During the latest REI member sale, I decided to buy a pair of
Vibram FiveFingers Flow
for running on the beach. I now wear these shoes exclusively for my 2-3 beach runs every week and have even tested them out on some mountain trails. While the FiveFingers are heaven on the beach, I am not quite ready to graduate to barefoot trail running.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Vibram FiveFingers, they are a relatively new footwear concept from Vibram that offers you the opportunity to experience barefoot running or playing with the protection and traction of a Vibram sole.
FiveFingers connect you to the terrain in a way that is typically not possible with conventional running shoes. They allow you to move in a more natural, healthy way and stimulate the muscles in your feet and lower legs to build strength, increase your sense of balance, and improve your posture.
Personally, I believe you can't find a better shoe for running on the beach. With my FiveFingers Flow, I can run with Lola through the water or along the sand and not have to worry about stepping on shells, rocks, jellyfish, seaweed or even braving the hot sand further up the beach. The neoprene upper keeps sand away from my feet and lets water slosh in and out.
After my first couple of times beach running in the FiveFingers, my lower legs were definitely sore but it was a good sore- the kind of sore you get when you haven't used certain muscles for a long time. After a few weeks of hitting the beach in my FiveFingers though, my legs started to get used to new style of running.
For the trail, I found running in my FiveFingers a different experience. You can really feel the terrain beneath you, which is fine if the trails you run on are predominantly dirt. The trails around me are mostly rock and a couple of sharp rocks and toe stubbers really hurt. Some of the steep downhills were hard to run without hitting your heel but I think that was perhaps more a matter of technique than a problem with the shoes.
If your feet sweat quite a bit, I would recommend wearing your FiveFingers with a pair of
Iniji Toe Socks, as you will be unpleasantly squishing around after awhile without them. Otherwise, if you aren't planning to use them in the sand, possibly choose the
KSO Multisport model
which has a mesh upper that can help with ventilation.
Make sure you follow the sizing instructions to guarantee your FiveFingers fit correctly, as that will make or break how they feel on your feet. It takes awhile to get the hang of pushing your toes into the separate pockets but if you are talented at spreading your toes apart, the easier time you will have! After a few tries, slipping into your FiveFingers will become easier.
Bottom line: I give the
Vibram FiveFingers Flow
a double thumbs up for beach running. As for trail running, I would say they can be great if you run on predominantly dirt trails. If you have really rocky trails like I do, and unless you are a really hardcore barefoot runner, I would say stick with trail shoes that mimic barefoot running such as the Newton Running trail shoes, the Pearl Izumi syncroFuel XC or even the HOKA Hubbles.