You're out on a run. Your nose is getting stuffy, so you lean to the side for a quick farmer's blow. It's cold out, but you didn't realize how cold until you go to wipe your nose with the back of your glove to clear off any additional moisture -- only to find that it's already frozen around the edge of your nostril in mere seconds.
Welcome to the inaugural Asheville Marathon, held on the grounds of the beautiful Biltmore estate. "Well," I thought dramatically at around mile 20, "At least I'll die somewhere majestic."
As evidenced by his poetry, Leif enjoys working within the constraints of a minimalist approach; for example, not only does that mean he runs a 100 mile ultramarathon in Vibram five fingers but he also enters the 109 mile El Tour de Tucson bike race on a unicycle.
It's Leif's passion for novel, minimalistic approaches to racing that have led him to start his own blog, specifically focused on this subject. It's called, Distance Minimally.
I asked Leif if he'd share with us what he would like to accomplish with his new blog, and here is what he had to say:
I find myself among small groups exploring two sports with one unique feature in common – going further while equipped with less than most other athletes. I run ultramarathons, any footrace longer than 26.2 miles, without traditional running shoes. This has usually been in Vibram Five Fingers, well known to readers of BirthdayShoes.com, but may also include other types of running sandals or simply bare feet. I also participate in distance cycling events, such as the 109 mile El Tour de Tucson, on a unicycle. By removing an element considered essential to most participants in these sports, but holding to the same standards as those with traditional gear, the challenges of the sport become quite different. The events are altered and added to enough that the sports are radically transformed. It is to these transformed sports that I dedicate my new blog DistanceMinimally.com.
Because participation in sports like these in this minimal fashion is currently rare, there are few resources available to those who are interested in them. We are often writing the book on these sports as we go. And so I've created DistanceMinimally.com as a site where I can gather and share these experiences of my own and those of others to shed light on the unique aspects of going the distance with less. I welcome input and experiences from others, whether minimalist runners, distance unicyclist, or some other minimalist endurance sport that few have yet imagined.
I'm looking forward to reading more of what Leif has learned about covering long distances as minimally as possible! And if this sounds like the kinda thing that interests you, be sure to bookmark his site or add it to your preferred feed aggregator so you can keep track of what Leif is up to!
More about Leif (including his thoughts on the new KSO Treks) that you might be interested in:
I did my ~10 mile run today wearing my new Treks. A wandering 2 hours on the network of trails in the Marquam Nature Park in Portland, Oregon. Full of hills, mud, rocks, lots of single track trail, and one stretch of large-rock strewn “road”. The VFF KSO Treks were pretty amazing. I could feel the trail under foot, but I didn’t have to worry about it every step. My feet could behave as feet, but with seemingly no threat of feeling the jabs of the rocks beneath them. I was actually a little concerned - I was able to tune out a little too much. I noticed my form slipping a bit, and was aware that the beefier sole would do nothing to prevent catching my toe on a log like I did on my last long trail run. I wish I had enough time to train in the Treks to have that reduced awareness catch up with me so I don’t have to learn the hard lesson on my long run next week. I’ll be reminding myself to stay focused, and won’t be listening to an audiobook as I was today.
I climbed up to the highest point in Portland. I never felt a lack of traction in my other VFFs but could tell I had greater traction in the Treks. I jumped on and over a log blocking the path, and my foot slipped a bit. That never happened in my other VFFs. It seems the Treks sacrifice a certain amount of the dynamic grip I’ve come to enjoy for the static grip of their increased tread. About 7 miles into my meandering run I reached the top of Council Crest, took in the view, and then bombed down the 3.2 miles of trail to my car. I haven’t been able to bomb down a trail like that since I wore traditional shoes. It was fun.
I fully expect that this will translate into improved performance on my race. There is a significant amount of energy that is available for running that was previously going into caution on every step. Part of me missed that awareness, and I am unsure if I’ll be trading out my Sprints and KSOs for Treks on all of my runs. But for next weekend’s 100 miler, it seems like a godsend.
My initial thoughts about the Vibrams was that I definitely need to work harder at sharpening my form, which is exactly one of the reasons people espouse running barefoot. I have become a notorious heel striker, and it only takes couple crashes on the heel to realize you should be landing midfoot and toe. Biomechanics aside, as the video shows, I was able to rock hop and not feet too exposed. I might not recommend it for racing gnarly rock laden courses, but one certainly becomes MUCH more vigilant about where their foot is falling when their are obstacles to be negotiated. In fact, one of the instant realizations was that occasionally I have used my trail shoes as more of a battering ram in some tricky terrain. More awareness of the trail, greater concentration on form and foot fall, and quicker turnover have already been observed.
As always, if I've missed any reviews for the past week, please let me know by commenting below or contacting me using the site form. I've got a couple preliminary testings of the new fivefingers KSO Trek to share with you this upcoming week, so stay tuned for that.
Sonia sent in the above photo taken last week's Penn State Vs. Temple game. Sonia is sporting her new black KSO Five Fingers and enjoying her newfound foot freedom:
This pic was taken at the Penn State vs. Temple game last week. I had just got the black KSO's and love them! My brother in law got in the pic too! Can't wait for next pair but are on back order! I am a 50 year old women and have been waiting for these my whole life!!
I asked Sonia if she also got a chance to tailgate in her KSOs, and of course, not only did she, but she got a lot of looks and questions about her new barefoot shoes.
The jury is in: Vibram fivefingers are the perfect compliment to Hawaii.
Above, we see Jennifer photoed in her pink Sprint fivefingers and her husband in a black and white shot of the blue camo KSOs. I asked Jennifer how they liked their VFFs in Hawaii (and elsewhere) and here is what she said:
We actually bought them near Honolulu. We met a professional fighter and his brother/trainer wearing them up the 1100 railroad tie stairs that ascend KoKo Head crater. They were running it and doing sprints wearing them. And it is a HARD HIKE. We were so curious about the silly shoes allowing these two to blow past us up the climb.
They told us about all the weak foot injuries they had once had. Plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, tendon problems. They told me that after 2 months of wearing them, no more bone spurs. No more fasciitis and one even said he had gone from being flat footed to having a natural arch. My husband and I were sold. Because it makes sense. If you let your body do what it was created to do, it will function better. I have been suffering from bursitis, Achilles tendonitis and mixed injuries from a broken toe that just won’t get better. I told my husband the day before that I had accepted that I was never going to run again. So we went immediately after the climb and got fitted.
In Waikiki everyone was friendly, interested and wanted to know about the kooky shoes. They were a great conversation piece. My sprint classics weren’t great in the sand, but VERY nice protection from the rocky beaches. So far, I am wearing them everyday, not to dinner, but walking dogs and to the gym and that kind of stuff. In LA everyone looks, but nobody has the courage to ask about them, yet. My feet and ankles are feeling stronger everyday and when I start running again, people aren’t going to have to ask, I’ am just going to tell them about the miracle shoe!
If your experience is like most VFFers, no doubt you will find healing in forgoing thickly padded heels! Just remember: rehabbing your feet and ankles from the atrophied life of modern footwear takes time (and patience!).
Maria sent in the above photos taken on her recent trek to the top of Mount Taugetus, Lakonia, Greece, which is the highest point of southern Greece. Having made the hike in her gray fivefinger Sprints, I asked Maria to tell me how things went. Here is what she had to say:
Hey! They fared extremely well on the 2 hour hike up; on the way down I was slowed by the fact they were very slippery on the rocks and that so many people stopped me to inquire about my shoes ... and at the end — no sore feet!! Just really tired legs and sore calves.
This [hike] was somewhat of a religious pilgrimage that takes place every year in celebration of the the prophet Elias, hundreds of people make the climb from the surrounding villages to a small church at the summit where food, drink, music, and good company is enjoyed.
This summit is the highest point in the south of Greece.
Maria also sent in this photo of the gathering at the summit. Looks like quite a good sized group up there! And what a beautiful view.
birthdayshoes [about] is dedicated to feet, which is to say barefeet, or feet as they were designed to be—unshod and free! As a way to foster foot freedom, birthday shoes is spreading the word about toe shoes — Vibram Five Fingers — the ground-breaking "barefoot shoes" or "foot gloves" that allow wearers to roam the earth as [Your Belief System] intended. Free your feet!
Note: This site is not owned, operated, or otherwise affiliated with Vibram or Vibram FiveFingers. The site is intended for entertainment purposes only. Per FTC regulation, it should be assumed that products reviewed on BirthdayShoes were provided to the blogger(s) for free or at discounted cost. Though this is certainly not always the case, we'd rather be in compliance with FTC rules & regulations governing bloggers and product reviews under the assumed "most biased" letter of the law. That said, if it's not immediately obvious, this site is a fan site for minimalist footwear such as Vibram Five Fingers, which is to say that there is a stated bias in favor of these products. Despite our stated bias, between the hundreds of user-submitted stories, the thousands of forum posts (both positive and negative, warts and all!), and the in-depth resources and guides, we do our best to provide in depth information on all products reviewed. In the end, though we strive to be a helpful resource and believe in integrity and honesty, we expect you to do your part — reading the research and making educated decisions (Read: take responsibility for your actions!). We have also passed on reviewing products (not VFFs per se) that were provided to us for free but did not "cut the mustard." If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact us!