Results tagged “Minimalist Footwear”

Minimalist Round 2!

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It is hard to believe I have been running in minimalist shoes for nine months. A few months back I outlined my introduction to minimalist shoe training and racing. I highlighted my opinion on running in minimalist shoes, described their performance, and made some predictions on the specific shoes I was currently wearing.

Well, after another couple of months, I would like to reflect on what has changed or remained the same about my original post. A big thanks to Kyle Roberts at Revolution Natural Running (RNR) for providing me with some excellent samples to try out.

Inov8 F-Lite 230

My first pair of Inov8 F-Lite 230s finally checked out. They racked up a grand total of 1,001 miles. This was a bit shy of what I predicted after logging 461 miles in these shoes, but not by much—and still a solid lifespan. Also, consider that I wore this pair for the entire 100 miles on the Western States Trail and the entire 50 miles on the Ice Age 50.

The part of the shoe that finally went was the left inside, by the big toe, where the fabric ripped away from the base of the shoe. I was surprised at how well the sole of this shoe held up. If the toe box was bigger or stronger, I'm sure the soles could have gone quite a bit further. Overall, I was very content with the longevity of the Inov8 F-Lite 230s. In fact, I liked them so much a grabbed a second pair. I’m excited to see if my second pair of the 230s will develop in a similar fashion, or if I will be able to milk a few more miles out of them. Even if not, 1,001 miles is double what we're told to expect from a pair of shoes.

Inov8 155 Road X Lite

My pair of Inov8 155 Road X Lite are still going strong. So far they've counted 940 miles. These are a great pair of shoes for smooth surfaces. They have held up great despite their very light frame (155 grams, hence the name).

With a heel-to-toe drop of 3 mm, these are great for someone who has some miles under their legs in a low-profile shoe, and great for someone trying to work down to a zero-drop shoe. I've used these for races, workouts, and long runs. My guess is the sole will wear through before anything else falls apart on the shoe. The fabric and toe box are still in phenomenal shape.

In my previous post on the topic, Minimalist Shoes, Maximum Durability, I estimated that I'd get close to 1,000 miles out of this pair. I am pleased to say I am confident they will surpass that by a healthy margin.

Inov8 Bare X Lite 150

The Inov8 Bare X Lite 150s are a pair I have not reviewed in the past. I have racked up 619 miles in these shoes since getting them from Revolution Natural Running in Wauwatosa, WI. Like the 155s, I am continuously surprised at the durability of this shoe. It is incredibly light, and so flexible that I can crumple the shoe up into a ball.

When I first put these shoes on, I loved the feel, but I thought I would blow through them quicker than the first two minimalist shoes I tried. I am pleased to say that these shoes show no sign of going out any time soon, and will likely last as long as the 155s. They are fantastic for racing and workouts with their feather-like weight of 150 grams. The 150s are minimalist throughout with no laces and a zero-drop heel-to-toe ratio. After a few runs with these, you will be able to literally slip them on hands-free and hit the road. I have used the 150s for races, workouts, and long runs.

However, they are a road shoe, so it is wise to stay clear of sharp rocks. I have taken these on trails, but have found I have to tiptoe through the nasty stuff, so I typically stay on the pavement with these shoes.

Skora Form

I was really excited when Kyle at RNR told me he wanted me to try out the Skoras. I knew very little about them, but Kyle said I would love them, and so far all his suggestions have been great to me. They are a bit heavier than the Inov8 150 and 155 shoes, but they look and feel extremely durable.

They also have a lot more protection for the heel and forefoot. There is enough there to absorb small stones. This has allowed me to take them on trails. In fact, I raced the JFK 50 Mile in them, which has some technical trail (Appalachian Trail) and a gravel tow-path. I never had any sharp shots to the foot when running on the gravel or technical sections.

And they're great for roads. They have a unique rubber sole (see specs below) that really grips the pavement well. I love these for road speedwork. It almost feels like wearing spikes on the track. The sole seems to be quite resistant to wear, as can be seen in the picture. Even after running 300 miles in them, you can’t see any wear on the actual sole.

The comfort in these shoes is top notch. In fact, I have probably walked as many miles in these shoes as I have run in them, so these shoes probably have over 500 miles of overall movement in them. My estimate is that these shoes will easily eclipse the 1,000-mile mark (running miles, not counting the walking miles I have done and will do in them).

Here are the technical specs of the Skora Form:
  • REALFIT™ last
  • Pittards Armor-Tan Goat upper
  • Pittards WR100X Sheepskin lining
  • Asymmetrical lacing
  • Anti-slip microfiber heelpad
  • No-tongue design
  • Elastic heel strap
  • Reflective details
  • 4mm Ortholite sockliner
  • High abrasion rubber
  • Zero-drop construction
  • Stitch-down construction
  • 9mm forefoot/heel stack height (13mm with insole)
  • 8.2 oz/235 grams

As always, please post any questions, comments, or personal experience you have in regards to the topic of minimalist running.

Minimalist Shoes, Maximum Durability

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I have reached about the 1,000-mile mark of wearing minimalist shoes. I spent a good deal of time transitioning towards minimalist footwear, which I think was vital to making the switch without getting injured.

The reason I mention the 1,000-mile mark is because I have recently become curious about shoe durability. Kyle, at Revolution Natural Running, mentioned that he thought it would be cool to be able to reference the number of miles that certain shoes last.

Immediately intrigued, I thought to myself, “Why do people replace shoes?” I think the number-one reason is because the midsole cushioning in the shoe wears out. The next thing to go would probably be the tread. And then there are probably some folks who wear a shoe until they literally wear a hole through it.

With the minimalist approach, you can basically scratch the first reason for replacing a shoe, given that the whole point of minimalist footwear is eliminating the cushioning to allow the natural motion of the foot to absorb the impact. Since a thick cushion would destroy this process, minimalist shoes do not have midsole cushioning—meaning there's no midsole to wear out. I guessed that my Inov-8 F-Lite 230s and Inov-8 Road X-Lite 155s would rack up a ton more miles than, say, an average cushioned trainer.

Why does this all really matter? Well, all runners can agree that shoes are not cheap. If you follow the general rule of thumb that many running shoe companies have put out, we should only run 400 to 600 miles on a pair of shoes before replacing them. I believe lots of people think of these numbers and turn away from minimalist shoes, because they can be expensive. However, if we can get double or even triple the miles out of them, the shoe budget decreases.

 I don’t want you to have to take my word for it, so I listed the stats and some pictures showing how my minimalist shoes are holding up. Even after hundreds of miles, they're in really good shape. I should be able to easily get another 800 miles out of the 230s, and another 500 from the 155s.

Inov-8 X-Lite 230s: 461 miles (including two races: WS100 and IA50)

Inov-8 Road X-Lite 155: 417 miles

Going Minimal...

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The idea of "less is more" has caught fire amongst the running/walking community in the minimalist movement. Unfortunately it seems that lots of people bought into the craze but executed the transition to minimalism wrong. The people who went out and bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers, slipped them on, and knocked out a 30-60 minute jog all in one day were making a mistake: There is a transition period required to strengthen the muscles in the feet before minimalist running can be done effectively.

The practice of wearing shoes—with all their padding and support—regularly has weakened our foot muscles. Weak muscles need to be exercised with gradual incremental increases in order to avoid injury. It's the same reason why you don’t go from running 10 miles a week to running 100 miles a week without a build-up. Likewise, to effectively run with a minimalist shoe, one must slowly transition. If you're interested in learning about my transition to minimal footwear, keep on reading; I recently completed a 50-mile trail ultra in a pair of minimalist shoes.

I started getting into the minimalist approach last fall when I visited a unique running store in Wauwatosa, WI, called Revolution Natural Running. The owner, Kyle Roberts, is actually a pedorthist by trade. His perspective, and that of most proponents of minimalist footwear, is that most people could cure their foot ailments by ditching their insoles and going minimal. As strange as this sounded, I was convinced. After all, why would a guy who is trained to design foot inserts tell the vast majority of people that they don’t need his product? Kyle explains:
As a certified pedorthist, I am not a doctor, but am a specialist in conservative therapies of the foot—namely orthotics and footwear. So I used to spend much of my time actually building orthotics, but now I see a much better alternative for most athletes that have foot and lower extremity injuries, which is the strengthening of the muscles of the feet and looking at gait to reduce over-striding. By teaching runners to run more efficiently, we can get them to use more of their body’s elasticity, so they don’t have to use as much muscular energy.
— Kyle Roberts

I walked out of the store convinced I wanted to transition towards minimalist running. So with the guidance of Kyle’s philosophy, I began the journey. I started out by doing a lot of walking around barefoot or in sandals. This gave the muscles in my feet a chance to stretch out and strengthen. My next step was to give my feet a slightly harder workout. I began running about 10 percent of my weekly miles in shoes with an 8-11mm heel-to-toe drop, meaning the difference between the sole thickness in the heel compared to the toe. Typical modern running shoes have about a 12mm drop, and the drop in stability shoes can be even greater. The closer to a 0mm heel-to-toe drop (called "zero drop") a shoe has, the closer it is to a barefoot-like running experience. I spent all winter gradually increasing the percent of weekly mileage I ran wearing a shoes with smaller heel-to-toe drops.

By springtime I had convinced myself I was ready to go back to Revolution Natural Running and try out a legit minimalist shoe. I met with Kyle for quite a while going over possible shoes that would be good for me to start with. Kyle relentlessly analyzed my stride and foot strike on his store treadmill with various shoes to make sure we found one that was right for me. When all was said and done, we decided the Inov8 F-Lite 230s (6mm drop) would be a good shoe to start with. He also set me up with a pair of Inov8 Road X Lite 155 (3mm drop) for road running and to help further transition to my goal of running in zero drop shoes. I also walked out of Revolution Natural Running with a pair of Vibram Five Fingers (zero drop). Kyle explained that walking around for long periods of the day wearing the Vibrams would help strengthen my feet. Ultimately, I was able to race the Ice Age 50 Mile in the Inov-8 F-Lite 230s without getting hurt, and feeling light, smooth, and efficient the whole way.

Based on my experience, I would highly recommend contacting Kyle at Revolution Natural Running if you think you would like to try out a minimalist approach to running or walking. In the two weeks since I started wearing minimalist shoes I have noticed an increase in foot strength through improvements in balance. I am excited for what this will do for technical trail running.

If you live in the Milwaukee Area, I would strongly suggest stopping in and talking with Kyle and the other great staff members at Revolution Natural Running. Even if you don’t live within traveling distance, I would still highly recommend contacting Kyle for his expertise. They have an online store, and their contact information is listed below. Speaking with Kyle will allow you to get an individualized transition plan into what will surely be a foot strengthening endeavor!


11702 W. North Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 988-5370