If you’ve ever tried driving a car in socks or barefoot, you’ll know that it -ing hurts. I knew I was taking this chance with the FiveFingers, but to balance that was the knowledge that proper racing car footwear features very thin soles for extra feel. Luckily, it seems the Vibrams have far more in common with the latter, and there was no sign of any discomfort at all on a short journey. In fact I was amazed at the feel through them! They’ve got to be the ultimate shoes for a racing driver – and it would make the whole skill of ‘Heel-and-toe’ much more literal! Do they make a fireproof version? If not, they’re missing a market!
It’s a shame they don’t also make a motorcycle boot version, because they’d feel brilliant, too. I suppose from a crash protection point of view the toes wouldn’t be a great idea, though, and the strain on your left toe from the gear shift could become extremely uncomfortable…
I only walked around the Lickey Woods rather than running, but that was enough to tell me a lot of what to expect.
As I suspected before, big stones HURT. If you get one in the arch of your foot in the middle next to the ball of your foot you know about it, and it would be a crippler if you were slamming your feet down at a run. They’re not as bad as I thought they would be, though.
Loose gravel is like getting a foot massage, grass just feels sublime, and mud like walking on a waterbed!
Certainly, the softer ground is better, but I’m sure I’ll soon learn to watch more carefully where I put my feet to avoid the painful bits, and I’m sure my feet will also adapt and harden to it.
The extra stability really comes through on uneven ground, and where trainers would have thrown my balance off, my feet were able to fluidly mould to the ground just the way our feet evolved to do. If you ever want a practical demonstration of the principles of Ninjitsu – you won’t find a much better example of it than here. I wonder if Masaaki Hatsumi wears these? I wonder if he endorses their use in Ninjutsu practise?
Vibram say in their literature that you should only wear FiveFingers for an hour or two at a time until your body adjusts to them. On this outing I found my calves were starting to ache quite a lot, so I’m assuming this is related?
I have a problem when I run in trainers where I get muscle pump on the front of my lower legs, meaning although the rest of my body is still willing, I can hardly lift my foot anymore to take a step. I’m hoping the FiveFingers will help relieve this.
I plan on wearing them to the gym tomorrow, where I should find out…