Greg Grossart

Personal Summary

Work hard, play harder

Integrity can only be measured by how we act when no one is looking.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 22:37-39)

Married to my best friend & fellow adventurer since 1997

Greg Grossart

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Monday, June 15, 2009

"Barefoot" Running

I have been toying around with the idea of barefoot running for quite some time now. I have always preferred using running shoes that were thin and low profile (like Nike Zoom for road running) and Birkenstock sandals when cruising around. My brother introduced me to Vibram five finger shoes (http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/) several years ago. He ordered a pair for himself and seemed to like them, but since he would definitely not consider himself a runner, he couldn't really offer me much insight as to their usefulness in that regard.



Recently, I have come across several articles criticizing the running shoe industry and their creation of a "solution" (running shoes) for a problem that doesn't really exist(http://outside.away.com/outside/bodywork/200906/running-shoes-barefoot.html). That got me perusing barefoot running on websites like http://barefootrunner.org/ and http://www.barefootrunner.com/ and thinking more and more about barefoot running. As a person who loves to experiment with fringe outdoor gear and isn't quite ready to run completely barefoot, I figured it was time to give it a try so I ordered a pair of Vibram fivefingers (the KSO model).









Well, they arrived today so I had to go and take them for a spin. Knowing I didn't want to try them on the road for the first outing, I went to a local trail system (Dunbar Cave State Park) and took them for a nice 3 mile trail run so that I would hopefully not overdo it. While it took me a couple of minutes to make sure I got my toes in each of the "fingers", they really weren't all that tricky to put on. Using the sizing guide on the website, I picked exactly the right size as the fit was snug but not too tight.

The first part of the trail was sort of rocky and I quickly identified a limitation to these shoes. While walking over rocks isn't really a problem, the impact of running over rocks was a bit uncomfortable as I definitely "felt" the rocks through the soles of the shoes (unlike when I wear my trusty Salomon XA Pros). On this section of the trail, I didn't feel like I was able to run my usual pace as I was trying to be careful so as to really watch where I was going and avoid stepping on any sharp rocks.

However, after I got through the initial rocky section of the loop, I got to a portion of the trail that was primarily hard packed dirt and tree roots. It was on this type of terrain that the shoes really shined. With the thin sole and free toes I felt very nimble and connected to the trail. I literally felt like I was flying along the trail. It was a really cool experience. After I finished my loop, I went back to run the smooth section again because it was really that fun.

So, I would deem my first "barefoot" run as very positive. No blisters, a couple of ouch moments on the rocks, a decent workout (considering it was only 3 miles), and a ton of fun. While at this point, I certainly can't imagine them ever replacing my Salomon XA Pros for an adventure race, I look forward to regularly incorporating them into my training. Hopefully they will improve my running and toughen my feet up in the process. But, even if they don't, I anticipate having a lot of running pleasure along the way.