Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole


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Review: Pearl Izumi Women’s Peak II

I was recently given the opportunity to review this shoe, but since I’m now unable to run comfortably in traditional running shoes, I was sure I wouldn’t give it the fair review that someone else would. So my good friend Killeen McGowan agreed to review the new Pearl Izumi Women’s Peak II running shoe. I must say they’re absolutely adorable and I’m a bit jealous. Thanks, Killeen!

Hello, Day-Glo!

This was my initial reaction to the Peak II Trail Running Shoe by Pearl Izumi [PI]. Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a shoe by its exterior.  But, with neon mesh and a swirling logo, it’s hard not to be drawn to – or to apprehensively draw away from – PI’s line of trail-blazing kicks. If you’re like me, fun, funky colors are a huge plus. If not, consider the vibrancy as extra protection during hunting season.

But truly, choosing a running shoe shouldn’t have anything to do with fashion. So, let’s look beyond the aesthetics and focus solely on the athletics of these attention-getting trail trainers.

While not minimalist in specification by any means, the PI website cleverly calls this model “minimalistic.” Though there’s plenty of cushioning in the heel via foam on the insole and a thick, rubber outsole, the shoe’s upper is quite minimalist in nature. The seam-free construction, coupled with a notable lacing system, allows the super-breathable material to give your foot a glove-like hug. If the minimalist movement has you intrigued, this may be a good shoe to help you cross into that new territory.

That said, I put these guys on to go for a short, assessment run. With narrow feet that suffer from moderate bunions, it is difficult for me to find a shoe that fits snuggly enough, yet doesn’t squeeze and aggravate the joints in question. The general fit of the Peak II was immediately true to its claim of “anatomically forming to the foot for a tailored fit regardless of foot shape.” There was no unwanted wiggle room, nor was there much pressure against the sensitive sides of my feet.  Regarding length: these seem to run small. I am a strict size 8 and was thus surprised to find I needed an 8.5 to keep my toes from feeling crowded.

The tire-like tread on the soles of the Peak II handled the rocky, crumbly trails I passed over without any issue. While a little overkill for a paved route, it is rather nice to have the traction when opting to run in the road’s shoulder.  I noticed that the aforementioned heel cushioning was significantly less than that of my typical running footwear, again making my new PI’s a good choice in the transition to a more minimalist style.

What I noticed most about these shoes was how little I fussed with their tightness. I often lace and re-lace before setting out for a run, especially if I’m wearing something rather new. I cinched these shoes up rather tight from the get-go, and I never had to adjust them once. The shoe’s tongue is built in such a way that it blends into the rest of the shoe, versus being this separate, bulky piece that you’d find in most classic styles. The seamlessness was also a huge factor in my comfort, and was likely the reason my trial run was 100% blister-free.

All in all, I was pleased with my experience in the Pearl Izumi Peak II’s. They’re a solid trail runner, and versatile enough for summer day-hikes. They are well aerated, comfortable, lightweight on top, and rugged underneath.

And, not that it matters, but did I mention that they’re fabulously flashy?

 

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Guest Post: Function and Fashion for Running Dudes

by Brad Waterson
My name is Brad and I’m a a runner.  I’ll run anywhere.  Trails, roads, 5ks, 10Ks, half marys, ultras.  I’ve completed 2 half marathons (one of them barefoot) and just recently, a 50K Ultra marathon.  I’m currently finishing up 120 consecutive days of running, as a challenge I highly recommend.  I’ve been a minimal/barefoot/bareform runner for almost 2 years now. I’m 100% certain that my careful transition to bareform running has allowed me to accomplish all of my running goals without (knock on wood) any running-related injury.
Trisha’s blog is great at giving you the woman’s barefoot running perspective.  She has recently posted an article on women’s running fashion at Active.com and since she offered to let me guest post, I thought it was time to bring a dude’s perspective to running fashion.  So without further ado, here is this dude’s take on guys’ running gear.

Brad finishing his first 50k, in his BI3 shorts and Buff doo-rag.

My Functional Gear Criteria

My running clothes need to be as minimal as legally and practically possible.  That means warm and light or cool and light depending on the season.  The one exception to this for me is pockets.  I need a place to store a light snack or phone or TP.  A big one for me is I need a secure bombproof pocket for my car keys.  I am obsessed with losing my keys on the trail to the point of distraction sometimes.

My Fashion Criteria

I’m an extrovert.  I need attention. Maybe this is the only-child coming out in me.  I’m also a middle to back of the pack runner.  I need to dress faster because I can’t run faster.  I absolutely love loud colors and loud designs.  They just look fast.  Nothing is more annoying than black tech wear and that is pretty much what you get for men’s running gear.

My Current Go-To Gear (mostly functional, but i try to spice it up)

For the most part, I find myself in the as-minimal-as-legal gear these days.  In the summer, that means any old tech race tee or bare on the top.  I’m a guy who likes to be well-ventilated.  On the bottom is typically a pair of BI3s.   My Brook’s Infinity III shorts (or BI3s) are short split shorts.  They are as close to naked as I am willing to get on a run, and they are great.  They kept the kibbles and bit cool on my 50K, and with a little Body Glide, I had no chafing issues.  They are brilliant in hot weather and they have pockets too.  They even have one of those little swimsuit pockets on the waistband that does a decent job of holding the car keys.  The definitely get me noticed because they show A LOT of leg.  The amount of leg shown can be sometimes problematic around some runners and non-runners.  My cousin has threatened to not run with me if I wear them around him.  They definitely satisfy the function criteria and, in an exhibitionist way, the fashion criteria too.  The last piece of kit I always have is my Buff.  This is my all time favorite and most versatile running accessory.  You can use it as a sweatband, do rag, hat, and neck gaiter.  I wore one on my head and one on my wrist or neck during my 50K.  I would wet them down or put ice in them to cool me down.

Some Awesome Products on My Radar (Function, Fashion, and Flash)

SportKilt

Our favorite SportKilt model, Jason Robillard.

SportKilt is the original barefoot runner accessory (See Jason’s review at Barefoot Running University).  They make a great line of kilts in all types of tartans.  Their Hiking Kilt is the gold standard for runners who enjoy a more “free” experience while out on the trails.  The Hiking Kilt is made from lightweight but durable microfiber so it is cool and quick-drying.  The primary closure on the Hiking Kilt is velcro which is more than adequate but they offer the option of buckles as well.  They will even add a hidden pocket too if you order it that way.  My keys will be safe.  Fashion, Function, and Freedom, made in the USA!

INKnBURN

We at Barefoot Monologues do love our INKnBURN.

INKnBURN makes, without a doubt, the coolest running clothes out there.  Their page says “Don’t disappear into the crowd… Distance yourself with INKnBURN and the Art of Running.”  They are absolutely right.  Their designs are bold and powerful and would definitely get you noticed on race day.  My friend Trisha (the creator of this blog) wore their Peacock skirt to the Boston Marathon Expo and got tons of comments.  Crazy ultrarunning celebrities, Shacky and Vanessa, can almost always be seen wearing INKnBURN.  All of their designs are made in house in the good old USA.  For men, they have 41 different designs of just tech shirts.  All the designs are “printed” using their proprietary process that allows one to see but not feel the art on the clothing.  I’m assuming that this is similar to the way bicycle jerseys are printed but I’m not sure.  I’m particularly fond of the “Run or Die” shirts but I would really love to see them come out with a radical patriotic design.  A stylized eagle over the stars and stripes would be awesome.  A guy can dream, right?  INKnBURN also has a line of running shorts for men that feature elements of their artistic designs.  The shorts are made of super light moisture wicking fabric with an integral liner and pockets.  How cool would it be to have “Run or Die” on your butt!  Now that I’ve finished my 50K at Pineland, I’m seriously thinking about a pair of these badboys.

Thanks for reading my ramblings.  If you like what you read, swing on my my blog and check out what I’ve got to say about gear and running related topics.
Cheers, Brad (durtyfeets)


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Guest Post: Runner? Jogger? Who the Hell Cares?

I am lucky enough to share one of my greatest passions with some of the most amazing people on the planet. People who can run really, really far with little to nothing on their feet, who can climb mountains and withstand immense heat, cold and all sorts of weather. Yes, that’s right, my friends are superheroes. And one of them is the most badass chick I know, Vanessa Runs. A while back I asked her if she could write for me what she thinks about being a runner. Anything – wax poetic or give it to me straight. Per her usual, she chose the latter. Thanks, Vanessa.

Runner? Jogger? Who the hell cares?
By Vanessa Runs

There is a big ugly sign on the side of the road that reads, “YOU ARE A DOG”.

A cat wanders by, looks up at it and thinks: “I wonder who that sign is for.” Then wanders away.

A dog comes along, sees the sign, and starts barking angrily. He reacts emotionally because—he knows it’s about him.

That’s how I feel about the runner vs. non-runner debate. Just replace the word “dog” for—heaven forbid—jogger. Runners shrug. Others get their panties in a knot.

But this is a tired topic. Runners don’t need to define themselves. If they did, it might look something like this:

1. I am a runner because I run anytime, anywhere.
I don’t need a training plan to follow. I don’t need a running schedule. If I have one, that’s cool. If I don’t, that’s ok too. I don’t need people or apps or a piece of paper hanging on my fridge to tell when me to run. I’ll run regardless.

2. I am a runner because I will run alone.
I don’t need to always follow a group, though sometimes I like to. I am equally happy running by myself. I don’t ever need fanfare or applause.

3. I am a runner because I don’t need to prove it.
I don’t need to log or record my “workouts” so that everyone knows I ran. If I log my runs, it’s for my own records—not to prove myself. I know what I am.

4. I am a runner because I don’t measure my performance against others.
I move to the best of my ability and I am not intimidated by “better” runners. I do not feel better about myself next to a slower runner. We are just runners. There is no better. There is no worse.

5. I am a runner because I do not apologize for a strong performance.
If I have a fast race, I will be damn proud of it. I don’t need to downplay my success so others won’t be offended or feel bad about themselves. If I can be a great runner, I’ll own it.

6. I am a runner because I do not make excuses for poor performance.
If I have a slow-ass race and come in dead last, I don’t need to explain why. It wasn’t an injury, and it wasn’t the weather. I’m just damn fucking slow. I’m slow sometimes. Deal with it. I’m still a runner.

7. I am a runner because my body is awesome.
I don’t care what others see or what society tells me. I know my body is awesome because of the way it moves me. I’m amazingly built. I refuse to criticize a body that allows me to do what I love.

8. I am a runner because I have fun.
I’m actually having an awesome time. This is not a workout. It’s not a chore. I didn’t go to bed at night, dreading my run. I don’t try to get my runs over with. I wish they lasted longer.
9. I am a runner because I don’t care what you call me.
Call me fast, slow, jogger, speedster, DFL’er; it won’t make me mad. Define me if it makes you feel better, but tired labels mean nothing. If I’m faster, that does not make you worse. If I’m slower, that does not make you better. So get over yourself and get out for a run.


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Guest Post: Accepting the Inevitable – I am a Runner.

Thank you to Kate, for writing this piece for my blog. You’re everyone’s favorite inevitable runner.

I have finally realized that I am a runner.

You will now be divided into two groups.

Those of you that know me will be laughing, wiping the tears from your eyes and saying, “You are only realizing that now?”

Those that don’t know me, will be looking at the those laughing and wondering why the hell they are bent double, falling to the floor and unable to breathe.

To the group of you that are looking bemused, let me introduce myself.

My name is Kate and I have been running for about three and a half years.  However, during that time I have never counted myself as a runner.  In fact I have been pretty adamant about it.  I don’t take running that seriously and just count running as something that I like to do.  I am not fast; I don’t run far.  There have been weeks – no months – where I may not have run at all.

Yet — and this is why those that know me are killing themselves laughing — my day is spent doing many things that are running related.  Here are a few examples:

I have been writing over the last two and a half years, a blog that is predominantly about running.  I also write about other subjects too; my Son’s Autism, my views on life and other general drunken ramblings.  In my view, just because I have a personal blog that revolves around running doesn’t make me a runner.

I have also been active within the Barefoot Runners Society. It’s fun and interesting work, but I see it more of an organizational challenge than running related. This role doesn’t require me to be a runner.

In the last year, I have been coaching some of my friends in how to run well. To me, this is my social life.  As we run, we talk, chat, laugh and muck about.  I help because it’s an opportunity to have fun. I don’t help my friends run because I am a runner.

In December 2011, I was asked by Canadian Running Magazine to write a weekly blog for their site about barefoot running.  I admit my non-runner status is probably on shaky ground now.

Writing for Canadian Running Magazine has been an education into the hidden depths of the running industry. It’s been fascinating and it has appealed to my innate desire to investigate and learn.  I love making new connections – both with people and in my writing.  Connecting the differing sides and views of the industry has been tough but wonderful.  Challenging myself and learning from those experiences does not make me a runner.

If you looked at my Facebook page you would see that at least half of my friends are runners — usually of the barefoot kind.  This is a case of like-minded souls being drawn together.  Just because we all seem to enjoy running doesn’t mean I should be labeled as a runner.

Is now a good time to admit I do actually run perhaps three to four times a week?  Getting out and enjoying the fresh air is my mental reset.  Going for a run makes me sane, but not a runner.

You can probably see why the people that know me think my sudden realization I am a runner is humorous.  You can also see that I still feel the need to validate my non-runner status.  My futile attempts now seem rather hollow.

So why, after all this time and after everything I do that involves running, do I now believe I am a runner.

I am a runner now, because it’s in my gut; it’s a part of me.

Before running was something I did.  I enjoyed it don’t get me wrong — I love to run. I always make it my mission to gain some personal connection to my run.  I bring joy to my run – I have fun and I try to make everyone I pass smile.

Yet, I always felt that I was viewing running as an observer.  Running enabled me to try different things.  I became a writer, an administrator, a coach and a friend.  When people labeled me as a runner, I always felt it was in relation to other roles that I saw myself in.

The last few weeks, I have been feeling a change in my perception.  I wasn’t really aware of what I was feeling until it suddenly hit me.

It was the sense of movement. There was a new awareness within myself.  I felt the power of my legs moving.  I could feel the breath going in and out of my lungs.  My whole body seemed to vibrate as my heart pulsed at every beat.   I felt my muscles and tendons – my sinew – release and contract with each step.

I was silent, I was strong and I glided.

The path wasn’t something I ran over – my feet seemed to hardly touch the ground.  It was if I was floating over the small layer of air that covered the rocks, dirt and tree roots.

Even though I felt as if I was slow, I realized I was fast.  The agony of reaching a certain pace wasn’t there.  I hardly seemed to be out of breath and I would look at my watch and realize that I was running minutes faster than I normally would.  I felt strong, as if I could continue forever.

Every part of my body worked in unison and running became effortless.  Before I realized, I was running six miles and I would just continue.  The thoughts of reality and the normal life that was waiting for me were the only reasons I stopped and headed home.

I have experienced runs like this before, but they have always been one-off’s.  The occasional run in the midst of the months where there was always one part of my run that was slightly out of sync.

However lately that balance has switched.  Now every run feels like it’s perfect.  I can see why people run – the primal connection we experience.  Running has become instinctual instead of something I have to work at.  As I make the next landing, every part of my body is working together as a joyous whole, just as it should be.  The reason for us to run as an individual, as a group – a pack — now makes sense.

I have ceased being an observer and have become a part of the majesty of how we move.  I have made that connection to why running is essential to our species.  Running is now in my DNA.  I can’t remove it.

Why would I want to?

I am a runner.


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Guest Post: An IBRD Gift from Lynsey and FuzzyFeet

Hello Barefoot Runners!

This year FuzzyFeet decided to sponsor TheNakedFoot5k, so that its awesomeness could be spread across the country.  If you live under a rock and haven’t heard of Naked Foot here’s the lowdown:

NakedFoot considers itself the ‘ultimate outdoors lifestyle festival for everything that represents an active, healthy and natural lifestyle.’   It is also the nation’s first barefoot-optional 5k series.  Before and after the race you can sample clothing, food, and minimalist footwear.  Foot massages and games are available after the race.

Entering a barefoot-friendly running event is awesome; I know because I attended the St. Augustine race.  But you know what makes a race even more fun?

DISCOUNTED ENTRY FEE!

So, Happy IBRD to everyone.  Register for a Naked Foot race at Active.com and enter code NF5K2012 to receive $5 off your individual entry.

Also, everyone who lets me know they used this code will be entered to win a free pair of FuzzyFeet.  Simply send me a Facebook message telling me which race you entered.  I’ll randomly draw a name on May 12th.  And I promise, no spam!

Happy running!
-Lynsey


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Guest Post: Confessions of a Running Non-Runner

Kathy Lavoie is one of my favorite people in the universe. Despite being chaotic, hard to catch and mostly noncommittal about everything, she is incredibly easy to love. In fact, it may be her chaotic, hard-to-catch and mostly noncommittal qualities that make me love her. Lucky for me, I was able to get her to sit still long enough to write this for me. Thanks, Kathy!
. . .

I have never considered myself a runner. I’m not sure I ever will. Everyone’s definition is different and I will never make judgements as to whether someone else is a real runner or not.

For me, being a runner is much like being a musician. Just about everyone can be taught to play a musical instrument. I can’t be the only person whose childhood memories are forever scarred by memories of the recorder in music class. To this day when I see one my ears start to bleed. Okay, that might be an exaggeration. But my point (which I do in fact have) is this – almost all of us are able to run. I have watched my children crawl, cruise, take those first timid steps and ultimately run as fast as cheetahs. Or at least it seems that way when I am chasing them.

The thing is that just because we can all run doesn’t make us all runners.  Much like music, it’s about soul. There’s something beautiful about watching someone who has that soul behind what they are doing whether it’s music or art or running.

I used to live next door to a runner. Every morning, rain or shine or snow, she was out at 4 am. There was nothing fancy or showy about her running, it was just part of who she was.

And then there’s me. I can play the clarinet, the piano and yes, the recorder, but I don’t consider myself a musician. It is simply action and reaction. I can read music and plunk out the notes. It ain’t pretty but I get by. My running is much the same. I’ve finished some 5ks, a 5 miler, a 10k and a half. NONE of them were pretty. But I knew that theoretically I was supposed to be able to do this. We were designed to run. I just needed to put one foot in front of the other.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to run. But for some reason it’s still rote memorization for me. I’m still plunking out the notes.

Running as an action has enough benefits that even if I never find that flow it still makes sense in my life. I’m hoping that someday it will just click. Although in my mind that moment is accompanied by an instantaneous ability to run with the grace of a gazelle and the endurance of the tiger chasing said gazelle. I’m not holding my breath. For now I’m content with putting one foot in front of the other.


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Guest Post: Tips for Surviving Long-Term Recovery

Your week used to consist of high mileage, complicated yoga, and explosive plyometrics.  And then, cue the horror music, you became injured.

You were doing everything right – saw a Doctor, reduced your exercise load, and took the recommended rest days. A speedy recovery looked promising until the Doctor said those words all active people fear – It’s going to be awhile until you’re allowed to do that again.  Now your injury requires long-term recovery and there’s no standard timetable dictating how long you’ll be off your game.

Here are a few tips for surviving your long-term recovery and hopefully avoid filling what seems like a prescription for insanity.

1. Accept your limitations

Don’t waste time comparing what seems like pre-injury awesomeness with post-injury mediocrity; there is no comparison.  Your body is re-cov-er-ing. The pain, inflammation, and stiffness you feel is your body’s way of protecting itself from further injury. These symptoms will dissipate and you’ll be back to normal, eventually. Complaining about your temporary lack of awesomeness will not help you heal quicker; it will however drive friends and family away. Then, one day when you’re stuck on the couch no one will be nearby to grab a snack from the kitchen for you.

2. Don’t push it

Some days suck, some suck more.  Hooray for brokenness, right?  But since you’ve accepted the fact that your body is not performing at its peak you won’t freak out when the simplest act seems insurmountable. And you wouldn’t dream of pushing past your injury-imposed boundaries, like fighting to complete a scheduled long-run despite radiating pain that began at half mile. Save it for another day.  Your attempt to ‘soldier on’ will not impress your significant other who probably already told you not to leave the house; it will not make you feel bad-ass on a bad day.   It will, however, add more time to your recovery and likely require an additional doctor’s appointment.

3. Smile, damn it

Whomever first said that laughter is the best medicine was pretty smart because research has shown that it does release physical tension, decrease stress hormones, and release endorphins.  And smiling is fun; it’s impossible to be angry or frustrated when you’re smiling.  Go ahead, try.  Laughing won’t miraculously cure what ails you, however it will help you survive those few moments you thought were hopeless. Find anything to make you smile. Really, anything.

4. Don’t fester

You’re not obligated to keep your discontent and pain bottled inside. Close friends and family understand that you’re miserable. After all, life kind of dealt you a nasty blow. Their sympathetic ear can lessen the magnitude of The Suck; and, voicing your fears, depression and pain helps others be of better assistance.  Sharing these emotions isn’t a sign of weakness, and chances are pretty good that you aren’t the burden you feel like you are becoming.  Releasing your emotions keeps you from snapping at people for no reason or exploding; on the other hand pent up emotions breed depression and often manifest themselves physically.

5. Use food for sustenance, not coping

All this free time is likely to leave you feeling bored, agitated, and plain ol’ stressed-out. Researchers have several theories about why, but suffice to say that it’s common to crave junk foods when you’re feeling stressed.  These comfort foods tend to be high in calories, something you definitely don’t need an abundance of during your (temporary) less active lifestyle.  Indulging in lots of pie may pass the time and bring you bliss, however, its sugar-high will be short-lived and you’ll eventually start tacking on a few extra pounds.