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!

Running in Huaraches at the TravelCountry.Com Barefoot Fun Run

Running in Huaraches at the TravelCountry.Com Barefoot Fun Run

Last Saturday, online retailer of Vibram Five Fingers, TravelCountry.com sponsored their first annual Barefoot Fun Run in Altamonte Springs, FL. The proceeds from the event went to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, Florida.

James, who runs in huaraches, attended and sent us this report and the pictures above.

I had a wonderful time at the Barefoot Fun Run today at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The event was kicked off with an informative barefoot running clinic by Michael Sander, author of Barefoot Running. It was a pleasure to run alongside Michael for the first half-mile while he gave me some excellent advice on form.

What a treat it was to see so many (over a hundred) in minimalist shoes or no shoes at all. I ran in my Xero Shoes in my first ever 5k organized run, and I look forward to next year with my wife Tonya joining me -- she is just beginning her barefoot transition.

Thanks for passing this along James. Sounds like it was a fun event. Nice tying on the huaraches!

First Marathon in Vibram Five Fingers KSOs

Chris in his KSOs
Chris at the 22.5 mile mark and after he finished.

After doing no marathon training, Chris recently ran his first marathon in Vibram Five Fingers KSOs and finished with a darn good time. You may remember Chris from when he ran the Baltimore Half Marathon with Bien. Here's what he sent us about running the marathon:

Recently, I ran and completed my first marathon. I only signed up a few weeks before the race in a moment of insanity, but it actually went pretty well. I've done two half marathons and a 10-mile race in the past few years, but I have not done any running specific training in 12 months and I've been doing Crossfit Strength Bias (CFSB) since December 2009. I did a few 5-6 mile runs to prepare for my 10 miler last April, but since then I have only done two 3 mile runs and one 4 mile run, in addition to occasional 400m, 800m, or short sprint work in keeping with the CFSB metcon standards.

Clearly, I had not done any specific training for the marathon whatsoever. I finished in 4:26 which isn't setting any records, but is great for my level of prep. I ran in my VFFs and only took in water and my own coconut water based iskiate recipe on course, as well as two Larabars and some salt packets. Pre and post race food was all paleo as well, except for one scoop of whey in my pre-race shake.

One week later I was pretty much fully recovered. My left hip flexor was quite sore for the first 24 hours, but it's back to normal now. Feet had a couple blisters, but did not hurt after the first couple hours. The only remaining issue is some soreness at the bottom of my left Achilles where it attaches to my heel. I felt that start to get aggravated during some of the final hills but it's almost totally better now. I can tell that my strength is not back 100%, but I was back in the weight room by the following week.

If anyone would like more details on my nutrition strategy or race details please just let me know.

What a great showing! While we certainly warn against anyone trying this, it is an amazing feat. Congratulations, Chris!

Smartwool Classic Vibram FiveFingers Review

Smartwool Classic Vibram FiveFingers Review

A couple months back Birthday Shoes sponsor Travel Country sent me a pair of Vibram FiveFingers Smartwool Classics to test and review. As I've previously blogged, Classic FiveFingers are my favorite everyday toe shoes as they are the most minimal VFFs you can get, and if you remove the bungee strap on the Classic Vibrams the comfort factor goes up exponentially. Indeed, my first pair of Five Fingers (oh so many moons ago!) were generation one Classics (no Vibram logo on top), and my review of them has been read over 233,000 times!

Below I'll talk about where Smartwool FiveFingers Classics stand amongst other models, how they fit, what the deal is with Smartwool, how they perform, detailed photos of what they look like,and whether or not "Smartwool Classics" are right for you.

Read the rest of this post »

Cross Country Runner has Successful Season in Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks

James in his KSO Treks
James running Cross Country in his Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks

Dave, a FiveFingers runner who penned This is Not a Fad: You can Run Pain Free, sent us the following story about his son James who runs Cross Country in Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks:

My son just concluded his junior season of varsity Cross Country for Halls High School in Knoxville, TN. He decided, without fanfare, to run all of the meets in his VFF Treks. He has seen me, along with his brother and his sister-in-law, convert from traditional running shoes to VFFs. James, however, is not a “trend follower”. Just “because other people do it” is more likely to be a reason for him to go the other way, especially where parents are involved! So there was no consultation, no searching of Dan Lieberman’s data for a scientific basis of injury avoidance…all I knew was he showed up for the first meet in his Treks.

James has been a distance runner for his school’s track or CC teams for over 5 years. He has completed one full marathon and is a natural fore/mid-foot runner who previously had worn track spikes in his cross country meets, even while most others wore running shoes. Even so, he had fought through shin splints and sore knees from time to time during past seasons.

For the 2010 varsity CC season, he ran all 8 meets in the season in his VFF Treks, posting a couple of Personal Records (PRs) along the way, and always finishing in the top 5 of his school team. What has been the outcome, you may ask? A County championship, maybe? A first place finish? No, regrettably there is no such happy story towards which to point, or to lay the success at the feet of his VFFs. On the other hand, unlike prior seasons, James had no injury issues all year. For me, this is the most significant outcome and educational point that can be made. Most of us on this site just want to finish, and finish well, when we undertake an event in our VFFs, whether the event is a 5K, 10K, a CrossFit WOD, or even a marathon. We want to be injury free and the fact that he put in as many miles this year virtually injury-free, at least in my opinion, is the biggest success imaginable.

Thanks for sending us your son's story Dave! Glad to hear James had a great year of healthy running and good luck during track season.

New 5K PR in Five Fingers Bikilas

Matt in his Bikilas
Matt running in his Bikilas at the Houston, TX Great Pumpkin Fun Run (5K)

Matt has a nice collection of Vibram Five Fingers that he has been wearing for quite a while. He sent us this note on how they have been working for him:

Just wanted to share a quick story since I finally have a good picture with my VFFs. I wear my KSOs for CrossFit, my Bikilas for running, and my Treks for trail running. I made the switch to VFFs about two years ago and have never looked back. I ran the 2010 Houston Marathon in my KSOs and will be running it again in January in my Bikilas.

October 30th, I signed up for a 5K to see how fast I could finish. I finished in a personal best 22:46. I love running in the Bikilas after years of fighting blisters in regular running shoes, I am still waiting on my first one to appear from my Five Fingers. I have a 25K trail run on November 6th, so the Bikilas will get the weekend off. Keep up the good work on the site.


Thanks for story and glad to hear you are having such great success with your Five Fingers!

In an interesting "it's a small world" side note, I happened to run in the same 25K trail run that Matt did this past Saturday. In fact, he passed me at about the 4 mile mark. I noticed he was wearing Five Fingers and we talked a little bit about them until I realized I couldn't match his pace. He was running strong but relaxed and had a great forefoot strike stride. This will all be news to Matt, since I never mentioned BirthdayShoes. Ha. Small world.

I ran the 20th Annual Rocky Raccoon 25K Trail Run in my recently reviewed New Balance MT101s. It was my first trail race. Here is the race report that I posted at Daily Mile. For Houston area runners who are interested in trail running, the Hog's Hunt 50k/25k is planned for April. Sam Houston State Park is a beautiful place to run.

The Bahrain Relay Marathon in Vibram Five Fingers Speeds

Rusty in his Speeds
Rusty running in the Bahrain Marathon Relay in his Vibram Five Fingers Speeds.

Rusty was lucky enough to score some Vibram Five Fingers Speeds while in Germany. He is now in Bahrain and sent us this story:

On October 29th, 2010 our team of 16 from ISA Fire Dept ran in the Bahrain Relay Marathon. I'm deployed to Bahrain. Our team got 32nd out 164 teams. Our team was made up of 16 Firefighters at ISA Air Base. The Speeds did awesome. I love them. I've been using them for the last 5 months here at my deployment everyday for running and working out. Pretty much everywhere I go when people see them they want to know what they are and how I like them. And to tell you the truth, I love them so much because they are the Europe edition and no one has them and they draw a lot of attention due to the fact they have laces! I feel so lucky to have been stationed in Germany at the time they came out. And when I get back to Germany, I will buy another pair of them if I can get a hold of them.

Thanks for the story Rusty! Now if we can just convince Vibram to sell Speeds in the U.S.