We love getting stories and photos from BirthdayShoes readers. The following post came in from Jeremy who is a Vibram Five Fingers fan in Dubai. If you would like to send us your photos and a brief story that goes along with them, here is a guide on just how to do it! Now here's Jeremy's story:
I am a big fan of your website. May it continue to gain in popularity and may you have many more hits. I live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and have been living here for 3 years.
My journey started in July 2010 when I decided to join my girlfriend in Spain for the Camino de Santiago in September. I spent July and August walking (35-45 degrees C) for not longer than 30 minutes, swimming or doing some light weight lifting. Nothing to strenous. I must mention that I was still a smoker at the time and was not a runner, let alone a barefoot runner.
The Camino was excellent spiritually and it was a time where one can see the goodness of mankind every day. Physically though, it was a short 11 days (250km plus), and was good training for the training program I had planned when I got back to the sandpit, as we like to call it here. I got a couch to 5k running plan. I was also given the audiobook of Born to Run, so I quickly ordered my KSOs which arrived 2 weeks later, which is about the same time I cut out a large chunk of the training program, shortening it to about 5 weeks from the suggested 8 weeks, alternating use of my KSOs with my regular Nike Vomero (which was itself only 3 months old).
In November I gave up on my Vomeros after running into mud with sore thighs, which then saw me come to a screeching halt; it seemed almost as if the mud grabbed my shoes and pulled me back. I dont know if the moisture or the weight stopped me, but was so annoyed I threw off my Vomeros when I got home, and to this day, it is still there in my cupboard in the same condition it was that day back in November. I have since improved my speed and ensurance steadily and stopped smoking. I only train in my KSOs, Bikilas or completely barefoot now, some 5 months after starting my training. Also keep in mind that the last time I saw an athletics track was when I was 13! (I am now 28)
As Barefoot Ted encourages us, I was really just doing it for the fun and experience of it and had no idea of speeds or times. That was before I went to the track and took my stopwatch out. I then bought a Garmin Forerunner in early January, which really began to show me what I was doing speed wise and what my heart rate was doing.
On 21 January 2011, I ran my first race, a 10km, an admittedly slow 57 minutes due to a poor decision to lift some weights 3 days before the race... I used my Bikilas for the race. I did however love the experience of the race. I also met a French couple who had never seen VFFs before and asked where they could get it. It still isn't available in the UAE.
I also enjoy watching other runner's total disbelief when they either see my VFFs or totally barefoot when training; like the MasterCard advertisement, the look is priceless!
The biggest breakthrough was how a 90kg couch potato with plantar fasciitis (due to a lack of physical activity) can become a 78kg half marathon runner in under 8 months, with no injuries.
The reason why I love my VFFs is that I feel so free in them; the KSOs are light and less conspicuous and get more of a foot massage feeling in my KSO. The KSOs also feel more ancored to my foot and actually seem more like an extension of my body rather than and add-on. My KSOs have zero quality defects. My Bikilas sometimes seem more rigid and give less feel than the KSOs. I also sometimes get the feeling the Bikilas are going to slip off when I run in them-it's almost like I have to trust they won't come off and hit someone in the head! Given the posture I run with , that is a possibility, but thankfully has not happened yet. I also had some minor quality issues where 3 of the toe pods had come apart when it joined the sole; this was fixed with clear contact adhesive. Really minor and not worth doing anything about it.
Future plans: Sub 30 min 10km, sub 3h Dubai Marathon 2012, Finish Comrades 2012.
Future Birthday Shoes: Terra Plana Ultra, Altra Adam
I will send stories of my future experiences and product testing soon.
Thanks for sending us your inspiring story Jeremy.