Hiking Despite Osteoarthritis in Barefoot Shoes

Hiking Despite Osteoarthritis in Barefoot Shoes

I recently got the above photo from Ron. Ron is a 60+ guy who was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in one knee—after some 32 years of running.

What follows is his story about what the doc's had to say about how he should handle the news, and as you might guess, some FiveFingers came into the picture:

I call this my victory photo.

Last year, at age 60, and after 32 years of running, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the left knee. It hurt to walk, let alone, run. My general practitioner doctor suggested minimalist footwear as part of a program that included stretching and strengthening. [Meanwhile, both the] knee specialist and the physical therapist said to back off and use orthotics.

I took my general practitioner's advice.

Well, here I am a year later, relaxing at over 14,000 feet on the top of Mount Bierstadt in the Rocky Mountains. This was just one of several hikes I took during a 6-day vacation. I totalled nearly 35 miles of hiking and every step in my Vibram KSO Treks.

I proved to myself that I wasn't too old to make such a big change after 32 years of walking and running in the most expensive and most cushioned shoes. Of course, I still have osteoarthritis in the knee, but I am back at it, thanks to the therapeutic value stretching, strengthening, and minimalist footwear.

(I go barefoot alot, too!)

Ron A.

Fantastic to hear, Ron! And kudos for following your intuition and having success despite adverse conditions.

Hope you have many more successful hikes!

2013 True Linkswear Shoe Sneak Peak

2013 True Linkswear Shoe Sneak Peak

Fans of the site may know by now about the availability of barefoot/minimal golf shoes. We've highlighted a couple of recent barefoot options from TRUE linkswear (tour and phx) and more recently Vivobarefoot (hybrid). One of the great things about the 2012 release from TRUE linkswear, was that the updated sole, while cleated for golf, still allows you to wear them off the course. If you're a minimalist and a golfer, I have to believe you've already tried out this brand. However, the comfortable fit and minimal feel make these a great option even for non golfers out there looking for another comfortable work or casual minimal shoe option.

I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone about TRUE, because I recently spotted what might be the new 2013 models. I was able to grab some screenshots from a golf channel video, so read on for the screenshots and details.

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Run Free Barefoot Tattoo

Run Free Barefoot Tattoo

I got the photo above from Michael, a reader from Quebec, Canada, who underwent a pretty impressive lifestyle and diet change losing over a hundred pounds of weight over the past couple years. It's fantastic to hear these kinds of stories of people completely changing their lives:

I got a little overweight in the last 10 years in fact I never played any sports except a little baseball when I was young.

In fall of 2010, surrounded by fast food and eating unhealthy, I decided it was time to change. I was fed-up wearing XL tshirts and size 48 jeans! I turned to diet and cut out all fast food, sugar, carbs! I ate only fish, veggies, and white meats!

At the time I was working out in a gym and decided to start running on the treadmill. I always hated to run because it would make my shins burn real bad. Keep in mind I believe I weighed almost 300 lbs (That's kind of large for a guy who is 5'6).

Anyhow I first started running on the treadmill with shoes and slowly week after week I lost weight. My mother works at McGill University — and works with a marathon runner. He trains with the McGill running team, so I asked if he could give me some pointers! He told me he ran barefoot on the track, so I investigated barefoot running and found so much info on the web about barefoot and minimalist running that I decided to give it a try!

[I got my first pair of Bikilas in late 2010 and in] January 2011 I decided to weigh myself for the first time ever! 243 lbs! I continued my hardcore eating regime fueled by Cytomax and protein shakes! Early spring I started clicking in the kilometers outside! All summer I ran, I ran, I ran! Fall came and I ran. I still had my gym pass but who wants to run on a treadmill after running in fresh air? When Winter rolled around I continued my run back in the gym.

[Then] January 1, 2012... 140lbs!

I've tried to run with shoes but it just doesn't work out (I've tried all kinds!).

Five fingers may have saved my life [so] I wanted to get a tattoo that will remind me of the pain sweat and tears it took me to reverse 10 years of damage! Ive been a huge fan of your site and read many articles and out helped me very much in my journey so I decided to permanently put the logo on me! Thanks for all the great reviews and articles!

Way to go, Michael! I think you're owed all the credit for your efforts here — and I'm honored to see the birthdayshoes logo associated with your success.

Thanks for sharing!

Coast to Coast in Minimalist and Toe Shoes

Coast to Coast in Minimalist and Toe Shoes

I got the nice note below from David who recently went coast to coast with his girlfriend — both in their minimalist footwear (Vivos and Vibrams). David's a long-time reader but first time submitter and I wanted to share his photo above and his note:

Hi Justin,

I've been reading Birthday Shoes for a few years now. I first came across it while I was working at a local REI. I saw a pair of Vibrams for the first time and started doing some research - three years later I still check in to see new reviews, personal stories and of course...find killer deals. (I think I'll be indulging in a little Labor Day special).

About two months ago you had a link to a sale on Bikila's. At the time I had one pair of VFFs - KomodoSports that were wearing out quickly - so I picked up a pair of Bikila's for under $50! And a couple weeks later you were advertising a Vivo Barefoot sale on LLS - I got myself a pair of the Aqua Lite's (which are great) and a pair of Evo's for my girlfriend (her first minimalist-minded shoe) in preparation for our journey across the US (New Jersey to California). The Aqua Lite's were supposed to be my road trip shoes but once we hit the red rock deserts in Utah, I threw on my Bikila's because I didn't want to trash my new Vivo's.

We managed to snap a couple of pictures in our new kicks as a way to say thanks for sharing these great shoes with us.


Thanks, David! I'm happy to hear the site has been steering you in the right direction (and saving some moola in the process).

For anyone else who wants to stay on top of deals — you could do a lot worse than the Labor Day sales going on right now and consider becoming an email subscriber for more sales as they come along.

If you have a story or cool photo you'd like to see on the blog here, please drop me a line!

Labor Day Minimalist/Barefoot Sales

Labor Day Minimalist/Barefoot Sales

Updated 9/1/2012: See below!

Labor Day is coming up this Monday, September 3, 2012, for those of us in the U.S. Labor Day weekend means a few things:

  • The end of Summer and the advent of Fall
  • The start of the American football season! (Go dawgs!)
  • Perhaps most importantly, a day off of work.
  • And last but not least, big sales — well that's the idea, anyway.

What follows are some of the deals you can get right now on Vibram FiveFingers (some up to 50% off) and Inov-8s. As the week progresses, expect to see this post grow in size. For sake of ease regarding where the deals are going down, I'll be organizing the sales by retailer and then product, so expect to surf/shop around!


Everyone's favorite huge outdoor retailer has a few big sales going on. Check it out:

Vibram FiveFingers — it's clearance time for select FiveFingers! Check out their VFF sale here. REI is offering select Vibram models/colorways for as low as $40 (Men's Sprints at 50% off).

The deal that's really worth noticing is on the soon-to-be-history leather KSO Treks — they're $86.93 in the classic brown kangaroo leather. That's 30% off (MSRP is $125). Even with the release of the Spyridons, which have a great sole for trails, I'm still a bigger fan of the KSO Treks — note that Vibram is still making Trek Sports, but they have a fabric upper that just doesn't hold up as well as leather.

REI also has the Teva Zilch sandals for $30 (62% off the MSRP of $80 - find the men's here and the women's here). If you've wanted a more minimalist sandal like a Teva or Chaco, outside of huaraches, there haven't been a ton of options. The Zilch is one of the few.

U.S. Elite Gear

U.S. Elite Gear is offering 50% off their entire stock of Vibram FiveFingers with free shipping! It's pretty simple: you just use our exclusive coupon — BIRTHDAYSHOES — at checkout and the discount will be applied. Check out what they've got here — KomodoSports, KSOs, Bikila LS, TrekSports all $42.50 to $50 shipped free after the discount.

LeftLane Sports

LeftLane Sports presently has various Inov-8 minimalist shoes at up to 55% off. We've not covered Inov-8 nearly enough on this site (hoping to change that), but they've been making minimalist-minded footwear for a long while now and have been a favorite shoe of bdayshoes ultrarunner Rob's for years. They're also mighty popular in the CrossFit crowd.

The way to get the Left Lane hook-up — if you're not already a member — is to use my invite to sign-up. This will give you $10 of credit to put towards your first order over $50. The Inov-8s you're likely to be most interested in can be found here. They include the Bare-X Lite 150s for $$67.45 or the Inov-8 F-Lite 195s for $69.95. Not bad, eh?

LeftLane is also hosting an Altra Running sale — it's here. You can get Altra Instincts for close to $50 and Adams and Eves for $43! That's close to a 50% discount!

Travel Country

Travel Country

Travel Country continues to have a slew of Vibram FiveFingers on closeout, with some seriously awesome deals.

Here is just a sample. For the men, you have a chance to get the devil-red "KSO Remix" for a mere $40 (53% off). Or if you're up for a Fall-friendly, Halloween ready colorway, you can pick up black and orange KSOs for $50 (41% off). Meanwhile, women can grab the "Hawaiian Ocean" (blue) and grey Sprints for $36 (55% off). Oh and if you were wanting some men's black Classic FiveFingers, you can get them for $40 (47% off). All orders over $49 ship free. Get'em while they last.


Vibram USA is offering select FiveFingers off of their website at 40% off with Free Shipping up until 9/4! You can see what's included in the image above but what most piques my interest are the men's Trek LS in brown for $84. These puppies are being discontinued and most online retailers no longer have any in stock (seems to me anyway — and those that do want $140 for them).

But women can hook up Jaya LRs ($60), Sprints ($48), and Classics ($45) at very reasonable prices, too — particularly considering you get free shipping on the deal. Not bad! Hook it up while it lasts!


There may be more sales coming down the pipeline. I'll be sure to update this post and if you want to keep up with big sales, consider subscribing to BirthdayShoes by email (it's free, private, and only get notified once a week about new posts on the blog here with the occasional extra email on new products or big sales like this!).

  • Updated 9/1 with VibramFiveFingers.com sale

Stay tuned!

Ironman NYC (Vibram SeeYa) Race Report

Sign at the Welcome Banquet—don’t ask me what the extra digit is for!
Sign at the Welcome Banquet—don’t ask me what the extra digit is for!

I recently had the opportunity to race the inaugural Ironman New York City triathlon. I ran the marathon portion in Vibram SeeYas, which have easily become my go-to FiveFinger model for running. Overall the race went very well and I hit all of my goals:

  • Simply finish the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 run
  • Come in with a time of 12:XX hours
  • Beat a few friend’s previous times
  • Hit my “reach goal” of finishing in a time of 11:XX hours

Read on to see how I fared!

Read the rest of this post »

Impromptu Luna ATS Sandals Repair

Impromptu Luna ATS Sandals Repair

Some of you may be familiar with "Barefoot Jake." He's a minimalist hiker based out of Washington who routinely goes off the grid.

Recently, Jake was out hiking in Luna Sandals (with the ATS lace) when disaster struck and one of the laces snapped. Luna ATS-style sandals (and many other Lunas) have evolved the classic huaraches design in various clever ways making for a more refined sandal.

That said, one of the benefits of a simpler huaraches design is that when the under-toe knot breaks, you just pull through more string, re-tie the knot and you're done. It's not so simple with Lunas, so when Jake saw his predicament at foot, he had to get clever with some paracord.

Here's his account:

The last two years I've been backpacking in my Luna Sandals more often. My hikes take me across a lot of mud and I often hike in the rain so my footwear is subjected to a lot of abuse. So far this year I've put about 600 hiking miles on my feet and of that maybe 100-200 were while wearing my Lunas (The rest with SeeYa FiveFingers).

Meanwhile, I wore the Lunas as my "Urban Footwear" all winter to train my feet for the cold — probably racking up another 100-200 miles in them.

Unfortunately, during my last trip to the Olympic National Park, the left huarache lace on my Lunas broke right where lace goes in between my two biggest toes. Not wanting to stop hiking in them and due to the fact I was a long way from home, I decided to do a little impromptu repair job using some at-hand materials — namely, parachord.

I thought of how I had seen a facebook friend use paracord to attach the laces to the soles. With a brief look at the buckle I figured out a way to tie the cord to the laces, reusing the Luna's recessed 'button' and was able to keep my Lunas functional for the rest of my hike.

After a day with the repair; liked it so much. I cut the other one off to match.

And here's Jake's handiwork:

Way to think on your feet, Jake! I'm sure the Luna monkeys appreciate seeing some on-the-spot huaraches ingenuity at play!

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