I got good news from Andrew Rademacher, founder of upstart minimalist/barefoot shoe manufacturer Lems Shoes* ("Light. Easy. Minimal.") — the first batch of the much-anticipated Lems Shoes Boulder Boot are now available for order! I say "first batch" because it's only the first few hundred pairs of production (more to come, of course, within a few weeks).
The release of the Boulder boot marks the first of a new line of Lems hitting the market in 2013! What's so exciting about the Boulder? Aside from it being a "barefoot shoe boot" that is super lightweight, zero drop, minimally and flexibly soled, and a boot, well, what else is there to say? If you've had a pair of Andrew's barefoot shoes, you're expectations are likely through the roof for these boots. We've reviewed the first offering from Lems that hit back in 2011 — the Primal (see reviews here and here) and had nothing but good things to say.
Andrew has a pair of Boulders coming my way, so I hope to share more about it soon, but if you're eager to snatch up a pair without further adieu and want to know the scoop, read on!
UPDATE: I got the boots! If you want to jump straight to my full review of the Lems Boulder boot, go here!
This may not seem like much but in cooler water this is important as well as the fact that they reach higher up the leg allowing you to tuck your wet suit in and eliminate any gap between the shoe and the wetsuit. To put it simply they will keep you warm, but don't be fooled by that as they are not cold water shoes, with 2mm thickness they won't work for freezing water as you'll need a pair of old school water-shoes with some 5-6mm thickness to keep from losing a toe or two.
I would recommend for most that if you are going to run in them—and you should, if only for a mile or two, just for the experience—that you ease into them, let your body rewire and recalibrate, rather than just put them on and knock out ten kilometers or whatever. The first time I ran in them, I ran maybe a mile, maybe a bit less. After about thirty seconds, my body had mechanically adapted—my stride was shorter, my steps lighter, I stood much more upright. But the thing I noticed greater than anything was that I wanted to keep running, I wanted to run more. So I only ran a mile or so the first few times, because I’m older and wiser and am thankful to be able to run, and I certainly didn’t want to screw that up.
I found these shoes to be on par with the Classics in terms of range of motion and protection. I ran down the icy streets of Jozefow, Poland, where my in-laws are, with nary a slip or slide and I wore these shoes without socks in sub-freezing weather, much to my mother-in-law’s chagrin.
"Dear Diary, Let's face it, diary. Chicks can't keep their toes off me."
I was poking through some of my photos on Flickr and came across the attached shot from September. It made me miss the extended warm weather and out door running we had in Wisconsin this year. I've been running indoors all winter because of asthma. I do, at least, enjoy the funny looks I get at the gym running in the VFFs!
Hurry up, winter!
VFF my BFF,
I imagine it's quite cool in Wisconsin now! Stay warm, Will!
I asked Luis how his KSO Treks fared in the race and, since Luis has been wearing his Treks now for a couple of months, how they've performed generally. Here's Luis:
The Treks are doing great, they were the first VFF I bought and are still my favorite Vibram model. I bought them when they first came out in September and took them out of the box for a 14 mile run. This was after a few weeks of barefoot running which in retrospect was way too little foot strengthening for running such a distance, but luckily I have done just fine. I also have bought the Classics and the KSOs which I also think are great, but the Treks Roo leather wrap around my feet more tightly and comfortably, some refer to this as a more luxurious feeling. The sole has a great grip, even in asphalt, and being a little thicker than the others I think it is more forgiving on newbie running mistakes. Perhaps this has to do with no injuries and many, many miles since I got them back in September.
My only minor complaint is that on very long runs (over 15 miles) on hot and humid conditions the leather inner sole feels a bit slippery. I actually did not swim on them in the aquathlon as they were considered an artificial propulsion device under the rule book ... not sure how they would have helped me swimming but the rules say:
Any swimmer wearing any artificial propulsion device, including but not limited to fins, gloves, paddles, or floating devices of any kind shall be disqualified.
As you can also see below, Luis wears his KSO Treks to work. I don't think sitting an office desk ever looked so comfortable! Thanks for sharing Luis!
"I took the VFFs for an 8 mile run on the afternoon after the morning Aquathlon. Then they went to the washer machine and back to my feet for work this morning! Only shoe I know capable of performing all these tasks, most versatile shoe I have ever owned!"
Above is a photo from Kyle Steed taken of his KSO VFFs and some local ground art.
Kyle recently got into Five Fingers, which he aptly calls "the whole VFF movement." Here's what he had to say:
Here's a bit about why I got into the whole VFF movement.
I heard an interview on NPR about barefoot running. They were talking about the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. My wife first heard the interview and called me one afternoon to tell me to turn it on and listen. After listening to his story about going to Mexico and witnessing this group of people who ran long distances in no more than thin leather sandals, I was intrigued. The thought that running barefooted, or with Vibrams, could help prevent knee injury and actually help improve your run was what really motivated me to get a pair of my own.
I spent probably a good week or two researching online to find out what model I wanted, as well as reading other articles on Wired.com, The Wall Street Journal and other smaller blogs. I have now logged about 12 miles in my KSO VFFs, and while that may not sound like a lot, it's a beginning. My goal for next year is to enter and complete a half-marathon and possibly a full marathon.
David hiked to the Great Wall of China in his Five Finger KSOs. Here are two VFF-shod views from a scenic section!
David sent in the above photos taken on a recent trip traveling to the Great Wall of China, which David hiked to wearing his black KSO Vibram Five Fingers. I asked David to tell us about the hike:
It was a 10 km hike from Jinshanling to Simatai along both rough and repaired sections of the wall. Since it is winter, it was quite cold — below freezing. As we approached the wall through the valley, I thought I might end up with frostbite! (I had backup shoes and socks just in case).
Once we got on the wall, it warmed up and I was much more comfortable. It was relatively deserted since it is off-season, but there were still many locals around to hawk their wares. Most noticed the VFF's and pointed them out, and I heard (though did not understand) quite a bit of Chinese that I think had my funny shoes as the subject.
As to the hike itself, the VFF's fared quite well. There were a number of scrambles up broken stairs, a tiny climb here and there, but mostly walking along uneven stone the entire way. I definitely enjoyed the grip and feel of these more than I would have sneakers or hiking boots.
Nothing like VFFs for impromptu scrambling up old ruins and boulders. From the photos, it looks like it was a beautiful (albeit chilly per your description) day to see the Wall.
Anyone else suddenly getting the itch to learn how to juggle — and maybe even eventually joggle? Or is it just me?
Joe also had this to say:
Juggling and running go together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Juggling and running in VFF's go together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made by your mom.
Joggling in VFF's increases the full body experience and sensations you get from joggling. I really enjoy the lightness of my steps in VFF's, which complements the soft tosses and catches of the juggling beanbags. It's a smooth combination; one that puts you in a synchronized balancing act. One step and toss at a time.
People often wonder why we wear VFF's. If you're interested in learning why people joggle, check out my article on the "Psychology of Joggling."
I asked Joe if it was hard to acquire the meditative state often claimed by runners — with so much going on, it seemed almost like you've have to be too aware. Apparently, that's not the case at all though. With such a full-body activity, it seems joggling may be even more effective at "silencing" the mind. Here's Joe:
Joggling becomes second nature, so it can be very absorbing, yet I am able to focus on a lot of other things if I want to because it's automatic. When you're first starting out, I think it's more absorbing because it demands your full concentration. But, once you get experienced with it, it's up to you how meditative and absorbed you want to get. I allow myself to to be absorbed and get into a wonderful rhythm and flow.
So, to answer your question I do think that joggling is more meditative than running, or at least it can be. I think it adds more repetition and full body synchronized movement, which brings about calmness.
Check out the book called "Flow" if you have not. Or read about it, by Dr. C (he has a very long last name, he's hungarian I think).
On a different note, most people think that jogglers would be less aware than runners. But, for me, joggling heightens my senses and makes more more sensitive to my environment because I have to. Kind of like VFF's, barefoot running, or riding a motorcycle. For example, I hear a lot better because I listen closer to my environment when a car is coming behind me because it's a little harder to turn around while joggling than running, even though I can do it easily but it just wastes time (you just turn at the waist and look behind you).
I am also more aware of my environment because it releases an adrenaline rush because you're doing something that people think is really neat and it's unique especially in a urban area. So, in that sense, I am more aware because I am scanning my environment and always looking around for potential cars, curbs, holes, or people to interact with while joggling (smile at them, show a trick, say hello to them).
It really is a great mind body exercise. Juggling in itself is very meditative, or flow-like, because it's challenging, absorbing, and repetitive. Same with running. Put them together, and you get more opportunities for flow experiences.
The book Joe mentions is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Reading through a few of the reviews, it reminds me a bit of another psych-book that I read earlier this year by Dr. William Glasser called Positive Addiction, which discusses running (and other physical activities) that can induce a meditative state.
Thought-provoking stuff. Now I just need to go find some bean bags ...
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