serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Archive for September, 2010

Hoka One One Trail Running Shoes

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

hoka-one-one-trail-running-shoesThe Hoka One One Trail Running Shoes movement may be moving down the trail next.  From minimalist trail running shoes comes the complete opposite, the Hoka One One.  The Hoka One One was invented by Nicolas Mermoud and Jean Luc Diard of France, who had previously worked at Salomon.  From an adventure race in Sicily was born a love for running over mountains and on trails.  Nicolas and Jean wanted a trail running shoe that they could fly downhills even if they were heel striking (opposite of minimalist again).  They came up with the Hoka One One Trail Running Shoes.

The Hoka One One soles are 2.5 times larger than traditional trail running shoes which is what sets them apart from other trail runners.  Hoka claims the foam gives a 30% softer ride and is able to dissipate 80% of the impact of a heel strike.  Even though the shoes look bulky, they are relatively light, 15% lighter than traditional trail running shoes.  There is a 13 cm rockering profile at the toe which provides a spring in your step when running on flat or uphill terrain.  According to Hoka, the low ramps angle also allows for tremendous confidence running downhill, engaging the gluteus and lower back, as opposed to isolating the quads like traditional downhill trail running.  The bottom of the shoe has 50% more surface area so you run straight over rocks and roots without feeling anything or changing your stride.  Like a mountain bike barreling down a hill rolling over every obstacle in its path rather than avoiding them.  The sole is etched with large lugs, also like mountain bike tires, for the best possible grip.  The Hoka One One was invented so trails runners could run fast over any surface and any terrain.

What do you think?  Anyone ever try these?

Minimalist and Barefoot Running Race in NYC

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

vivobarefoot-minimalist-barefoot-race-nycWell, not really a race.  It’s actually kind of cooler than a race.  On October 10th at 830 am the NYC Barefoot Run will begin on Governor’s Island running the largest ever official barefoot and minimalist shoe race in NYC.  Will there be more barefoot and minimalist running races coming to a town near you?  Who knows?  This race is a “Run Your Distance” event where everyone starts together and each individual decides when they want to stop.  The NYC Barefoot Run wants to promote healthy, safe, and fun running, not crazy “break your knees down so you can’t run anymore” running.  The course is just a 2.1 mile loop that runners can run as many times they want.  It’s a really unique idea, a run that is geared precisely for fun and health.  Awards and T-shirts are for suckers.  We’re all winners in this race.

Terra Plana and VivoBarefoot are sponsoring the event.  Galahad Clack, owner of Terra Plana and creator of Vivobarefoot states, “This is a growing community of people who are questioning conventions and are passionate about rediscovering the right way to run.  We are proud to support a weekend of events based around education and building the movement.”  VivoBarefoot is on the forefront (or foot) of the minimalist movement, I reviewed their Vivobarefoot  EVO and really loved them.  Terra Plana is innovative and have been working on minimalist running shoes for a while now.  I also personally learned minimalist running techniques from Lee Saxby at Outdoor Retailer this year.  A perfect company to partner with for this event, especially since their only retail store in the United States is in NYC.

This event is, “a weekend of educational, social, and athletic happenings to support the growing recognition that going barefoot, or as close to it as possible, is the healthiest way to be.”  There is going to be a lot of notable attendees to help educate runners about the barefoot movement such as Daniel Lieberman, the Harvard professor who found that barefoot running was healthier than traditional running, validating the ideas in the book Born to Run.  Barefoot Ted, the larger than life barefoot runner who some consider to be the grandfather of barefoot running will be there, along with many other very notable barefoot runners.

So if you are new to barefoot running (I would wear minimalist shoes on the streets of NYC) or just want to learn more about the movement, this is a great event to attend.  You only have to run is 2.1 miles!  If you don’t live in the NYC area, then maybe a barefoot/minimalist race will come to an area near you soon.  Maybe that’s the new movement…

Downhill Techniques for Minimalist Trail Running

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

downhill-trail-running-techniquesInjury has led me to take part in the minimalist running movement.  I’ve been concentrating on my minimalist running technique but have found it very difficult to keep form when running down hills.  If you are new to minimalist running I suggest starting on flat or uphill terrain to hammer down your technique.  This may be difficult, where I run what goes up must come down.  Gravity, always making running difficult.  Here are some tips I learned on how to stay safe, injury free, and able to maintain proper form when gravity is pulling you downhills in minimalist running shoes.

Running downhill puts more stress on your ant-gravity muscles like the hips, legs, and ankles that running on flat or incline surfaces does not.  The “braking” muscles absorb most of the impact, which leads to more injuries, primarily on the quadriceps, hip extensors, and knees for minimalist trail runners.  Practice specifically on running downhills in your minimalist running shoes, this is the hardest part about learning minimalist running techniques; then hit the trails for increased difficulty.  When downhill trail running, don’t brake, grip and rip baby.  That’s how you live your life.

Proper technique when running downhill in minimalist running shoes is even more important because your legs don’t get the cushioning that traditional running shoes provide.  First, you want to make sure you continue to keep your foot directly under your center of gravity so you don’t begin heel striking on downhills.  This is difficult because gravity is pushing your feet forward, fight the urge, remain landing on your forefoot.  You also want to make sure you keep your cadence, 1,2,3,4.  You may have to increase the speed of your cadence on downhills, but make sure you continue to keep it consistent.  When trail running downhill try to plant your foot in rhythm by stretching or contracting your stride.  Overall though, you want to to glide down the hill with shorter strides.  Make quick and light steps as if you were running in the mud.  If you need extra help, consider taking ballet lessons.

Sometimes the minimalist movement runs downhill, don’t fall behind the pack.

New Balance Minimus Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Evolution

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

new-balance-minimus-trail-running-shoeNew Balance released an article today about how they went about developing the new New Balance Minimus running shoe.  New Balance has been on the forefront of minimalist trail running development for a while.  I’ve personally reviewed and enjoyed trail running in the New Balance MT100s and the, not yet released, New Balance 101 Minimalist Trail Running Shoes.  I’m excited to see what the Minimus is all about when they are released in 2011.

The article talks about how the running shoe developers at New Balance met Anton (Tony) Krupicka and Kyle Skaggs at a running store in Colorado and heard about how these guys were doing a different type of trail running and ultra-running, in minimalist shoes.  These runners are all about stripping down to the bare essentials.  To run as natural as possible to increase the most basic primal experience from running.  Tony and new-balance-minimus-trail-running-shoesKyle began working with Senior Designer Chris Wawrosek of New Balance, giving advice and challenging prototypes.  Once they got to the product they were looking for, New Balance determined the broader consumer base wasn’t ready for minimalist trail running shoes.  Then came Chris McDougall’s book, Born to Run, and the general population was ready for them.  However, after New Balance released the MT100s they still felt they were a year or two early because not everyone wanted a flat, flexible shoe.  Shoe companies like Vibram and Terra Plana have already been developing running shoes with flat soles and now New Balance is joining the party.  I wonder when are the next big shoe manufactures are going to develop a minimalist trail running shoes?

Check out Tony’s inspirational video:

Salomon XR Crossmax Guidance and Neutral Trail Running Shoes Review

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

salamon-xr-crossmax-trail-shoesSalomon had some pretty sweet new trail running shoes on display at outdoor retailer this year.  I got the sneak peak at the new XR Crossmax Guidance (Women’s) and XR Crossmax Neutral (Women’s) trail running shoes which haven’t been release yet.  I got to play around with them and had the Salomon experts tell my why these shoes are so close to spectacular.

Salomon boasts the XR Crossmax Trail Running shoes as being built for door to trail running; strong enough for the road, but PH balanced just for the trail.  I personally love to run to the trail so I am glad that a running shoe company is realizing the need for a hybrid shoe that works for both road running and trail running.  Salomon is making this their focus for 2011 because they think it’s the next big thing.  It makes sense, every trail runner probably runs on roads and buying two pairs of shoes sucks.  We’ll see what the public thinks when these are released.  I also like that Salomon has broken down these trail running shoes into motion control/stability (XR Crossmax Guidance) and neutral/cushioned (XR Crossmax Neutral).  Until recently trail running shoes were merely categorized as “trail” with no denotation of what type of pronation they are built for.  It seems Salomon is listening to their trail running customers.

The grip on the sole of the Salomon XR Crossmax Trail Running shoes are built for traction.  The grip under the toes is an aggressive shaped grip that is a new product Salomon calls contragrip LT, which stands for lightweight.  The front is made up of hang glider shapes, which point to the toe of the shoe for that extra traction when pushing off of loose sand or dirt.  These shoes were definitely made for runners who run on their toes.  The heel grip is totally different, Salomon calls it contagrip HA for high abrasion.  This heel grip is focused more on support and durability rather than traction and runability like the front.  One the bottom of the shoe the Salomon XR Crossmax has an over-sized tendon that looks like a glow in the dark tube running from the toe to the heel of the sole.  This is to give stretch and balance from the heel to the toe in transition.  It is made to absorb the flexibility when your foot makes its transition, like the tendon in your foot.

The upper fits snug for a couple of reasons.  First, it is an all welded upper with very little stitches so you don’t get blisters in different parts of your foot from running.  It is made out of sensifit which is a stretchy mesh that goes all the way across the top of the instep.  This is made for a tight fit around your toes but loose enough so it won’t irritate them if you have injuries or are susceptible to blisters.  Also, the inside is a one-piece liner so the interface of your foot is seamless with the shoe.  Snuggy.

Check out a pair of the Salomon XR Crossmax Guidance and Neutrals when they are released.  Start saving your running shoe money, these trail running shoes are going to be retailed for about $130.

2nd Annual XTERRA Colorado – Marathon of Trail Races

Monday, September 20th, 2010

xterra-colorado-trail-race-marathonAfter the successful inaugural run last year, XTERRA Colorado series is back again, starting on October 9th at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.  Cheyenne state park is Colorado’s newest state park nestled in the mountains overlooking Colorado Springs in the countryside that inspired the song, “America the Beautiful.”  The event will feature a marathon, half marathon, and 5K trail race distance.  The marathon is two loops of the half marathon course so make sure you bring your mental toughness to run past the half marathon finish line for another lap.  XTERRA Colorado labels this event as both challenging and rewarding.  The event sold out last year and is on pace to hit the 300 participant limit again, so register soon for the epic race.  Online registration closes on October 6th, after that prices increase $10 for race day entries.  The marathon entry is currently $65, half-marathon $45, and the 5K is $25.  All participants get a technical race t-shirt, finisher’s medal, food to replenish, entry into swag raffle, and the swag gained from knowing they xterra-colorado-trail-racecompleted the XTERRA Colorado Marathon of Trail Races!

Race director Victoria Seahorn started the XTERRA Colorado race series in honor of her late best friend, Lindsey Gabe, who passed away from breast cancer in 2005 at age 60.  Victoria and Lindsey ran many races and began their training together.  Victoria has run 29 marathons and countless half and short distance races.  At Lindsey’s wake Victoria stood up and announced she was going to put on a race, to honor Lindsey.  That is when Victoria set out to organize the inaugural ING Atlanta Marathon which was the 2nd largest inaugural marathon and half marathon combo of all time, with 15,000 participants toeing the start line!  Now Victoria has set out to honor her best friend again by hosting a trail race where Gabe passed away, in Colorado Springs, with the 2nd Annual XTERRA Colorado Marathon of Trail Races.  Victoria is a true, genuine, caring person who embodies everything it means to be a runner.

So come out and run this great event, challenge yourself, accomplish your goals, enjoy the scenery, and honor the runners that have run before us with a marathon of a trail race in Colorado Springs.

Scarpa Pursuit Trail Running Shoe Review

Friday, September 17th, 2010

scarpa-pursuit-trail-running-shoesI got a pair of the Scarpa Pursuit Trail Running shoes a while back, but I was in between running shoes at the time so I really didn’t take the time to try them out until later.  I wish I had tried them earlier though, they are a great shoe to throw into my trail running mix.  I like to use different trail running shoes depending on the intensity of my run and terrain.  The Scarpa Pursuits are my slow paced, comfort trail running shoes.  Scarpa boasts, “cushioning meets stability” and they are right on.  The Pursuits have the comfort of a hiking shoe and the stability of a trail runner.  So if you are looking for a performance or minimalist trail running shoe, then these big guys aren’t for you.

These are my first Scarpa trail running shoe and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed.  The thing that sets them apart from other trail running shoes I’ve tried is the triple density midsole which gives a much softer ride on both the heel and forefoot.  When my knees are hurting from yesterday’s run and I still need to put some trail miles on, these are the shoes I run in.  The insoles are removable, but these trail running shoes don’t require any additional inserts, which is a nice change for once.

They give good traction but I am very careful when running on wet rocks in these shoes.  The soles remind me more of a scarpa-pursuit-trail-running-shoes-reviewhiking shoe than a trail running shoe because they have large traction squares around the outer portion of the sole.  The middle of the sole are large triangles that weave into each other giving a fast push when running over loose dirt or sand.  The soles are very flexible which gives more of a lift in each step which helps propel you even though the Scarpa Pursuit is a heavier trail running shoes.

The front toe guard is sturdy and allows for some protection from rocks and roots on the trail.  The heel cup also has some hard plastic which gives it some protection and provides stability.  The upper is made from synthetic leather and mesh.  The sides are mesh which allows for them to breath; however, these shoe are more suited for cold weather running.  A lot of the comfort is derived from thick sides that line the heel cup and the toes.  The tongue is also made of a thick fabric which ads to the comfort and warmth.

Overall, these are solid trail running shoes, but may be more suited as a day hiker or everyday wearing shoe.  They provide a lot of comfort and good stability, but this adds weight and bulkiness that is just too much for a trail runner.  It’s a great shoe to put in your trail running mix for a slower, more comfortable ride, but I wouldn’t recommend this being your primary trail runner.  If you are looking for a day hiker or an everyday shoe then grab a pair of Scarpa Pursuits for sure.

XTERRA Trail Run Nationals this Weekend

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

xterra-trail-run-nationalsThis weekend marks the end of the XTERRA trail run season with the Trail Running National Championship in Bend, Oregon.  This Saturday, September 18th at 9 am the elite trail runners from every part of the nation will meet in Bend, which was named “America’s Best Trail Running Town” by Outside Magazine, to see who is the fastest trail runner in the nation is.  The trail race is a “Xduro” half-marathon course that runs through the Deschutes National Forest.

More than 500 trail runners will descend on Bend this weekend including champions from each XTERRA trail race series region who get a free entry to the XTERRA Nationals.  Saturday they’ll get a chance to compete against trail runners more their speed (pun intended) like 2-time defending champion Max King.  Don’t fret if you’re not the fastest in your region, they have a 5K and 10K race for the mortals too.  The race course weaves from downtown Bend to pristine forest trails and then along scenic Deschutes River trail.  It entails a lot of switchbacks on sandy, rocky, and dirt-strewn single and double track.

This should be an awesome event to attend even if you aren’t running.  Race prizes range from $1,000 for 1st to $200 for 5th so you know a lot of great trail runners are going to be there.  Good luck trail runners!

Tips for Beginning Trail Running

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

trail-running-tipsFind a Local Loop: Find a local trail running loop near where you live.  Many of us don’t live close to an epic trail run (sucks) and it is difficult to get out to a good trail run during the work week.  But don’t fret, you can use’s trail finding tool to find a trail that is close to your home or your place of business, or even home business!  Even if your local trail run isn’t the gnarliest around, a trail loop that you can run regularly can be a great barometer for your trail running training.  You can race against yourself and see improvement.   Running your local trail will also give you consistent practice running over the same terrain, allowing you to improve as you learn through repetition.  I suggest reading this article over and over.

Run Different Types of Terrain: I know, this is the opposite of what I just said, but so as I say, not as I….um, say.  While it is good to practice on the same trail loop to gauge your improvement, trail runners also need to practice running on trail-running-on-rocky-terraindifferent types of terrain to gain the many trail running skills needed to have a complete trail running repertoire (repertoire is French for “tool belt”).  No two trails are alike, so you must be prepared for any obstacle before they come.  Or overcome obstacles.  Whatever you prefer.

Walk: I never stopped and walked on a run until I started running trails.  I didn’t do it because I was tired though, but because of strategy.  It is better to take long strides and walk up most steep inclines rather than running up them.  Walking uses slightly different muscles than running which will give your running legs a rest during a trail race.  Also, walking up steep inclines gives you close to the same results as running up them, while using half of the energy.  However, I would mainly use this technique when trail racing or intense training for a trail race.  Otherwise, pushing up hills is a great way to build your trail running base.

Hills: Run lots of hills.  Trail Running hills are much different than road running hills because they were made for trail runners, mountain bikers, and hikers, not cars.  They are often much steeper and longer than hills on the road.  Practice running trail hills by doing hill repeats; charge up to the top of the hill, then jog down.  Do this over and over until you can’t do it anymore.

No Headphones: Leave the headphones at home.  The best part of trail running is connecting with nature.  If you want to connect with Lady Gaga then just run roads.  Ditch the headphones and take in the surrounding environment when trail running.  Also, headphones can be dangerous when trail running.  When road running cars often see you, mountain bikers don’t see you as they come barreling around the corner.  Take out the earphones and avoid collisions.

Don’t Run for Time: Trail runs vary in difficulty so running for time doesn’t work very well for trail running.  Rather, run for distance, this will give you motivation to push yourself no matter how difficult the terrain is.

Run Year Round: Trail Running is beautiful at any time of the year.  In the Summer briers and small bushes trip you up and in the Fall leaves make for a slippery trail.  Trail Running terrain differs with the season so run year round to get experience on the different types of trail running surfaces.  Unless you live in Southern California where its one season all year long; Cool.

Run in all Weather: This is the same as running year round.  Different weather leads to much different trail running trail-running-in-mudterrain.  You never know what the weather will be like on race day so it is best to have experience in running in all types of weather.  Running in the rain is the best, try it.

Gear: I’m not a huge gear guy, I like to be free on my trail run, but there are three very important pieces of gear:  trail running shoes, a GPS watch, and a hydration pack.  Trail Running Shoes are very important.  I have seen many runners run in road running shoes on trails, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  Trail Running requires a bit more support, protection, and traction than road running.  You will enjoy trail running much more if you are in trail running shoes.  A GPS watch is great too because it can give you the exact distance of your trail run.  Also, if you get lost it can help you get found.  Lastly, the hydration pack or any other water holder is a must.  When trail running you are far from civilization where dehydration is a concern.  Always be prepared with some water.

Now you’re ready to hit the trails!  If you have any other questions about trail running use the search box on the top right of the page.  Ask it a question, it has answers.

New Women’s Vibram Five Fingers Minimalist Running Shoes

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

I went to Outdoor Retailer this year and got some good information about the new and the old models of Vibram FiveFingers coming out.  Here is some information from Vibram themselves that may help you make your decision about which one is best for you:

New Women’s FiveFingers Jaya(MSRP $85.00) The Vibram FingeFingers Jaya fosters grace and power in a minimalist design.  Created specifically for the modern fitness enthusiast, the stretch nylon upper and padded collar comfortable secure the foot during exercise.  The athletic upper provides coverage that will secure the Jaya on the foot.  The 5.5 mm EVA sole makes the Jaya one of the lightest models in our collection.  Strategically placed Vibram TC1 performance rubber pads provide grip and durability to this unique sole design.  The Jaya can be worn for a variety of indoor and outdoor fitness activities requiring balance, agility, and power.  These shoes are great for fitness and after sport.

New Women’s Five Fingers Jaya LR(MSPR $100) Sleek leather overlays and feminine topline differentiate the Vibram FiveFingers Jaya LR.  Don’t be fooled, this new model for Spring 2011 will stand up to high reps and grueling intervals – all in a foot-flattering design.  The 5.5mm EVA sole makes the Jaya LR one of the lightest models in our collection.  Strategically placed Vibram TC1 performance rubber pads provide grip and durability to this unique sole design.  The Jaya LR can be worn for a variety of indoor and outdoor fitness activities requiring balance, agility, and power.  These shoes are great for fitness and after sport.

vibram-five-fingers-womens-treksportWomen’s FiveFingers Treksport ($99.95) Building on the success of versatility of the KSO and KSO Trek, Vibram FiveFingers presents the TrekSport.  Our TrekSport offers a 4mm EVA midsole for plating and protection and a lightly cleated 4mm Vibram performance rubber outsole for added traction on a variety of surfaces.  The Coconut Active Carbon upper offers natural breathability and abrasion resistance for maximum performance during your outdoor and athletic pursuits.  This shoes is good for light trekking, climbing/bouldering, running, and fitness.

Women’s FiveFingers KSO Trek($125.00) The Women’s KSO Trek is more rugged version of our popular KSO.  The vibram-five-fingers-womens-kso-trekkangaroo leather upper and sock liner are soft against the foot, yet strong and tear resistant, with outstanding breathability.  A 4mm EVA midsole offers plating protection from stone bruising, and lightly cleated 4mm Vibram performance rubber outsole delivers improved traction on trails and over more rugged terrain.  These shoes are great for light trekking, running, climbing/bouldering, and fitness.

vibram-five-fingers-womens-flowWomen’s FiveFingers Flow($90.00) The FiveFingers Flow was specifically designed for use in water or in cooler temperatures.  A 2mm Neoprene upper and EVA footbed provide thermal insulation and protection.  The sole features razor siped IdroGrip performance rubber for added slip resistance over a variety of surfaces.  While more slip resistant, the IdroGrip rubber is a marking compound.  These shoes are great for light trekking, climbing/bouldering, running, and water sports.

Check out more Women’s Vibram FiveFingers.

Or check out some Men’s Vibram FiveFingers styles.