User Stories

Couch to Half Marathon in 8 Months wearing Vibram Five Fingers

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…

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:

Hi BirthdayShoes,

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.

By Britt

Hailing from College Station, Texas (Home to Texas A&M!), I grew up running cross country. Believe it or not, I gave Justin the name for this site back in early 2009 but I didn't jump on the toe shoes bandwagon until a year later. I am also really into quadcopters and drones and have a blog called

2 replies on “Couch to Half Marathon in 8 Months wearing Vibram Five Fingers”

Great job! Always happy to hear stories of how folks have changed their lives through exercise (especially running). Those are some lofty future goals! Good luck! You should give some other minimalist footwear a chance as well. Just because one specific shoe disagreed with you is no reason to abandon all shoes. They definitely have their place, especially if you want to run fast and over very rugged terrain. VFFs are an awesome training tool for me, but racing and being competitive they are too slow… I too want to run Comrades some day.

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