User Stories

From Skeptic, to Barefoot Runner, to a Collector of Vibram Five Fingers

Lindsey started out as a skeptic, but like so many of us, ended up with a closet full of Vibram Five Fingers. Now she not only runs in them, but wears them everywhere. Here is her story:I first heard about VFFs in the fall of 2009, and while I was…

Lindsey started out as a skeptic, but like so many of us, ended up with a closet full of Vibram Five Fingers. Now she not only runs in them, but wears them everywhere. Here’s what Lindsey had to say:

I first heard about VFFs in the fall of 2009, and while I was initially very skeptical of barefoot and minimalist running (translation: I thought it was CRAZY), I decided to give it a try. I am joining the military this fall, and as a result I need to be comfortable with regular running. I am a novice runner, and had struggled for the better part of a year with starting a running program (in conventional running shoes), but never got far along due to shin splints. After researching barefoot and minimalist running techniques, it made sense to me and I bought my first pair of VFFs (KSOs). I started slowly by running on grass and quickly discovered that running didn’t have to hurt. Like a great number of people new to VFF running, I over did it and spent a fair amount of time resting minor injuries from overuse or improper form. But I educated myself further on technique, tried to play around barefoot a bit to improve my form, and listened to my feet. I’m now on track with my running, enjoy it, and attribute my success to learning to run properly thanks to barefoot and VFF running.

I’m now running about three miles, four times a week in my Sprints, and starting to implement speed work and long runs into my training program. Even on my vacation in New England, I found the motivation and desire (key word!) to go out and run a couple of miles every other day on the local track. The VFFs help me actually want to go out and run, and have fun. My VFF use initially started for running only, but I now wear them whenever I can. I now have five pairs of FiveFingers: two pairs KSOs, two pairs of Sprints (my favorite!), and one pair of Bikilas I will be using for running on asphalt and other harder surfaces. Unfortunately I can’t take the VFFs with me to train in this fall, but until then I will use them to improve myself as a runner, and I look forward to returning to them next spring. I currently plan on using the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 for my military training. Nothing can beat the Sprints though!

Speaking of New England, I took several pairs of my VFFs with me. I enjoyed some light hiking and exploring, and taking the Sprints to the rocky Maine Coast was a blast! They’re just as good climbing around on rocks as they are on the track.

I get a lot of questions and comments about my funny looking shoes, and I do my best to tell people about them. I am always excited to see new people at the gym with VFFs. Vibram really has a unique and useful product, one that has made a wonderful impact on my life and has helped me enjoy running – something that will be a regular and important part of my new career. I’ve always been a very athletic person; I used to be a professional horse trainer, and I play competitive ice hockey. But running has never been a big part of my life until now. I hope the success continues so long as I take it slow and consistently. To those struggling to run in conventional running shoe contraptions: consider the Vibram barefoot alternative! They worked for me. I definitely suggest spending some time running truly barefoot first though, as it will help your form and prevent you from over doing it from the beginning. Take it slow and listen to your body. If you do, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Thanks for sharing the story of your transition to Vibram Five Fingers. Sorry you can’t wear them in the military, but the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 racing flats might be a good choice (See our recent interview with runner Edmond Edwards who runs in these racing flats).

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

9 replies on “From Skeptic, to Barefoot Runner, to a Collector of Vibram Five Fingers”

Well said!

I had exactly the same path, as I suspect many have, going through three phases: 1) denial/disbelief (“Me, wear clown shoes?”), 2) acceptance (“Maybe there’s something to be said for barefoot/minimal running.”), and fanatacism (“Yes I wear them to bed.” ;).

I’m a 3-fer (three pairs of VFFs), even though I only need one pair. Hearing that you have five pairs makes me feel better, that there is someone more fanatical than I am!

Thank you! Yes, I only NEED one pair as well, but as I like to say, five are more fun! 😀

And to clarify, the USAF does indeed allow VFFs to be worn in most instances, depending on the unit commander. My local base allows them, and it’s always fun going to the gym and seeing people (both military and civilian) wearing Vibrams. I just can’t take them into training. Hopefully when I complete that, I can return to running and working out in VFFs. We shall see! 🙂

Welcome to the club Lindsey!
As a member of the armed forces (army), I can tell you that your VFF’s can be worn within regulations provided you stand your ground and know your regulations – in this case AR670-1 (remember that one, trust me)

Save for basic training (which is a little inflexible on the topic of footwear) all you need is a pair of white injinji toe socks (without a visible logo) that cover your ankle bone while wearing the shoes and you’re within regulations.

Good luck, maybe I’ll catch you down-range!

It’s already been said that the AF is allowing them, but I just wanted to confirm it for you. I’m not sure about basic trainees, but they’ve recently been approved for PT testing here at Lackland AFB! My husband (who still thinks I’m crazy for my love of VFFs) is still in shock about that one!!! I’m working on him though! He suffers from shin splints and lately knee pain. Maybe someday he’ll give them a chance!

Thank you Andy and Megan! I appreciate the further input. I’ve not heard it confirmed nor denied that VFFs are allowed at OTS (at Maxwell), but I’ve chosen not to wear them anyway. No one needs the extra grief. I’m hoping the Mizuno flats will give me a similar feel and allow me to still get the benefits of minimalist running while in a very strict training environment. I’ve heard some other Officer Trainees state that they’re going to wear VFFs, but I’ve not yet heard of them actually being used in training. We’ll see!

I am also in the AF and have seen the recent boards in MyDP and am skeptical about buying my first pair. I want running to be fun and enjoyable. I’m a 3-mile at a time (about twice a week) type runner and haven’t done much long distance. Do I dare buy my first and try them out in the summer? Or wait? I don’t know!!

Hi Jennifer:
I don’t know what’s being said on the MyDP forums, but I stand by my statement that VFF/barefoot running has helped me become a better runner and learn to really enjoy it. I wouldn’t be nearly as far along as I am now if I stuck with conventional running shoes. There is a pretty positive reaction around my base regarding VFFs. No reason why you’d have to wait – if you’re looking at getting a pair, I highly suggest them! You can play around with VFF and barefoot running in your spare time. Don’t feel pressured either way. It’s best to figure this out on your own time. Best of luck!

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