Wednesday, January 25, 2012

World meet my barefoot shoes. Barefoot shoes meet the world.

This introduction is long overdue. World meet my barefoot running shoes - the VivoBarefoot Neo. I have been running in them for the past 2 months and love them so far. They are unique... you can bend them in half, twist them like a towel, and flatten them like a pancake. It's like wearing stylish slippers. I would post a picture of my own shoes but we lost our camera AND went hiking on red dirt trails last weekend, so they have been banished from the public eye until they are thoroughly clean.

So, what questions do you have about these... uh, hem... shoes? I'm going to try reading your mind, but if my telepathic powers are unable to do justice, leave a message below.

Are they warm enough to run in winter?
Yes! The coldest I have run in them is about 25-30 degrees and my feet were sufficiently warm. My neighborhood has super narrow "sidewalks" that are more like extended curbs, so when it's cold that means it is usually icy, non-navigable (side streets are not plowed here in Denver) and I hit the treadmill.

Do your feet get wet easily?
So far, so good. I have run on damp mud and through a few puddles without getting my socks wet. Either the mesh and 4mm rubber sole keep the water out or I have quick foot work.

Do you still feel rocks through them?
I can still feel the ground through these shoes, but they are in between regular shoes (not feeling anything) and barefoot (feel everything). The minimal rubber sole (4mm) cuts the impact enough, but still maintains the barefoot feel with no arch support. I really appreciated having these shoes when I was running over some ice because I felt that I could sense more quickly when it was slippery vs safe.

Why didn't you get those funky Vibram Five Finger shoes?
To be honest, my feet felt claustrophobic when I tried them on. I wear my running shoes so loose most people think they are untied. What can I say - my feet have a free spirit and don't like to be confined. I also wanted barefoot shoes that I also felt comfortable wearing with jeans and I thought these were cute.
I do confess that these shoes are not miracle workers. I was quite sore after an 8 miles run 2 weeks ago - you still have to work and put in the training. Magic doesn't happen overnight - but they do make the ride more enjoyable.

Note:  If you are considering buying these shoes, they come in European sizes and I struggled to find the right fit. I wear an 11.5 Women's in Saucony and the largest VB Neo size in women's (42) was too snug for my taste, so I am running in a Men's 43 (probably a tad too big). If you order online through Zappos you get free shipping for returns - which came in handy for me since you can't find these shoes at your local running store.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year's resolutions that I just might keep

I never make New Year's resolutions. For some reason the idea of adding something to my busy schedule or changing my ingrained habits is daunting. Paralyzing. Stressful. So, for the sake of avoiding my negative connotations with a standard New Year's resolution, I am going to phrase my resolutions as goals. Overall, these goals will reduce stress, not cause it, and they might be the first "resolutions" that I actually keep.

Drum roll please.... prepare yourself for a little insanity...

Books - this may be cheating, but I want the time frame for my first goal to be February 2011 - January 2012. I started devouring books when we came back from Africa on February 1, 2011 and I am on such a roll that I want to see how many I can read within 12 months. My goal is 40 and I'm only 3 books away!

Marathon - I have 3 marathons under my belt, but I've never run a marathon in minimalist/barefoot shoes. Steamboat Springs Marathon, June 2012, in minimalist shoes, here I come! I'll document my training wows and woes starting January 30th. 

Ultra marathon - I debated about putting this goal in writing, but I admit that I've always wanted to run an ultra marathon (any distance over the traditional 26.2 miles marathon distance). I'm one of those quirky runners who loves the 20 mile training runs. I did warn you to prepare yourself for a little insanity, right? I'm looking at running a 50k (31 miles) at the end of September 2012. Most running sites suggest running a marathon, recovering a little, and then building back up. The theory is that having a marathon training base underneath you will make the 50k training easier. While marathons (and some ultras) can be competitive speed-wise, the culture around many ultras is to have fun and that it's okay/expected that you will both run and walk. Ultras also tend to be on hilly terrain and partially on trails. I'm excited and terrified all at once!

Barefoot progress
 Here's the recap on goals I set back in July 2011 and their progress.
1. Increase the number of days I run barefoot to 2-3 days per week to build strength in my muscles. I am now running full-time in my minimalist shoes (3-4 days per week) plus walking in them whenever I can. My legs are no longer sore from the new stride; running on my mid/fore foot feels completely normal.
2. Increase my barefoot distance to 6 miles. I am up to 7 miles in my barefoot shoes and getting ready for an 8 miler soon.
3. Find minimalist shoes that I can wear in the winter. I found amazing minimalist shoes that I absolutely love called VivoBarefoot Neo. They are "shoe-like" enough to wear with jeans, and barefoot enough for my running. I'll share more details about the shoes in my next entry.

I can't express enough how much I love barefoot/minimalist running. Looking back at my posts, I never would have guessed that I'd go from walking barefoot to prepping for barefoot marathon training in 8 months. Here's to a new year - one that will be lived to the fullest!