What Vibram 5 Fingers Did To This Olympic Champion Will Piss You Off

Vibram Rips Off Barefoot Olympic Champion's Family.
Vibram Rips Off Barefoot Olympic Champion’s Family.

It’s September 10, 1960 and Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, is leading the pack in the Olympic Marathon in Rome, Italy. Morocco’s Abdesian Rhadi is chasing closely behind, but Rhadi can’t catch the remarkably fast barefoot Ethopian, who finishes in about 2 hours, 15 minutes, taking the gold and shattering the Olympic marathon record by almost eight minutes.

Bikila wasn’t even supposed to race that hot day in September-he was a last minute addition to the Ethiopian team when their star runner got sick.

Despite Bikilia’s amazing victory, his story doesn’t end happily. In 1969 a terrible crash leaves him paralyzed; when asked about the accident, he says:

“Men of success meet with tragedy. It was the will of God that I won the Olympics, and it was the will of God that I met with my accident. I accepted those victories as I accept this tragedy.”

He dies of complications, just a few years later.

There is no doubt that Bikili is a champion in every way. He epitomizes determination and the runner’s spirit.  In 2010, on the heels of the barefoot running craze, Vibram Five Fingers decides to make the barefoot olympian the poster child for minimalist running, introducing the Bikili line of five finger running shoes, trademarking the Bikili name to protect their golden goose. There’s just one problem: Bikila’s family never gives Vibram permission to use Bikili’s name in any way shape or form. When the family discovers that Bikili’s name is being used without permission, they sue Vibram in U.S. District Court, seeking monetary damages.

Unfortunately, Judge Ronald Leighton dismisses the case, leaving the family out in the cold.  The lawyer for Bikili’s family writes, “The fact remains that Vibram has never asked the Bikila Family for permission, nor compensated them for using Abebe Bikila’s personality….We hope that the parties can ultimately resolve their differences and the Bikila family can continue to promote the legacy of Abebe Bikila.”

Is this really what Vibram wants to be remembered for? Stealing an olympic champion’s legacy.

Boring Marathon Training Day Three (3)


I remember hesitating before clicking the order button. I didn’t know it then, but this was the moment that would change everything, the very thing that would force me to write a yet another shameless product plug—-> Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor. That’s the heart rate monitor I ordered from Amazon last week. I’m happy to report that it arrived today! After removing it from the box, I went straight to Polar’s Website, watched the get started video and set up the shiny new mirror of my heart. The controls are fairly intuitive. Once it was squared away, I tore off my shirt, poured cold water over the contact points of the monitor and strapped it on.  Then I sauntered without shoes through the simmering country streets.

It was fun to watch my heart rate rise and fall as I strode barefoot around the neighborhood. I was surprised to discover how often I misjudged my heart-rate. For example, I like to do handstands throughout the day. Not only do the handstands relieve the gravitation pressure on my spine, but they also round my shoulders and make me feel young. I assumed that the handstands would jack-up my heart rate significantly. I was wrong. They did not!!! In fact, a handstand only raised my heart rate by a few beats. Whereas a super easy jog across the flat street raised my heart rate by almost ten beats.

I couldn’t figure out why my handstands didn’t raise my heart-rate. As I said, I really felt like I was expending more effort doing them. Then I realized that strength is separate from cardio. To really prove that strength is not cardio, I did twenty push-ups. My heart rate only climbed up two beats. The effort I felt doing the push-ups was significant. Then I marched in place for twenty seconds, my heart rate increased by ten beats. I did NOT feel that I was expending as much effort marching in place as I did when I was doing the push-ups. Strength training really and truly doesn’t do much for your heart. I knew that, but I didn’t KNOW it until I saw it my silver display.

But the big eye opener for me was realizing how much faster my heart beats when I’m standing as opposed to sitting. Seated it beats around 44 bpm, standing it jumps to 60 bpm. Guess which position burns more calories?

Incidentally, in addition to my easy one hour walk and heart-rate experiments, I did Week One of Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 Workout. Technically Jillian’s Program is not entirely strength training because it has some short cardio intervals, I am not, however, concerned. It’s my wife’s DVD and it does have weightlifting segments, so I’m using it for all of my strength training days.

I didn’t think I would like wearing my heart on my wrist, but it’s really enjoyable. Tomorrow, I’ll be  running uphill at top speed for 90 second intervals. See you then.

Boring Marathon Training Day #1

Right foot barefoot sandals.
Right foot barefoot sandals.

I didn’t at all expect this. Typically, I don’t care about Vo2 Max, Yasso 800s, negative splits, or any other speed based racing lingo.  I ignore competition because I just like to run.  Instead of focusing on speed or competition, I customarily look to weekly mileage. For me, running is about spinning the earth steadily and rhythmically in quiet solitude. It’s not about gagging or choking on my own breath.

I can’t say why I’ve decided to change my routine. Maybe I’m just bored, or maybe I just want to punish myself for working somewhat steady hours. Whatever the reason, in order to slice open the belly of my performance and dissect it like a frog, I bought a heart monitor and a wrist GPS gizmo.

This morning, before work, I tracked my first marathon training run with my Garmen wrist GPS. Incidentally, today, the last Sabbath of June, marks the very first day of my Boring Marathon Training Program. Appropriately, Sundays are my marathon training rest days, which means that I’m supposed to do Yoga or Pilates instead of pounding my toes and bones on the stoney streets. Why did I run on a rest day? Good question. It was symbolic, more importantly it raised my weekly mileage to 25 miles.

When my heart rate monitor arrives Tuesday, I’ll sync it with my GPS wristband. I must admit that I feel a little guilty using a heart rate monitor and a GPS device to inspect my runs. The use of electric technology seems so un-barefoot like. That said, I know that the Barefoot Deities don’t mind, for they approve of  all knowledge that maketh a man swift and sturdy.

This ends my first day of marathon training–2 miles, it wasn’t much. Even so, I’ll continue to post my training each day. Come back tomorrow.

 

How Bigfoot Made Me Run a Boring Marathon

Awesome laser cut Huckleberry Half Marathon Bigfoot medal
Awesome laser cut Huckleberry Half Marathon Bigfoot medal

I usually don’t like organized running races. Mostly because I consider running to be a solitary sport. I always run alone. This year, however, I’m making an exception for I am entering two races. The first is the Welches Huckleberry Half in August. This looks like a super fun race because Bigfoot will be there! And every finisher gets a fancy laser-cut medal!

Boring Oregon where I'll run 26.2 miles barefoot.
Boring Oregon where I’ll run 26.2 miles barefoot.

The other race I’m running this year is the fantastically obscure Boring Marathon. Why the Boring Oregon Marathon and not the World Famous Portland Oregon Marathon? First of all, Portland is forty five minutes away from me, Boring is only fifteen minutes away. Second, Boring is a fun place to run. One racer from Boring wrote: “I was out running in the area the other day and a goat from a local farm came out and ran with me for about half a mile.” How could any barefoot runner resist that? I drive through Boring Oregon every Sunday on my way to work. It’s a cute and quirky town with lots of open space farms and fields. There’s children’s theater house that also hosts terrible local events. One time they held a “Craft Fair.” Aside from a few homemade candies that didn’t smell fresh and some handmade cards that didn’t look original, there were no crafts to speak of. At one of the booths a homeless looking woman spread out all of the junk from her shopping cart: hubcaps, filthy plates with cracks and chips, a broken blender with rusty mixer blades, torn dresses with weird stains, smelly sneakers with holes in them, and other unusable, unsalable items.

But this post isn’t about homeless women at craft fairs. It’s about joining the running community, shod and unshod alike. As I train my powerful feet for the upcoming races, I will do my best to pretend that this is actually a blog about barefoot running and will post my training updates daily.

BTW, I’m shooting for a modest 3 hour 45 min.ish finish for the marathon (as long as I break four hours, I’ll be happy). I don’t have a target time for the Hucklberry Half Marathon. I’m running that one solely for the Bigfoot medal–every finisher gets one.