User Stories

Birthday Shoes Interview with Vibram Five Fingers fan and runner Matthew Fleming

BirthdayShoes interviews Vibram Five Fingers fan (Sprint model) Matthew Fleming about running 50K races in his Vibrams.

Name: Matthew Fleming
Birthday: 1975
Age: 33
Regular shoe size: 13EEE or so
VFF shoe size: EU46
Feet are: wide

What prompted you to get Vibram Five Fingers?

I had regular Achilles tendinitis from running shoes, and rather than adding even more heel (as was sometimes suggested) I thought I’d try less heel. Plus I don’t think I ever really liked shoes, but I didn’t realize until I read Barefoot Ted (BFT) and his adventures with huaraches on the ULTRA list.

What type and color Five Fingers do you have and how long have you had them?

I have a pair of white Classics (worn through, about 3 years old?), grey Sprint (same age but less worn). I just got a pair or blue camo KSO but the footbed feels a little longer; I may try one size smaller but my guess is that will be a little short.

What do you do most while wearing your Five Fingers?

Running. That’s really it.

Any unusual experiences while wearing them?

Nothing unusual. They’re a remarkable shoe — that is, many other runners see them and remark on them. Some people now recognize them, instead of just being curious.

How do Five Fingers fit in with who you are as a person?

They’re an application of technology to solve a problem (barefoot isn’t perfect always) in a way that’s very different from existing solutions (bulky shoes). This is always my kind of product.

Anything else you’d like to share about your Five Fingers?

Can’t think of anything. I’ve run two marathons and two 50Ks in them now. I do all my training runs in them (though that’s a lot less running than I did a few years ago due to small children). Someday in the next year or so I expect to be trying a 50 miler in them.

Follow-up question: You mention that you “had Achilles tendinitis.” Has this condition improved since switching to FiveFingers and/or incorporating barefoot running? Have you developed any problems that you can tie to using FiveFingers for running?

The Achilles tendinitis is mostly gone. I did once or twice get small tightness, so perhaps for me the perfect place is somewhere between the completely flat and the normal 1″ heel.

I have had a few problems with extensor tendinitis instead and with the tendon on the inside of my right foot. Now that I’m running more rarely the problems are gone, but I expect if I get back to 30+ miles per week I’ll need to do no more than 20 of them in the Vibrams.

Thank you, Matthew!

Matthew’s LJ Thoughts of a meat popsicle keeps up with his running escapades (For example, a 31 question runner’s survey) and other musings about life. Be sure to check it out!

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

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