I decided to take my Vibrams on a longer walk today. I chose Lake Miramar because it is a paved trail, but also has a dirt trail closer to the water that walkers may choose to use. The loop around the lake is 5 miles. I was going to bring a backpack with an alternative pair of shoes if things were to get rough with the Vibrams, but then I decided I would tough it out . . . I am glad I did. The walk went well, but I did learn a few things.
1. I was concerned about the blisters I got on the back of each foot from my first walk earlier in the week. I did some internet searching and found someone who used duct tape to protect his feet from blisters in the Vibrams. This idea is right up my alley: much cheaper than band aids. So I tried it today. I cut the tape about 3 inches long, and then put a rectangle of paper towel in the middle so the adhesive would not stick to the sensitive part of my foot where the blisters are. This worked like a charm! The tape stuck fine, and gave real protection from the chafing from the shoes. After the walk, it came off easily. The blisters did not get aggravated at all in the 5 mile walk. I am hoping I can build my feet up not to need this kind of intervention, but for now this is great. I am also resisting the idea of wearing Injinji socks for the time being. I really want to see if I can manage the blisters and become able to wear these without socks. We’ll see.
2. So I conquered the blister problem, but by the end of 5 miles I found my heels were chaffed. They actually were burning at the end of my walk! I don’t know what to make of that yet. As this week proceeds I will come back and add comments to this post to report on how long the chafing lasted. Hmmm. I hope I don’t wake up tomorrow walking on two blisters on the bottom of each heel! The article I cited in my last post says “Let your skin be your guide” because when you protect your skin, you protect everything underneath. My chaffed heels give me a sense of that today.
3. Lake Miramar has a dirt trail closer to the water. I walked about a mile on the dirt trail today. It is pretty rocky in places, so this gave me a good idea of what trail hiking in my Vibrams will be like. I was amazed at how much more taxing this was for my legs. When I take these on my first real mountain trail, I will definitely be taking an alternative pair of shoes and will not attempt more than a mile on the trail to start. I have to build myself up to this!
In conclusion, I got the Vibrams as part of my long term program to become a runner once again. Since I cannot do any aerobic exercise at this point, I am working on building my strength. I love walking and hiking anyway, and the Vibrams seem like a great way to get more out of my walks and hikes. I am not disappointed, even with the blisters and chafing. After all, if I had attempted to walk this 5 miles in literal bare feet today, I probably would not have made it more than 100 yards.