Well a few months ago I was the latest to jump on the current running craze, the “barefoot” running movement. If you think this movement is already yesterday’s news, I still get curious looks and questions thrown my feet’s way when I wear my Vibram FiveFingers. The FiveFingers (if you didn’t know -as they actually have been out for a while now) are basically a rubber glove for your feet providing basically just a rubber barrier about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch thick between you and the dirty, sharp ground. Feet condoms. Or as I refer to them, my ninja shoes.
I forget what made me finally jump on the idea. Versatility and lightweight must have drew me in. They definitely weigh nothing and can be used for all kinds of things, i.e. lifting weights, water sports, possibly rock climbing, running on the beach, etc. But plain old running? Just when I was about completely convinced, my FiveFingers had put an end to my expensive sneaker habit (they wear out quick right?) altogether, I find myself questioning their whole role in my training.
At first just walking around in them and doing short .25 to .75 mile trial runs killed my calves for a good day or two afterward. That’s actually a really good thing. They work my calves like biking used to do for me. The FiveFingers have honestly brought my calves back to their ripped form that they sadly departed from due to my lack of biking the past year and a half. For a long time after starting to train in these things I would routinely have some crazy calve cramps at night. I continued to build up the mileage and soreness went away. The cramps kind of stuck around, their frequency keeping pace with my training intensity.
I noticed I absolutely love the FiveFingers on rubber tracks. They felt great on trails too – trails without any rocks that is. My feet were more than O.K. with hard surfaces like asphalt but rocks on trails still most certainly made their presence felt through the rubber and felt like I was bruising the balls of my feet. Overall, my stride picked up in cadence and shortened in length. I remember from cycling a higher cadence seemed to be more efficient as it required less power for each push. My pleasure with these things grew to the point where just the other day I was running through the city, on the sidewalk, cobblestone (along the Park), and on the road, seemingly flying, I mean blazing, and I felt the FiveFingers deserved much of the credit. They’re so light.
But right around the time I started doing all my running in FiveFingers I got a new pain in my right knee, one that hurts when I go down stairs and walk, and doesn’t want to go away. Now that I think about it, much like the pain I used to get when my running sneakers started to wear out, just worse. I’m no expert in physiology, biology or anything close. As far as I know my knee could not be pleased that I started working in New York, schlepping a backpack blocks to the train and up and down the five floors to and from the apartment.
Last time I ran in the FiveFingers was four days ago. My knee hurt the day after and hasn’t after that. I really want them to work. I mean they weigh nothing. NOTHING. I might try the Nike Free or the Newton for a bit – whichever one’s lighter. Should I do a race on a track though, the FiveFingers are definitely being rocked. Last week I did come within a second of my best mile and a half sneaker time in them after taking a relative running break (it was on a track). I obviously can’t let go of them completely, as I don’t want to, and because if I alienate my legs from them, my legs will have to relearn them. I guess they are just a tool and not the end all be all. I know I’d like to run a full (5k) race in them. I’ll keep you posted.
The millitary uses dog tags in part to help identify service members who have been rendered incapable of communicating their identity due to either a severe accident – or death. The idea of us regular schmoes possibly “benefitting” from a dog tag is admittedly pretty morbid. But anyone that does anything off of their property alone should have a form of identification on them. Thinking back to all of the spills I’ve taken road or mountain biking, sports I often do alone, there’s a real chance I might get get take a nasty fall, get side swiped in traffic or just be the klutz that I am and get knocked out. Heaven forbid something like this happens, and it’s definitely possibility, I’d like who ever finds me laying there to know who I am, who to call and have access to any special medical info.
The Road ID, sold at www.RoadID.com, is the high speed low drag (I love high speed, low drag) alternative to running with your driver’s license in your shorts. But what if you are biking or swimming? What if you want to convey more information than just your address – like your emergency contact info or any special medical needs such as drug allergens? Wear the Road ID.
photo acquired from roadid.com
The product in its most popular forms comes in either a wrist or ankle bracelet. These bracelets hold a little metallic card that carries the info you want emergency response people to have should they find you unable to communicate that info yourself. The company also offers the option to load your info to a database that a first responder could access on a web page with your bracelet’s info. This sounds handy for those of us that have specific medical concerns or change addresses a lot. I would probably add to my file DO NOT MRI NECK because of my little metal plate. They would probably figure that out with an x-ray first but you get the idea.
I am all about supporting products that could save a life and apparently already has. This is one I’ve been meaning to get for a while now, especially since my dog tag jingles, bounces, snags my chest hair, was, uhm, accidentally left behind somewhere and …doesn’t convey all of the info it should, like “Call So and So.”
The Road ID is pretty cheap to begin with but definitely a must for anybody that pretty much leaves the house, let alone participates in any kind of risky sport. You can try and use coupon code # ARR5178 for an additional $2 off. I just ordered my Ankle ID in the interactive edition. The interactive feature allows first responders to access a web page with your emergency contact and medical data which you can update on the fly instead of ordering a new informational plate every time you move, switch insurance companies or break up with you emergency contact.