Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Barefoot Rowing?

I have to confess that I am a big fan of Vibram FiveFinger shoes, and have mentioned them a couple times in passing in my blog.  For those that haven't heard of these shoes, or followed the link on my blog, FiveFinger shoes are minimalist footwear.  They are shaped like the human foot (with pockets for each toe) and basically provide a thin but durable sole -- and not much else.   There are several styles, but the basic idea behind them all is the same: come as close to being barefoot as possible.

FiveFinger shoes are at the forefront of the minimalist/barefoot running movement that has been getting tons of press lately.   Much of the press has referred to the study by Daniel Lieberman of Harvard and to the book "Born to Run" by Chris McDougall.  One tennant of the minimalist running movement is that many running injuries are actually caused by current running shoes which encourage elongated strides and heel-striking.   Running barefoot - or as close to it as possible - encourages you to run "the way nature intended": on the forefront of your feet.   Vibram FiveFinger shoes do just that, and they help you build strength in the muscles and tendons in your feet and calves by - get this - forcing you to actually use them!

Last spring, after attending a CrossFit Endurance Certification class,  I decided to change my running technique.  As part of that process I have moved towards minimalist running shoes.  First to Adidas Adizero Pro's, then, after reading "Born to Run" I picked up a pair of Vibram FiveFinger KSOs.  I have been wearing the KSOs for most of my running workouts and for just about all my CrossFit workouts for the last 6 months or so.

But for some reason, I always put on other shoes for rowing long distances.  I've used the FiveFingers for rowing sprints, but I guess I have felt that I needed something more substantial for long rows, figuring that the straps would bother me in the more minimalist shoe. Unfortunately,  as I have started doing longer rows, I have found that every "normal" pair of shoes I have tried has caused me some irritation or minor blistering on my heels.

So today I rowed a 10K in my FiveFinger KSOs and to my surprise, there was absolutely no heel rubbing or irritation!  They felt great in the straps for a the longer distance.  My initial take: these are great rowing shoes! 

I am going to keep using the KSOs for all my rowing, and hopefully future long rows will feel as good on my feet as this morning's row did.  I'll keep you posted!

Did I mention that I'm a big fan of FiveFinger shoes?


Two rows today... I was really beat this morning after a hard CrossFit workout last night, so the 10K was pretty slow.  Here are the results:


Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
10K (morning)
10,000
45:30.2
2:16.5
Warmup
(CFE in the evening)
1,000
4:22.8
2:11.4
10x0:30/2:00r "uphill"
1,711
5:00
1:27.6
rest meters
214
-
-
Total for Day
12,925
Meters to go
758,596

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