Natural Running Coaching For Sale

Are you passionate about running and want to share that passion with others? Do you want to help others discover running with an efficient and safe form right off the starting line? Do you wish you could help injured runners rekindle their running passion with a coaching method that maximizes efficiency and minimizes risk of injury? Then you could be the next owner of Natural Running Coaching.

After six exciting and learning-rich years owning and operating Natural Running Coaching, I am ready to “pass the baton” and start on new adventures of my own journey. I’ve found immense fulfillment helping new runners discover the joys of running as well as aiding injured runners find a fresh perspective and continue their running adventures. I’ve enjoyed meeting runners across both Canada and the U.S. with workshops in cities and town spanning from coast to coast. I’ve had the pleasure of helping runners all over the world with Online Coaching and followed their progress with updates and stories. NRC has been an enriching experience for me and am grateful to all the runners I have met along the way.

Please contact me at tina [at] for details.

Xero Shoes Amuri Z-Trek Sport Sandal Review

The “Ultimate Sport Sandal” Indeed
I’ve been following the Xero Shoes journey and reviewing their products since they were Invisible Shoes so many years ago. I’ve always loved their approach to minimalism and found their shoes comfortable, versatile, and with an excellent feel to the ground. Although there are many “lace between the toes” huarachae-style designed sandals on the market, there are very few minimalist sandals without this ubiquitous styling and I’m always on the lookout for sandal options. The Xero Shoes Amuri Z-Trek are amazingly comfortable, so easy to get on and off, stay in place and have one of the best combinations of traction and ground feel of any shoe I’ve reviewed so far. I adore them and am grateful to have such an amazing shoe in my minimalist shoe tool box.

Quick Details
Price: $59.99 USD
Width: Average to Wide
Sole Thickness: 5.5 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Weight: 165 grams or 5.8 ounces
Insole: None Included
Sizing: 6–14; Full sizes only; Two widths: narrower in women’s, wider in men’s
Category: Sport/Running Sandal

Comfort & Fit
The Z-Trek sandal is amazingly comfortable! The footbed rubber has just enough texture that your foot stays very well in place on it and doesn’t slide around even with some moisture, be it sweat or lake/river water. The straps are thick with rounded edges and placed in just the right locations so my feet barely even feel them while walking or running in them.

You cannot go wrong with the fit of these shoes. Xero Shoes provides templates of all their sizes so it’s easy to find the right size, in addition to succinct written and video instructions. The shoes have an adjustable heel strap with a long length of Velcro to get just the right feel on the back of your foot. The long strap across the top of your foot attaches at three points: The first laces through the rubber of the footbed and does not slide through easily, providing a secure fit across the metatarsals. The second easily slides through a kirsite loop so the strap has some movement across the top of the foot through to the last clip on the lateral side of the foot. This is an excellent feature that keeps the strap from feeling binding across the top of the foot. The last clip is also made of kirsite (a rust-proof metal alloy) with a hook on one side and a feed-through loop on the other. The hook slides into a soft, faux-suede-like material on the outside of the foot. You can get as tight or as a loose a fit as you like with the feed-through top-half of this clip and the lace stays securely in place for multiple wears. I’ve only had to retighten that portion twice after several weeks of wear.

The heel cup is a very nice touch to these running sandals. The only time I’ve noticed it is walking uphill steep grades. It doesn’t feel like the heel cup is the only thing keeping the sandal on your foot but it does provide some security at the back of the foot that there is only so far your foot is going to move on the footbed. As mentioned earlier, the texture of the footbed is grippy itself so the foot doesn’t slide around even if wet. The heel cup does keep debris from getting under your feet at the back, however, in addition to adding some accent colour to the overall style.

One of the aspects that I love the most about these sandals is how easy they are to get on and off. There is no stretching of laces over you heel or refastening of Velcro every time you wear them. The lateral clip design is genius and has never come open while wearing the sandals after weeks of wear. And these shoes stay on! I’ve walked in a moderate river current and had no fear of them coming off or folding under at the top.

Barefoot Feel & Function
Like all Xero Shoes products, the Z-Trek’s ground feel is incredible. You can feel everything underfoot and yet sharp rock edges are not a concern because there is 5.5 mm of durable rubber between your foot and cutting edges.

Another aspect I adore of these sandals is their amazing traction. I’ve walked on slime-coated river rocks and kept my footing easily! They have sufficient grip for all smooth man-made surfaces I’ve tested on as well as wet and dry natural surfaces.

Weighing in just under 6 ounces, they are not the lightest minimalist sandals I’ve reviewed but I still consider them lightweight for minimalist shoes. They are perfectly balanced so their weight feels evenly distributed throughout, even considering the extra material in the heel cup.

Upper Qualities
The upper strapping is a round-edged nylon webbing with a strong, durable feel and just the right thickness and width for extreme comfort across the top of the foot. The faux-suede, non-stretch material on the sides of the sandal and the edges of the webbing provides a great accent of colour but also a soft feel against the skin. The metal clips are in locations that are completely unobtrusive to natural foot movement and while wearing, I’ve never felt them.

Although I have not put them in the washing-machine, I’m sure all the materials are machine-friendly but I would definitely air dry them. My sandal washing has all been done in the river close to my house and despite getting quite muddy, washed easily in the water just by walking through it.

Sole Qualities
The 5.5 mm FeelTrue® outsole is the perfect thickness for great ground feel and protection from sharp edges. The material is super flexible and easily folds flat or into a roll. There is no arch support of any kind in this sandal.

Overall Quality
The quality of the materials and manufacturing is impeccable. The seams are all solid and lay flat with the folded-over edges on the outside of the sandal rather than against the skin. The upper materials are thick and wide, and are going to last a very long time. The Xero Shoes FeelTrue® outsole comes with a 5,000 mile warranty! I don’t know of any other warranty like that in the whole minimalist shoe market.

I love the sport sandal style of these amazing-looking sandals! Their casual, unisex styling belies their rugged capabilities and extreme versatility in function. Their colour accents in the upper materials, stitching, and the heel cup are excellent and thoughtful touches.

They are currently available in three colours for both men and women: Coal Black soles with Charcoal webbing, Mocha Earth soles with Coffee Bean webbing, and Slate soles with Patriot Blue webbing.

For warm-weather use, I’m having a hard time thinking of a use where you wouldn’t want to wear these sandals… perhaps mountain climbing (although my spouse would probably try that too). These are excellent footwear from anything to dog walks around town, running on forest trails, or wading through lakes and rivers. They are as comfortable on man-made surfaces as they are on just about anything nature can provide in its warmer weather (including slime-coated rocks—I know because I’ve tried).

For colder temperatures, you can even wear socks with these sandals (gasp!) and they don’t even have to be toe socks (although that’s what I wore to try this particular style because that’s all I have and, when the sandals arrived, I couldn’t wait to try them out and it was a bit chilly out :) ).

At $59.99 USD plus shipping, they are priced at the low end of minimalist shoes and the mid-range of sport sandals in general. Considering their high-quality upper materials and unheard-of 5,000 mile outsole warranty, I think this is an excellent price and great value for these sandals.

The Xero Shoes Amuri Z-Trek sandals have been a joy to discover and review. I prefer more of a function-over-fashion shoe type but these sandals have both! I love their great ground feel, secure fit, incredible ease of getting on and off, superior traction, extreme comfort, and incredible versatility in use. Their casual styling suits almost any warm-weather activity well and their rugged construction and durability means these sandals are going to last for many seasons to come. They allow the foot to function naturally while walking or running. Priced at $59.99, they are well-priced in the minimalist shoe market as well as the sport sandal market in general.

To find our more about the Xero Shoes Amuri Z-Trek sandals or to buy your very own pair, check out

Natural Runner Update: Teaching Tools for Schools

You might have noticed that it’s been kind of quiet in terms of new reviews and posts here on Natural Runner. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. Over the past few months, I’ve been working hard on developing a new Natural Running Coaching Service called Teaching Tools for Schools. It is now finished and launched!

This new service is intended for Junior High/High School physical education teachers to teach their students about natural running form including human biomechanics, anatomy, potential injuries associated with other forms of running, and how to safely transition.

Over the next several months, I and my newly hired Director of Sales, Monique Bileski, will be working hard offering the service to schools in Alberta.

For more information about Teaching Tools for Schools, check out the NRC announcement link.

Unshoes PT Sleek Review

The Fully Customizably Soled Minimalist Sandal
Ever worried about ordering the right sized shoe online? Do you have a uniquely shaped foot and have difficulty finding a shoe that fits properly? Both of these worries are easily addressed by Unshoes, a custom-made sandal company based out of Utah, U.S.A. The owner, Terral Fox, had difficulty finding a sandal design that he liked, so he decided to try making his own; then he decided to try selling them. I’m glad he did because he has created the only huarache-style sandal made with straps rather than laces with a design that does not go between the toes. If you like the between-the-toes style, they have that, too! What is absolutely fabulous about this company is that they have all their sizes readily available to print from their website and compare to your own feet AND 8 shapes to try! They take all the guesswork out of ordering sandals online.

I started wearing minimalist sandals in 2008 and before that I wore a trusty pair of Teva sandals pretty much all summer. They unfortunately did not have a zero drop sole so I had to give up wearing my favourite pair of summer sandals with their adjustable, wide, and sporty straps. Ever since, I’ve scoured the minimalist shoe companies’ websites for a similar design with no strap between the toes. I’ve finally found what I’ve been looking for. The Unshoes PT Sleek is a sporty minimalist sandal with wide, adjustable straps made for both men and women. I am extremely grateful to have found them (after a long wait) and been given the opportunity to review them here.

Quick Details
Price: $60.00 USD
Width: Narrow to Extra Wide
Sole Thickness: 8 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Weight: 3 3/8 ounces or 96 grams
Insole: None Included
Sizing: Women’s Size 5 to Men’s Size 13 or Custom
Category: Minimalist Sandal

Comfort & Fit
The PT Sleek scores top marks for comfort. The stamped EVA footbed is slightly textured and provides just the right amount of cushioning for my liking. The 1.5 cm wide straps are as soft as satin and thick enough that the edges feel quite rounded against the skin. The location of the straps does not interfere with foot mobility and don’t dig into the skin anywhere. The slide adjustment allows for the perfect fit every time (no learning to tie knots with this design). You can loosen them every time you put them on or, if you’re like me, leave them tightened just right and slip them on and off easily by sliding your foot under the top strap completely and sliding the heel strap over the heel; so easy!

As for fit, the website provides all the information you need to print out the right size and shape for your feet. They have 20 sizes to choose from and if yours is not included, Unshoes makes custom sizes available as well. As for shape, they have 8 to choose from of varying widths and dimensions in the forefoot or heel area. It is the easiest and most worry-free online sizing decision ever!

Barefoot Feel & Function
The PT Sleek has an 8 mm thick sole with plenty of flexibility and ground feel. You will not feel all the tiny pebbles underfoot like you will with a thinner sole but the sole does bend easily underfoot around larger rocks and contours. I found them an excellent choice for trail walking and river fording because of their suitability for walking on potentially sharp terrains.

Their multi-directional grip pattern is perfect for excellent traction on man-made and natural surfaces both wet and dry. As mentioned above, they are perfect for walking on sharp gravel paths and slippery river beds with no traction worries.

Weighing in under 100 grams, they are well within the range of ultra light minimalist shoes.

Upper Qualities
The upper straps are made of high quality, climbing grade, tubular nylon webbing with one sliding buckle and one tension buckle made of plastic. All other attachment points are sewn together with sturdy but unobtrusive seams. I appreciate the use of the tension buckle rather than Velcro for adjustability as the latter tends to look worn very quickly and stop working well under rugged use (especially around dogs with shedding fur that gets caught up in it).

The only break-in period required for these shoes is figuring out what tightness is just right for your feet. The adjustment strap is easily shortened if too long with simple instructions from Unshoes. In addition, should your sporty, adventure sandals get muddy, they are easily washed with warm water or these washing directions from Unshoes.

Sole Qualities
The sole is made of a 3 mm stamped EVA footbed and a 5 mm rubber outsole with a multi-directional grip pattern and 2.5 mm grip depth, which are glued together. There is plenty of flex to the 8 mm total outsole but it is thick enough to maintain its shape without front end floppiness (a very common issue with huarache-style sandals). The straps are attached to the sole with plastic-coated metal rivets that lay flush with the footbed. The attachment point on the top lateral side is a loop for easy sliding adjustment over the top of the foot.

There is no arch support in the flat rubber outsole design, as minimalist design should be.

** Update ** Unshoes has informed me that the sole material is going to be changed on new orders of the PT Sleek. The sole material used for the review pair has been found to shrink in extreme heat. I noticed that mine got somewhat warped when left out on the deck in the sun but they did straighten out again after a couple of wears and some bending. The new material has a circular grip pattern rather than the diagonal linear one photographed here.

Overall Quality
The quality of the materials appears excellent. The quality of the manufacturing appears sturdy and well made but definitely by hand rather than mass-produced machine. The only cause for concern is that the top lateral loop is glued in between the two layers of outsole and burned in at the bottom. Although not the prettiest solution, I have no doubt that it will last as long as the rest of the shoe (and it’s on the bottom of the shoe so I don’t really care how it looks).

I suspect these sandals are durable enough to last at least a couple of seasons of rugged wear.

The PT Sleek style is all sporty, rugged, minimalist design. I love the minimalist and clever strap design; there is nothing “extra” included in their execution. Even the little logo on the outside edge is minimalist! The outsole has a rugged, mountainous look with its unique multi-directional grip pattern.

They are a unisex sandal with three strap colours currently available: black, blue, and purple.

Any use that you can think of for a sandal, you can use the PT Sleek for. I’ve gone on short and long walks with no problems like hot spots or chafing. I’ve walked across creeks and rivers with them without slipping or fearing losing them in the rushing water (the front end does flip down a bit in a current but was strong enough to hold its shape when stepping down on it). Their design allows rocks and sand to fall out from between your foot and the sole. The straps hold their length when soaking wet and don’t chafe even when wet. I would even recommend them for running without the need for toe socks (even though I love them), which makes them an excellent choice for cooler temperature minimalist running because your toes will stay warmer longer. And, yes, I have worn them with socks (although mine were toe socks anyway) and I liked it, too.

The only functional issue I’ve had with the PT Sleek is walking steeply descending hills. My feet tend to slip forward on the footbed and my toes have just come off the edges. This is more an issue with the type of sandal it is, an across-the-top design rather than between-the-toes design. Personally, it’s not a big deal and I have had bigger problems walking downhill with a lace digging in between my toes.

At $60.00 USD plus shipping, they are priced at the low end of custom, hand-made minimalist huarache-style sandals. I am confident in stating that these sandals will last at least one season and probably more with moderate to heavy use. I think this is a good value for a minimalist sandal and they do happen to be the ONLY ones on the market with a strap across the top rather than a lace between the toes.

I can honestly say that I’ve been waiting for the PT Sleek design of minimalist sandal for years and I was not disappointed by their eventuality. They are super comfortable walking for long distances. They are extremely functional with their promotion of natural foot movement. They are incredibly versatile with their sporty look, rugged construction, and superior traction. The PT Sleek is as equally in their element walking around town or fording through rivers. They are an excellent choice for both men and women looking for a minimalist sandal with an unconventional huarache across-the-top strap design. Great job Unshoes!

For more information about Unshoes, check out their website. If you happen to prefer the between-the-toes huarache style of minimalist sandals, they have those too in the Wokova and Wokova Feather.  In addition, the company is working on production on a new series of minimalist sandals for women with more feminine designs, called the Wildflower Series. This is definitely a company to keep an eye on in the future.

Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO Review

The Evolution of the KSO
The new KSO EVO is a new and improved version of Vibram FiveFingers’ (VFF) original KSO, which stands for “Keep Stuff Out”. It has a newly designed upper with a speed lace and tongue as well as an all new outsole. Is it a better minimalist shoe than the original? Read on to find out…

Quick Details
Price: $90.00 USD
Width: Narrow to Wide
Sole Thickness: 4.7 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Weight: 3 3/8 oz or 94 g
Insole: None included
Sizing: 36–42; Full sizes only
Category: Minimalist Sandal and Casual

Comfort & Fit
The KSO EVO is wonderfully comfortable. This shoe fits very much like a glove for your feet. The toe pockets fit my stubby toes perfectly and the speed lace clamps the shoe down for a snug fit for narrow to wide feet. The lace also has a lock to keep it in place and a bit of Velcro to keep it from flapping around. The faux suede material collar opens much wider than the previous model to allow a wider range of foot widths to get into the shoe. The collar is also minimally padded providing a very smooth edge around the ankle. The tongue is slightly padded to protect the top of the foot well from any binding of the laces. Although the seam is quite thick where the tongue attaches to the upper, it has never bothered the top of my feet nor caused any blisters, even when soaking wet.

There is no removable insole but there is 2 mm of EVA between the outsole and the anti-microbial Drilex footbed.

Barefoot Feel & Function
With a total sole thickness of 4.7 mm, this model has a middling thickness for VFF but still very thin for the minimalist market. The Max-Feel outsole design is fabulously flexible and easily bends around any ground contour. It has a grip depth of about 2.5 mm so even very small rocks can be felt underfoot. The outsole rubber is quite sticky and provides more than enough traction for any man-made surface and dry natural surfaces.

Weighing just under 100 grams, they feel like snug socks rather than shoes. Feet function naturally with the glove-like fit and flexible outsole.

Upper Qualities
The upper is made of a polyester mesh with plenty of airy holes for breathability, a faux suede around the collar, tongue and at the heel, as well as a rubbery material overlay on the toe pockets and in strips in strategic areas across the top and sides of the shoe. Although the mesh isn’t as widely spaced as the Vi-B, the upper functions wonderfully at keeping stuff out and allowing sweat to escape. Although not water resistant, they do allow water out of the shoe as fast as it goes in. In addition, they work great at creek crossings because they keep the stones out while not causing any blister issues while soaking wet.

There is no break-in period for these shoes and if they get dirty, they are easily machine washed and air dried.

Sole Qualities
The outsole is 3.5 mm thick and made of the same XS-Trek rubber compound as the Vi-B, which is advertised to offer “30% more adherence to smooth surfaces than previous formulas.” Despite the pictures on the Vibram website at the time of this posting, the outsole pattern is the same as the Vi-B with longitudinal grips rather than horizontal ones. Vibram has informed me that the pictures of the outsole will be updated shortly.

As there is also 2 mm of EVA underfoot, the KSO EVO doesn’t have as much ground feel as the Vi-B, but there is still plenty of flexibility to easily bend around ground contours and rocks. As the KSO EVO is a more versatile shoe with its enclosed upper compared to the ballet flat-inspired Vi-B, I can understand why a minimum of extra cushioning might be quite welcome to most customers, especially if using them for wet and rocky adventures.

There is no arch support designed into the shoe allowing feet to function naturally whatever the terrain you wear them on.

Overall Quality
The overall quality of the materials seems excellent and other than the smallest visible glue marks at the toe pockets, there are no manufacturing flaws in the review pair. The upper mesh has squares of rubbery material attached to the tops of the toe pockets, which I suspect is an effort to increase the durability of this high-wear area while still allowing maximum flex in the material, in addition to their being a nice design detail. This same rubbery material also crosses across the top of the foot and along the sides, and likely aids in structural stability and upper longevity. It’s a great improvement over the original KSO and will likely allow the EVO to last longer with heavy use.

I like the look of the new KSO EVO far better than the original model. The laces look sharp, function better, and more comfortably than the original Velcro strap. The rubbery material overlays also add style in addition to structural and material durability. The faux suede lends a look of quality and improves comfort. All the improved design changes seem to increase the KSO EVO esthetics as well as either comfort or durability. I am thoroughly impressed with the changes and find this new model a significant improvement over the original.

The KSO EVO is offered for men in red/black, blue/black, and all black and for women in grey/pink and (thankfully) all black as well.

If you like the least amount of shoe between your foot and the ground no matter what the adventure, the KSO EVO might be the minimalist shoe for you. With less than 5 mm underfoot, you will feel plenty of rocks but also be able to easily bend your feet around the smallest of ground contours. With their glove-like fit and excellent lace attachment, these shoes are great for anything from errands around town to trail hiking to creek crossings. They have good breathability allowing them to be used as an effective minimalist running shoe as well. As I am the sort of person who likes as much ground feel as possible, I know that I am going to get PLENTY of use out of the new KSO EVO.

At $90.00 USD, the KSO EVO is priced at the low end of VFFs and the minimalist market overall. Considering their improved durability and extreme versatility, this is an excellent value for an all-purpose minimalist shoe.

I bought my first pair of minimalist shoes in May of 2008 and they were a pair of original VFF KSOs. They introduced me to the world of minimalist footwear and changed my life. The KSO EVO is the new and improved model and VFF created a shoe worthy of being the successor of my beloved first pair of minimalist shoes. They “Keep Stuff Out” better than the original but they also fit and stay in place better, are easier to get on, have far superior traction, and will likely be longer lasting. They look nicer, too (although I’m more about function over fashion with regards to my footwear). If you only want one pair of minimalist shoes or are looking for a great “first pair”, the KSO EVO is a wonderful model to include in your minimalist footwear toolbox.

To order or find out more about the KSO EVO, check out the Vibram website.