Gear The One

Published on November 19th, 2013 | by karlyn


Why I Gave Up Five Fingers and Found The One

When I first got seriously into running about 5 years ago, I would get injured all the time. All. The. Time. It was just one thing after another and I could never quite figure out how to prevent it, no matter how many things I tried.

It was around that time that people were chatting a lot about minimal shoes and these crazy looking things called Five Fingers that looked like gloves for your feet started to appear here and there. So I thought “what the heck” and ordered a pair. They changed everything! They took some getting use to but the injuries that had been plaguing me ceased quickly, and without any other explanation.

I quickly become a militant supporter of minimal shoes, and Five Fingers in particular. Sure, it was weird but the results simply spoke for itself. I went on for years running in these shoes, quickly dismissing any new fad that came along.

And then Five Fingers discontinued the model that I preferred, which was the original classic shoe. I preferred it primarily because the top of the foot was left exposed – I just didn’t like the feeling of my foot being completely enclosed in this glove. Plus, the shoes with more coverage were more prone to give me blisters, whereas the classic shoe didn’t. I was more upset about the company discontinuing any shoe than any product I’ve ever been loyal to in my life. Still, I could have (conceivably) just bought a bunch of classics while they were still available in stores and stored them away for a rainy day.

But I didn’t. Here’s why: When I contacted Five Fingers to find out which model I should switch to, I had not one….not two….but THREE awful experiences with customer service. First, I was told to switch to the Entradra, which was also open on the top. OK, sold. I bought a pair….ran in them 3 times on the treadmill for about a mile….and they started to fall apart! Annoyed, I contacted customer service and was told that I was using them wrong, that I shouldn’t really run in them but since they were such nice people, they would allow me to return them even though I was the one in the wrong. Additionally, I bemoaned the loss of my beloved classics and was told that the classics – the shoes I ran in for YEARS with no problems – wasn’t a running shoe but a boat shoe and I should never have been running in them in the first place. Wasn’t I silly and foolish.

I have never felt truly betrayed by a company before. I honestly didn’t even know it was possible to feel betrayed by a company, to the point where I felt as though I had broken up with them as if we had been in a relationship. Crazy, perhaps, but I truly was in love with this product and it broke my heart that the people working for the company just ruined it for me. The whole thing put such a bad taste in my mouth that I resolved then and there that I would never EVER buy or wear another pair of Five Fingers again.

But, then, where to turn. I needed a new pair of training shoes and I wasn’t going to go back to the cushioned running shoes that had been responsible for so many of my injuries. Then, I found Altra’s The One. It’s a zero drop shoe, which means that there is no difference between the padding in the heel and toe, which is key for a good minimal shoe. But what I really love about this shoe is the toe box. They look a little bit like clown shoes because the toe forms out and around the natural lines of your foot. The result is that your toes can spread out instead of being pushed together by a more tapered shoe. It truly feels like I am running in my bare feet, even more than the Five Fingers, which still giving more padding and support than Five Fingers did.

I. Absolutely. Adore. This. Shoe. I am in love. If I was asked to choose between my shoes and my dogs….I might have a hard time giving them up. I might even choose them over my husband. Ok, not really…but you get the idea.

So, everything happens for a reason. Though the douchebaggery of the several Five Fingers employees I encountered perturbed me at the time, and resulted in a pretty nasty breakup, they led me right into the arms (or laces!) of my one true love <3

About the Author

I'm a non-runner (i.e. a proudly slow runner) training to run the world's most famous marathon. This will be my third marathon, and second Boston Marathon in a row. I will be running as a part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Team and will be raising money for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Cancer Research. Follow my journey by joining my mailing list, following me on Twitter or on Facebook.

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