Sunday, July 4, 2010

Final Thoughts on the VFF

This will be my last post on the VFF.

Its taken up a little bit too much space on this blog for the past 6 months.

The experiences of the past several months have shown me that the VFF is a great training shoe, and an excellent way to shift into a mid/forefoot strike running style. On the off-road Half Marathon, and the long training runs at the end of the training cycle (9-11 mile long runs in the city), both my legs and lungs felt less pulverized than they had ever been during my experiences running those same distances in motion control shoes.

But I DO NOT plan on using the VFF again for distances longer than 6-7 miles, or as my race day shoes.

For me the early problems I had with the VFF's, specifically calf pain, disappeared eventually. But my feet never got used to the impact -- especially as I got into the higher distances (9-11 mile training runs). What would happen on the longer runs is that I'd have plenty of energy left everywhere else, but my feet would be so sore from the constant pounding that couldn't put the hammer down.

This doesn't mean I'm going back to my ASICS Motion Controls -- anything but that. I have no desire at this point to going back to heel striking, and I'm not going to spend money on shoes that would bring me back to that form of running.

What this does mean is that I'll probably use the VFF's for shorter runs, intervals, hill workouts, stair climbing, etc. Doing these shorter runs that are built around drills & specific workout routines will help preserve the forefoot/mid-foot running style I've developed since January. I'll probably buy a more conventional running shoe, but with a flatter and thinner bottom than motion control shoes, maybe a pair of racing flats, for longer runs, or race days. The regular running shoes (hopefully) would shield my feet from the repeated pounding I got from the VFF's, but would still let me run with a fore/midfoot strike -- preserving my knees, hips, quads, and lungs.

In the end, its not running in bare feet (what the VFF tries to simulate) that is better for you, its running with a mid/forefoot strike. The VFF is a means to achieving that end -- not an end in and of itself.


When I checked my VFF's this morning, I finally saw the damage the last run did to them.

Those yellow spots you see towards the edge of the soles are where the outermost layer of rubber has worn out. Before the trail run there was only one yellow spot. Afterwards there were two.

This hole is where the rubber wore all the way through. It wasn't like this before the trail run.

LESSON: Never use the VFF Sprint on city streets, trail runs, or any substantial outdoor workout.


  1. Nice writeup. I have had similar experiences. I'm training for the 2010 NYC marathon. On long runs the soles of feet (particularly the forefoot area) get really sore after the 14M mark... I think it partially has to do with running on rougher terrain (et broken sidewalks, streets, etc) And it becomes the limiting factor to running faster. I also found that my vff's wear out in the same spots (midfoot near pinky toe) after around 400 miles or so... I absolutely agree that vff and othe minimalist shoes are a means to an end (ie forefoot strike). I plan to switch to racing flats for long runs over 10M - especially when I consider the cost of racing flats $30-40 vs vff $85)

  2. Glad you enjoyed the write up.

    As a post-scrip, a week after the run I injured my achilles doing a separate workout. My doctor basically told me;

    - Lay off running for a month;
    - If I do run, don't use the VFF
    - After I heal up, mix up the VFF with a conventional shoe.

    Basically I went from one extreme (motion control shoes, heel striking) to another extreme (barefoot running). My feet paid the price.