Monthly Archives: March 2012

Run Barefoot Girl Podcast Interview with Yours Truly

I recently had a lovely chat with my friend and fellow podcast host, Caity McCardell. The scary part was the interview for her wonderful podcast, Run Barefoot Girl, where we talked mostly about Natural Running Coaching. Even though the interview portion lasted maybe 30 minutes, Caity and I ended up chatting for 2 hours in total. How time flies when you’re having fun.

Anyway, Caity recently posted the interview and it can be found as Episode #39 of RBG. I posted a little more about it on the NRC website as well. I haven’t found the courage to listen to it yet so, if you do, let me know what you think. I was more than a little nervous being on the receiving end of interview questions instead of my usual giving end.

New Balance Minimus Trail Zero Review

An Impressive Addition to the NB Minimus Line
I am pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve been enjoying the New Balance (NB) Minimus Trail Zero. This is the first product offered by one of the big brand shoe companies that I have reviewed that I would whole-heartedly recommend as a truly functional minimalist shoe by even my rigorous standards. The new Minimus Trail Zero is a true minimalist running shoe that I enjoy for road and light trail use.

Comfort
The shape of this shoe is incredibly comfortable. Although at first glance it may not look like a foot-shaped designed shoe, I find that it hugs my foot in all the right places with no uncomfortable pinching, squishing, or rubbing. The space-aged materials in the two-piece upper are designed with minimal seams in mind, the only one is where the tongue attaches to the inside of the shoe and it is in a place completely unobtrusive to the natural movement of my foot. The upper material isn’t exactly soft against the skin so I prefer to wear socks and am quite comfortable running in them this way without any blisters to this point.

Width
The toe box and forefoot area is more than wide enough to accommodate my feet. The area around the midfoot and arch is also wide enough for my feet but if your feet were wider than mine, I can see how the edge of the outsole under the arch may be a problem. The circular outsole pattern is not an issue for me as my arches are high enough and/or narrow enough in the area to not fall over the edge of the outsole. If your feet are wider than this area, the outsole edge could potentially dig into your arch.

Sole
The outsole is an impressive innovation in a minimalist shoe, or any shoe for that matter. The black circles I can only assume at this point are EVA, as the official NB website for this model is not online at the point of writing this review, and the white circles are an overlay of Vibram rubber for added durability in high-wear areas. The design is zero drop and accommodates a uniform outsole thickness across the length of the shoe. The currently available website with information on the Minimus Trail Zero (MT00) writes that this model has a 13 mm stack height, which seems high in terms of numbers, but I can assure you there is plenty of ground feel due to the extreme flexibility of the outsole.

Flex
The circular web-like design of the outsole makes for fantastic flexibility. It is less flexible where the white Vibram rubber is but not overly noticeable and rather welcome on rough, uneven terrain. Each ‘pod’ moves independently due to the web-like design between and connecting the pods. 

Weight
Each size 8 women’s Minimus Trail Zero weighs 3.5 ounces or 100 grams. This is practically unbelievable in a trail shoe and half the weight of many other minimalist shoes in this category. New Balance went above and beyond lightweight when making this model.

Support / Insole
There is no support designed in the shoe and yet the choice of materials allows the shoe to keep its shape very well. There is no insole included in the shoe but the footbed is the softest part of the whole shoe.

Barefoot Feel
Ground feel is fantastic in these shoes. The independent movement of the circular pods in the outsole allows you to feel the smallest contour changes in the ground. Rocks and roots are easily felt and the shoe bends around them naturally.

Grip
These have great grip for the road but not so great for trail. I’ve enjoyed running in these on light trails of shale and dirt but more substantial gravel, rocky, or mountainous trails are beyond the scope of these shoes. There are no lugs to speak of so mud or slick conditions are out of the question.

Breathability
The upper is made of an “unlined mesh and an ultrathin, laser cut, fully-welded overlay” which easily allows air to pass through wherever there is only mesh. There is so much air flow that it hardly feels like you’re wearing a shoe at all.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The quality of the materials seems outstanding and kind of futuristic. In terms of the quality of manufacturing, there are a few places where the glue is visible at the interface between the outsole and the upper but this is simply esthetic. There are no structural flaws in the review pair.

Water Resistance
Just as air easily passes through the mesh, so does water. These are not water resistant shoes and your feet will get wet with the slightest drizzle or puddle.

Sizing
The Minimus Trail Zero fit true to size. I generally fit a size 8 women’s and the size 8 review pair fit me perfectly in length and width.

Price
At $110 USD, the WT00 is priced well for a running shoe, whether it be for road or trail. If the shoe works well for you, it is definitely a good value.

Style
These are definitely eye-catching shoes and not just due to the bright orange colour, although that is definitely a predominant feature. The design and materials used in this shoe are unlike anything currently on the market and it is these futuristic features that make this shoe stand out in the crowd. I think this shoe will appeal to those who like conventional shoe design as well as minimalist shoe fans alike.

Break-in Period
There is no break-in period required for this shoe. If it is not comfortable the moment you put them on, they are likely not the right size or shape for your feet.

Shoe care
I wouldn’t recommend throwing these in the washing machine but a scrub in the sink is probably all you need to get them clean.

Uses
The Minimus Trail Zero is an excellent addition to the Minimus line although I wouldn’t recommend them for extreme trail terrains. There is also very little in the way of foot protection offered by the lightweight material; stubbing a toe on a rock or root is really going to hurt. Light trail including grass and dirt where exceptional grip is not an issue are suitable terrains for the lack of lugs in this model. I particularly enjoy these for road running despite the fact this is not what they were designed for.

Summary
The Minimus Trail Zero is the best minimalist shoe NB has made to date and the best model so far of the big brand shoe companies’ forays into minimalist shoe design. I doubt this level of greatness could have been reached without the lessons learned from their original Minimus models released in previous seasons. The Minimus Trail Zero is beyond lightweight, exceptionally wide, fantastically flexible with great ground feel. The futuristic style and materials make for an eye-catching shoe. Although perhaps not well suited for extreme trail terrain, they work well on light trail and incredibly well on road. NB has reset the bar for minimalist running shoes and I can only hope the other big brand shoe companies take note and follow suit. Congratulations New Balance!

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

New Balance Minimus Road Zero Review

Review of the NB Minimus Road Zero (WR00) – A definite improvement from the original Minimus Road
Last season’s New Balance (NB) Minimus Road, which Al reviewed, left a lot of room for improvement in the ‘minimal’ department and the company responded with a complete redesign in the new and improved Minimus Road Zero. This shoe has far less cushioning, a true zero drop, and far less weight than the original. It’s wonderful that NB listened to consumers and put in the effort to produce a shoe with much more minimalism in mind. The only down-side is it’s still not wide enough for those with wide feet.

Comfort
The inside of the shoe is designed with very few seams and a soft material so it can be worn without socks if you like to run that way. There are no rough edges to the shoe anywhere along the throat and the heel cup fits around my ankles nicely. The tongue design is particularly thoughtful in the comfort department as it is part of the upper and only open on one side, producing a sock-like feel. If only they were wide enough for my feet, I might find them quite comfortable.

Width
The review pair is definitely not wide enough for me. The toe box has barely enough room for my forefoot and not enough room for any splay. The outsole actually digs into my arch with every step as the midfoot of the shoe is nowhere near wide enough for me. If you have a narrow foot, I can see these working for you but for wide and possibly average width feet, the Minimus Road Zero is not the shoe for you.

Sole
The Vibram outsole is uniform in height the entire length of the shoe. The stack height of 12 mm is a little on the high side for a minimal shoe but there are runners who appreciate a little less proprioception for long runs and this shoe would work well for that purpose. The double density outsole was designed to maximize durability in high wear areas so this sole is probably going to last a long time.

Flex
The outsole flexes relatively easily upward, if relative is to a conventional shoe and not a minimal shoe. It does not bend well in any other direction. The over 1 cm stack height and the thickness of the Vibram outsole material are probably the reasons for the inflexibility. 

Weight
Each size 8 women’s Minimus Road Zero weighs 4.75 ounces or 135 grams. For a running shoe, this is well within the realm of lightweight and feel practically weightless while wearing.

Support / Insole
There is no support designed in the shoe, however, because the midfoot is too narrow for me, the outsole does rub against my arch making it feel like it’s supported. There is no insole included in the shoe and the footbed material is quite soft against the skin.

Barefoot Feel
Due to the inflexibility and over 1 cm stack height of the outsole, there is very little ground feel with this shoe.

Grip
The outsole material that contacts the ground is quite sticky providing good traction on dry roads. Mildly wet roads are not a problem but slightly slick conditions due to excessive wetness or mud may cause traction issues. These are not meant for trail running.

Breathability
The upper is made of a light synthetic mesh material that easily allows air to pass through. These definitely have above average breathability.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The quality of the materials and manufacturing seems excellent. There are no defects in the review pair and the materials seem durable and long-lasting.

Water Resistance
Just as air easily passes through the mesh, so does water. These are not water resistant shoes and your feet will get wet with the slightest drizzle or puddle.

Sizing
The Minimus Road Zero fit true to size in length although they are designed for a narrow foot. I generally fit a size 8 women’s and the size 8 review pair fit me perfectly in length if not in width.

Price
At $110 USD, the WR00 is priced well for a running shoe. If the shoe fits you, it would be a good value.

Style
The bright yellow color of the review pair is quite eye-catching especially considering the reflective material overlaid on the upper. People have noticed that, although they look like conventional running shoes, there’s something different about them. Whether that’s the relatively low profile compared to a conventional shoe, the neat tongue design, the thin laces, or just the flashy color, I don’t know. The styling is unique for a running shoe and I like it. In addition to the bright yellow, they also come in a more subdued blue/black and silver/pink.

Break-in Period
There is no break-in period required for this shoe. If it is not comfortable the moment you put them on, they are likely not the right size or shape for your feet.

Shoe care
I wouldn’t recommend throwing these in the washing machine and because of the absorbent mesh material of the upper, dirt is likely to get trapped in the fabric and be difficult to wash out.

Uses
The Minimus Road Zero, as the name describes, is meant as a road running shoe. They are not suitable for trail running but if you like the look of them and they fit, they could be used for a casual or walking shoe.

Summary
The Minimus Road Zero is far superior to its predecessor the Minimus Road but there is still some room for improvement in the width department. I would love to see this model offered in different widths as many New Balance models are and, if this becomes available in the future, I think this would be a very different review. If you have a narrow foot and are looking for a zero drop running shoe with a small amount of cushioning, compared to a conventional shoe, for those longer runs this may be the shoe for you. I don’t recommend them for those with wide feet. For more information on the Minimus Road Zero, check out the New Balance product page for the WR00 for women and the MR00 for men.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

New Balance Minimus Outdoor 10 Review

Review of the New Balance Minimus Outdoor 10 Running Shoe (WT10)
I got my feet wet, so to speak, reviewing transition shoes with the New Balance (NB) 110, so the test process for reviewing the NB Minimus Outdoor 10 shouldn’t have been a difficult one as this shoe falls into that category as well, but that was not the case. The Minimus Outdoor 10 is essentially the same shoe as last year’s NB Minimus Trail but with a water resistant upper instead of mesh, which makes it much more appealing for running in wet conditions. As the Minimus Trail was NB’s first attempt at a minimalist shoe, and the Outdoor 10 is pretty much the same shoe but with different upper materials, the Outdoor 10 has the same problems the Minimus Trail had. This is not a shoe I find comfortable to wear for walking let alone running.

Comfort
This shoe is in no way comfortable for me to wear. I don’t know if it’s because it is nowhere near wide for me in the forefoot or the midfoot and a wider version might be more comfortable but I can only review what I have. The rubber-like material across the top of the forefoot and where the laces go into doesn’t stretch so acts to bind my foot in place and I don’t like it. At all. I also find the ridge along the shoe collar uncomfortably stiff and sharp-edged. The heel cup is not the right shape for me and is also wrapped in the rubber-like binding material found across and along the forefoot. The outsole is too high in the arch and digs into my foot. The only positive thing I can say about the comfort is that the footbed material is soft against the skin, which is great if you don’t want to wear socks. However, because the edge of the shoe is so sharp along the collar, I wouldn’t go sockless for fear of blisters around my ankles.

Width
There is no part of the shoe that is wide enough for me. This is the most binding shoe I’ve had to review to date.

Sole
The outsole is the same as the Minimus Trail with a 4 mm heel rise and a stack height of 15 mm at the heel and 11 mm at the forefoot. Walking strides feel smooth through each step with no drops or bumps across the outsole. With a lack of lugs, they are suitable for light trail and road running but extreme trail terrain would be questionable in the traction department.

Flex
The circular pod design of the outsole provides more flexibility than expected. The shoe flexes easily upwards in the forefoot area and somewhat in the down direction between pods. The heel area is not flexible. As this is a trail running shoe, some degree of inflexibility is warranted to provide some protection from sharp objects. 

Weight
Each size 8 Outdoor 10 weighs 6.25 ounces or 177 grams. For a trail running shoe, this is well within the limits of acceptably lightweight.

Support / Insole
Because the outsole rises so high at the arch of my foot, it feels like it is being supported. If the shoe were wider, this probably wouldn’t be the case. Other than that, there is no arch support designed into the shoe.

There is no insole included in the Outdoor 10 so there is no added cushioning there. There is an ‘Acteva ™ ’ layer of lightweight foam in the midsole but I didn’t find it overly squishy. I would say that the level of cushioning in this shoe is appropriate for a trail running shoe, transition or minimalist alike.

Barefoot Feel
There is some but not a lot of ground feel in these shoes. As a trail running shoe, this is a welcome feature for those wanting more protection than the typical minimalist shoe.

Grip
As mentioned earlier, there aren’t any lugs on this shoe so the traction is not great for extreme trail conditions or anything wet. However, they do have adequate traction for light trail and road running in dry conditions.

Breathability
The Outdoor 10 is meant to be a water resistant shoe but there is some breathability in the uncoated upper material along the top of the forefoot and the tongue.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The quality of materials and manufacturing are both great with this shoe. There are absolutely no flaws and the materials are designed for extreme durability and it shows. These shoes should last a long time even under rugged conditions.

Water Resistance
These shoes are designed to be water-resistant and they achieve that feature very well. The plastic-coated material along the toe, sides, and heel doesn’t allow any water to penetrate. Although the uncoated material on the forefoot and tongue of the shoe is breathable, it is treated with a hydrophobic substance that water beads off from. The tongue is also solidly attached up to the last inch so water should not penetrate along the sides of the tongue either.

Sizing
The Outdoor 10 fits true to size. I generally fit a women’s size 8 and this size in this model fits true to length if not in width. For those with wide feet, I do not recommend them and only those with narrow feet might find their fit comfortable.

Price
At $105 USD, these are priced well in the trail running shoe category. For a durable trail runner, this is a good price.

Style
The Outdoor 10 looks like a rugged, durable running shoe. The contrast stitching is a nice detail that adds character as well.

Break-in Period
There is no break-in period for this shoe. It’s not going to get any softer or any more flexible with use.

Shoe care
As a trail running shoe, these are going to get muddy. Rinsing with a hose or in the sink with a brush should be sufficient to get them clean again.

Uses
The Outdoor 10 is a water-resistant light trail or even road running shoe. If they are comfortable for you, they might work well as a casual or walking shoe.

Summary
Comfort is a primary feature of shoes for me; if it’s not comfortable and functional, I’m not going to wear them. The Outdoor 10 is not a shoe I consider comfortable and I don’t intend on wearing them again. If the shoe were wider from top to bottom and there wasn’t a constricting band across the top length-wise and width-wise, I think this shoe would be much more comfortable. If you have a narrow foot and you find the shoe comfortable, this might be a footwear option if you’re looking for a water-resistant transition shoe for light trail or road running. The Outdoor 10 was built on the same foundation as the Minimus Trail, and as a first foray into minimalist shoes, it could have used some improvement. Thankfully, New Balance listened to consumer feedback and made significant improvements in their Minimus Zero line of shoes. For more information about this and other models, take a look at the New Balance website.

Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info

Snow Day at Bragg Creek in Neo Trails

Last week we had one of those mornings when you wake up and the world outside is covered in white: a SNOW DAY! We decided to go for a hike in nearby Bragg Creek. There was even more snow out there than there was at home! My spouse and I both decided to wear our VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trails for the hike in the snow. We could definitely have worn snowshoes but actually feeling the ground is so much more fun!

We picked the snowshoe trail so the dogs wouldn’t destroy the cross country ski tracks on the other trails (for which the skiers were probably very grateful). We hiked uphill for about 2 km. It was slow going with the dogs and the uphill and all the snow. Traction was awesome, however, even in the fresh new snow. We stopped for lots of pictures, of course.

Because we were wearing our lightweight Neo Trails, we decided to run down. It was super fast! Again, great traction on the corners, which was good because otherwise we would have landed on our faces in the snow or wrapped around a tree. After the run down, we went back home and had a pack nap.

Here are some pics:

Kiah and Cordie LOVE the snow!
A whole lot of new snow.

Taking a picture break #1
Taking a picture break #2