Vibram Five Fingers Distance

Vibram Five Fingers

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10/12/2011 at 14:33

I have recently purchased a pair of durable long distance running Five Fingers. The idea is to slowing build up the mileage in them over the coming months.

 I'm toying with the idea of running a full marathon in them. I'm curious to know if anyone on here has actually ran this kind of distance in them? Or are these shoes only good for half marathons, 10kms etc..

10/12/2011 at 15:47

Afternoon Cliff,

I first came across VFF whilst running the North Face 100km ultra in the Blue Mountains a couple of years ago. Got chatting to one of the runners and he had built up the mileage on trails where the underfoot conditions were a little less harsh than tarmac or concrete. Seems to be a fair number of people have used them for 26.2 on the road over in the USA - as long as you are not having problems, I see no reason why not

I use mine in the gym for Body Pump and Attack classes (used to be the freak due to being the only guy but attention changed to the VFFs ?!?!) and used mine for up to 10km on the roads but stick to a pair of Inov8 Road X 255s for anything longer.

Interested in hearing other thoughts ?



11/12/2011 at 00:42
I wear mine in the gym, kettle bells and boxing classes mainly, speed work sessions and shorter runs. The longest I've done in them so far is 10km and I've got some Newton's for longer runs. I'm doing a marathon in April and plan to run it in the Newtons, I might build up to 10 miles or half mara in the Vibrams but can't see myself doing longer distances in them.
I have seen people finishing marathons in them though, so it definitely can be done
11/12/2011 at 19:45

Thanks for the reply guys, much appreciated!

I fully understand the logic behind these VFFs. The "Running as nature intended" philosophy makes perfect sense. Although running 26.2 miles in one go isn't really what nature intended. That's what concerns me about these VFFs.

 I've ran about 6 or 7 marathons to date, so I know the pain involved towards the finishing line. And this is wearing cushioned trainers. Would the lack of cushioning be unbearable at the latter stages? I'd hate to get all that way and have to give up. Or worse, do some lasting damage!

 I'll keep incorporating the VFFs in my short runs, and build the miles up. The fact that xine says there have been marathon finishers wearing them is a source of encouragement.

12/12/2011 at 11:47
My VFFs are my everyday running shoe. I have not run a marathon, but if I did I would certainly wear them, as switching to an unfamiliar shoe style for longer runs would seem like a recipe for disaster.

Running a marathon in them before having fully adapted to forefoot running would also be a disaster though! I found that doing a few runs completely barefoot was a good way of practising treading lightly on the forefoot, but it's not really the best time of year for that
13/12/2011 at 12:44

The difference in my running style with the VFFs is that I don't land on my heels like I usually do. I seem to be landing rather flat footed. Or at least it feels that way. I don't land on the ball of my foot, which is what I was expecting before I started wearing them. Maybe sprinting will cause me to do this?

 Does anyone know what kind of mileage you should be running in these shoes before your marathon ready?

 I'd like to know of any training distance programmes for these shoes!

21/04/2012 at 10:09

The first week with the vibram five five fingers, I did a two mile. I ran another four miler and did a seven miler two days after the four miler with relative ease. At the end of the seven mile run, my feet were a tad sore but I had no discomfort the next day.  Running on concrete and asphalt is still too difficult for me, but I think if you did it enough your feet and legs would gain the necessary strength. I feel that, if you are a runner that lands on your heels that the vibram five fingers will take some getting used to and will probably be uncomfortable at first, as your form will totally change as you will not land on your heel when running barefoot or with the vibram five fingers, instead you will land on your mid foot, on the fat or plush part of your foot.  However, people who do land on their heel probably have the most to benefit from wearing the vibram five fingers.


22/04/2012 at 01:21
I've got my longest run in mine up to 16 miles. Don't see any reason why I shouldn't do my first marathon in them. Got chickenpox at the moment (in my thirties - not recommended), so it'll be interesting to see how slowly I have to build back up after a fortnight's break. I would say that VFFs really shine on a flat road surface. Although they are enjoyable to use on trails, that surface is much harder on your feet without any padding and when you can't predict where you're going to be exerting force on your foot. Strengthens your ankles and knees like nothing else, thogh.

One issue with them is that they offer more protection from 'road feel' than you think. I mean that they're a bit too comfortable, and so you still have to force yourself to think about good form all the time.

It's funny, but where I live, my running club all think I'm mental for wearing VFFs, whereas at the gym I get lots of people asking how they are because they've been thinking of getting some themselves.
23/04/2012 at 13:37
Half marathon is my longest. Haven't used them during winter months so I guess there's a need of getting used to these again. I've ran 20+ miles in vivobarefoot shoes very similar to vibrams though. Took me about 8 months to build from scratch.
24/04/2012 at 10:48
I've had some VFF KSO's for about a year now and am just about to start training for a marathon in October so i hope it can be done! My longest run so far is 12 miles but i don't see any problem in running further, its just a matter of letting your feet and legs (especially calves) get used to them and taking the mileage increase slowly.
24/04/2012 at 12:55

I don’t run in VFFs, but I always run in racing flats – so some of what I know should be relevant. I recently ran a 20 mile race wearing asics piranhas, which are about as light a racing flat as you can get. My normal training shoe is asics tarther, which has a little more heel support, but is still a flat. Anyway what I found was that since I always train in flats (upto 50 miles a week) then it was comfortable enough to wear the piranhas in the race. The only problem was that by the end of the race I had some blisters, and toe bruising because the shoes are so thin. If you plan to do a marathon in VFF then make sure they are 100% comfortable for you over that distance and that you build up to it gradually. You said you only got the VFFs recently, so you must take your time building up if you want to avoid injury. Race pace will put more stress on your feet than just a normal training run, so don’t dive in at a marathon as you fist go with VFF. I did shorter races in the piranhas before the 20 mile one. I would also say to check your form going down-hill as this is where I think you benefit from some heel cushioning – particularly on the longer distance when your form can deteriorate. When I run my next marathon I will probably take the tarther over the piranha for this reason.

I think flats are a safer compromise, as you get light shoes, feel and form benefits, with a little less risk than VFF – but I am biased, so feel free to ignore me!

Edited: 24/04/2012 at 13:07
24/04/2012 at 13:54

I've not used VFF's but have just ordered a pair of Merrell Barefoots. I'm returning to running after quite a long break and, while I don't feel that I'm starting from scratch as I did initially, I am easing myself in gently. I've (predictably I know) just read Born to Run and the ideas around barefoot sound completely logical. I thought that it would be a good idea while I'm easing the rest of my body gently back into running, that I use that to also ease my feet into a more minimal shoe.

 I'll wear them for the medium normal pace runs initially, then maybe the shorter faster ones before I give them a go on the longer slower runs. I don't envisage too many problems as I'm quite a barefoot person anyway.

 I chose the Merrells over VFF's because I don't like the idea of not wearing socks, which would result quite quickly in a very stinky running shoe. Also, they just look a bit wierd,  while I like the look of the Merrells.

07/07/2012 at 10:42
I have a pair of vff bikilas for roads and treksports for trails but have yet to do any long runs in them. That is because it is the Milton Keynes NSPCC 1/2 marathon tomorrow and I intend to adapt to the vffs after then.
Many people do ultras in vffs so it can be done but it is vital to gradually build up the mileage. Experienced runners find it hardest as they often have to hang on to traditional shoes while adapting.
I'm 54 so have no urge to keep my mileage up. I intend to forget my Brooks Adrenalines after tomorrow and just concentrate on gradually upping the distance in my vffs.
As for the 'stinky running shoe' problem, vffs come out of a 30 degree wash like new!
07/07/2012 at 14:53
Radicchio wrote (see)
Got chickenpox at the moment (in my thirties - not recommended), so it'll be interesting to see how slowly I have to build back up after a fortnight's break.

"Interesting" is certainly one word....i had CP at 25/26 and i was utterly wiped out for 2 weeks, as in could barely move...certainly didn't have the energy to be on the computer...and it probably took about 9months until i got back to my previous fitness level...

and i was a lot lot less fit then than now.

Hope it works out better for you tho

07/07/2012 at 16:19

I've seen folk doing ultras in VFFs. At the slow end of things usually. Also saw a guy run the Glasgow to Edinburgh double in a pair of old flip flops tied on with rubber bands. Quite a few folk seem to be able to go long in them no bother...

07/07/2012 at 17:43

There's a difference between the VFFs as well. I started in SPRINTs, then got myself a pair of SPEED. I've ran mostly in Speed and have found them brilliant, but after 15 miles the balls of my feet start to ache due to hard road surface. I recently ran 7 miles in my SPRINTs as I've not used them in a while and again, the feel was totally different to the speed. Much thinner sole.

Now I'm starting to run in BIKILAs and I have to say that these are, by far, the best in my collection. There's slightly more cushioning in the sole and they feel so soft. They are definitely best for longer distance and the grip is better too so are good for light off road running.

Edited: 07/07/2012 at 17:44
08/07/2012 at 04:25
After having numerous pairs of structured, motion control, stability running shoes (on the advice of well meaning running store staff), after continuous injuries, I am now dabbling into the world of minimalist running shoes. Although as yet I have not gone as far as VFFs , I run in Saucony Kinvara and NB Mt 110s. The Saucony (although over priced) are light weight, cushioned but encourage a forefoot strike. The NB are excellent value ( ??35 from sports direct !), lightweight, good grip, not cushioned. I returned to running after a 6 week injury break in April. Since then I have gradually built up mileage to around 11 miles long run. Aside from initially suffering shin splint and knotted calves, I have remained injury free and my running has improved; better than before! I am far more conscious of my running technique and posture. I am booked in for the Beachyhead Marathon as my big challenge!
08/07/2012 at 19:02
Ah, yes, I too use Bikilas. I haven't tried the thinner VFFs, and don't have much urge to, especially since the Bikilas are getting thinner at 500 miles on the clock.

Interesting about the chicken pox, Stevie. I guess I was out for about 2 weeks, too. As soon as the pox had disappeared from my face, I did a cross country half-marathon in tough weather (I have a terrible track record of missing halves through illness). Had to walk the last two mile climb, but otherwise okay. My times were back to normal within three weeks, so I suppose I was lucky with the recovery. Had the first sciatica I've ever felt for a couple of months, but no permanent nerve damage.

Mind you, I'm averagely good and not some kind of elite athlete. No doubt it would have taken me longer to claw back had my times been better in the first place.

Did a 10k road race at the weekend and got a PB in the VFFs. However, I managed to get a nice big blood blister under my right heel. I think I either need to move forward from my current mid-foot or get some racing flats for when I really want to go for it. I can run on the foot again two days later and no signs of any plantar strain, but I don't want to take the chance of a more serious injury.
08/07/2012 at 19:42

Radi, you sound like you had a great escape then....after 2 weeks literally stuck in bed, i went for a couple of hundred metre walk up the woods, and it was like some out of body experience!

However, i foolishly took that as a greenlight to go on the work footy trip to Amsterdam which was the next day, which i'd be looking forward to for about 4months!

I was wrecked after about 20secs, when previously i'd always been the fittest in the team by miles. Was a horrible experience, and for months after even 4mile easy pace runs would need me to stop once or twice mid run. I was about 40min 10k level at that time...

so we weren't talking an epic level to get back to...would certainly have taken longer to get back to the current fitness

09/07/2012 at 01:16
Hello, my first post here, lots of good advice above.

I am very definitely an average runner at the most, have had VFFs for 4 weeks and just ran 8 miles into central London with a heavyish rucksack and then 8 back after the meeting, I felt happier, fresher and more in touch with my body than ever in trainers. VFFs really force you to think about your form, for someone like me who wants to become a better runner that can only be a good thing. Enjoy them, try to have a smile and spread it to other runners!

Edited to add I run in bikilas, prefer running on pavement to grass in them.
Edited: 09/07/2012 at 01:19
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