Earth Runners Minimal Earthing Sandals

Flip flop sandals have always filled me with fear, particularly the thong style with inter-toe strap, which seems like an horrific big toe accident waiting to happen.

Obviously I’ve been intrigued by the huarache sandals made famous by the Tarahumara and the book, Born to run. Intrigued, but not even slightly interested in wearing them – far too hardcore for my barefoot dabblings.

Earth Runners CircadianHaving said that, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so when Mike offered me a sneak preview of the new Circadian Earth Runner I jumped at the opportunity to try them out for size. The Earth Runner series include copper studs and coils which are designed to conduct electricity and “ground” you to the earth. I was of course deeply sceptical about this “grounding” stuff but when my sandals arrived I was disappointed that the grounding studs seemed to be missing. I needn’t have worried, the conduction system is still there, just a little less conspicuous in the Circadian model.

I don’t know if I’m feeling the benefits of being earthed but I do enjoy wearing them. I’ve taken to wearing them around the house like slippers, I feel good in them. I don’t apparently, look good in them, so I won’t be bothering you with photos of my sandals in action – I was not blessed with photogenic feet.

It is odd to feel the strap between your toes but I am getting used to it and the Earth Runners are amazingly customisable for such a simple product. The strap angle can be altered by shifting the buckle position and there are a few videos on the website to help with finding the perfect fit.

I’ve run with these on the treadmill but I’m taking it easy, I can’t shake off the vision of the big toe accident and so I’m nervous to take these out and run with abandon over trails where I risk snagging the sole and turning the lace into a cheese wire. Maybe I’ll get over this in time and relax into my Earth Runner, I hope so because they give a fabulous feeling of freedom. The underfoot experience is very similar to the RunAmoc Moc3 but the upper is more cabriolet style.

Earth Runners are currently running a kick starter campaign to send the Circadian into full production. It looks like they have hit their target so hopefully they will be available more widely soon but do check it out if you’d like to place an order and take advantage of the early adopter discount. I would strongly recommend the product quality and the comfort will only increase over the coming months as the footbed moulds to the shape of your foot.

I’ll be taking these on my summer holidays even if they do play havoc with my sex appeal.


New Balance Minimus Zero

The New Balance Minimus Zero is a surprisingly light shoe, the shoe box was so light that I half expected it to be empty. I know it’s billed as a minimalist shoe so was hardly likely to be bulky but it has such an imposing sole that I was expecting it to feel slightly more substantial.

20130301-144901.jpgThe Vibram sole is fabulous.

It’s like a field of Eden projects – colourful geodesic bumps forming a flexible platform.

The pod design enables excess material to be cut away and explains why the shoe is so light. The dark pods have a firm and grippy layer to extend the life of the high impact areas.

20130301-144922.jpgThe rest of the shoe doesn’t excite me as much the sole. The upper is made from a lightweight, almost transparent mesh and I’m afraid when I put my feet inside the sight of my hairy toes just ruins the visual appeal. I don’t think it is entirely my toes fault – not many feet are attractive through semi-transparent mesh.

With the New Balance Minimus all the design efforts appear to have gone into the sole and the upper has been left rather stark. The mesh is both unattractive and feels a bit harsh. For a shoe designed to be worn without socks I would have preferred a softer fabric. The ankle opening has slight padding but it has no structure and gapes quite unpleasantly when I wear it. The tongue is made from a soft felt-like material but it isn’t firmly attached to the shoe which means that it is a faff to get it to lay flat when you’re wearing it. It’s very easy to create a fold that would create a blister after a few miles of running.

I’m not overly impressed with the New Balance Minimus. It looks great until you put it on and then the minimal design of the upper lets it down. I have no complaints at all with sole which performs well for a midfoot or barefoot running style but the Minimus won’t be tempting me away from my barefot stalwarts the Vibram Five Fingers or the Softstar Moc3.

Soft Star Shoes – Moc3 Barefoot Running Shoe

Soft Star shoes are my guilty pleasure, the fashion habit that I feel somewhat obliged to hide from the family.

RunAmoc Moc3

I’m threatening to turn into one of those old biddies who wander round the streets in their slippers, but when shoes are this comfortable who really cares?

Soft Star shoes are as cutting edge and hip as elf made, barefoot shoes get. The original RunAmoc (reviewed here) was hard to beat but the elves have got a new recruit and he’s brought some tried and tested science to the shoe making table, resulting in the release of Moc3 RunAmoc. These are fantastically comfortable and have odour resistant properties that Vibram FiveFinger runners will envy.

I prefer the thicker sole option for trail running but they are also my gad about shoe of choice especially when camping.

Soft Star The RogueI’ve just discovered their latest casual shoe offering, The Rogue, and I’m wondering if I can get away with these combined with a suit for work?


Sportpursuit – Sports Gear and Gadget Deals Site

I was recently asked to blog about a new flash sale website that focuses on sports gear and gadgets.

20120526-104956.jpgI normally avoid this stuff like the plague as I’m not interested in seeing my inbox fill with fabulous offers that I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.

This one seemed a little different and as I can’t resist sports gadgetry, I took a look and then I ended up signing-up and now I’m at serious risk of bankrupting myself.

If you’re not familiar with flash sales, it’s all the rage at the moment and featured on The Apprentice last week. It’s based around the concept of time limited offers with significant discounts. Sites such as Groupon put forward fairly generic offers and bombard you with treats such as laser hair removal, teeth whitening and golf trips on the Costa Brava but Sportpursuit has a focus – individual sports. This of course means that almost every offer is going to feel highly relevant and therefore a huge risk to my wallet.

At the moment they have offers from the likes of Vibram fivefingers, Vivobarefoot, Zoot, Cebe and a snowboarding brand that I’ve never heard of.

Vibram fivefinger dealsI’m particularly interested in the barefoot running deals. The Vibram fivefingers look fab – I know I already have a pair and I’m not really doing a lot of barefoot running at the moment but the Women’s Bikilas look great and they are being offered at £66, down from £115, that is quite an offer and it’s not a brand that you often find deals on.

If you want to expose yourself to some great run, bike, swim deals, I recommend that you take a look at Sportpursuit. If you want to keep hold of your money – ignore this post!

Barefoot Rowing

I was scheduled for another run this evening but after watching Biggest Loser UK and seeing myself get thrashed by one of the contestants over the 5k distance, I didn’t feel much in the mood for running.

20120104-222617.jpgI opted to row instead and as I’ve been reading about the new rage for barefoot and/or strapless rowing I thought I’d go back to my roots and give it go.

It’s supposed to hone your technique but maybe that requires you to have some to hone.

It turned me into rather a pants rower. Everything dropped – pace, power, stroke rate. I kept thrusting myself off the back of the machine.

Better improve before the biggest losers show me up at that sport as well.

I Am a Barefoot Runner

My Vibram Five Fingers have started to cause consternation in the house, the stench is creating a no go zone in the hallway but at least this movie can raise a little smile.

Footprints in the Sand


My enforced rest seems to have paid dividends and I have finally managed to run without pain or at least without dodgy pain – my quads are currently screaming but it’s that satisfying well earned sort of discomfort.

We were on a pre-Christmas trip to see my parents on the east coast. I’d planned a road run to test out the state of my calf but the sun hadn’t made it this far north and the side streets were still covered with six inches of sheet ice. I thought it may be safer to opt for a beach run instead.

I don’t think I’ve run any distance along the beach before and I have to say it was incredibly liberating. This particular stretch of the beach has very firm sand and was it deliciously deserted after the mornings downpour. Lynn ran the first stretch with me, heading away from the town and towards the distant headline. We hugged the tideline and slowly made our way towards the horizon.

Lynn turned back before me but I wanted to run past the row of WWII pill boxes that had slumped lethargically onto the beach. The sand turned soft around the ruined landmarks and with fear of finding myself wading through quicksand I decided to head back as well.

With a couple of km left to go I slipped my shoes and socks off in order to experience the thrill of the sand between my toes.

I hate the feel of sand between my toes and the sea was so blasted cold it awoke my latent arthritis.

I managed about 200 metres of barefoot running before I decided to put my shoes back on and enjoy the remainder of my run with the delightful experience of micro particles of grit rubbing between foot and shoe.

I’m so happy to be back, I love running.

Vibram Five Finger Speed Review and the Campsite Run

A beautiful pair of Vibram Five Fingers arrived just before the camping expedition.

Unfortunately all the photos were taken post camping trip where of course it rained relentlessly and so the Five Fingers have lost a little of their new shoe gleam.

I wanted to get a slightly larger pair of VFF’s as my earlier pair of Vibram Five Finger Sprint were pulling a little bit on my longer toes. I opted for the Vibram Five Finger Speed because they are cool and yet also the most normal style in the range. I’m not necessarily attracted to normal but I was hoping to get them past the family’s acceptability rules so I can actually wear them in public and outside the confines of nightfall.

It seemed to work as no one complained when I packed them for the camp and I even managed to sneak in a shopping trip to the local Lidl while wearing them.

The Vibram Five Finger Speed were remarkably easy to put on, a push and a wiggle was all that was required to engage the toes in the right place. Perhaps that’s the result of finding a pair that actually fits.

I did a lot of scrabbling around the camp while wearing these and my little toe did occasionally pop out of its little recess while I was squatting down trying to light the Kelly Kettle. They were perfect for running though, extremely comfortable and no pressure points at all.

The soles are a bit more built up than the more minimal models. The VFF Speed has additional toe and heel pads just like the Bikila Five Finger and by the looks of it the new Vibram range seems to have maintained the trend for extra pads.

Not all barefoot or minimalist runners will like this. It increases the weight of the shoe slightly and of course all the additional padding will reduce the feedback between the floor and the foot. In these particular conditions – rubble and thorn strewn trails, I was grateful for the slight reduction in floor feedback.

I’ve read somewhere that the Speed model uses the same sole unit as the Bikila but they don’t have the additional 3mm insole and so have slightly more ground feel.

And so for the run.

Having spent 2 soggy wet days entertaining kids on a camp site, I was well and truly in need of a run. Lynn and I set off after clambering over the rickety style that marked the escape route from camp.

Generally my breathing is up the spout for the first 3 minutes of any run and then gradually eases off until I can manage a converstaion by the 20 minute point.

This run was tougher than usual, I felt as though I had a bit of kick in me and kept pushing along keeping pace with Lynn. I was closer to my 5k race pace which is sufficiently fast (in my books) to ensure that I never catch my breath.

The Vibram shoes were so comfortable. I’d spent the most of the trip wearing my Soft Star RunAmocs which are an incredibly practical shoe for this sort of trip but I felt pain when wandering over the rubble paths. In contrast the Vibram Speeds left me feeling positively sprightly.

It was a joy to feel so light footed and yet protected, these have easily moved into my favourite shoe territory and even the kids thought they were cool.

A Sticky Barefoot End

I’m taking the direct skin on tarmac approach very slowly but after managing a 300m true barefoot dash last week I thought it was time to go out again.

I don’t recommend late night, barefoot runs on rainy nights. For one thing the gravel sticks more persistently but more importantly the damp attracts soft squishy critters with hard shells and the darkness means you can’t see them.

You can feel them squelching between your toes though.

I ridded myself of the slime after 330m and put the mocassins back on for the remaining 2 miles.

Barefoot Tip Toes

I was using Lynn as my sacrificial canary, she was running far ahead but everytime she wailed and started hopping from foot to foot I knew to make ever such a slight detour.

Not that it worked very well, we hopped and squealed almost evenly.

So marked the start of our true barefoot experience.

I’ve been trying out the minimal footwear such as Vibram Five Fingers and Soft Star RunAmoc for a few weeks but yesterday I was inspired to try running completely unshod. I had been listening to the rather excellent Living Barefoot Podcast which featured an interview with Michael Sandler. Michael is a hugely enthusiastic barefoot runner with a fantastic story to tell. I’ve heard other barefoot officianados’ say that you should really start barefoot before transitioning to a minimal shoe but that just sounded counter intuitive to me. Michael spoke at length in the interview and was incredibly infectious, so much so that today I managed to persuade Lynn to venture out of the door with me clutching our shoes in our hands.

We ran tentatively but were definitely up on our toes. With gritty tarmac roads for our debut attempt we wanted to ensure that our feet had only the tiniest contact with the ground. I was the slowest to become accustomed to the feeling but I developed a rhythm of two steps followed by a medial swipe down my inside leg – to dislodge embedded gravel.

We made it 300m before deciding enough was enough and we finished the rest of the mile – me in my RunAmocs and Lynn in my Nike Frees.