The Vibram Stench

October 11, 2012

Back in June (I think?), I took the plunge and finally got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.

So new. So fresh-smelling.

I mean, the purple ones were on sale, you guys. It was a match made in shoe heaven. I was so excited, I wore them around work the day I got them.

(Not one of my prouder moments.)

Anyway, I had a feeling that these shoes would probably smell a little worse and require a few more washings than typical shoes, since you don’t wear socks with them.

Boy. Hoh boy. I was wrong.

To say I was woefully unprepared to how bad these bad boys started smelling wouldn’t do it justice.

It started off as just a little odor. A slight whiff that would make me wrinkle my nose. A quick run through the washing machine seemed to cure it.

But as time went on, it got worse. And even worse. So bad, that eventually the washing machine stopped helping. They came back out smelling just as bad as they did going in.

I half expected them to grow legs and sharp pointy teeth. And I swear, they growled at me once.

Others noticed, too.

My mother almost gagged when I tricked her into smelling them.

I left them in our back hall overnight once, and when I woke up, my shoes were nowhere to be found. A box of baking powder had taken their place.

Turns out, my boyfriend had put the shoes in the basement because the stench attacked him when he came home.

I stopped wearing them to the gym because they made me so self-conscious that it hindered my workout. I saved them strictly for outdoor running. Even then, the smell trailed me my entire route.

I was on the verge of just tossing them, but I figured before I did that, I’d take to the Internet to see if there was anyone else out there with this problem, and how they’ve dealt with it.

Turns out, there are forums and forums worth of people who apparently have Vibrams that smell just as bad (if not worse) than mine. There’s even a term dubbed the VFF Stench.

Phew! I’m not sure why, but I was feeling very nervous that I somehow had inherited the world’s worse smelling shoes and that nobody could help me.

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon researching solutions to my Awful Shoes Syndrome.

Cleaning methods ranged from sticking dryer sheets into them (tried it. Did not work. I was left with shoes that still smelled like rotten cheese, only with a slight, albeit nauseating, floral scent.), to baking soda concoctions, to pet shampoo, to denture tablets.

I decided to try some. Since I didn’t feel like taking a trip to a pet supply store, or the geriatric section of the pharmacy, I tried a homemade solution first.

And you know what? I think it worked! Granted, my shoes are still drying, but from first whiff, it seems they may have been cured. Here’s what I did.

1.) Soaked my shoes in warm to hot water.

2.) Made a paste consisting of baking soda, liquid dish detergent, and water.

3.) Used an old toothbrush to scrub my shoes inside and out with the paste, making sure to get in the toes and paying special attention to the sole of the foot pad.

4.) Rinsed thoroughly with warm water.

5.) Filled the sink with fresh hot water and a cup of vinegar. Let the shoes soak for about an hour, hour and a half.

6.) Rinsed thoroughly and hung them to dry. Since you are supposed to hang them up, toes down, to dry, I had to get creative.

No clothes lines? Doorknobs work.

And check out the reflective gear!

I basically glow in the dark!

They’ve been drying since last night. My sniff test this morning revealed a slightly vinegar-y, but not offensive smell. Fingers crossed they stay that way after my run tomorrow! In the meantime, I’ll be wearing my old Puma’s to the gym today. Those trusty shoes have never given me Stench Foot Paranoia.

Any other readers out there wear Vibrams? How do you keep the smell at bay? While I think my solution worked, I’d be willing to try others!

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Footie Gloves

June 12, 2012

Or as most people know them– Vibram Five Fingers.

I’ve been talking about getting a pair since, ohhhhh, I dunno. Last August? You know, around the time I thought I wanted to move to Africa and become a fannypack-wearing antelope hunter.

We all know how that turned out.

But yesterday, on my lunch break, I finally bit the bullet and bought a pair. Don’t my feet look cute?

To my pleasant surprise, the color I wanted just happened to be the only color that was on sale. I think the Vibram Gods were smiling down on me. Instead of dropping the expected $110, I got these puppies for a cool $74.97.

I guess there are very few people who prefer to have purple foot gloves to run around in?

Um, score one for me!

Anyway, I went for my first run last night.

I had asked about City Sports return policy (just in case these shoes ended up not being a great fit for me), and they told me I had 30 days to test them out as long as I didn’t wear them outside.

So, treadmill it was last night.

It’s recommended you start off slowly, which I totally did. I went 3.75 in 45 minutes.

Yes, that slow.

And thank God I did.

I felt my calves burning not even a mile into my run. They were already sore by the time I got off.

And this morning. Good lawd.

You know that annoying person at the gym that is always flexing in front of the mirror instead of actually doing anything?

That was me in front of my full-length mirror this morning. I was convinced my calves had become rock hard and uber defined overnight. All over a 3.75 run.

I’m not gonna lie– the run was hard. And for a split second I thought maybe, maybe, these weren’t for me.

But that’s how anything is the first time you try them.

And considering I’m actually excited to go for another run tomorrow (not tonight– my rock hard calves need a break), I’d say that’s a good sign!

For the better part of my life after college, my goal has been to be an “effortless runner”.

You know, like one of those people who can just run. Someone who makes it look easy. And fun.

Sadly, I am not one of those people.

Sure, I’ve run a half marathon before (with a time of 2:15, which averages out to about a 10:30 pace. Not bad. But certainly not “effortless runner” status.)

And aside from that, I’ve got several 5 milers and 10ks under my belt.

My fastest pace in a race has been a 9:02 mile. It was a 10k. And boy was I proud. (Side note: this is not where I am now. It makes me sad.)

Anyway, the bottom line is– I can run. I’m just not good at it.

Recently, I haven’t really been focusing too much on my running, and have been concentrating more on strength, flexibility, and functional exercises.

But the past few weeks, I’ve been getting the itch to run another long race. For a while I couldn’t figure out why, but yesterday, in the middle of a set of 28kg kettlebell swings, it hit me.

While my workouts have certainly been kicking my butt, there’s been something lacking.

I just haven’t been feeling…accomplished.

I don’t want to work out just to work out. I need a goal. Something to work towards.

And since I accomplished my push up goal (3 sets of 12 full ones! Go me! Go me!), I think it might be time to embark on another running goal.

Perhaps a…marathon.

Or, maybe another half first. (Baby steps, here, people. Baby steps.)

But, I have also decided that if I’m going to do this, I’m going to this right. I don’t want to run a long race just to run it.

I want to run it, and feel good.

I want to feel accomplished.

So, step one is to work on how I run. After years of running in my Saucony’s, my gait, posture, and overall technique leaves much to be desired.

I basically look like I’m always running headlong into a gust of 30 mph wind.

Which is why I’ll be purchasing this book:

Without boring you too much with science, it teaches you to run from your core, not from your legs. Translation: Less injury. Stronger body.

If you want to read more, go to the Chi Running website. And if you want the book, you can get it on Amazon.

For a little more inspiration, I will also be getting Born to Run:

And along with the books, I’m making the jump to Vibram Five Fingers.

Yes. These things:

Don’t knock ’em til you try ’em. (Actually, I haven’t tried them yet. But, I know they are what I need.)

So, expect a few posts here and there as I slowly wade into the barefoot running craze. My research suggests it’s a very slow process, so a long race might be kind of far off.

But for the first time in a long time, I’m actually excited about the gym again.

And in the words of Martha Stewart, that is a very good thing.