Vibram Five Finger Spyridon Review

“Our first trail running–specific model, the Spyridon LS provides the perfect balance of ‘foot feel’ and protection on rugged surfaces. A minimalist 3.5mm Vibram rubber sole provides impact protection from stones and debris, while better allowing proper barefoot dynamics. The aggressive tread design delivers sure-footed grip in all directions, molded nylon mesh in midsole adds a ‘rock block’ effect, dispersing impact over a wider area. The Coconut Active Carbon upper offers natural breathability and an adjustable hook-and-loop closure ensures a secure fit. 3M reflective applications for safety after dark. Machine Washable. Air Dry.”

I have fancied a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes for a few years now. As such, I was delighted when the opportunity arose to review the first trail running specific model, the Spyridon LS. I can’t compare the Spyridons to other VFF models given that this is my first outing in a pair of the ‘toe shoes’. However, I do have plenty experience of other minimalist shoes to see how the Spyridons stack up against them.

The shoes are named after Spyridon Louis, the Greek shepherd who won the first modern-day marathon back at the 1896 Athens Olympics. (I just had to investigate the cool name! – Spyridon Louis on Wikipedia)

In terms of fit, my experience of the Spyridon has been mixed.

On the plus side, the stretchy upper contours the shape of the foot and I found that, even with my wide feet, this resulted in a very comfortable, close fit without feeling overly restrictive. The speed lock lacing system let me adjust the snugness to the desired level and the laces then tucked away nicely thanks to the use of a neat Velcro fastening system. The end result was more of a glove like than shoe like fit.

My problem was with regard to the toe pockets and, I think, was a personal problem rather than anything wrong with the shoe itself. Unfortunately, I have been ‘blessed’ with fairly stumpy toes and, as a result, they just failed to fill the toe pockets, resulting in a looser than desired fit in this area.

The problem was partially remedied with the addition of a pair of Injinji socks, filling up some of the free space. However, I suspect that a 1/2 size to a size smaller may have resulted in a more comfortable fit. I would strongly suggest that you try on VFFs if at all possible before purchasing just to make sure that you get the best possible fit. I was testing a size 8, the same size that I would normally wear in trainers.

In terms of actual usage, I had the occasional slip on wet concrete and didn’t have any success at all in icy conditions, but then I would have experienced issues staying upright with most shoes such was the level of ice! In all other conditions and, especially, when out on the trail, where the shoes were designed to perform at their best, the levels of grip and connectivity were excellent.

The Spyridon makes use of square-shaped cleats on the outsole. The cleats are not excessively high as this would detract from the minimalist feel of the shoe. However, they are sufficiently raised as to offer good levels of traction on both ascents and descents. One reviewer of the Spyridons compared the sole to a mountain bike tyre and there are definitely similarities.

As you would expect from a shoe with a 3.5mm sole, ground feel is excellent. On the plus side, this increases the connectivity. On the down side, if it happens to be a stone, a root or some other obstacle underfoot, you will feel it.

However, the Spyridon sole has been constructed in such a way as to offer some protection. The sole includes a moulded polyester mesh in the midsole area. This 3d Cacoon technology offers protection from stone punctures and serves to disperse any impact over a broader area. It manages to do this without impinging on the minimalism or flexibility of the shoe and it certainly helps to lessen the feeling that you may hurt yourself on making contact with roots or stones, letting you just get on and enjoy the run.

The fact that you can still roll the shoe up, despite the rock plate, demonstrates just how little impact the extra protection has on the overall flexibility. The usefulness of the rock plate doesn’t stop there – it also helps dissipate some of the impact from foot strike.

Aesthetically, I thought the Spyridons really stood out and they have been christened as my ‘skeleton shoes’ by many of my family and friends. They certainly do have a skeletal look to them with their distinctive colouring and this accentuates the toe pockets. I noticed more than a few second glances from people I passed! There’s some good use of 3M reflective material in the heel area of the shoe, providing a nice amount of reflection while out running at night.

One great advantage that VFFs have over most other trainers is that they can be thrown in the washing machine without impacting on the performance of the shoe. As such, there’s no excuse not to have that distinctive styling looking clean and fresh!

Overall I have been impressed with the Spyridons and it’s great to see a trail specific version of Vibram Five Fingers. For me, the only drawback has been the less than perfect fit in the toe area but, as discussed earlier, this might be remedied by trying a 1/2 size to size smaller. I will definitely try to resolve the sizing issue as I liked the feeling of running in the Spyridons and would be interested to try other VFF models in the future.

Pros

  • Snug glove like fit
  • Great traction
  • Rock plate protection
  • Aesthetically cool

Cons

  • Sizing (though this could potentially be remedied with a different size)
  • Retailing at £100 to £120 they are not cheap
  • Can get quite hot

Specifications

  • Materials:
    • Upper – Stretch Mesh and Polyamide
    • Sole – XSTrek Vibram Rubber
    • Footbed – 3mm Polyurethane Insole Anti-Microbial Dri-Lex Sockliner
  • Machine washable. Air dry
  • Weight: Men’s size 44 – 6.88oz. each, 13.76oz./pair

Barefoot Running And It’s Impact On Running Economy

Thanks to Natali at www.brandnation.co.uk for bringing the following article to my attention.

A brand new study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports demonstrates that, after a familiarization period, running economy is better in Vibram Five Fingers than in conventional running shoes. Running economy is a measure of how efficiently you use the oxygen you breathe in when running. If all other factors are the same between two runners, the one with better running economy will be faster.

The study, ‘Four-week habituation to simulated barefoot running improves running economy when compared with shod running‘ by JP Warne and GD Warrington, looked at the oxygen uptake, heart rate, stride frequency, and foot strike patterns of 15 trained male runners when completing running economy tests, 24 hours apart. The runners had no prior experience of barefoot running.

Initially, there was no significant difference in the running economy of the subjects. However, after a 4 week familiarization process, running economy had improved by 6.9% in the simulated barefoot running state.

“Running has been largely influenced by footwear manufacturers in recent times, where large-scale movement toward shoes offering comfort, cushioning, motion control, and support has become the normal procedure for running enthusiasts. However, this large-scale move into supportive footwear has been questioned in the literature over a number of years (Robbins & Hanna, 1987; Richards et al., 2009; Squadrone & Gallozzi, 2009; Lieberman et al., 2010), and has led to a recent growing interest and participation in barefoot (BR) or simulated barefoot running (SBR). Aside from potential lower injury risk (Robbins & Hanna, 1987; Richards et al., 2009; Lieberman et al., 2010), it is suggested that the change in gait when transitioning into less cushioned shoes, SBR or BR can have a positive effect on running economy (RE; Squadrone & Gallozzi, 2009; Hanson et al., 2011).”

The study used Vibram Five Fingers for the simulated barefoot running aspect of the study.

“One product, however, that exhibits minimal cushioning, support, or structure is Vibram FiveFingers (VFF; Vibram, Milano, Italy). This relatively new product provides a simple “second skin” for the foot in order to simply offer protection on modern-day surfaces. Recent research by Squadrone and Gallozzi (2009) proposed that there are common characteristics between BR and VFFs that merit further investigation as a tool to simulate BR.”

Given the considerable improvement in running economy over the 4 weeks, the study concluded “that some degree of adaptation is taking place that cannot only be explained by changes in shoe weight or design”.

The study suggests that running economy in simulated barefoot running improves as a result of a period of familiarization and, further, that improvement is indicative of adaptations taking place in the body, most likely as a result of increased proprioceptive feedback from the foot.

Given that the subjects were trained runners, an unexpected result was that, over the 4 weeks, running economy while running shod improved by 2.32% between tests. A plausible explanation for this is that the adaptations and technical changes to running occurring as a result of the barefoot simulated training were ‘transferred’ to shod running.

Vibram Five Fingers Spyridon Review

I first heard about Vibram (pronounced Veebram) Five Fingers, or toe shoes, a few years back. I immediately wanted a pair but, with my awkward shaped feet – wide with short stumpy toes, I thought the best bet would be to try them on first to ensure the perfect fit. Therein lay the problem. At this point in time, VFFs were like gold dust and, living in the North East of Scotland, my mission was doomed to failure. I could have resorted to the internet but this, of course, would result in a complicated and lengthy process in the event that I needed to try on various models/sizes etc.

And then, in July 2010, I got married. You may well ask what this has to do with anything! I, or more precisely, ‘we’ got married in Canada, overlooking Moraine Lake. It was fantastic and we both fell in love with Canada. With a honeymoon itinerary that included Canmore, Banff, Jasper, Whistler, Victoria and Vancouver I was assured that I would be able to pick up a pair of VFFs. Or so I thought!

After much searching I finally found a solitary pair in Victoria and yup, you guessed it, they were not my size.

Fast forward to November 2012 and I finally got my first pair of VFFs, Spyridons, the first trail running specific VFFs.

“Our first trail running–specific model, the Spyridon LS provides the perfect balance of ‘foot feel’ and protection on rugged surfaces. A minimalist 3.5mm Vibram rubber sole provides impact protection from stones and debris, while better allowing proper barefoot dynamics. The aggressive tread design delivers sure-footed grip in all directions, molded nylon mesh in midsole adds a ‘rock block’ effect, dispersing impact over a wider area. The Coconut Active Carbon upper offers natural breathability and an adjustable hook-and-loop closure ensures a secure fit. 3M reflective applications for safety after dark. Machine Washable. Air Dry.”

Vibram Five Fingers Spyridon LS

Feeling below par and somewhat sorry for myself, my day took a turn for the better with the arrival of the mail which included a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Spyridon LS. These are the first trail running specific VFFs and have a suitably aggressive tread complete with a protective rock plate.

“Our first trail running–specific model, the Spyridon LS provides the perfect balance of ‘foot feel’ and protection on rugged surfaces. A minimalist 3.5mm Vibram rubber sole provides impact protection from stones and debris, while better allowing proper barefoot dynamics. The aggressive tread design delivers sure-footed grip in all directions, molded nylon mesh in midsole adds a ‘rock block’ effect, dispersing impact over a wider area. The Coconut Active Carbon upper offers natural breathability and an adjustable hook-and-loop closure ensures a secure fit. 3M reflective applications for safety after dark. Machine Washable. Air Dry.”

Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run Summary

A collection of photos showing future Merrell Product, Inov-8 Trailroc 235s, and the route of the Scottish Barefoot Run & Conference, mostly in and around Salisbury Crag.

New post at The Running Bug, ‘Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run Summary‘.

An excellent, highly informative day was had by all at the inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run and we even got a glimpse of what summer should have looked like, albeit a slightly windy version from our viewpoint over Edinburgh from the crags underneath Arthur’s Seat.

The event got underway at 11am with registration and the opportunity to view current and future product from the likes of Merrell, Vibram Five Fingers, Vivobarefoot, Inov8 and Pearl Izumi.

Vibram Five Fingers and inov8 offered participants the opportunity to try out some product while out on the run and I opted for a pair of the new Inov8 Trailroc 235 with a 0mm drop.

The run was from Bruntsfield Links down to Holyrood Park entering by the Commonwealth Pool, up on to Salisbury Crag and along the top, providing excellent views of the Castle and the rest of Edinburgh, then down to the Palace and on to the Royal Mile at The Scottish Parliament. The route then headed up to the Castle and dropped into the Grassmarket. From there, it was up some old town steps to Lauriston Place past the spectacular Heriots School, into Middle Meadow Walkway and back to Bruntsfield Links.

With a perfect mix of terrain, taking in the sights and sounds of Edinburgh (pipers on the royal mile for that traditional Scottish sound) and a distance of just over 5 miles (not including the slight ‘detour’ my wayward group took!) the run had something for all tastes and served to promote Edinburgh as a potential running destination. I think there were more than a few of us left wishing that we had somewhere as cool as the Crags to run on a daily basis, especially given the close proximity to the city.

I ended up running for a while with top Vibram Barefoot Coach Helen Hall and her partner, and benefited greatly from advice offered both directly to myself and to others. I immediately felt the benefit of some of the tips, including:

  • Adopt a similar zig-zag approach on descents as you would while skiing as this saves the legs and lets you better control your descent
  • Stand tall and push from the rear – avoid slouching forward
  • Rotate the upper body
  • Aim for a high cadence with lots of little steps. Your feet should land underneath your body rather than far in front of it which helps to avoid heel striking

After a leisurely lunch out on the Links, the group decanted to the Eric Liddell Centre for the afternoon’s events, the conference element of the day. The conference was excellent, with 2 great presentations, each with a slightly different focus. Both Ben le Vacant from Vivobarefoot and Matt Walden from Primal Lifestyle, official distributor of Vibram Five Fingers in the UK, delivered informative, engaging presentations that kept the audience interested and, more often than not, amused. I particularly liked the point that 3.6 million years worth of evolution can’t be wrong!

All participants received a pair of TEKO Socks and there were various other freebies on offer from buffs to keyrings.

The event finished with a Q&A session which, I am sure, could have run on a lot longer had time permitted.

This looks likely to be an annual event and a Facebook group has been set up to promote minimalist running in Scotland.

Thanks to event organisers Colin McPhail and Donnie Campbell for an excellent day, and also to all of the helpers on the day. Thanks also to all the companies who came along to instruct and to let participants see and use both current and future products.

The Scottish Barefoot Run High Speed

The following video, prepared by Colin McPhail, shows the route that was taken on the day.

Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run Update

Further details have been made available regarding this Saturdays inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run & Conference:

11.00 am Registration opens, everything is free but we need the disclaimer signed
11.15 am Coaching with Helen Hall from Vibram Five Fingers
11.30 am Fitting of barefoot shoes from Inov8 and Brooks
11.40 am Run and safety briefing, Donnie Campbell
12.00 pm Run starts in waves depending on numbers
13.00 pm Lunch, homemade sandwiches and bananas, water is on tap all day
13.30 pm Head to The Eric Liddell Centre

Free socks will be handed out on entry to the conference

14.00 pm Barefoot Conference Opens with a welcome from Colin McPhail and an introduction to Matt Wallden from Vibram 5 Fingers and Ben Le Vesconte of Vivobarefoot
15.30 pm Toilet Break
15.40 pm Open Forum with Vivobarefoot, Vibram Five Fingers, Inov8, Merrell, and Pearl Izumi
16.20 pm Close of Conference and off to Pub (Golf Tavern is always worth a visit)

From the event organisers:

We are excited about the attendance of the barefoot trade, especially that of Ben Le Vesconte and Matt Wallden who are both highly respected in the world of natural running. Guy Russell from Inov8 is another of the barefoot worlds well ken’t faces and has a wealth of knowledge to share with us.

Try on a Barefoot Shoe: May sound like a contradiction of terms but there are many types of shoes which work in a variety of ways to assist us with our quest in more efficient forms of running and are delighted to welcome Guy from Inov8 with a small representation of natural running footwear. Don’t forget to take a look at some of the transition shoes that Pearl Izumi and Merrell are also showing.

Coaching: We are delighted to welcome Helen Hall who works closely with Vibram Five Fingers and is one of the country’s top natural running coaches. We hope you will all get a chance to meet Helen and discuss your form; hopefully some very useful tips will be exchanged. Donnie Campbell is arguably Scotland’s top coach and is also on hand to help you with your form.

Socks are very important and we are extremely lucky to have discovered TEKO a Scottish based company who’s environmentally produced garments cannot be beaten. They are kind enough to hand out a pair of these to everyone attending the conference at 2.00pm in the Eric Liddell Centre at Holy Corner

Thanks to all helpers too many to mention individually and especially to:

Hope to see you all there – be sure to introduce yourself and say hello. A report on the day will follow in due course.

The Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run

New post at The Running Bug, ‘The Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run

Thanks for all the views on my ‘Tips For Running In The Heat‘ post last week. Hopefully there was something of interest in there and you got another run in the sun before our summer came to a premature end (did it ever really start this year?).

Ironically, after my experiences at this weekends Speyside Way Race, this weeks post should be titled ‘Tips For Running In Torrential Rain, Mud & Waterlogged Paths’ but, as catchy as that sounds (not!), I am instead going to make use of this opportunity to plug an event that will hopefully become a regular feature on the running calendar north of the border – the inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run.

You may already have heard of the event but, in case not, I figured that with enough notice you might just be able to participate. So, here goes!

Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run

The innaugural Scottish Barefoot Run will take place in Edinburgh on Saturday 15th September at 12.00. The event, incorporating not just barefooters but all minimalist runners, aims “to gather a bunch of like minded runners together and help promote the natural running movement”, and is based on the NYC barefoot run with no fees and no competition, making it very relaxed.

Starting at 12 with a run of approx 6.5 miles, the event will include a BYO BBQ (weather permitting) in the Links and the chance to try new products in the barefoot world, including Teko Natural Running Socks, before a conference element in the afternoon.

The Run

The route for the run is from Bruntsfield Links down to Holyrood Park entering by the Commonwealth Pool, up on to Salisbury Crag and along the top, providing excellent views of the Castle, then down to the Palace and on to the Royal Mile at The Scottish Parliament. The route then heads up to the Castle and drops into the Grassmarket. From there, it is up some old town steps to Lauriston Place past the spectacular Heriots School, into Middle Meadow Walkway and back to Bruntsfield Links.

Runners can do as many laps of the course as they want. Faster and more experienced runners will be encouraged to do a second lap with the aim of helping slower runners to achieve the goal when they catch them up.

The Conference

The afternoon will include a presentation from Matt Walden of Primal Lifestyle, the UK distributor of Vibram Five Fingers. Heather Hall, one of the leading barefoot coaches in the country, will also be there to offer seasoned and newbie barefooters tips and advice from her wealth of practical experience. Inov8 will be on hand to advise on their range of shoes and will be bringing along some try on shoes from the new range of 3mm and zero drop to let you have a go on the day. Vivobarefoot will hopefully be in attendance.

More Information

The event has been put together by Colin from local Edinburgh shop www.footworks-uk.com, a specialist running store with a large range of barefoot and minimalist gear and a commitment to the natural barefoot running cause.

It is hoped that this may become a regular event so please do attend and support the event if you can. Final details including times etc. will be revealed closer to the event, and will be dependant upon total numbers attending, so get your acceptance in early so that all the arrangements can be made in advance.

Hope to see some Running Bug members there and, if you do attend, be sure to introduce yourselves and say hello.

Find out more via:

Running Bug Barefoot Resources

Back Soon

I am off to Menorca shortly for a much needed holiday, to relax and also to run some of the Camí de Cavalls trails so I will be back in a few weeks with some words on a successful season of ultras, how my tips for running in the heat fared for me in the hot temperatures (I hope!) of Menorca, and with a review of the inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Running

The Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run

The inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run will take place in Edinburgh on Saturday 15th September at 12.00. The event, incorporating not just barefooters but all minimalist runners, aims “to gather a bunch of like minded runners together and help promote the natural running movement”, and is based on the NYC barefoot run with no fees and no competition, making it very relaxed.

Starting at 12 with a run of approx 6.5 miles, the event will include a BYO BBQ (weather permitting) in the Links and the chance to try new products in the barefoot world, including Teko Natural Running Socks, before a conference element in the afternoon.

The Run

The route for the run is from Bruntsfield Links down to Holyrood Park entering by the Commonwealth Pool, up on to Salisbury Crag and along the top, providing excellent views of the Castle, then down to the Palace and on to the Royal Mile at The Scottish Parliament. The route then heads up to the Castle and drops into the Grassmarket. From there, it is up some old town steps to Lauriston Place past the spectacular Heriots School, into Middle Meadow Walkway and back to Bruntsfield Links.

Runners can do as many laps of the course as they want. Faster and more experienced runners will be encouraged to do a second lap with the aim of helping slower runners to achieve the goal when they catch them up.

The Conference

The afternoon will include a presentation from Matt Walden of Primal Lifestyle, the UK distributor of Vibram Five Fingers. Heather Hall, one of the leading barefoot coaches in the country, will also be there to offer seasoned and newbie barefooters tips and advice from her wealth of practical experience. Inov-8 will be on hand to advise on their range of shoes. Vivobarefoot will hopefully be in attendance.

(Updated 23rd August 2012: Inov-8 will be bringing along some try on shoes from the new range of 3mm and zero drop to let you have a go on the day.)

More Information

The event has been put together by Colin from local Edinburgh shop www.footworks-uk.com, a specialist running store with a large range of barefoot and minimalist gear and a commitment to the natural barefoot running cause.

It is hoped that this may become a regular event so please do attend and support the event if you can. Final details including times etc. will be revealed closer to the event, and will be dependant upon total numbers attending, so get your acceptance in early so that all the arrangements can be made in advance.

Find out more via:

Do’s and Dont’s on Going Minimalist by Guest Blogger Julia Buckley

The first time I read Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run it inspired me to seek out a pair of the latest (at that time) minimalist running shoes, Vibram Five Fingers. Try as I might, I just couldn’t find any up here in the North East of Scotland and I wasn’t keen on mail order until I had tried them for size. I headed to Canada to get married & honeymoon in 2010 and I was certain I would be able to pick up a pair then, or at least, that was the plan. The sole (no pun intended) stockist that I found on my travels only stocked one model and even that was out of stock. So, I never did get to try trail running in VFFs!

I was reading with interest about a new trail specific version of the VFF, the spyridon. If anyone has any experience with this shoe, please drop me a tweet to let me know how you found them:

Fast forward a couple of years and VFF are now running minimalist running clinics although, unfortunately only in London for the meantime.

Julia Buckley, MD of www.fitnessrocks.co.uk and a frequent contributor to fitness magazines, has been attending the clinics and blogging about her experiences.

Given my interest in all things running and considering that I am looking to embark on some minimalist running of my own, I have included one of Julia’s recent posts, the ‘Do’s and Dont’s on Going Minimalist’, from August 1st 2012.

Thanks to Julia for letting me include this on www.pixelscotland.com.

Do’s and Dont’s on Going Minimalist

In yesterday’s post I said that going along to one of the Vibram FiveFingers clinics would be the perfect way to get an introduction to minimalist running. But I’ve been getting a lot of messages on twitter from people who are keen to give it a try but can’t make it to any of the London clinics. I know that Vibram are planning a national tour in the near future, so hopefully there’ll be a clinic near you soon. But I thought I’d share some of what I learned at Monday’s clinic to give you a few pointers if you’re keen to get started right away.

Don’t be Afraid!

I’ll admit it – I was a bit scared of those weird looking shoes to start off with! Being so used to ordinary trainers I thought running in something with so little cushioning might hurt. I’d read a lot about making “the transition” to minimalist shoes and it sounded like quite a technical process. But I can report that it was fine. I put the shoes on and I ran. It felt good. The way I ran did change, but I didn’t have to think about it – my feet seemed to automatically know what to do!

Do Take it Slowly

Having said all that, you don’t want to go out, buy a pair of Vibram FiveFingers, and continue running your normal distances in them as if you’ve just replaced your shoes like-with-like. Because you will be changing the way you move, your body will need time to adapt and you should build up gradually.

As with most things, everyone’s different and you should listen to your body. But, as a general rule of thumb, Vibram advise people to start out running about 10% of their usual distance in the FiveFingers shoes for the first couple of weeks. Then you can gradually increase the distance by 10-20% every two weeks afterwards. They also recommend taking rest days between runs for the first month.

Don’t do Anything that Hurts

If it hurts, stop. That’s a rule you should follow whatever you are doing really! Never try and push on through pain when you run or you could turn a minor niggle into a serious injury that will keep you out of training for much longer than if you rested up right away.

Plus it’s supposed to be fun – as Corrado said at the clinic, “We already have a job, this is not work, running is to be enjoyed!”.

Do Ask the Experts

I know I had lots of questions for the guys at the Vibram Clinic and talking to them really helped me feel confident in the shoes. If you’d like to go along to one of the clinics you can get free advice and a training session with them too. But if you can’t make it in person you can reach the team on Twitter or Facebook and they’ll be happy to help.