Archive for April, 2012

25
Apr
12

vivobarefoot breatho trail – shoe review

With the onset of training for the Berlin Marathon on the horizon, I’d been giving some thought to my choice of footwear. 26.2 miles is (give or take) twice as far as I’d ever run before and I needed to find a suitable shoe – I’ve been running in “minimalist shoes” for almost 2 years but have always reverted to “proper” running shoes for any race over 10k. And almost always regretted it as the normal shoes would feel clumsy and I’d find myself tiring quickly as I forced myself back into a different running style. I felt that I needed something that was the best of both worlds – a zero drop “barefoot” shoe that looked and behaved more like a traditional running shoe without sacrificing the feel of the ground beneath my feet or forcing me to transition back to normal trainers.

And I may just have found it. Vivobarefoot are a well established brand. They created the “barefoot shoe” back in 2003 so know a little bit about engineering a functional running shoe. There is plenty of detail on their website here and I had been impressed by what I had read and heard so was intrigued to see whether the shoes lived up to expectations.

The shoes did not disappoint. They are comfortable straight from the box, they have a removable insole to soften the blow for those transitioning to a zero-drop shoe for the first time (or to insulate the shoe if running in cold conditions – clever, eh!). The lacing has a system of reinforced material leading from the sole to each lace hole ensuring that when the laces are tightened, it pulls the entire shoe snugly around your feet and not just the area where the laces are. The shoes fit incredibly well, are light and roomy enough around the toes to allow you to splay your toes whilst running, exactly like you would if you were barefoot.

I walked around in them for a day or so until the opportunity arose for me to get out and run in them. Ordinarily, I would take it easy on the first run in any new shoe, but these had felt so good whilst walking around, I went straight out and ran 14 kilometres. They performed exceptionally well. As these are designed as “trail shoes” they have quite an aggressive tread pattern and I was concerned that a) this would diminish the feedback from the ground to my feet and b) that if I ran on tarmac, I would feel the tread pattern through the 3mm puncture resistant sole. In both cases, I was proved wrong –  the sole is flexible and responsive giving plenty of “feel” of the ground beneath your feet and affording a good deal of grip on muddy inclines and grassy banks – something which has always been an issue with my current “barefoot” shoes.

When the weekend came around, I went out for a longer run, taking in 18kms of trail, pavement, gravel, grass, mud and puddles. The shoes were great and I had no rubbing, no blisters, no aches and pains from having to get used to a different running style. I have struggled to find a fault with them – the fact that the laces supplied are a little long and need to be tied in a double bow is really the only criticism I can find.

Add to this that they are very reasonably priced (about the same as a regular decent pair of running shoes and about two-thirds the price of some other “barefoot” brands), look great, feel great, are produced sustainably in ethical factories and can be worn without people pointing and staring at the “barefoot weirdo”. They also have a London based Vivobarefoot Running Club which meets every Tuesday to help people better enjoy “barefoot” running. I was genuinely impressed by these shoes and really glad that I took the risk to try them -I would recommend anyone interested in minimalist running to get out and try a pair too.

11
Apr
12

traditionalist

True to form, the long Bank Holiday weekend was wet from start to finish but that was OK because in a moment of madness I had agreed (oh, alright, partially instigated) that I should spend the time redecorating the bathroom. As always, I enter into these projects and then, after about 5 hours of preparation and sanding down, wonder what on Earth I was thinking of when I suggested it. For those of you that have never tasted the bitter, chalky tang of freshly sanded plaster filtered through a poorly fitting dust mask, you really haven’t lived. Sorry, what I actually mean is that you are likely to live a whole lot longer as this stuff really is horrific – it removes all traces of moisture from whatever it touches – tongue, teeth, skin… at the end of the first day I felt like I’d had all the liquid in me replaced with talc. Horrible.

Of course, 3 days spent cooped up in a dusty and noisy bathroom made me yearn to get out and run but I was so drained at the end of each day, it was all I could do to drag my sorry self off to bed.

In addition to the above, SonNumberOne and SonNumberTwo had begun to ask if I could take them running as they are both entered into the Wheathampstead 2k and take their training veeeery seriously. So yesterday, with all decorating duties complete and with specks of paint still dried to the backs of my hands, I decided to go for a run with them… SonNumberTwo, age 6, completed 1.03kms and returned home happy and red-cheeked. SonNumberOne, age 10, was then put through his paces and we chatted as we looped away from the house to run what was just a tad under 3kms. I did feel a bit cruel as he only needs to run 2k for the race but thought he would gain some added satisfaction from knowing that he can comfortably run further. He even managed a final push to the finish when I threatened to sprint past him on the home straight. Very impressed by both of them.

Not quite so impressive was my longer run today. I set off mid-morning and didn’t feel like I was running slowly but a glance at the Garmin told a very different story. It was a truly lack lustre performance nicely finished off by getting caught in a short but sudden hail shower which seemed to halt the second I got back inside. Still, 16.5kms in the bank and the Hertford 10k to look forwards to on Sunday.

Soundtrack to this post: Fugazi – Waiting Room

01
Apr
12

not training

Nope. Not me… No siree. I am still somewhat in denial about The Berlin Marathon and being a paid up and accepted competitor and all that… I know I have a place but it seems like a very long way off and I haven’t really admitted to myself that in 6 months time I now plan to do something that I never intended to attempt and run 26.2 miles.

However, there has been a little nagging internal voice that had piped up around the time I finished the Marlow Duathlon a couple of weeks back. “You always run the same route.” it whined, “Always 10-11k. I bet you can’t even run any further you’ve run it so often” it sneered. That coupled with myself and Hauling My Carcass discussing Marathon training plans had given me a bit of a kick up the behind but I definitely wasn’t “training” yet… just attempting a few “longer runs”.

So last Sunday, with the sun shining, I set off on a “longer run” which felt surprisingly good. 18.5kms in a big arcing loop taking in some horrible hills and leaving me weary for the rest of the day. Then, a day working from home mid-week afforded me the opportunity to get out for a lunchtime 10k on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far. It was horrible as I had taken nothing to drink and by about the 5k mark, I felt like my mouth had dried up and my throat was lined solely with dust and pollen.

The weather forecast for this Sunday said that it would be sunny but only 11 degrees… perfect for another long run. But this time, I was not going to be caught out and took with me a bottle of Lucozade Sport. When I set off, I wondered if my optimistic choice of t-shirt and shorts was perhaps a little, erm, sparse for 11 degrees but I soon warmed up, the feeling in my freezing cold hands returned and I hunkered down and enjoyed the relaxed pace of the run. I sort of fancied about 20k, but as I neared 18km, I still felt relatively fresh and thought that it would be a shame to miss out on running a half marathon distance so amended my mental route map to incorporate a couple of loops and turns to bring the final distance to exactly 21.1kms. At 2 hours and 5 minutes, it was never going to set the world alight but has given me a little confidence boost as it proved that 1) I can still run a half marathon on no real training, 2) taking something to drink is probably a good idea on long and/or hot runs and 3) I didn’t feel wretched at the end of it so I may have a little more to give beyond the 13 mile mark. Admittedly, at the end of my run, I didn’t feel like doing another 13 mile lap but that’s what the training is for. And I haven’t started that yet.

Soundtrack to this post: Aswad – Dub Fire




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