The concept of barefoot running has been around for a while. Interest in it increased dramatically in September 2009 when Vibram launched their new FiveFingers footwear. Marketed as the “barefooting alternative” to more traditional shoes, they have developed a cult following.
Needless to say, I have a pair of FiveFingers, the KSO model to be specific. I love them. I wear them often, run in them often, and have seen the benefits of wearing them. Yes, in the beginning I discovered I had muscles that I never knew I had as my body started adjusting to them. My glutes and calves in particular were most bothersome. But after a few weeks and many miles running, I discovered that barefoot running is the only way to go.
The reality is that I am a triathlete at heart, not a runner. I love my FiveFingers so much, I really, really want to wear them during my next triahlon. Sure, I can put them on after cycling, but I wonder if they would take too long to put on. Maybe wearing them throughout the entire triathlon is best? But what to consider? Here is what is on my mind:
- How can you ride the bike in them? Clips? Cages?
- Can I wear them during the swim portion of the triathlon?
- How long does it take to put them on?
- Are there any rules that preclude me from barefoot running in a triathlon?
They seem like simple questions, but let’s take a look at how the FiveFingers will look at each stage of the triathlon.
Swimming in FiveFingers?
Seems a little odd wearing an Xterra wetsuit with FiveFingers, but not really different than wearing booties and a wetsuit when you think about it. Black KSOs might blend better than the cool blue camouflage color.
The USAT rules state that one cannot wear any devices that aid in propulsion. FiveFingers definitely do not aid in propulsion. I would have to argue that, if anything, the FiveFingers will cause more drag since they have an open mesh top, a contrast to a solid neoprene bootie. On the plus side, they might actually keep your feet a little warm?? hmmm…
Cycling in your FiveFingers?
Cycling presents the biggest stumbling block to this issue. The way I am looking at it, there are two ways to do this.
1) Wear the FiveFIngers and replace my clipless, snap-in pedals with cages. Why don’t I like this idea? I really don’t want to replace my pedals with cages since I don’t like how they look so amatuerish. Second, cages don’t give you the same efficiency as clipless pedals do. Nothing like being physically attached to your bike.
2) Wear the FiveFingers inside the cycling shoes. Seems crazy, but when you think about it, this might be the fastest solution. Coming in from the swim, you can simply slide them into the shoes. When cycling is done, simply pull your foot out and start running. Yes, this could actually REDUCE TRANSITION TIME. Exciting thought. What’s the downside? I need to buy a much larger pair of cycling shoes, assuming they make a pair big enough. This is going to require a trip to the cycling store and a follow-up post.
Running in the FiveFingers
This is the best part and does not require much explanation other than barefoot running is the only way to go. Running in my FiveFingers feels natural, powerful, free, and light. for more information on the health benefits of FiveFingers, checkout Vibrams’ Health/Wellness page. What more is there to say?
The Barefoot Triathlon
Whether or not my next triathlon is my first barefoot triathlon, the thought is exciting. Worse case scenario, I can put the FiverFIngers on after cycling, but wearing them for the WHOLE triathlon means a lot more than, “I wore my FiveFingers for the run portion of triathlon.” Why not?
Have you considered barefooting your next triathlon?