Barefootin’ (almost) Vibram Five Fingers

Since last winter I’ve been binge exercising. I’m not training for a marathon, but according to the new Nike + gps iPhone app, if I wanted to train for a 25k run, I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe a little bit faster.

What surprises me the most is that I don’t seem to have much sense of fatigue. It could be that I don’t know how to listen to my body, that I get it like everyone else, only I define it differently. It could be that so many years of floor nursing with little sleep is what has my tolerance level set to “involuntary collapse” on the high end.

The last time I tested myself, I did 13 miles on the treadmill and didn’t feel tired or sore. I stopped because I had things to do. I have no idea how far I could go before I’d feel it was time to stop.

While this seems like a good thing, I wonder if I’m doing a lot of harm to my joints. I’ve seen too many young patients have to get joint replacements due to jogging, so I try to stick with uphill power walking for about half the workout. It’s still a high impact sport, though, and I have had trouble with my feet, so much that I’ve had to tape them like a ballerina or take some time off here and there. Now this is from years and years of exercise abuse. I started running as a teenager and switched to walking about ten years ago.

Things changed around New Year’s, when a work buddy of Blane’s was wearing some strange shoes.

It’s like a foot glove, each toe is separated into its own little shoe. The sole is very thin with no arch support. They look really stupid and hipster, these Vibram shoes.

Blane’s work buddy said he and his wife had stopped jogging because of bad knees but were able to start up again after getting these shoes. They were not only running again, they were distance running. He claimed that a traditional sports shoe has the foot strike in an unnatural way which causes injuries to the joints. The Vibrams mimic barefoot walking/running. The way cave men walked.

So when Blane told me about them, it immediately made sense as I have often thought if I took my running shoes off and went barefoot, it would feel better. Actually, I’ve done better than that, I tried it. Problem is, the treadmill belt gets scorching hot from all the friction. Bare sock running doesn’t cut it either.

I was having so much trouble with foot pain that I ordered those shoes without having seen or trying them on. I was a little worried about how they’d feel as I have never been able to wear toe socks for longer than 30 seconds. I was desperate.

Surprisingly, they didn’t feel so odd or uncomfortable when I first put them on and I overdid the first workout. You’re supposed to wear them for 30 minutes the first few times and gradually work your way up to wearing them the entire workout. I did about 4 or 5 miles. Since the foot strikes the ground at the ball of the foot, it causes a different bunch of muscles to get worked out. The next day, my legs were so sore I could hardly walk at all.

But NO foot pain.

No ankle pain.

No knee pain.

No hip pain.

And that is why I’m binge exercising. Because I can. And if I want to climb a mountain, I can try it. Or climb 500 steps. I can do it without stopping and with a rucksack on my back.

I don’t wear these shoes all the time, only while exercising. The sole is thin and after 9 months of using them it is about time to get another pair. I will never power walk or run again without them. Because I can’t.


O la la, Shoes

I got some new scoop from Bryan Sadowski on Carolina Pagano shoes that are coming out in the fall of 2009. Bryan and his wife Carolina Sadowski, a Brazilian designer started a fashion company in 2006 which I wrote about in this post.

First, meet the lovely designer, Carolina. (all photos courtesy of Bryan)

I feel about ten times cooler now that I’ve said, “Meet the designer.” I don’t actually know Carolina, but maybe one day we’ll be in Paris at the same time and we’ll bump into each other. She’s from Sao Paulo, Brazil but currently resides in Seattle, WA.

You can find her impressive bio here.

Now. Shoes!

I’ll start with my favorite.

What a gorgeous silhouette. I love the mix of textures and colors in her fall line. The color palate, inspired by the natural beauty of Brazil include neutrals such as coffee, black, hazelnut, and cement.

She’s using materials such as hand carved leather from Brazil, best seen in this flat with a fish scale pattern.

Also in this sexy heel.

There’s even something for you boot lovers.

Again, I’m loving the mix of colors and the textures of this collection.

Next, we have another beautiful hand-carved leather, but in a zebra pattern.

Love it, love it, love it. 

This patent leather heel has lovely gold leather trim that turns a classic look into extraordinary.

It is a shoe you keep for life and hand down to your grandchildren.

Another feature of this collection is the use of semi-precious stone embellishments. 

The first thought I had when I saw this shoe was, wow, foot jewelry.

Then I read this quote from Carolina regarding her thoughts on the 2009 fall collection, “To each pair I added details like trims made of bronze leather, semi-precious stones and specially made leathers. Something that makes a woman look at her feet and simply smile, the way you admire a beautiful piece of jewelry.”

Also new since my last Pagano post is the ability to order these couture shoes online. Posh on Main, of Seattle carries them. 

Thanks, Bryan for the lovely photos and info and best of luck at the upcoming Workshop in Paris!


One of Blane’s work buddies and his wife, Carolina, a Brazilian designer, just started a new fashion company, Carolina Pagano.

They’ve just introduced their first line, women’s shoes, but are only selling to retailers at this time. Check out their website and if you like what you see, ask your retailer for Carolina Pagano. I love that name.

The Slide Sonia is my favorite, I’d buy that shoe right now.

Congrats to Byran and Carolina! (I’m so jealous and wish I had a shoe company, dammit I’m slacking)