Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

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!


The official Boulder Boot specs from Lems!

Read the rest of this post »

Army PT Heel-Toe Running and Running in 5-Fingers: A VFF Story

Army PT Heel-Toe Running and Running in 5-Fingers: A VFF Story
Dirty black KSO FiveFingers after a run.

From Lou:

Hey Justin,

I want to start off by saying that I think you are running a great site. I enjoy submitting photos of my VFF adventures and reading other’s experiences in them. I love these shoes. My KSOs and my iPhone. If I could wear them everywhere I would and I never part from my phone LOL. Now on to my story.

Ever since my buddy showed up to a bbq at my house wearing his khaki VFF Classics I became interested in them. I wanted to buy a pair for our tubing trip we were planning. I eventually found a pair of KSOs. During my hunt for VFFs I read Vibrams blurb about the health benefits of their minimalist style shoes. So I began doing research out of curiosity. As I researched and read, it made sense to me. I remembered what I as told by my Drill Sergeant about running. Heel – Toe. I wondered about that because when hurrying from one side of my house to the other while barefoot, I never let my heel hit the floor because it would hurt. So it didn’t make sense that we would do that with shoes. But, me being a young Private with no formal training in running prior to joining, I followed orders. I was good to go as long as my running shoes still had cushioning. Once that was worn down I began developing shin splints. Painful shin splints. To the point I couldn’t walk. So ever since, running has been something I wasn’t crazy about. I also found that as I put on weight I was more susceptible to shin splints. To summarize it, I don’t like running in the Army. They don’t give you enough recovery time and their remedy for shin splints is, keep running. Deployments have been good for my legs. I can run at my own pace and distance and give myself the recovery time I need.

After reading and watching videos about running barefoot and how we were designed to run, it really made a lot of sense. Cavemen weren’t running after the Wooly Mammoth in a pair of Jordan’s or New Balance. It really sparked my interest. I wanted to run in my VFFs but was afraid to just jump into it. I had to balance out running every other morning with the Army and running in VFFs. So I decided to try and adjust and improve my form during our morning runs. At first it felt good. My shin pain wasn’t flaring up. The only problem was we ran 4 miles and my calves were not ready for that. I found my legs fatiguing and I eventually fell behind the formation. Once we finished my calves were screaming. I kept at it though. I noticed improvement.

Last week my buddy and I got our soldiers out of doing PT (physical training for those non-military) with the unit and took them out to do PT on our own. I chose to wear my KSOs and brought my regular running shoes, just in case. They all looked at me weird and told me I was crazy. We started off with some sprints on asphalt. I took off, stopped, turned around and bolted back. I was amazed at the fact that it didn’t hurt my feet. It was surprisingly cushioned. The grip was amazing too. It was a great feeling. We did multiple sprints and still no pain. Then we ran around the park. We ran on concrete, asphalt, grass, through mud, over picnic tables, jumped on boulders and ran down a gravel path. My feet held up the whole way. After a while of running on the road and sidewalk my feet began to get a little tender, but that was after a total of two miles of running. To summarize my experience running in VFFs I would have to say it was great. I loved it and plan on doing it more often. I now have a schedule where I don’t do PT with the unit but I have time to do it on my own. This will allow me to run in my KSOs more often. Man I love these shoes. I wish I could wear them more often.

Thanks for sharing, Lou. Many of us can relate to the joy of running with VFFs (or barefoot) — and it comes without pain (aside from muscle soreness from rebuilding your foot, ankle, and calf muscles from years of atrophy!) just makes it all the better.

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 11/1/09

This past week's latest Vibram FiveFingers reviews includes a Performa review by Tina Dubois:

  • Quick Review: Vibram FiveFinger Sprint at Barefoot and Grounded [Sprint]:

    As a barefooter, I was very interested in trying on a pair of Vibram Fivefingers and putting them through their paces to see just how good of a "barefoot alternative" they are. I have worn them a lot and for many different uses -- and therefore taken longer to post a review -- because I wanted to find out just how versatile a set of toe shoes can be. The answer? Very.

  • Review – Vibram FiveFingers Performa at LivingBarefoot [Performa]:

    The Performa is another impressive product from Vibram FiveFingers. This model evolved from feedback regarding the FiveFingers lineup and suggestions by their customers to develop an even more minimalistic indoor model. I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort and warmth of these shoes and I greatly appreciate the leather innovations included in the construction of these shoes. They are well ventilated yet warm, water resistant, and have superior microbe protection. They have an unsurpassed barefoot feel and I intend to wear them as my indoor shoe of choice when barefoot may not be the best option.

  • Deirdre's Decadent Foot Indulgence, the FiveFingers Performa at BirthdayShoes! [Performa]:

    I wore my Performas for an initial test-run walking around NYC's Time Warner building. The close-to-barefoot feeling isn't neccessarily a good thing when standing on a hard surface for long periods of time or, in the case of Classic, walking miles and miles on concrete.

    Did I need these? Of course not; I just knew instantaneously that I had to have them. I will not be using either model for extreme sports. I will perhaps dance in them, flaunt them subtly. Seduce with Performa.

See last week's Latest 5 Fingers reviews here.

Deirdre's Decadent Foot Indulgence, Review of the Vibram Five Fingers Performa

Deirdre's Decadent Foot Indulgence, Review of the Vibram Five Fingers Performa

Note from Justin: As I'm not in the position to personally review the new FiveFingers Performa—the all leather, ultra-minimalist, indoor-only, pod-soled VFF made specifically for women—I have been in contact with someone who considers the Performas a decadent treat for her feet! Meet Deirdre. I asked Deirdre to put together some thoughts on her Performas to share with the BirthdayShoes community. If you would like to submit a review of the Performa or any other FiveFingers model to be published on this site, please let me know!

Deirdre on the FiveFingers Performa

Deirdre has the new FiveFingers Performa in "violet," which according to Deirdre is more "'cassis' bordering on 'plum.'"

The minute I saw the the Performa, I had palpitations. I had to have it. For me this is a decadent foot indulgence. It's a fetish shoe not an athletic shoe.

I had my heart set on black until I saw the "violet" online. It isn't really violet. I'd call it "cassis" bordering on "plum." A must have nonetheless. Beautiful.

I raced to City Sports here in Manhattan where the black was available to try it on for proper size. The salespeople were very helpful without being pushy, which I appreciate. I will make it a point to buy a pair of black Performas at City Sports because of this.

At City Sports I encountered a lovely woman from the U.K. buying up many pairs of VFFs because of the price differential between Europe and the USA. We had a great reciprocal girl-bonding time as in "Ooh those look great on your foot/calf."

Despite reports of backorders shipping in December, I ordered the Performa in "violet" from Travel Country and had my Performas on within two days!

The fit is perfect, supple and streamlined; it makes the Classic feel almost not-so-graceful. I am the same size in the Performa as in the Classic.

I wore my Performas for an initial test-run walking around NYC's Time Warner building. The close-to-barefoot feeling isn't neccessarily a good thing when standing on a hard surface for long periods of time or, in the case of Classic, walking miles and miles on concrete.

Did I need these? Of course not; I just knew instantaneously that I had to have them. I will not be using either model for extreme sports. I will perhaps dance in them, flaunt them subtly. Seduce with Performa.

Sock Dreams has every possible type of toe sock (from over the knee to toes only) in fabrics ranging from filament silk to substantial wool blends. I am pictured wearing black, opaque toe-tights (there are sheer toe pantyhose as well) with Performa.

Here Deirdre demonstrates "toe cleavage" in FiveFingers a la black toe-tights from Sock Dreams!


Thank you, Deirdre, for sharing your thoughts on the VFF Performa!

Barehoof Horseplay and FiveFingers with Nichole

Barehoof Horseplay and FiveFingers with Nichole
Nichole rides her horse in her "birthday shoes" — KSO FiveFingers (in the soon-to-be-discontinued brown color!)
Barehoof Horseplay and FiveFingers with Nichole
An upclose shot of Nichole's VFF-clad feet and her horse's horseshoe-free hooves! "Barehoofing" (must be a better word for this!) is a growing part of the natural horsemanship movement!
Barehoof Horseplay and FiveFingers with Nichole
I think Nichole's horse likes her VFFs, but I'm no horse whisperer.

Nichole (@nickel07 on twitter) sent in the above photos of her wearing brown KSO FiveFingers alongside her horse who is, himself, free-hoofing it — no horseshoes!

Here's Nichole:

Hello!

My name is Nichole and I have been really enjoying following your stories of people with their various barefoot activities!

I have been a VFF KSO owner since February of this year, and have recently begun running in them. I am not a runner, in fact I have always hated running because of shin splints, so-called bad knees, and my flat pronating feet. I had been reading a few different blogs on barefooting and decided I would give it a try a few weeks ago, since I love walking everywhere in VFFs.

Lo and behold, I discovered I could run WITHOUT PAIN for the first time in my life, in my knees, feet, or shins. I am still in awe, and have had six or seven successful 2-3 mile runs since then, still pain free and feeling strong and connected to my feet in a new way! I sound like such a gushing convert when I explain to people that yes, I can run in these shoes and no, they don't have support. LOVE THEM!

Anyway, my main hobby is my horse. I am a student and instructor of natural horsemanship, and along with a holistic approach to equine behavior, I do my best to keep my horse's life as natural to him as possible. This includes keeping him barefoot, meaning with no horseshoes. Believe it or not, putting steel shoes on horses can create problems in their gait and health of their feet by restricting blood flow and preventing flexion of the hoof (a very live thing!). In fact, it was a few close horse friends of mine who actually introduced me to the barefooting idea and to VFFs in the first place! My horse has healthy feet and loves being barefoot, and I have recently joined him! I found that playing with my horse barefoot causes me to be much more aware of where my feet and his feet are, as well as causing me to be more polite in my communication!

Happy to hear that you are able to run again, Nichole! Furthermore, thanks for sharing about natural horsemanship.

It seems that natural horsemanship is a kindred movement to barefooting and/or minimalist footwear, which I'll characterize more generally as the "don't fight nature and expect to win" movement. Incidentally, Nichole's account above is the second time I've heard about "barehoofing." The first time I heard about it was via forum member barefootpony, who had this to say about how horses are negatively affected by horseshoes:

There's a lot of evidence that horseshoes are damaging in the same way that people shoes are: they restrain the natural expansion and retraction of the hoof as the horse moves, make it more difficult for the horse to feel the ground (thus more stumbling, which potentially can catapult a rider right off), and generally just weaken the hoof. The horse's hoof also has a structure at the center of the sole called the "frog" (it's made of soft tissue sort of like a cuticle), and that structure acts as a pump to keep blood flowing properly through the legs and feet when the horse takes a step. When you shoe, the frog doesn't properly contact the ground, so the horse also suffers from poor circulation.

Informative stuff all around!

Thanks for sharing, Nichole!

Update / Addition from Fran:

Wanted to append to Nichole's story an email and photo I received from Fran who also practices natural horsemanship:

Just wanted to pass this photo along in response/to go along with the recent article submitted by Nichole Bryant, with her VFFs and barefoot horse. Nichole is a friend of mine, we study the same horsemanship program. She did a brilliant job of sharing about natural barefoot in horses, as well as what these shoes have done for her (and for me, too!) , so I'll spare you that ;)

However, I did want to share my own barefootin' picture! The picture attached was taken last April, just after I had trimmed my horse's feet. (I too practice barefoot hoofcare for my horse). I thought the photo would be fun--natural barefoot for all! Hope you enjoy!

The FiveFingers in the picture are Palm/Clay KSOs, I also own a pair of Black Flows that I'm enjoying now that the weather has cooled off! Loving them so much, they've really done wonders for my posture and body awareness!

Here's Fran's feet alongside her horse's "free hooves:"

Thanks, Fran!

Bernard Finishes 100km Trail Race in Singapore in his KSO Vibram FiveFingers

Bernard Finishes 100km Trail Race in Singapore in his KSO Vibram FiveFingers
Bernard chows down on a banana prior to his 100km trail race in FiveFingers KSOs.

Below is a race account I received from Bernard, an ultra runner in Singapore, who recently completed a 100km race in KSO FiveFingers — his first race in minimalist footwear.

Bernard also talks about getting into barefooting and then "minshod" running. It's an encouraging story:

Hi Justin,

I've come to know about your website and am excited to know how Vibram has transformed so many people's lives. In a similar way, I'd like to share my experience and the recent event I did last Saturday, 24th Oct.

I had never heard of barefoot running or minimalist running when I started doing endurance events. It was in one of the recent ultra trail race (Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc) when I did, when I heard of Vibram Fivefingers. They had a booth at the race expo and it did not catch my attention. Anyway, to cut the story short, I had my first DNF at UTMB in August (I had run non-stop for 150km and was short of 16km to complete). I was in terrible pain and had cramps everywhere. My legs hurt so badly ... It was in a moment of post race reflection that I came across barefoot running and its benefits. "I am not going to run barefoot, it will be so painful," I thought to myself. I looked for other alternatives and that is when I come across Vibram Fivefingers ... I thought "Why not?" The rest is history. Now I am a true convert and practitioner of minimalist running.

Last Saturday, I took part in the longest ultra running event in Singapore. It was the The North Face 100 Singapore, part of the TNF100 series in the world. Because of my experiences, I was selected and invited to take part in the first 100km solo event. I decided to do it using Vibram KSO. I wasn't sure if I was sane to run 100km in Vibram. To "train" for this, I ran fully barefoot to strengthen my feet and thicken my calluses. I ran 4 times a week about 5km every morning barefoot for almost 1.5 month. Next, I did progressive trail runs from 10 - 30km in Vibram. All this while friends were asking me, "Are you sure you want to do this?"

Some of my close buddies encouraged and supported me, and I was grateful for their words of support. Race day came and I was one of the 30 participants in the field at 4am. I knew I had to start slow as this was 100km and not 10km. I had the company of my close buddy with me and we looked out for each other. In fact, I did not face any major problems for the first 20km on the trail. The problems came between 20-30km where the trail changed to rocky trails (nothing but just rocks and rocks). Every step you took was difficult and painful. Trying to read the trail was also challenging as it was all the same. I knew this part of the route was going to pose me bigger problem when I had to complete it in the 2nd loop. I managed to survive the first 50km in 5:48hrs. However, my feet were also hurting quite badly. I decided to take an hour's break to rest my feet and was contemplating whether I should change into my shoes (Yes, I brought my shoes as a back-up plan).

I was not ready to give up without trying. I put my Vibrams back on and decided to continue. The next 20km was even harder than I had expected. I had to improvise my strategy. I had to run on flat surfaces and downhills while walking up hilly trails. Finally, the nightmare came again at the 70km mark (the rockiest trail). Forced with a hard decision, I opted to do a power walk for the entire 10km of this trail. I knew it would affect my overall timing but my aim was to complete the 100km event. Thankfully, I persevered and completed the 10km in about 1:30hrs. By this time, my right feet seem to have a blister forming, so I got it bandaged by a medic.

I was feeling horrible as the heat was intense at that part of the day. Then, a message from my cell phone came and it read, "Bernard is still in the race and he is going to be the first Singaporean to run 100km in barefoot." That message lifted up my spirits. All of sudden, I was fired up and thanked the volunteers. I got up and continued my run. Every ounce of energy seemed to come back and I was running again for the last 20km. What made it sweeter was the fact that family and kids were going to be there at the finish.

As the distance became shorter and shorter, I was running even faster. At the last 2.5km, i was running at a 5.43min/km pace. Finally, Isaw the finishing line and saw my kids waving at me. I held my son's hand and we ran into the finish line together. Happy and tired I was! Nevertheless, I was proud that I had earned the right to be the first to do a 100km trail event in the minimalist style.

Check this out. This is the 2nd day after my 100km, I am not feeling any injury / muscle aching on any part of my legs. My calves felt sore the next day after the race. Right now, the soreness has disappeared. I am truly surprised and this event has just proven the benefits of barefoot running.

Apologies for the long story — I am excited to share with everyone the benefits I've received from both being barefoot and in Vibrams.

Best regards,

Bernard

Great to hear that you persevered to the finish line and had such a warm reception waiting for you. The "foot massage" you get running on rocky terrain can certainly be an intense experience. Encouraging to know your recovery went quickly!

Thanks for sharing, Bernard! May you have many more injury-free races in VFFs!

Tim Runs the Marine Corps Marathon in his Sprint Vibram Five Fingers

Tim Runs the Marine Corps Marathon in his Sprint Vibram Five Fingers
The night before the Marine Corps Marathon (October 24, 2009), Tim Kelley has all the necessary gear laid out and ready for the big race — of note, Injinji toe socks and red and black FiveFingers Sprints!
Tim Runs the Marine Corps Marathon in his Sprint Vibram Five Fingers
Here's Tim rounding the corner of the Marine Corps Marathon this past Sunday in his VFF Sprints.
Tim Runs the Marine Corps Marathon in his Sprint Vibram Five Fingers
Almost there!
Tim Runs the Marine Corps Marathon in his Sprint Vibram Five Fingers
Tim got his feet in a pair of brand new, not-quite-released Injinji toe socks at a booth at the MCM race. These knee-high compression toe socks look promising. Perhaps these are not only a way to improve blood flow in the lower legs, but also a nice cold weather solution for VFF running!

Tim Kelley, who we've seen previously hiking mountains and finishing triathlons, now adds a marathon to his list of VFF-shod accomplishments. Tim ran the Marine Corps Marathon this past Sunday, and sent in the above photos as well as the account of the race below:

Hey Justin,

I just wanted to check in and let you know that I successfully finished the Marine Corps Marathon in my red VFF Sprints and Injinji socks with a time of just under 6 hours. This was my first marathon ever and my longest run more than 18 miles. As usual, pictures are attached!

I got lots of looks, and just for the fun of it, I kept track of the number of comments or conversations I personally had with people along the way about the shoes: 31 total! One major difference I noticed with this marathon compared to past races is that so many more people’s comments were less “What ARE those things?” to “Oooh yeah, I’ve heard about those barefoot running shoes thing—it’s suppose to be good, right?” People are starting to come around!!

I didn’t see Bob with St. Judes from one of your earlier posts, or anyone else out on the course wearing VFFs, but I did share a Metro car with a guy in a pair of Classics.

And one last piece of news, Injinji was at the race expo and I stopped by their booth during packet pickup. I bought a pair of gray micro Injinji’s, but I also got a pair of knee high Injinji compression socks! I was told they aren’t going to be out in stores for another couple of weeks, but that the sales rep grabbed them at the last moment to bring along to see what the reaction would be. I’ve gotta say, they feel great! I’ve tried a couple different brands before and these are definitely the tightest and most “compressive” I’ve ever used.

Now that the marathon is over, what’s next? I’ve got my eye on a VFF Ironman in 2010 ...

Hope all is well, keep up the great site!

~Tim

An Ironman, huh? We'll look forward to hearing about it, Tim! And I'm sure I'll hear from Bob about his MCM race in VFFs soon.

Sounds like more scuttlebutt from the field that the tide has turned on fivefingers awareness. Thirty-one comments or conversations! That really is incredible — I've got a new slogan for Vibram, "Make Friends, Wear FiveFingers!"

And one update from Tim about the race:

Runner in regular running shoes, “Don’t your feet hurt?!?”

Me, “Probably not any more than your feet do!”

Touché!

I saw mention of the compression Injinji's on their website (just leave the screen up for a few seconds and the splash will change) — looks like more useful complimentary products for FiveFingers!