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.

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