Monthly Archives: January 2012

VIVOBAREFOOT Lucy Lite Review

A Comfortable, Casual Cross-trainer for Any Woman
It’s not often I am blown-away impressed by a minimalist shoe but the Lucy Lite has far exceeded my expectations in comfort, versatility, barefoot feel, and styling. VIVOBAREFOOT has made some incredible models in the past but this model obviously incorporates all the accumulated knowledge this company has accrued in their shoe-making experience. This is a shoe that is as comfortable on urban adventures as it is running a road race.

The VIVOBAREFOOT Lucy was the first minimalist shoe review I wrote for Living Barefoot back in August of 2009. What a difference experience makes—not only in the improvements made in the new and improved Lucy Lite but also in my confidence in reviewing minimalist shoes.

Comfort
The Lucy Lite is the epitome of comfort. The inside of the upper is lined with a super soft nylon and polyester material and has just the right amount of padding against the skin. I cannot feel any seams on the inside of the shoe with my feet or my hands other than where the tongue meets the rest of the upper and even that is unobtrusive. They are comfortable with or without socks. I have sensitive skin so this is definitely a plus for me.

They also stay on well without any binding or slippage. The heel cup remains in place while walking or running.

Width
The extra wide last is wonderful. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find shoes that are wide enough for me after almost three years of strictly being barefoot and wearing minimalist shoes. There is plenty of room for my toes and metatarsals to splay in these shoes. If you have average width feet, the lacing system should easily accommodate a narrower fit. If you have narrow feet, these might be a little wide but I don’t know as I can’t test it myself.

Sole
The outsole is VIVOBAREFOOT’s patented, puncture-resistant TPU 3 mm on road sole. It has a uniform grip depth along the entire length of the shoe, allowing an even transfer of body weight along the length of your stride.

Flex
This shoe is amazingly flexible! The sole flexes easily in any direction. It’s a huge improvement over the flexibility of the original Lucy, which I found a little stiff in some directions, particularly bending my toes upward. In the Lucy Lites, the shoe follows where my foot bends with next-to-no effort. There is no uncomfortable crease along my toes when they bend upward either (a problem occasionally encountered in some VIVOBAREFOOT models). 

Weight
Each size 39 Lucy Lite weighs 5 5/8 ounces or 159 grams without the insole and 6 1/8 ounces or 174 grams with the insole. These measurements are well within the range of lightweight for a minimalist shoe. While walking or running, they feel extremely light and unemcumbering.

Support/Insole
As with all VIVOBAREFOOT footwear, there is no support designed in the shoe or insole. The 3.0 mm press EVA insole is removable and provides only a modicum of cushioning.

Barefoot Feel
The barefoot feel of the Lucy Lites is simply phenomenal. They are so flexible that even the smallest rocks are felt through the outsole. The puncture-resistant sole lends a feeling of safety and some comfort while walking on rougher terrain. In addition to the great ground feel, my feet also feel free to splay as wide as they need with the new extra wide last, which I think contributes to their excellent barefoot feel.

Grip
The on road sole is for just that, on road. These are not made for off road or trail purposes. For on road or indoor surfaces, they have more than enough grip if wet or dry.

Warmth/Breathability
The Lucy Lites do not have the most breathable of upper materials. If your feet are generally cold (like mine), these shoes are great. If your feet are generally hot, you might find that these can be a little stifling in warmer temperatures. From my own experience, my feet have not felt too hot even while running indoors.

Quality of Materials/Manufacturing
The quality of materials appears to be excellent. The materials look quite durable and will likely last a long time. The quality of manufacturing could be improved as there are a few visible glue marks on the upper where the outsole and upper meet. These are very small and you need to be looking very close up to see them. All the seams and other aspects of construction appear flawless.

Water Resistance
The Lucy Lite upper is made of hydrophobic mesh and microfiber that water beads right off. There is even a hydrophobic collar within the shoe at the beginning of the tongue so if you step in water below about three quarters of the height of the shoe, your feet will still remain dry. This is a great feature for road running through puddles.

Sizing
The Lucy Lite runs short so I recommend ordering a size up from your normal size. I generally fit a U.S. women’s size 8 and the Lucy Lite size 39 fits perfectly. I had the opportunity to fit a size 38 and 40 so I know that 39 is the right size for me. If you are familiar with VIVOBAREFOOT products, they fit similarly to the original Lucy, Evo, and Neo.

Price
They are priced at $115 USD on the company website. For a durable, attractive, comfortable, versatile, casual and/or running shoe, this is well worth the price.

Style
The Lucy Lites have a bit of a retro look to them that I like quite a bit. People have noticed them and commented on how cool they look and have been amazed when I tell them the Lucy Lites are a minimalist shoe. Perhaps they don’t look like most peoples’ idea of minimalist footwear? The newly designed upper is a cleaner, simpler design that works well with any casual outfit. The toe cap is a nice touch that isn’t obtrusive and adds extra toe protection if you’re going to be running in them. White is an interesting choice for the outsole but on the review pair colourway, it seems to work. I love the blend of colours used in the Dark Grey model and they also come in Black and Crimson.

Break-in Period
There is no break-in period for these shoes. They are soft, flexible, and comfortable right out of the box.

Shoe care
I don’t think I’d put these in the washing machine to clean them. Most water beads off so if they get dirty, cleaning with a wet cloth is a breeze. I’ve worn these many times exercising and running indoors and they surprisingly do not smell bad despite their lack of breathability.

Uses
The Lucy Lites have become my go-to shoes for errands, walking, running, exercising—pretty much anything indoors or outdoors on roads when it’s dry. The only time I don’t wear them is on snow or trails. They are the perfect, casual, urban adventure shoe.

Summary
Every once in a while, the minimalist shoe bar is raised by a new product model; the Lucy Lite is one of those shoes. They excel in both fashion and function. They are one of the most comfortable minimalist shoes, with or without socks, I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. They are wonderfully wide but with a lacing system that could easily accommodate an average width foot. Their flexibility and barefoot feel are incredible. Their casual styling works well for running errands or running a road race. Their only downside is that the upper is not that breathable so may not work well in warmer temperatures for people whose feet are generally hot. This is a plus for me, though, as my feet are generally cold. The Lucy Lites truly surpassed all my minimalist footwear expectations.

For more information, take a look at the VIVOBAREFOOT website.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

New Barefoot and Minimalist Running Research

Two new papers have been ePublished ahead of printing in the Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise journal out of Dr. Daniel Lieberman’s lab at Harvard University.

Effects of Footwear and Strike Type on Running Economy concludes:

“Minimally shod runners are modestly but significantly more economical than traditionally shod runners regardless of strike type, after controlling for shoe mass and stride frequency. The likely cause of this difference is more elastic energy storage and release in the lower extremity during minimal shoe running.”

Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners: a retrospective study concludes:

“…Runners who habitually rearfoot strike have significantly higher rates of repetitive stress injury than those who mostly forefoot strike… One hypothesis, which requires further research, is that the absence of a marked impact peak in the ground reaction force during a forefoot strike compared to a rearfoot strike may contribute to lower rates of injuries in habitual forefoot strikers.”

Essentially, these two papers suggest that forefoot strikers have fewer injuries than heel strikers and that no matter your foot strike pattern, if you run in minimal shoes, your running is more efficient with improved running economy.

I’m taking away from these two conclusions that forefoot strikers who run in minimal shoes are more efficient and have fewer injuries compared to heel strikers who run in conventional shoes. Sounds to me like ingredients included in a recipe for maximized efficiency and minimized injury…

Speaking of running news, stay tuned for some EXCITING developments in the coaching related area. Announcements are coming soon!

Back at the Track

As all the sidewalks and paths have been icy where I live, I’ve returned to running at the indoor track.

The indoor track at Spray Lake Sawmill Family Sports Centre

To keep it from being too boring, I thought I’d try a variety of shoes and see which ones I like best for indoor track running. I always start out running a few laps barefoot. Then I put on some shoes (and socks if necessary), run a few more laps, switch shoes, and repeat. Below are the pics of the shoes I ran in my last time at the track and some thoughts for each model.

No shoes: best barefoot feel (hehe), not that grippy, felt like I was landing too far laterally on my forefoot (I haven’t figured why that might be), very quiet landing, got quite a few looks from other runners.

VIVOBAREFOOT Lucy Lites: AWESOME track shoes, my preferred shoe for running on the track, excellent grip, felt like I was running super fast, no shock absorption (how I like it), felt like I was landing on the medial forefoot more easily than barefoot, not as quiet as barefoot, love the uniformity of the outsole, ADORE the width, no need for socks with their super soft inside, kind of hot even without socks.

New Balance Minimus Trail Zero: despite their being designed for trails, I like them for indoor track running because of their excellent flexibility, a little high in the stack height, outsole absorbs some impact making for a cushy run (which I don’t particularly enjoy, I like no shock absorption whatsoever), love the width, need socks because the inside is kind of rough, good ventilation, not too loud on the track (in terms of sound but not colour).

Soft Star Moc3: soft inside, great width, really loud slappy sound, good ventilation, decent grip, surprisingly uncomfortably cushy on the track.

Vibram FiveFingers Performa Jane: great grip, very quiet, quite comfortable upper, no shock absorption, but I can feel the edges of the pods underfoot which is kind of distracting.

Switching shoes is a great way to make an indoor run more fun. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do that. Winter makes me miss some of my great barefoot alternative or minimalist shoes so indoor running lets me wear them for a while. At least until Spring arrives. :)