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

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?

Saucony KINVARA Run Test – FIRST RUNNING IMPRESSION

Saucony KINVARA RUN TEST – FIRST RUNNING IMPRESSION

It’s
a little like running on clouds – in a good way. The comfortable,
happy, all smiles kinda way.

As we hoped for – to be honest – when we
looked at the Kinvara for the first time the shoe looks a little like a
Toyota Yaris but certainly runs like an Audi: Comfortable – yet super sporty. What it got in common with the Yaris – definitely not our first pick when it comes to looks.

Despite
being a fantastic shoe for us personally the Kinvara is not the same
revelation as the Type A4 was when running it for the first time, yet better than most we’ve run.
However – the shoe is targeting a different runner or at least distance
– so let’s wait until we got a little more mileage in before making a
final judgement. For now – let’s give you a quick summary:

Considering
the mere 213 grams the shoe weighs in with the biggest surprise got to
us right when we headed out for the first run. The shoe has an
incredible cushion for its weight. Not the kind we are used to from
past Saucony models (you know a little too cushy, a little too soft) no
– the kind that makes us believe that the shoe might just be the right shoe
for a marathon or the final run in a long distance triathlon. (no
worries – we’ll find out for you to make sure)

The fit was nice – easy to
adjust with it’s standard issue Yankz laces – yet nothing spectacular.
Don’t get us wrong – the fit is fantastic – yet not as good as the Type
A4 but equal to the fit of the Saucony Tanget which we so far preferred
over most other shoes on the longer runs.

We started our run on
some trails to check out the support the shoe is offering and it easily
withstand all hazards of a solid trail run (we ran accross rather
bigger rocks and roots, no loose gravel – still prefer a solid trail
shoe for that) but it was not until we hit the roads that the shoe
really suprised us for a second time.

The by Saucony so highly
advertised XT 900 outer rubber as well as the triangle lug design
promise exceptional traction… and boy the are right!!:

The XT
900 has an incredible grip on the street without sacrifising any speed
– actually it encourages you to go even faster with a natural forward
movement. With every stride the shoe felt like it just grabs the street
in the backward motion of the stride and makes you wanna push your foot
right forward again.

We know – this is the point at which the
argument about propper running technique, etc starts and we have no
interest whatsoever to get into that now. All we are saying is: Did you
ever look at a super fast runner – his shoulders and uper body always
stay at the same level. That’s cause the lift of the legs turns into a
forward force and that’s exactly what this shoe reminds you to do.

So
to sum it up – after a slightly bad start ( the looks ) we now start
to believe that even in a running shoe it sometimes is all about the
inner values and we would not be surprised if we stand corrected after
a couple of longer runs by having to agree – this might just be the
perfect long distance running shoe!

Stay tuned!

Saucony Type A4 Run Test – A First Running Impression

Ok, here we go – Saucony TYPE A4 ‘The Test’

First of all: Wholy cow.

After a couple of easy runs in the road which felt really great we took the Type A4 out on a harder trail & road run and we actually do start to believe it is the best shoe we ever ran.

With 181 grams it is certainly a super light and direkt shoe and y…et it offered an unexpected level of cussion and support. Much to our surprise. As we mentioned before in our ‘a first look’ article about the shoe it appeared the sole of the shoe was much flatter than on the Type A3 and it is the best change they could have made. (with the Saucony Type A3 there was a tendency – especially on offroad runs – that made the upper of the shoe feel like its moving around on the sole, thus offering no real support for your feet)

The shoe fits like a second skin and the upper material is not moving around anymore on tough uneven surfaces. The shoe stays in place, always snug around the foot with a surprising support. That in combination with the low heel, the thin sole and the direct contact to the ground it built a better unit with our feet than we ever experienced before in any other shoe.

Two other things really surprised us – we kind of expected to feel every stone and every piece of wood on the trails as we were used to from some lightweight racers – but we didn’t. The other thing: Due to the thin sole and direct feel we expected a much harder impact on the road than we ended up feeling and though we are no heavyweight runners we are certainly no supper skiny ‘please wind don’t blow me away’ kinda runners either!

We probably wouldn’t run the Type A4 on the marathon distance as we personally prefer a little more cushion for those runs – but anything shorter the Type A4 is our new weapon! We are indeed madly in love 🙂

If you ask us if we can recommend the Type A4 for you – we definitely can: as long as you can control yourself cause it will certainly make you wanna run faster than your training plan wants you to. 🙂

Saucony Type A4 Run Test – A First Look

Can you spot the difference??? – Yesterday we promised you that today we would post a first impression of the brand new Saucony ( Saucony ) Type A4 racing flat which isn’t even out on the European market yet.

Fortunately we had a (slightly used) Type A3 to compare with. So here we go.

First of all – we are totaly stoke…d after the first impression of the shoe. Quite a few changes have been made, most of which seem to make real sense.

Point by point though:

1. It’s nice to have a running and racing shoe once in a while that is not following the trend of being super flashy in its colors but looks just the way a running shoe should look. Understatement!

2. The shoe appears to be even lighter than the A3 which already weighed in at a mere 196 gram. The A4 comes along at a super fast and ultra light 181 gram.

3. One thing we could live with but didn’t really love about the A3 was the sole which appeared to be slightly too thick for the overall make of the shoe. This has been changed drastically on the Type A4 and therefore makes for a much more compact feel around the foot. Definitely one of the main improvements of the new shoe.

4. The ‘drainage’ system in the sole which actually looked like a drainage system on the Type A3 in a single line which had the tendency to have sticking stones in it after running offroad has been improved a lot. First it comes in 2 lines now and the actual holes are right on the surface of the sole thus making it harder for stones to get stuck and much easier to get them back out once they get stuck.

5. Some love it – others don’t – the rubber bands holding the tongue of the shoe has been used on the Type A4 again. It’s meant to keep the tongue in place. Fair enough. We personally don’t like it so we simply cut it out! That easy. You gotta try that one yourself if you can bare them running barefeet or not.

6. The outside of the sole has been changed and in it’s way reminds a lot of the older DS Trainers – which we personally love because they had a fantastic grip even on dusty or wet surfaces. We’ll know more about that when running the shoe a few more miles.

7. Slight changes to the way the shoe is cut around the ankles. So far it doesn’t make it difference to us.

8. The triathlon friendly rubber cord on the tongue has been removed and only the one on the heel remains for easy grab and pull in transition. We are ot sure why this has happend and so far it is the only tiny downgrade we can think off – however, we of course tested it with frozen fingers and it is still super easy to put on in transition.

Overall the shoe makes a great first impression and we are surprised by how many changes have been made to the shoe. We are guessing – it’s gonna be even better and faster than the Type A4 – but we will know for sure in a couple of days! Bring the testing on!!!!

P.s. one is the used Type A3 and one the new Type A4 in the pic – can you guess which one 🙂