Running In Vibram Five Fingers

VIbrams’ FiveFinger, Five Finger or 5 Finger shoes are fantastic, however you pronounce them. The shoe itself is built to provide the wearer with as little ground feel, or perception of the ground as possible.

Why is minimal ground feel important you may ask? Well, the answer is surprisingly simple, and actually pretty elegant.The human foot is described by many as being one of the most fantastic evolutionary marvels on planet earth. It has evolved to deal with various situations such as being supportive when walking and standing, flexible and strong while running and sprinting, and sensitive to what you are actually walking on. That last point is of particular importance.

Sensitivity to the ground

Human feet have about as much nerve endings as the human hand. Feet are sensitive to everything the hand is and then some. Have you ever been walking around barefoot and stepped on something sharp like a thorn perhaps and felt how your  whole body  reacts to the sensation? Your feet are designed to prevent injury and keep you standing, the reaction you experience is one which is designed to “lift” all your weight off the affected foot.

However, when you wear shoes, this reaction is near to impossible, and while most shoes typically protect against thorns and sharp, dangerous objects, it is the ankle that is the weak point when wearing shoes.

How many times have you sprained an ankle with shoes on? Many times I’m guessing!

The reason you sprain an ankle, or over extend or pull something while wearing shoes is that  your feet are unable to detect the imminent trouble. Your ankle is not bad just because you have sprained an ankle once or twice, it is simply because you wear shoes and subsequently have less sensitivity to what your legs, ankles and feet are doing. From my own reference, I have never had any injury while doing physical activity while barefoot or while wearing minimalist shoes such as Vibram’s FiveFingers. This is largely due to the fact that as a  result  of wearing minimalist footwear, my ankles, feet and general coordination of my legs has improved substantially.

It all started when I began running in Vibram Five Fingers

I have never been a runner and I never really saw myself as a runner. I played track sports in school though, and while I did enjoy them, I hated the running part. I thought it was a necessary evil which was required to get fit. I used to get shin splints, sore feet, and blisters. I was completely unaware as to how weak my feet and ankles actually were  at the time.  

I then discovered the barefoot movement thanks to the Internet, and I thought that I should give it a try. A radical new “barefoot” shoe was in the market called a FiveFinger by Vibram. It took the world by storm with its individual toe pockets and zero-drop sole.

The idea behind Vibram’s FiveFinger shoes is that in order for a shoe to provide a barefoot experience, the shoe should be thin, very flexible and have a zero-drop. That is, no difference in thickness from heel to toe. Vibram went one step further and designed and produced a shoe that has individual toe pockets for each toe. This feature alone makes them awesome, and surprisingly comfortable.

I did my research and found that the Vibram FiveFinger KSO’s were my best choice to go  vibram-fivefinger-ksowith. I wanted an all-round experience, and seeing as the KSO’s had Vibram’s original sole , it was as close as I could get to the original intended experience Vibram had in mind with the FiveFingers.

They were FANTASTIC. I loved them. My only gripe was that they were a little on the small side. I should have gone one size bigger to ensure a comfortable fit. My fourth toe on my left foot is a little longer than that of my right foot, and so I have had some sizing issues with VFF’s(Vibram FiveFingers).

Running in Vibram Five Fingers is a completely different experience, as I’m sure you would imagine! The ground feels intimately close with your feet, and they react to everything you feel. I could feel the grass texture beneath my feet and the cool breeze when I started to sweat. Everything seemed to make perfect sense, my body felt  free.  Free from shin splints, ankle injuries and clunky shoes. Until…

My calves started to hurt. They felt like they were on fire. I had never experienced such pain in my calves before. And this was from running the way my body was  meant  to run.

The solution, which seems pretty obvious now, was to run more. My muscles had atrophied to the point of almost being running-useless. I could run for about 1km maximum, and then what followed were days of not being able to walk or do anything physical. However,  the more I ran, the better it got,  and  because I had converted to only wearing FiveFingers  as my primary shoe, I got stronger feet and legs by default, without  exercise. I think that if you can’t transition into barefoot footweare completely, start slow. As in, run 100metres, then stop. The next day, 150metres, and increase distance as you get stronger and your feet get stronger. It really is a different experience entirely, and it effects your whole body as well. For the first two weeks my back was sore, not  because  of the minimalist footwear, but because of the corrective nature and the  natural  nature of being barefoot. My back was now merely  being used properly.  

I now found that I was standing up properly and  really  using my feet to move my body around. While running my posture transformed into an upright, strong form, with my arms barely moving and my feet landing just below my forward-falling centre of mass. Acceleration while running barefoot is effortless and while the overall workload is perhaps higher than heel-strike running form due to the shock absorbing action required by the calf muscles, it feels more natural, efficient and effective. Even while walking my form has changed. I am quieter, lighter and smoother on foot, and I have found  that I no longer experience any pain or strain while running.

My advice for transitioning into running either barefoot or with minimalist footwear like Vibram’s amazing FiveFinger shoes is to take it slow initially.

Steps for  easy  adoption of barefoot/minimalist/FiveFinger running:

  1. Start with small distances. Run 100metres for the first day and increase in small increments. Monday: 100m, Tuesday: 150m etc.
  2. Run barefoot first, then only use minimalist footwear. Your feet will need time to gain strength and develop the necessary  calluses  for protection. A good idea is to run carrying your Vibram’s, and put them on when you feel your feet getting sore, then turn home and call it a day.
  3. Set some goals and run with them in mind. Some goals may be to cover distance or to simply harness the new forefoot-strike running form. This is a big one for me as even after having run “barefoot” for over a year now, I still am conscious of my form all the time. Even a small correction, such as raising your eyes from the ground right in front of you can improve your form, which will in turn increase speed, decrease effort and ultimately make your runs that much better.
  4. Run without any music. Embrace the simplicity that is running. Feel the ground, get runner’s high, hear your body working. One thing I have noticed is how quiet forefoot-runners are. There is no slap, grind or squelch from rubber running shoes, just pat-pat-pat-pat.
  5. Increase your  cadence. Aim for a high cadence(amount of strides per minute). Olympic athletes run at a cadence of around 180, recreational runners hit about 150. I’d suggest aiming for 160 and then increase as you get stronger and fitter. The higher the cadence, the less work you need to do to keep moving forwards. A higher cadence form is better because there is less load on the skeletal system, you engage more elastic functions of your muscles and ligaments and it just feels lighter and faster.
  6. Enjoy and learn to focus on the run. Forget everything else. Smile.

And there is my write up on what it’s like to go from  not  being a runner to being a barefoot runner. It’s quite a journey, and if you are looking for something to master it’s a great way to engage with your body and learn how to do one of our greatest and most underrated abilities, to run, and run well.

 

The Paleo Diet Lifestyle

Living according to the paleo blueprint, or according to Mark Sisson, the “Primal Blueprint”, is about adopting a set of rules and regulations with regard to what you eat. Although that is an over-simplified analysis of what it actually means to be paleo, the paradigm ultimately begins and ends with what you eat.

Basically, the way normal people eat is completely wrong and unhealthy. For example, when last did you hear someone say something like, “Let’s buy some healthy bread”, or “Don’t worry, I drink low fat milk”.

Both of these statements are completely incorrect. Breads contain grains and milk is a dairy product. Both of these foods are  unacceptable, bar the one-day a week  caloric  binge you should be undertaking, that is however for another article entirely.

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Foods  Unacceptable  According To The Paleo Foods List

  • Refined sugars (Read pretty much all sugars)
  • All grains:  Yup, that means ALL bread and specifically anything that contains gluten. A note here, corn is a grain. I find this to be a sticky point for me as I enjoy a breakfast meal which is fairly nutritious and incredibly convenient. I have made steps to completely remove corn from my diet though.
  • General starch: Avoid things like potatoes and in general, any white food, or any food which could be white. This includes flour, rice and as mentioned, potatoes. Potatoes are really just a bad food. You can however eat sweet potatoes, some say no to this choice, but if you are following a relatively strict paleo for life  ideology it won’t be a problem avoiding starch at all.
  • Legumes: According to strict paleo law, legumes aren’t allowed because they have to be cooked in order to be eaten. This obviously goes against what a super old school burly caveman would have been capable of. Having said that though, legumes can be included to maintain a sufficient amount of calories in your diet. I eat legumes to ensure I get enough caloric density in my meals.
  • Dairy products:  Milk would have been fairly hard to come by for old Ugg the caveman. He’d have had to either have killed the animal providing the milk or he’d have to have caught and cared for it like the modern day cow. My recommendation here would be to avoid milk where possible and eat foods such as butter and ice-cream sparingly. Butter, interestingly enough, can be used to lower the GI of food that inherently has a high GI.
  • Processed meats: This includes any meat which has been overly processed. Meat like polony and vienna sausages are a no-no. This shouldn’t take much convincing as polony is pretty disgusting anyway.
  • Some oils: Avoid oils like corn oil and rice bran oil. You can cook with things like bacon fat and olive oil. Olive oil should be used wisely though as it has a lower burning point than other more common oils such as sunflower oil, for example.

Foods Acceptable According To The Paleo Foods List

  • Meats and eggs: Mark Sisson says you should get eggs wherever possible. I agree with this completely, and the whole cholesterol issue surrounding eggs is not accurate. The quantity and quality of nutrients in a single chicken’s egg is worth and cholesterol knock you might receive from overeating on eggs. Eggs also boost testosterone. FIsh are great for the paleo for life long term vision. Make fish part of your eating routine. You can eat meats with a relatively high fat content, as animal fats are good for the body, and because of the generally low carbohydrate intake on the paleo diet, fats are utilised for uses other than just adding body fat for later use.
  • Vegetables: Load up on veggies like broccoli and spinach. Both contain heaps of good nutrients and spinach covers multiple nutrient columns where it ranks in the top 5 of all foods. A great breakfast in fact is spinach and eggs together.
  • Fruits: I have oral allergy syndrome, which is partly why I started embracing paleo for life in the first case. Timothy Ferriss states that fruits aren’t necessary, and honestly I’d have to agree as fructose isn’t that great for your body. Enjoy fruits, but perhaps include them in your weekly caloric binge day only.
  • Nuts and seeds: Watch out here, while nuts are on the accepted paleo foods list, it is a common mistake for new adopters to over do it on the nut eating. Nuts are full of nutrients, but are also high in fat, and contain compounds which retard certain bodily functions. Eat nuts, but no more than a handful or two every day perhaps.
  • Liquids: Water, litres and litres of water is good. Water is essential for many bodily processes and organs like your liver require a certain minimum level of hydration to operate effectively.
While the lists above are brief, they can guide you in the right direction should you wish to enhance how you are eating at the moment, or if you are interested in what actually makes the paleo diet paleo. I can honestly recommend adopting the paleo for life philosophy, as it is effective and will keep you feeling great all the time. I would recommend a hard adoption, that is overnight. You might experience things such as carbohydrate lows while your body adjusts to the new low carbohydrate intake levels, but after two weeks or so you would have  equalised  and will have a hard time going back to eating a “regular” diet. Ironic that, as it is the modern day “regular” diet that is in fact irregular and incorrect.

 

Tips for adopting the “paleo for life” philosophy:

  • Start with a clear adoption plan: Start buying paleo foods  immediately, but plan to replace existing food types with their paleo food  equivalents  before hand. This will help you build a correlation between what is good and what isn’t as well as make it easier for you to pick foods off of a menu when out for dinner.
  • Have a cheat day: While this isn’t actually a cheat day, but rather an increased  calorie  cycle. Calorie cycling is used by body builders to encourage calorie efficiency. You can eat whatever you like for one day a week only. This calorie spike ironically may make you actually lose weight instead of gain weight, and that weight you may gain on the days following the cheat day is for the most part water retention.
  • Eat more eggs: Eggs are fantastic. Eat them whenever you can, obviously within reason though, you don’t want to rely only on eggs for your protein intake.
  • Get some good supplements: This will help to build the bigger picture of nutrition that is the paleo lifestyle. I take omega’s, green tea extract and multivitamins. Protein shakes are good, but make sure that they don’t contain substances like maltodextrin for sweetness.
  • Read: Read all of Mark Sisson’s and Timothy Ferriss’s work. Mark is a middle aged guy who knows plenty about paleo and primal lifestyles, and you’ll possibly learn the most from his website marksdailyapple.com than any other resource. Timothy focuses more on becoming an effective, best possible version of yourself. He teaches life changing techniques to change every aspect of your life for the better. His new book “The 4 Hour Body”  is amazing to say the least. His information on the benefits of certain foods to be included in your diet is worth purchasing the book alone.And that’s my article on the adoption of the “paleo for life” principle and philosophy. Ultimately, you have everything to gain from becoming a healthier person. You’ll sleep better, have better sex, and most importantly, be able to see and feel results  immediately. Get your caveman on!

If you would like to learn more information about how to live paleo, my 7 Step Paleo Fast Track Guide gives away plenty of information which I should be selling, for FREE.

Click here to get your free copy now!

Wishing you all the best in health,
Andrew.

Top Paleo Diet Cookbooks

Paleo Diet Cookbooks

Cooking according to the paleo diet doesn’t need to be a challenge. There are a multitude of paleo diet cookbooks available, and most are available online for highly acceptable prices.

If you aren’t familiar with the paleo movement, according to wikipedia.org, the paleo, or paleolithic diet:

The “contemporary” Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit,  roots, and nuts, and excludes grains,  legumes,  dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and  processed oils.

I personally have been eating and cooking paleo style dishes for a year or two now, and it has been one of the best decisions and commitments I have ever made. I have more energy, clearer skin, my immune system is near bullet proof, and my body rejects fat accumulation automatically.

Below is a list of six excellent paleo diet cookbooks I’ve found and checked out.

Update for 2015

Paleohacks Cook Book (Still the best Paleo cookbook on sale!)

The Paleohacks Cook Book contains over 200 recipes and is a great addition to any kitchen.

paleohacks-banner15

Inside, you’ll not only get 125+ delicious mouthwatering recipes, they’ve also included some great bonuses
as well to help you get started as fast as possible. Like the bonus “Paleo 4x Cookbook” which lists some
great recipes that only require 4 ingredients to keep it as simple for you as possible.

Click here for more information on the Paleohacks Cook Book!

 

Update!

I’ve managed to find an additional three excellent paleo diet focused cookbooks. All three (Robb Wolf has a few) are great for any serious paleo chef’s kitchen, but if I had to choose, I’d take The Paleo Recipe Book… 370 recipes, WOW!

Update 1: The Paleo Recipe Book (Great choice!)

What an amazing cookbook. Each recipe is laid out in great detail and includes all the necessary information you could want to cook the most amazing paleo meals. Upon signup you receive a free meal plan relative to the cookbook and its contents. This was a great find!

Click here for more information on The Paleo Recipe Book

 

 

 

 

Update 2: Paleo Diet Guides from Robb Wolf

If you aren’t familiar with Robb Wolf, you’d better study up quick sharp! Rob Wolff wrote The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet (featured as number 1) on my list below, and has been in countless authoritative interviews about the paleo diet and the primal way of life. He owns a crossfit gym as is as real deal as they come when it comes to paleo. His cookbooks are easy to read, high quality and the recipes are delicious. Check it out!

 

Update 3: Paleo Cookbooks

Don’t let the simple name fool you. Take my word for it, these are great, high quality paleo cookbooks that contain pretty much all you’d need to know when it comes to cooking paleo meals. While I wouldn’t peg the contents of Paleo Cookbooks on the top shelf as far as my recommendations go, the deal they offer has a lot of value. Heaps of free guides along with solid, easy to follow recipes means it’s a winner all round. Check it out!

 

#1  The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet

The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet

Although written by first time author Robb Wolf, The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet is no simple effort. The book is an easy and informative read, focusing on providing all the relevant facts in a conversational tone. Wolf provides information on  exercise, food groups and includes a multitude of recipes to get you cooking paleo in no time! Highly recommended.

 

 

#2  Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Don’t be fooled by the simple design of this book’s front page, inside you’ll be provided with robust information about topics which directly relate to paleo cooking and the paleo diet. How fats are not only required but are beneficial, how low-fat diets are a fad and can cause things like nutrient deficiencies in your body.

This is a great pale diet cookbook if you are specifically interested in how fats are incorporated into paleo. A great learning resource. As much a textbook as it is a cookbook.

#3  Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking for a Gluten-Free Kitchen

Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking for a Gluten-Free Kitchen

This is a great cookbook, it’s the one you’ll probably go to the most as it’s closest to convential cooking as you’ll most likely find. It’s full of recipes that will make your grandmother happy, all while keeping to the paleo cooking paradigm.

There are about 100 odd recipes included in the book, and all of them have something different to offer. If you are looking for comfort soups, stews etc, this is the book to get your hands on. On a side note, this features fantastic photography, and containt gluten free content!

#4  Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat  

Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat

We feed ourselves about 28 times per week

Yup, that’s quite a bit when you think about it. I really like this book. It has a great feel to it. The recipes are designed around those that really love food and just like to eat in general. Meals are quick to prepare and cook, and factor in things like caloric density and GI. This book has a great level of inspiration and really get’s you yearning to get into the kitchen and do some paleo cooking.

#5  Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals: Delicious, Primal-approved meals you can make in under 30 minutes (Primal Blueprint Series)

Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals: Delicious, Primal-approved meals you can make in under 30 minutes (Primal Blueprint Series)

I think Mark Sisson is the business. He is deeply engrained in the paleo movement, and focuses and things like eating to live and the art of play for excercise. If you haven’t read the Primal Blueprint from cover to cover, I suggest you urgently do so.

Mark teaches about eating low carb, caveman style food. This paleo cookbook has great pictures, an excellent layout and is certainly one of the best in existence.

#6  The Primal Blueprint Cookbook: Primal, Low Carb, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free (Primal Blueprint Series)

The Primal Blueprint Cookbook: Primal, Low Carb, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free (Primal Blueprint Series)

More Mark Sisson please!

Don’t underestimate how influential Mark Sisson is in the paleo cooking sphere, while his main contribution to the movement was The Primal Blueprint, his paleo recipe and cooking books are just as full of solid, practical information.

 

 

 

That’s it for our top 6 paleo diet cookbooks, I hope you’ll get some of these and start living paleo and embrace your inner caveman.