serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Posts Tagged ‘Terra Plana’

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…

Terra Plana Vivobarefoot Evo Running Shoe Review

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

vivobarefoot-evo-minimalist-running-shoesGalahand Clarck, a 6th generation shoemaker, took over eco-friendly shoe company Terra Plana.  At the time he noticed an old university friend of his who introduced him to the benefits of natural movement.  Clark, who previously lived in China already understood the importance of foot health through his exposure to Eastern medicine, began talking to experts, coaches, and biomechanic experts.  In 2004, with the help of podiatrists and movement specialists, Terra Plana developed Vivobarefoot with a mission to improve posture, sensory perception, and general well-being.  Weird, I thought Chris McDougall was the first person to realize the benefits of barefoot running.

The Vivobarefoot Evo has a patented vivobarefoot-evo-minimalist-running-shoe-reviewultra-thin puncture resistant rubber sole which allows Vivobarefoot to offer all the health benefits of being barefoot with the protection of normal running shoes.  I started running in these on the roads, but quickly moved to the trails and they held up just as well on the tough terrain of trail running.

The bottom of Vivobarefoot Evo is made of an ultra thin rubber that is very bendable.  You can fold these shoes in half and stick them in a backpack if you decide it’s time to run naked; barefoot I mean.  Although the bottom is thin, it is still made of very tough rubber.  You barely feel the ground in these shoes when running on any type of surface.  The soles have small hexagons evenly across the entire bottom except for where the arch is.  I hypothesize that this is to save some of the weight from the shoe, why put traction on a portion of the shoe that doesn’t touch the ground?  These lightweight minimalist running shoe soles protect your feet and have something that your feet don’t, traction.

The upper is made of a very thin fabric with a plastic honeycomb on it.  Apparently it’s a TPU cage with lightweight mesh and microfiber reinforcements to provide maximum breathability.  Well I can attest that they breath really well, and you don’t even feel the sides of the shoes when running which gives even more of a barefoot feel.

vivobarefoot-evo-minimalist-running-shoeThere is a thin insert in the bottom of the shoe that gives you a little cushioning.  Although there is cushioning, it’s done the right way for a minimalist running shoe, it’s distributed evenly across the foot so your running style doesn’t favor landing on your heel like in traditional running shoes.  The shoes are made to fit loose so your foot can move naturally like when barefoot running.  The front of the shoe is wider than the back to allow your toes to move around while running.  However, this makes for a loose fit with a tighter fit in the heel so your foot doesn’t come out of the shoe.  I got blisters from the heal the first time I ran in the Vivobarefoot Evos but I blister easily, just make sure you wear socks with these shoes the first couple of times you run in them.

I also really like the look of them.  They look a bit like a 80s European style, which of course is awesome.  I plan to wear these out around town so I’ll always feel like I’m barefoot!  These shoes are perfect for anyone who wants to make the transition to minimalist running shoes, just remember to also change your running style when making the minimalist transition and get on the trails!

Outdoor Retailer 2010 and the Minimalist Trail Running Movement

Friday, August 13th, 2010

outdoor-retailerI went to the Outdoor Retailer conference last week and had a blast checking out all the new trail running  gear and shoes companies were boasting for their Spring 2011 product lines.  I’ll be sharing the cool new products I checked out with you during the next couple of weeks so stay tuned if you’re into that sort of thing.  The bounce back in business from 2009 could be felt across the show with huge displays and excited retailers.  There were a lot of great new innovations.  I was amazed to see how much outdoor retailers are constantly changing their product lines to fit consumers needs.   I also didn’t know companies started selling  and promoting their new products so soon will many set to be released in the Spring of 2011.  I guess that’s why the big trail running news from the conference is the minimalist movement.  A bit late to the party I would say, but every company from New Balance to Terra Plana were presenting their new minimalist trail running shoes.  And so the movement moves on.

I learned a lot about minimalist running while I was there.  A quick recap of what the minimalist running movement is all about.  It really took off after Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run where he followed the Tarahumara Indians to learn how they are able to run for such long distances without injury.  The theory is that human beings are made to run long distances in order to outlast the prey they hunt.  Now we just drive to the store.  Humans are made to run landing on their toes first and absorbing their weight in the ankles and foot.  Overtime running shoes have been developed with extra cushioning in the heel which has lead runners to begin running by striking our heels first.  This heel strike leads to a longer stride which results in more lateral movement of the legs throughout the stride, much of which is absorbed by the knees.  Running shoe companies have been taking notice and are now releasing more minimalist trail running shoes to keep up with the demand for minimalist trail running shoes.

However, no one really knows what the long-term effects of this young movement will be.  Are we just trading absorbing impact from one area of the body to another?  When running in minimalist shoes runners must shorten their stride which could be the reason for the decrease in injuries and not necessarily the shoes.  The shorter stride also may decrease your speed.  As one prominent ultra runner told me at the conference, “I’ve never seen anyone win an ultra wearing minimalist shoes.  I don’t buy it.”  Yeah, because you don’t buy any of your trail running shoes, you have a sponsor.

I have had a severe knee injury for the past year and have held off of surgery in hopes of a less intrusive cure.  So I’m going to put minimalist running to the test.  I am going to train for a half marathon, because it incorporates both speed and distance running, to see if I can run the same time as my last half marathon, 1:24, but in minimalist shoes.

Next I’ll share what I learned from Lee Saxby of Terra Plana vivobarefoot who also helped Chris McDougall run injury free.