October 29, 2011

VIVOBAREFOOT Evos Coming to their Inevitable End

I am sad to say that my VIVOBAREFOOT Evos are starting to fail. Although, I have to say that I am VERY happy with how well they've lasted and performed over the year and half that I've owned them.

These have been my go-to shoes ever since they arrived in the mail. Because I write reviews for Living Barefoot, I get a lot of shoes in the mail, some are winners and some definitely are not. The Evos quickly became my favourite pair of minimalist footwear for errands, walking the dogs, and most especially running. I even wore them on several hikes in the mountains. They are one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I have EVER worn. I don't know how many kilometres I've put on them but quite a few of them have been in rocky, rooty, muddy, thorny, and downright difficult conditions for any shoe, let alone a minimalist shoe.

How are they failing, you might ask? The mesh on the upper is starting to rip and become holey. I hit a rock pretty hard once recently with the very top of the shoe (I was surprised and grateful I didn't break a toe on that one) and it tore the mesh open there as well. I'm totally impressed that the TPU cage is holding fast so I'll probably continue to wear them despite my pinky toes starting to poke through the mesh on the sides.

The sole is holding up well also. These are my favourite road running shoes as well and the sole, although definitely showing wear, still has a lot of life in them yet.

Despite their beginning to fail, I know that if I had abused a pair of conventional shoes this way, they probably would have failed a long time ago. I have other minimalist footwear whose uppers have not lasted so well so long. And I have other minimalist shoes whose soles have not lasted so well with far fewer kilometres on them than these. These Evos have been well-loved and brutally abused (at least compared to any pair of shoes that I have ever owned).

Because I love them so much, I'll probably keep wearing them but I think it's time to buy another pair soon...

Here are some pics of my beloved and abused year and half-old Evos:

Beloved Injinjis

I have loved Injinji Toe Socks since I received my first pair as a race souvenir at a 5 Peaks race several years ago. Since then, I've been slowly growing my collection and have come to realize I wear them probably over 95% of the time now. Why would I write about toe socks on a 'barefoot alternative blog'? Because I think they are a healthy product for our feet as they allow absolute freedom of ALL the toes. I find whenever I wear regular socks now, my toes feel squished and constricted. I wiggle my toes a lot and stretch them out after standing for a long time (which I do a lot because I have a standing desk to work at) so love that I can stretch all my toes out as far as they can go when wearing Injinjis.

A friend recently asked me what kind she should buy so I thought I'd write a post about the different kinds I have so she can decide which pair (or pairs) will work best for her. What better way to do that than with pictures? So here are some pictures and captions of the different models of Injinjis I have. Keep in mind, these socks aren't new and are well loved. :)

Performance Series Original Weight Mini-Crew Black. Just above the ankle, mid-weight toe sock great for running and hiking in minimalist shoes or just wearing around the house.

Outdoor Series Mini-Crew Slate. Wool toe socks which are the thickest and warmest Injinjis I have. They are quite warm around the house but don't fit well in tight shoes. They are great for cooler temperature walks or hikes with boots or a wider shoe. The wool doesn't conform to the feet as well as the synthetic material does but they are definitely not itchy against the skin.

Performance Series Eco Mini-Crew Rainbow Black. These have become my favourite Injinjis, mostly because of their colours. :) They are mid-weight synthetic socks but come in funky rainbow colours. They are the same thickness as the Original Weight Mini-Crew Black toe socks above so are also great for running and hiking but mostly I wear them for more casual outings as I don't want them to get stained with dirt.

Performance Series Lightweight No-Show Grey. The thinnest and smallest of my Injinjis. They really don't show much while wearing any minimalist shoe. Because they are so thin, they fit very well in tighter shoes. They probably won't last as long as the mid-weight socks, however, and don't provide that much warmth, which isn't really the point of them. They are a thin interface between your skin and your shoes and do a great job preventing blisters.

Performance Series Lightweight Mini-Crew Black. I've folded down the top edge in the picture to show that, if you want, you can have Injinjis that don't show any brand markings, not that Injinjis' are obtrusive in any way. Still a thin interface between your skin and your shoes but won't show any stains.

Performance Series Lightweight Mini-Crew Grey. I ran a muddy trail with these and, although they performed beautifully, I haven't quite gotten the dirt stain out of them yet. These have become my go-to toe socks for trail running. :)

Performance Series Lightweight Crew Black. These fit great under boots! A thin interface between your skin and your footwear that go up mid-calf. I wear these a lot with my motorcycle boots.
That's my current collection. They are all well-loved and worn much.

When do I go back to wearing conventional socks? The only time I've found I wear regular socks is riding my motorcycle when it's cold (between 0-5C). Because Injinjis have separate toe pockets, they're like gloves for your feet. Regular socks are like mittens; they keep the heat in a little better and the warmth evenly distributed across your toes. Although I can wiggle my toes in my motorcycle boots, the lack of activity doesn't allow me to create enough body heat to keep my toes warm enough in such cold weather with separate toe pockets. But my toes are definitely NOT as happy in regular socks as they are in toe socks!

NUUN Addiction

Back in May, whilst in New York for the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program, my dear and lovely friend Barefoot Angie Bee introduced me to NUUN. I've been hopelessly addicted ever since.

To begin the tale, I should probably talk about what happened in New York. At the time, Angie was a regional rep for NUUN so had brought a bunch of samples to share with the attendees of the coaching program. I was a little skeptical at first because I had only ever tried Gatorade powder in water and I liked that quite a bit at the time. The day before the coaching program started, Angie and a friend of ours from VIVOBAREFOOT had a lovely day touring New York City. We walked all over Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge, sight-seeing all day long. It was a gorgeous day and we all had a great time. We finished the day with dinner at a Brooklyn Pub, which was great, until we all got home. All three of us had a touch of food poisoning. The next day, the first day of the coaching program, Angie and I were still feeling the previous night's effects and I didn't think I could keep any kind of breakfast in. Angie suggested I try some of the NUUN she brought so I could at least get in some electrolytes.

So I tried it.

And it was wonderful.

I don't even remember what flavour it was but it tasted great and it stayed in. My belly actually stopped hurting. And I was hooked. I drank NUUN in my water the rest of the trip. And now I drink a lot of NUUN at home, too, and especially when I exercise.

Here are some things I've learned about NUUN since my initial hit in New York:
  • I enjoy all the flavours I've tried and my favourite is probably Strawberry Lemonade
  • Kona Cola is the only flavour with caffeine (that I know of and that I've tried) and it tastes a lot like Coke but without the sugar
  • I drink a lot of NUUN while travelling to stay hydrated and have taken it on every trip I've been on since New York
  • It's super easy to pack in their little tubes and (if I remember) easy to mix and match flavours in one tube
  • I'm convinced that drinking NUUN keeps me from getting 'travel headaches' (which I used to get a lot and was probably due to being dehydrated in an effort to keep from having to find a bathroom in a strange place)
  • While drinking straight water at home, I often find it goes right through me and I have to pee every 20 minutes (I know, a bit of TMI) but if I add some NUUN to my water, over-peeing issues resolve immediately (they're probably due to some kind of electrolyte imbalance, I think)
  • I LOVE that NUUN has no sugar! Not only can I drink it all the time without worrying about calories but I don't have to worry about washing my water bottle out with soap every time I drink it because it doesn't grow bacteria (this is especially nice when travelling where I've found international water alone can make my bottle smelly after only a couple of days)
  • If I have NUUN available while exercising, I tend to drink A LOT (because it tastes so good) so for short hikes or run, I"ll leave the NUUN in the car and bring water so I don't run out on the course
  • I like NUUN so much better than Gatorade now because I can control how many calories I take in separately from my water and electrolytes
  • I don't have any sorbitol issues but have found that some people can have sorbitol intolerance problems (which are apparently no fun at all)
I am grateful to Angie every day that she introduced me to NUUN (thank you so much, Angie!). If you haven't tried it and want to, it's available at a number of sport-related stores or online, of course.

NUUN flavours I've tried

Long Time No Post Update

I dislike leaving blog posting for over a month but I have spent the last month writing a lot for Living Barefoot and quite a bit of coaching for Living Barefoot Coaching. On to the details...

I've been trying to catch up on writing shoe reviews for Living Barefoot. With the increased popularity of minimalist shoes, Al and I found ourselves somewhat swamped (but in a totally good way) with shoe reviews this summer and fall. In the last month, I've written four reviews (which will all be going online in the next couple of weeks) and I still have four to go. Then another three shoes are currently in the mail for fall reviews. It's been a bit of a hectic writing schedule. I love that there is so much choice in the minimalist shoe market now. What a change from two years ago!

Living Barefoot Coaching is picking up as well. I've spent the last four Fridays coaching at Dynastream Innovations Inc. in Cochrane with Natural Running Lunch & Learn sessions. They've been so much fun and I've learned a lot. I really do believe that 'You teach what you want to learn' and with every client I coach or every presentation I give, I'm learning something, too. The people at Dynastream have all been great sports and I hope to continue coaching some of the wonderful people I met there.

In other coaching news, I've started 'running' form check-in runs with past clients. We start with a couple warm-up exercises and then head out on my favourite nearby trail, through the Cochrane Ranche. We focus on form on the way out and usually run to the 180 BPM cadence beeping out of the metronome. On the way back, we just have fun and enjoy the scenery.

Here are a couple pics of yesterday's group run:

Warming up

Heading out on the trail

In other coaching news, I'll be attending the 5 Peaks Central Alberta Mountain Equipment Co-op Night on November 6 from 6-8 PM. I'm hoping to have a lovely poster presentation (which is this weekend's assignment to get finished) and have more of a Q&A type of set-up then a formal talk. So if you're in the Calgary area and want to see what Living Barefoot Coaching is about in addition to learning something about the biomechanics of running, come on down to MEC November 6.

On to some catch-up blog posting...