Monday, May 28, 2012

Look Mom. I'm Wearing Running Shoes!!!!

This is not the review. That will come later. Well, this has a tiny bit of review to it, but more of the process of deciding on this shoe, expectations, and a short run in them.

Preface to a Shoe Purchase

Many of you know that I am a barefoot runner. And I am. Though I guess some barefoot runners might disagree. I would never go by Barefoot Dave... though I had thought I would at some point. I am starting to identify myself much less as a barefoot runner and more as an ultra runner. But I think it is important if anyone is using this blog as a consideration in their purchase of this shoe to understand why I run barefoot. It is not to connect with the earth or any of that stuff, which is fine if that is why you do it... it is because every time I run in full shoes with a large toe drop, I heel strike and end up barely being able to walk for a month. Ask all my co-workers about me limping for 2 months after running in the 2011 Cap 10K. My last shod race. Running barefoot forces me to run on the middle to front of my foot, run lightly, and take short, quick steps. I do have some shoes already, though but all quite minimalist. Those shoes are:
  • Invisible Shoes Huaraches - used to be my go to for running but those miles have been replaced with true barefoot (which is about 85% of my miles in a usual week).
  • Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas - mostly used these days for walking or recovery runs.
  • Merrell Trail Gloves - my trail shoe of choice and what I wear out with shorts most often.
  • New Balance MT 110s - meant for a really technical trail. The 4mm drop is pushing it so I rarely wear them. I plan on using them for Cactus Rose 100.
My longest barefoot run until this week was 20 miles and it went well. This week I tried to run a little over a marathon barefoot, over largely chip/seal and had to give up at 24. My feet hurt like absolute hell. I decided at that point, that for El Scorcho 50K I wanted a road racing SHOE. But with some key features.

What I Was Looking For

I had some pretty specific features in mind:
  • Low amount of heel to toe drop (4mm at most)
  • Lightweight
  • Room for toes
  • At least some cushion to protect from the road
  • Under $100
  • Able to try them on
The Contenders
  • Luna Sandals
  • Altra Adams
  • New Balance Minimus 
  • Merrell Road Glove
  • A new VFF - SeeYas maybe?
  • Brooks Pure Connection
The Selection:
  • Luna Sandals ( - get more info here)
    • Low amount of heel to toe drop (4mm at most) - yes! These are great. They are flat... this one is obvious.
    • Lightweight-This is one of the great benefits of any sandal or huarache.
    • Room for toes - again, another great benefit to sandals.
    • At least some cushion to protect from the road - these have a 6mm Vibram sole. It is just enough to protect the skin.
    • Under $100 - the model as I would order them would be $85 + shipping.
    • Able to try them on - nope. This is really what kept me from getting them. I have bought shoes of the internet before and had some issues about sizing. Most of these issues are fine with a shorter run, but I want a perfect fit for an ultra.
  • Altra Adams ( - read more here)
    • Low amount of heel to toe drop (4mm at most) - 0! Perfect!
    • Lightweight - at 4.7 oz, these look perfect.
    • Room for toes - never got to try any on but all the reviews say these are great for people with wide feet.
    • At least some cushion to protect from the road - These shoes come with a 3.4 mm soul, but also come with 2 different levels of inserts that provide different levels of cushioning. This really had me sold on the shoe when I read the review. I could take the souls out for most of my runs, use the mid level for long runs, and the full soul when I run races!
    • Under $100 - at $60, these are a great deal!
    • Able to try them on - I got a tip that Luke's Locker carries these shoes so off I went to try them on! But... they had just sent them back and would no longer be selling them! They had the other Altra shoes that are 0 drop. I felt them and they had NO FLEXIBILITY (oops, I meant to add that, flexibility!!). They were thick, hard, and stiff! Sorry, I'm not paying for anything thick, hard, and stiff.
  • New Balance Minimus ( - click here for more)
    • Low amount of heel to toe drop (4mm at most) - The zeros have zero toe drop, good for me!
    • Lightweight - yep, 6.4 oz. Not bad!
    • Room for toes - here is the issue. I tried these at the Rogue Pub Run. And they were so tight they pinched my foot. I went to the store to see if they had them in widths, and the New Balance store said they don't come in widths. The website says they does and the shoe horn said that the Minimus 0 did... and after I had the experience with the tight ones at the pub run, I am not buying these without trying them. The shoes were so tight that they made my foot numb and I ended up taking them off to just run barefoot when I tried them.
    • At least some cushion to protect from the road - I loved the cushion. If you do not have a wide foot and want a minimalist road shoe with a little bit of cushion, these are great.
    • Under $100 - at $90, these are right there.
    • Able to try them on - yep... and glad I did!
    • Flexibility - very flexible!
  • Merrell Road Glove ( - go here for more info)
    • Low amount of heel to toe drop (4mm at most) - 0!
    • Lightweight - 8 oz. Still pretty good!
    • Room for toes - I love my Trail Gloves! This is the best part!
    • At least some cushion to protect from the road - not sure. I believe they do, but could not try them on.
    • Under $100 - Nope. $110.
    • Able to try them on - Nope. REI has Trail Gloves, but no Road Gloves.
  • A new VFF - SeeYas maybe? - I think I may get See Yas at a later date, but really those don't fit the bill at all...
  • Brooks Pure Connection
    • Low amount of heel to toe  - drop (4mm at most) - 4mm. Borderline, but there.
    • Lightweight - a shocking 7.2 oz. I could not believe these are lighter than the Road Gloves by looking at them, but they are.
    • Room for toes - Yes. The upper does touch against the edge, but I noticed it is super flexible when I did a trial run in them and the upper flexes with the foot. That touching is the part I am going to have to get used to.
    • At least some cushion to protect from the road - they are 25mm off the ground. This is pretty darn high for me, but it is a really nice level of cushioning. I would not want this for an every day trainer, but it is that added protection that gives me the confidence to push it harder on a long run.
    • Under $100 - $90 at REI and they had a 20% off sale. Perfect.
    • Able to try them on - yep! REI had them and I bet a lot of running stores do too!

I think this video is a decent description. I don't agree with some of their other videos on minimal running, but this is just pretty much description... with some fancy words added for good measure. 

The Test Run

I took them on a mile run and it was different. I normally feel super smooth when I run. I feel like I see everything in a straight line. Like you could point a laser out of my head and it would be straight and not move a lot. In these I felt like I bounced and bounced and bounced... and bounced!!! The ride was super bouncy. I am going to challenge myself to smooth out that ride! I also felt a few places where the shoe comes together and hope that won't be bothersome. But they also allowed me to easily forefoot and mid-foot strike. You won't feel every bump or texture like being barefoot but you can tell when you are on harder vs softer surface. I could tell a difference between concrete and asphalt. Also I have had some ankle and top of foot issues lately and felt none of those in these shoes.

To be continued...

All that was to show the process of how and why I went for these. Soon I will have a review. I am going to put 10 miles in them Saturday and will review them after that. I am pretty hopeful they will be what I want!


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