Vibram Lontra Review

Here is my review of the Vibram Lontra. Great for cold and wet weather.

First off, let me say that I really like this shoe. Prior to the Lontra, I would typically just head to the treadmill on a cold or wet day.
I don’t like running in many other shoes other than the Fivefingers. Nothing fits my foot as well. I know many people who try the Fivefingers have a hard time going back to any other shoe. This obviously presents problems for those of us who live in northern climates.

Rather than listing the pros and cons of the shoe, I feel that the shoe can be better described on a continuum of trade-offs.

1. The shoe is water resistant, but it is not very breathable. Probably wouldn’t want to wear it in temps above 45 degrees F.

2. Difficult to get on, yet keeps snow and water out. Much more difficult to get on than any other Vibram, but that helps keep stuff out.

3. Lacks flexibility and ground feel of other models, yet protects against rocks and ice. This model has the same sole as the Treksport. It is the beefiest Vibram sole in my opinion and protects the most against rocks.

4. They have made one improvement of the inner lining of the shoe when compared to the Treksport sole. The Treksport has seems running down either side of the shoe that caused some blistering for me. The Lontra on the other hand has one seem running down the middle of the shoe that is unobtrusive and a much better design.

Similar to my dogs winter shoes?
Seem runs down middle of shoe rather than on either side

Add cushioning to Vibram Fivefingers

I have been running in the Vibram Fivefinger Bikilas for about 4 months now. I love them. I feel so light and efficient when running! After a several year break from serious running, I have been getting in shape faster than I expected.

The only problem I have had with the shoes is that even though I slowly worked up my mileage (I am still at only about 15 miles per week as I only run 3 days a week) I was experiencing some Top of Foot Pain and especially painful Morton’s Neuroma near my second metatarsal. The Top of Foot Pain went away in my right foot, but was still present in my left along with the Morton’s Neuroma.
This led me to modify my fivefingers by first stretching the big toe pocket to match the space between my first and second toe. I made a small razor cut between the first and second toe pocket and then stretched them apart almost as hard as I could pull. Surprisingly, it actually stayed that way even after I stopped pulling. I did hear some slight tearing sounds as I did this.
This gave me some relief from the Morton’s Neuroma, but it still hurt, especially on the treadmill. I decided to try putting a metatarsal pad in the Fivefinger Bikilas, but this felt funny. Finally, I went to a shoe repair shop and bought Spenco insole material. This material is about 3 mm thick and can be cut to any shape. It cost me about $10.

Amazingly this worked! My Morton’s Neuroma pain is almost totally gone! I ran a 5k this past weekend in 17:48 with no pain.

Now, some may say that adding  cushioning in my fivefingers defeats the purpose of the shoes. I agree that it does take away some of the ground feel, but there are other reasons that I wear Fivefingers, number one is that they actually feel comfortable on my 3-4E feet, and they allow me to run naturally with a midfoot landing.
I would love to see a Fivefingers model with more cushioning. Now I don’t want a huge heel or anything, but I think a few more millimeters would really improve the running experience especially on gravel roads. Until they do, I guess I will just have to keep adding my own. I have thought about taking my Fivefingers to a cobbler and having them add some rubber to the bottom, but I don’t know how well this would work and don’t want to ruin my shoes.
11/30/2011 Update:
The pain under my second metatarsal has mostly subsided  and I can do most of my runs without added cushioning in my Fivefingers. I did a 17 mile run yesterday at 6:20 pace per mile with only a little pain when finished. Every once in awhile however, the pain comes back. My latest solution has been to take the insole from my Fivefinger Komodosport and insert that into the Bikila. It is much easier to insert this than the the neoprene cushioning I got from the shoe repair store. Also, there were a couple of times when the pain was bad after a long run and I taped a small metatarsal pad to the bottom of the Komodosport insole. This worked great and gave me some extra rock protection.

You can see my updated post here