Category Archives: Barefoot Running

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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] naturalrunningcoaching.com 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.

Style
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.

Uses
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 :) ).

Value
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.

Summary
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 http://xeroshoes.com.

Two Recently Discovered Resource Websites

Last week, I had a wonderful tea date with a reader who lives in Calgary. Natasha is new to minimal shoes so I brought my collection for her to try some on. It was wonderful watching her excitement and enthusiasm. We shared stories, experiences, and resources. It was great fun and informative for both of us.

Natasha shared with me a website that she enjoys and, after reading quite a few posts myself, I thought I’d share it on the blog for others to enjoy as well:

Katy Bowman writes a blog called Katy Says with the tag line “Alignment Matters!”. She is a biomechanist focused on educating and helping people correct mechanical causes of pelvic floor disorder, bone regeneration, and foot disease. She is a proponent of healthy and strong feet as well as proper body alignment.

Some of my favourite articles of hers include:

She has categories for Feet-N-Footwear and Natural Movement that I particularly liked. She has also published two books and created two videos, which you can find further info about here.

While perusing her blog, I found a link to another helpful blog. Dr. Nick’s Running Blog is written by Dr. Nick Campitelli, a podiatrist with a special interest in helping runners with injuries. I spent a considerable amount of time reading his blog posts on specific running injuries and like that he has categories for plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and knee pain.

Some of the posts I liked include:

Dr. Nick also writes minimalist running shoe reviews as well as a guide to transitioning to running in a minimalist shoe.

Thank you again, Natasha, for a wonderful day and introducing me to some great new blogs.

 

Coaching Tour of Ontario & Quebec

Last week I was away on an epic, whirlwind Natural Running Coaching tour of Ontario & Quebec. The trip was awesome and entailed A LOT of talking. I coached staff from VIVOBAREFOOT retailers and minimalist shoe consumers in addition to having LONG conversations about the different offerings on the minimalist footwear market. I was hoarse for a good three days after the trip.

For more details, you can check out my recap at: http://naturalrunningcoaching.com/2012/07/nrc-in-ontario-quebec-recap/.

And here’s a map of the route we took:

More Barefoot Time and Coaching Update

I’ve probably spent more time barefoot in the last two months than I have any other time in my life. The increased barefoot time is absolutely due to the increased time I’ve spent coaching. It’s been a very busy couple of months for coaching events. Natural Running Coaching is sponsoring the 5 Peaks Trail Running Series in Alberta this year so I attended a promo table at the first two races. I’ve held 4 Introduction to Natural Running – Large Group Clinics in the last two months. I’ve personally coached dozens of people through One-on-One or Small Group Coaching and transformed them into Natural Runners. And most recently, attended the Footstock 2012 Race Expo where I shared Natural Running with countless people.

Coaching really has become my passion job and I am grateful every time I get to share Natural Running with anybody willing to learn. And the increased time being barefoot is an extra special added bonus. During Natural Running Coaching, we use being barefoot as a tool to better listen to your body and feel good running form. It’s all about form, however, and not footwear. Once you understand what good running form feels like, it doesn’t matter what you wear on your feet, although shoes that provide as much proprioception as possible definitely help to maintain good form.

Here are some pics from my recent coaching endeavours:

Me at the 5 Peaks Northern Alberta Series Terwillegar Race

 

Walking practice at a Small Group Coaching Session in Canmore, Alberta

 

Squatting practice in Canmore
Jumping practice in Canmore
A coaching client’s BEFORE picture
And AFTER picture
Me at the Footstock 2012 Race Expo (with the NRC TV Extraordinaire)

In case my blogging frequency decreases further, don’t worry, I’m still here. I’m just enjoying coaching! You can keep updated with NRC adventures at NaturalRunningCoaching.com.