Have you ever packed your bags and arrived at the gym only to find you forgot something? I have found myself in this interesting predicament a few times. Usually it’s been a forgotten water bottle or lock for a gym locker. However, one time the item I forgot was pretty important – my shoes. On this particular day I ended up running on a treadmill with Vibram FiveFingers.
I had planned on running that day on the treadmill. I had my street shoes but ever since I started running I’ve become pretty particular about footwear. I have running shoes and I only run in them – I don’t take long walks in them or use them while I lift weights.
Treadmill with Vibram FiveFingers
How I Forgot My Running Shoes
Let’s rewind to the backstory on I forgot my running shoes. My husband and I had planned on attending a group run that evening after work. It turned out to be a high of only 60 degrees and it was raining all day. We agreed an outdoor run w was not going to be in the cards. I’ve run in the rain before but usually not by choice.
For the outdoor run I had packed a Nike singlet to run in and my Vibram FiveFingers as shoes. At this time I had been running barefoot in the shoes for several months and was used to running outside in Vibram shoes.
Because of the rain we ended up at the gym. Before that day, I had never tried running on a treadmill with Vibram FiveFingers.
What are Vibram FiveFingers?
Vibram FiveFingers are barefoot running shoes, also known as 5 toe shoes. They were very popular when they first came out a few years ago. Today they are mostly popular among runners and natural living enthusiasts.
The barefoot running obsession has run it’s course for many. I haven’t worn my shoes in sometime but I refuse to get rid of them. For a full review on barefoot running shoes, check out my Vibram FiveFingers Sprint Review.
Can You Run in Vibram FiveFingers?
The other popular question about these shoes is can you run in them? Yes! I documented my entire barefoot running journey on this blog. I started running short distances in the shoes and built my way up to running three to four miles at a time.
I ran several 5K races in the barefoot shoes including the Lakewood Summer Meltdown 5K and the Anthony Wayne Rotary 5K. For more information on barefoot running check out my dangers of barefoot running post.
Are These Good Treadmill Shoes?
This brings me back to what happened that day at the gym with treadmill shoes. I ran on a treadmill in VibramFiveFingers. I wasn’t sure if I should run in the toe shoes on a treadmill or what would happen. The conclusion? I think it’s OK to do. I ran three miles around a 12:00/mile pace.
Then during the last mile I picked it up big time, increasing my speed until I was running the last 1/4 mile around 8:30/mile, which is fast for me as I’ve always been a slower runner.
Overall, it was the best run I could remember in recent weeks. When I got off the treadmill I immediately looked at my shoes. While they didn’t feel any different, I was concerned about the sole.
How Long do Vibram FiveFingers Last?
My concern was over the shoes having a rubber sole and the treadmill having a rubber belt. Would that be a bad combination for treadmill shoes? I noticed right away the tread is worn down on my Five Fingers Vibram. But here’s the catch. I think they were already worn down.
How to Clean Vibrams
Because the shoes were wet on the bottom when I started running it looked like the treadmill basically cleaned the shoes off. Long-term running on a treadmill with Vibram FiveFingers could wear down the shoes but I don’t think the wear would be any harder than running on pavement.
If you are wondering how to clean Vibrams I have done so by putting them in a bucket of cold water with a mild laundry detergent. Wash by hand if you want to know how to clean Vibrams and then let them air dry completely.
Should You Run Barefoot on a Treadmill?
If you don’t have barefoot running shoes, should you run barefoot on a treadmill? Personally, I would advise not to unless it’s your own personal treadmill in your home. When it comes to gym treadmills people are walking in wearing street shoes and you never know what kind of dirt, grime or bacteria could be brought in.
Most good gyms do clean their equipment and treadmill belts periodically but I would not risk it. Running on a treadmill with Vibram FiveFingers is a great alternative for anyone who enjoys barefoot running but wants to protect their feet indoors.
Treadmill with Vibram FiveFingers
Just like any pair of running shoes, it’s typical to put 300 to 500 miles on a pair of running shoes before they require replacement. It’s normal for the shoe to wear out and the tread to wear down. The Vibram FiveFingers are no different, whether you are running in them outdoors or indoors on a treadmill.
The Five Fingers I have retail for about $80. Some versions are higher. I’ve paid upwards of $120 for a pair of running shoes before but it’s important for me to take care of my feet, joints and overall health through proper footwear.
What item have you forgotten to pack for the gym?
*This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.