I know...I know.
These things are freaking ugly. Who the hell would ever put them on their feet? There is absolutely no way that those things are even comfortable. Freaking idiots.
Those were the thoughts that always went through my mind when I saw somebody wearing a pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes.
Everybody else wears regular shoes so they must be the wise thing. I've had all sorts of foot and leg soreness after really long runs. But if I was going to get the health benefits of running than that is just part of the game... Right?
That was the status quo.
It wasn't a close friend who turned me on to something that looks more like it should be worn on a surfboard than on pavement. It was Best Selling Author and famous serial entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki.
His newest book "Enchantment" was my book of the week last week and among the numerous great tips he gave, I was surprisingly shocked by how much I related to his story about how the founders of Vibram FiveFingers launched their unique product and the stories of the people that loved the shoes.
He talked about how these odd looking shoes helped eliminate shin splints, cause less overall pain in the joints because they promote a better, more natural running style. I was convinced to give them a shot. Lucky for me, Buywithme.com was running a killer deal to City Sports so I even had the chance to get them at a huge rebate.
As soon as I got ready to try on the shoe, I felt like a freaking idiot. Not because the looks of the shoe, because it took me 5 minutes to put on a freaking shoe!!! I almost gave up and said "these fucking things just don't fit my feet. My Addidas will work just fine". That would have been settling for the status quo and I don't settle that well.
My pinky toe has never been separated from my useless toe (or whatever the toe is actually called that sits next to the pinky toe). And I couldn't seem to separate the two and get the damn thing on. The City Sports guy kept reassuring me that this was very normal. He kept telling me that it takes getting used to but once I wear them a few times my feet will naturally slide into them. The toes just need to be trained to act a little different.
Well after my pinky toe finally cooperated, It took me about 20 seconds to realize what all the fuss was about with these so called shoes. They just felt natural. They felt freakin great. Sold.
The next morning was the true test. They say to really ease into the shoe and not overdue it the first time.
They change your entire running form and cause you to use muscles that you aren't used to using. I have been averaging 7-8 miles a run lately so I stopped after 2 miles. My reaction after my first run was simple - I might never run in regular shoes again.
They felt that natural. That comfortable.
And sure enough the next day my legs were sore as could be. My calves were tight as can be.
That is the thing about trying something new...about getting outside of your comfort zone. It is going to really suck at first. You are breaking a pattern that your used to and it will definitely get worse before getting better.
Just like when you start lifting weights for the first time in forever and can barely move off the couch the next day because of how sore you are.
But if you stay at it. If you fight through that soreness. If you fight through the ups and downs of the first few weeks - IF YOU DON'T GO BACK TO THE STATUS QUO - something big happens. You can't imagine your life without the daily rush you get from the workout.
If it makes you miserable - there has to be a better way!!
With Canvita we are going to re-invent the professional network and empower people to go after the careers of their dreams.
So much of our happiness is based on what we do for a living. We spend the majority of our time at work. If we get stressed out or flat out hate what we do and/or who we work with...That is only going to bleed into every other aspect of our lives.
I didn't hate what I did in my previous life, and I loved the people that I worked with...but that line of work stressed me out like crazy. That alone made me miserable, out of shape and needing a change. I can't imagine what my life would have been like if I hated the people that I worked with too...
I am now trying to figure out why people don't leave the jobs that are ruining every other aspect of their life. Why they don't find something that doesn't make them miserable. Why don't they take a chance on a new kind of shoe that might make them look "stupid".
Reasons to go ahead and look stupid.
It is going to suck at first. Maybe the paychecks won't be as much at first (or at all!). Your daily schedule will be rocked. Maybe you might have to move to a new area (which is especially tough if there is a family involved). Basically, your world will be turned upside down. And that is fucking scary.
But if you fight through that period AND you find something that you truly want to do for 8 hours a day.
When work is not a job.
When it is what you WANT to do that day not what you HAVE to do that day.
You'll start to meet new great people that are just as passionate as you are. Your network of close friends will start expanding by the day. Your family starts seeing a better dad, a better wife, a better everything because you go home with a smile on your face and not directly to the bar for a much needed drink and then to the couch to get your mind off all the "bullshit" you had to put up with all day.
You go to the bar to celebrate the great things in your life, to talk about the great things that are to come. You don't go to the bar to bitch about the terrible things that happened earlier today or last year.
Why the status quo prevails so often.
Because change is fucking scary.
From the Vibram FAQ page: "How long will it take to transition to Vibram FiveFingers? --- For some, it is a matter of weeks, for others months, and for a few it could be a year or more..."
A year or more?!?!?! I already have sore calves and it may take me a freakin year to get used to a pair of shoes? But...the end ot the FAQ section states:
"The progression will ultimately be worth the wait, and your foot and body will be stronger and better off for it...Just remember, improving the skill of those muscles and then practicing and using those muscles in Vibram FiveFingers will increase both endurance and strength. This will have profound beneficial effects on your body and well being."
What if they are perfect for me?
What if they allow me to run pain free for the rest of my life? What if they allow me to enjoy the beauty of running outdoors without the toll that streets take on my joints? What if they change my thinking from "I have to run to stay in shape" to "I want to run today, period"...
What if they allow me to truly live a healthy life? Sounds like a little short term pain is well worth the risk.
Rewards for the change.
I truly believe that leaving my comfort zone might have just allowed me stumble on a pretty remarkable thing in Canvita. And even though we haven't launched yet and have a ton of challenges in front of us....
Every day I wake up thinking - "This is what I want to do today". Those are powerful freaking words.
I say challenge that bullshit comfort zone - It is well worth the risk and short term pain.
Talk to you soon, I'm off for a run in some "ugly" shoes. (Guess what, I already love the looks of them on my feet!)
POST RUN UPDATE: Did a nice 3 miler that felt great but my calves told me I was done. This is why I love running outdoors as opposed to the boring treadmill or eliptical.