Natural Running v Barefoot Running v Minimalist Running???

When you google ‘Natural Running’ it throws out almost 700.000.000 results and you can easily add another 5.000.000 for the term ‘barefoot’ running and 16.000.000 for ‘minimalist running’. Reason enough for us to take a closer and longer look at … Continue reading

Inov-8 Bare X Lite 150 – a barefoot shoe review

Zero mm Drop from heel to toe, anatomical last for improved biomechanics, unique synthetic rubber and EVA compound for superb grip and maximized cushion at a merely 7mm sole! Those are some of the key features of the new Inov-8 Bare X Lite 150 which will be out in a white and red color scheme in fall 2011 followed by 4 brighter colors such as blue and lime in spring 2012.

We took the blue and white version for a couple of test runs to get you a sneak peek before this new minimalist running rocket is hitting stores.

Before trying the 150 on we were already wearing another minimalist shoe all day – and it felt great – but when putting the 150 on we instantly relaxed even more. It was a real treat for our feet.

The first impression was:

– super cool look in the blue and white and it looks fast

– very breathable with a light mesh upper

– tongue less one piece upper with a stretch feature on top for perfect fit. This makes for a great fit and their is no tongue moving around all time

– so stitching or seams that could be in the way when wearing barefoot

– good hold in the mid foot section and plenty of space in the toe box but not too much so your toes would be moving left and right on uneven terrain

We were impressed with the first look and took the shoe for the first run the very next morning. We were very surprised by the amount of cushion this shoe offered with nothing more than a 7mm sole. The shoe fit like a glove even on challenging ground and our turnover instantly went up from about 150/per minute in other running shoes to almost 180/ per minute in the Bare X Lite. (180 turnover is about what you want to reach for most efficient running and reduced impact)

After about 30 minutes into the run we could tell that our feet really started working (which is a great thing as your feet tend to be dead meat in cushioned running shoes with lots of heel drop) but at the same time our whole body was extremely relaxed in comparison to other minimalist running shoes.

This overall great impression was confirmed during our further runs. It does take a careful approach to go from cushioned or supportive running shoes to a barefoot like running style but with the 150 we were able to put in way more miles than expected during the first couple of runs already. We are no scientists but this is something that we credit to the great biomechanics this shoes allows you to run with. In addition to that the outer sole offers great protection from stones, rocks and other sharp objects, we never had to use socks during our test runs, the shoes is extremely breathable and for a shoe weighing in a mere 170 grams in a UK8 it offers great last with an expected 300 miles! (almost 500 kilometer)

For everybody who is new to natural or barefoot running – Inov-8 offers a couple of versions with 9mm, 6mm and 3mm heel drop to help you adjust to the new form of running.

So far the Inov-8 Bare X Lite 150 is our favorite shoe when it comes to natural running with a little added comfort. We are very much looking forward to reviewing further Inov-8 products for you as they have a great line of zero mm drop and trail running shoes!

Stay tuned for more reviews and in the meanwhile – Rock on!

On-Running Cloudsurfer – a running shoe review

Those are 3 of the key selling points mentioned on the On-Running website. If you take a second to listen to their video you’ll some other factors they are bringing to the table are:

– Normal running shoes only minimize horizontal impact but not vertical impact which according to them is the one really causing the damage to ligaments and so on.

– On-Running’s Cloudtech Technology combines perfect shock reduction with a maximum energy output when pushing the foot off the ground

Well – companies can tell us a lot – we took the Cloudrunner to the test for the last 9 months to see what the buzz is all about.

The Cloudrunner is certainly an interesting shoe – especially when usually preferring a rather light running shoe with little cushion – two factors that most certainly do not account for the Cloudrunner. However, the first 300 meters wearing this shoe where sensational. The sensation of kicking your own butt with every step. It is truly amazing how your feet bounce of the road with every step thanks to their Cloudtech technology.

During our runs the Cloudrunner has proven to be especially beneficial during your first runs after a hard training session or a race. The tired legs and heavy impact an athlete tends to experience when getting back into running after a tough race practically did not exist. A fact that leads us to believe that their cushion system does indeed protect the ligaments more than other shoes might do.

On the long runs the shoe allowed for a good technique and sufficient stride beyond the point where our legs usually tend to get tired. The shoe certainly allowed to keep the pace up for a long time.

On the short runs the shoe really seems to help you speed up and put some serious pace onto the road.

Despite a lot of positive features such as: Great shoe to run barefoot in, thought through technology, allows for a very active run style even when getting tired, comfortable fit and so on we did not fall in love with the shoe. Which is mainly because of the heavy weight, the soft cushion (just way too soft for us – it takes away a lot from the athletic feel to a running shoe) and the high position you have in the shoe due to a thick mid-sole and cushion system. Fortunately those are the most subjective features in every running shoe test. Features a person has to decide for themselves.

There are testimonials on their website such as: It’s like running in clouds which we were unfortunately not able to proof or test…and we will never try to run on clouds! Promise!

We’ll keep and use the Cloudrunner as an added training tool – for the first longer runs after the winter break or an early training session after a tough race! On the other hand – the shoe could be the perfect shoe for anybody doing triathlons who has trouble maintaining a solid run stride throughout the final run. This is the area where we see the most benefit in running the Cloudrunner!

Rock on!

Natural Running Shoe Comparison – the intro!

We have talked about it before – NATURAL RUNNING – a term that is used and abused like no other term in running over the last couple of years. There is numerous products out there that claim to rectify the use of the term NATURAL RUNNING – one way or another. However, let’s not discuss what natural running really is, if a shoe deserves the use of the term ‘natural running’ or if ‘natural running’ and shoe really fit into one sentence.

Let’s agree for now that each of the shoes shown below – Newton Trainer, On-Running, Ecco Biom, Leguano, Newton Racer and Vibram Bikila all deserve to be offered as natural running shoes. Let’s also agree that we use the term ‘natural running’ for all the shoes – despite the fact that some call their product ‘natural motion’ or similar.

The first post is all about the first look and first impression of the shoes – in the next couple of weeks we will introduce the different concepts of each shoe and the company behind the shoe, followed by a first running impression and a final review. We will do so comparing each of the shoes, their effects, wear comfort, price, bang for the buck, and many more aspects.

For now let’s start with the first look and feel – this is before running the shoe and finding out more about it – so a lot of things might not turn out the way they seem at a first look!

Newton Trainer: The Newton Trainer weighs in at 281 Gramm in a size 10 (we’ve seen it advertised at 245 Gramm – no idea how the do it) and sure looks like a fast running shoe. With a lot of mesh and sporty looking, narrow cut the shoe leaves the impression of a fast shoe. The most interesting thing about the Newton when looking at it is the 4 lugs in front of the shoe. The first impression when putting the shoe on is a good one. It sits tight around the foot without being too tight and the heel seems to be held in place. The lugs feel a little funny though and immediately it becomes obvious that this shoe is made for running and not for walking. The first barefoot impression without running the shoe leaves us with a lot of doubt if this shoe is made for barefoot running. It might be rubbing on your foot a little too much. We’ll find out.

Newton Racer: The Newton Racer looks and feels a lot like the Newton Trainer. With about 254 Gramm it weighs in at almost 30 Gramm less then the Trainer. Other than that it has the same breathable mash, cut and look. A difference is the heal though which is a lot softer than it is on the Trainer which makes the trainer a little more forgiving when getting tired and starting to heel-strike.

Ecco Biom B: The Ecco Biom B is the ‘middle class’ in the line of Ecco running shoes. There is also an A and a C. A standing for the least cushion, C for the most. The B seemed to be the best choice for long term testing. According to the producer it is made for any distance up to the marathon. The Biom B weighs in at 325 Gramm, thus being significantly heavier than for example the Newton. However, the surprising thing is: the shoe doesn’t feel heavy at all. The shoe has a a great, sporty look to it and there is no ‘surprises’ to the shoe from the outside. When putting the shoe on it feels very natural and offers a great fit. The outer mash doesn’t seem to be as breathable as on the Newton shoes but should certainly be enough for the long runs (yes, we are testing the mash version – there is also a slightly more expensive Yak-Leather version. The mash version doesn’t seem to be made for barefoot running in particular. There is no obvious rubbing but it’s not the greatest comfort either.

On-Running: At 331 Gramm the On-Running shoe is not only the heaviest shoe in the test but it also looks the heaviest and leaves the heaviest feeling when putting the shoe on for the first time. With their Cloud-Tec cushion, mash on the outside and very soft inner layer it leaves the optical impression of an aerobic shoe rather than a running shoe. However, that is only a first look at the shoe and it definitely gets points for the barefoot comfort. Very comfortable, no seems and no rubbing. The Cloud-Tec certainly looks very interesting – cause it is so simple. No airbubbles, no carbon, no nothing on the outside. Just something that looks like nothing more than a rubber square without a filling.

Leguano: Is it a shoe or a sock. We’re not sure. Since we are testing shoes here – let’s call it a shoe. The Leguano is nothing more than a sports sock with a rubber sole glued to it. The sole looks loke a lot of small round rubber bits and pieces put together to form a sole. Of course the shoe can be worn barefoot – afterall it is a sock glued to a sole. The sock itself seems to be a little thick for our liking. It takes away from the active look and feel we were hoping for. At 155 Gramm it is the lightest shoe in our test. No surprise here – no cushion usually makes for a light weight shoe.  Walking around in a sock definitely doesn’t get you the style points though!

Vibram Bikila: The Bikila is the latest member in the Vibram Five Finger running family. Vibram has a long history in natural running products and in comparison to their first models the Bikila actually offers a great fit. With their Five Finger form the Bikilia is the hardest of all shoes to put on but it is worth the effort. Of course it comes down to personal prefference with the looks but we actually like the look of the Five Finger – the outer material, thin cut and rubber sole make for a sporty look, the shoe wears very comfortable – both with or without socks (in this case you need five finger socks such as Injinji socks). The Bikila weighs 174 Gramm making it the second lightest shoe in the test.

Newton Trainer, On-Running, Ecco Biom, Leguano, Newton Racer, Vibram Bikila

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Folks, this is the first impression when looking at the shoe and putting it on for the first time – next up is a first running impression as well as a quick intro of the different concepts behind each shoe!

Until then – ROCK ON!

What is Natural Running?

Natural running – what is that? Is it a revelation, is it getting back to the roots, is it a genius marketing idea? I believe it all depends on the way you look at it!

The questions has to be: How natural does natural running have to be? According to ‘thefreedictionairy’ part of the defintion is: Not altered, treated, or disguised.Isn’t the simple fact of putting shoes on a disquise or altering our feet and our appearance? So is running barefeet the solution to being a natural runner? Not sure: If natural running means we can’t alter our appearance it would basically say – only a naked runner is a natural runner! Taking that into consideration we might wanna define a ‘modern natural running’ – so all of you who just stripped of their clothes and ran right out the door – get them back on!

If we look at a modern version of natural running there is many concepts that promise better form, faster run splits, less injuries and some even a happier life and personality.

Newton running – from their website: ”Landing on your midfoot/forefoot is the most natural way to run. It is also the fastest and most efficient way to run. Newton Running shoes are the only shoes that were developed specifically for Natural Running.” – I totally love the last sentence. REALLY??? The only shoes that were specifically developed for natural running…hm….

VibramFiveFingers – from their website: Vibram® FiveFingers® is different than any other footwear on the planet. Not only do they bring you closer to your environment, FiveFingers® deliver a number of positive health benefits–by leveraging all of the body’s natural biomechanics, so you can move as nature intended. – sounds to me like they were developed for natural running as well…now I am confused!

Similar claims are made for Ecco Biom, Leguano, New Balance and many other producers.

Yet most natural running shoe producers offer stability shoes – which in my opinion is taking away from your foots natural ability to strengthen and return to a natural and healthy state/foot position!

So the question remains: Big revelation or marketing genius?!!! What’ya think?

Leguano – A Natural Running Shoe Test – First Run Impressions

Ok then – last week we’ve introduced the LEGUANO – a running sock/ shoe – following the natural running craze. In comparisson to a running shoe – this sock with it’s rubber sole appears to be a lot more ‘natural running’ – at least at first sight.

Since we wrote the ‘first look’ on the LEGUANO we’ve taken the shoe (we gonna call it that for now) out for a couple of runs. The first run was an easy 20 minute run accross trails and gravel roads and we have to say: it got us really excited about the LEGUANO. At first we were a little afraid that in the one hand – sharp stones could make it through the outer sole and secondly that it’s going to be really tough on our ankles and joints. However, our fears turned out to be for no good reason. We didn’t feel anything sharp through the sole despite stepping on stones, rocks, twiggs and god knows what. It was a really comfortable run but the shoe really forced us to focus on form and to concentrate on not pushing our bodies upwards but rather forward – the way it’s supposed to be. After about 15 minutes into this run you could really feel the muscles in your feet and calves work hard and it was a good thing we finished after about 20 minutes. The shoe definitely needs a little time to get used to. At least for the muscles and joints.

Leguano - Natural Running - A Tridudes Product Test

The first run was so exciting and gave us the feeling that the LEGUANO could really be a revelation and not just talk. Excited as we were we took it for a 15 minute warm up, 15 minute running drills, 6×100 meter pick up session and boy THE LEGUANO ROCKED!

The warm up was the same kind of feeling we had the day before, during the running drill session it already showed it’s potential. We got a really good feel for the ground as well as our feet and the drill session was a real pleasure. It was like having a whole new feeling for your body. Best thing though: the 6×100 meter pick up. It was just a super easy push off, quick lift and once we picked up the pace you could feel every inch from hitting the ground with the mid-foot to rolling towards your toes, grabbing the ground with your toes and pushing your body forward. A truly aswesome running experience.

We really do believe that this shoe is the best tool for working in your technique and really getting a feel for what your feet are doing. In addition to that our muscles in the feet and calves had to work really hard for the first time in a long time and we are shoe it will help us with the push of as well as stabilizing our feet.

It doesn’t matter if you are intending on becoming a ‘barefoot’ runner and wanna wear the shoes all the time or if you are looking for a new great tool to improve your form. The LEGUANO can help.

However – the way it is with every new tool – it’s the long term test that’s counting. So from all the excitement back to the realy life. We will continue to incorporate the LEGUANO into our running routine and will work our way up to long runs in them.

We’ll keep you in the loop – in the meanwhile: ROCK HARD!