Invisible Shoes - Barefoot Running Sandals

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review Of Vibram FiveFinger Treksport for road running

So I went out for a run this morning. Even though I was not running a trail, I still wanted to try out my new Vibram FiveFinger Treksport shoes. I also wanted to compare them not just on trails but also running on the road and see how they match up to the FiveFinger Bikila, or other shoes.

I got them in this nice orange color, and they are pretty cool.

The differences between Bikila and Treksport, that I personally noticed:

  • The material upper of the Treksport is a little bit more flexible and softer than the material of the Bikila.
  • The velcro strap is designed a little differently. As a matter of fact, I have wondered why on the Bikila shoes the velcro strap is designed the opposite direction of normal velcro straps on shoes. I still don't have the answer to that, but on the Treksport they are facing the normal direction like most velcro straps on shoes face.
  • The velcro strap on the Treksport is flexible and can be adjusted, to a point, whereas on the Bikila it is set and not adjustable. 
  • The soles on the Treksport are a bit thicker, with heavier cleats along the edges and under the toes, for better protection. This means when running on the road that your foot feels the road less. According to Vibram it gives better traction, and maybe it does, but I like the feel of the road beneath that I get with the Bikila.
On one spot of my foot, on the inner sole, some skin wore off from the shoe. It happened the first time I ran with the Bikila as well. I might not have adjusted the shoe properly before I ran, causing friction from below. When it happened with the Bikila, I adjusted it a bit the next time I ran and was fine. I expect it to be the same with the Treksport.

Here are the images and descriptions of the soles of both the Treksport and the Bikila, from the Vibram website..

Treksport soles

Interestingly, the label that came attached to the Treksport shoes has an image of the sole with a description highlighting the features, and it is slightly different than the image above. I scanned it in to show you the difference:
As you can see, on the label it mentions the cleated rubber outside, which is not mentioned in the image on the site. They also point out the adjustable strap, and the Coconut Active Carbon upper material...

Basically, the Treksport are built very similar to the Bikila running shoes, and I look forward to using them to run trails. For running on the road I am going to stick with the Bikila as it gives me more of the feel of the road beneath me.

After I use the Treksport on the trails, I will write about how they held up and if they really provided better protection.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Initial Review Of The New Vibram FiveFinger Treksport

I am very excited. I just received my new pair of Vibram FiveFinger Treksport Barefoot Outdoors Running Shoes.

Vibram FiveFinger Treksport
I tried them on and they feel great. The Treksport is very similar to the FiveFinger Bikila Running Shoes, but just a little bit different.

The main difference, which I plan to test out on my next trail run, is that the Treksport is built with a bit more protection on the parts of the foot that are more prone to injury and pain from the rocks of the trails.

Besides for that, the Treksport shoes are a bit more comfortable than the Bikila. The design of the shoe seems to be a better, more comfortable fit. Granted, so far I have only worn them for a few minutes, but this is my initial impression. The velcro strip is different, and better. The material seems a bit softer. The fit is a bit better.

Wait for my review after running in them on the trails. These are only my initial impressions. I am impressed.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A week with less promise

What started off as a promising running week last week turned into a real dud. With nothing specific to train for, I seem to find every excuse in the book to not go out and run. One day it is too hot. The next day I am too tired. The next I am too busy. etc.

This week has started off with less promise, and we will see where it takes me.

I enjoy my Saturday night runs. It gets me out after cleaning up from Shabbos. It burns some calories after overeating on Shabbos. And it feels great. Last night, though, I did not run because of the Lag B'Omer bonfires. Both because of the need to take my kids out to the bonfires, and because of the lack of desire to inhale smoke while running.

This morning I went out for a nice 5km run. the air was pleasant and the roads were empty. I ran around RBS at a nice pace.

This week will be busy, between work, family, softball, a wedding and engagement party and 2 separate relatives from the US who are coming to visit, this week will be tough to  schedule runs in..

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Meeting Run

I had a work related meeting in Bet Shemesh this morning. I decided to run there, instead of taking a bus or taxi.

The run was great. A nice 5km after last night's 7.5km. The meeting went pretty good, but after the meeting I decided not to run home. My muscles were tight and I needed to get back quicker for work.

It is great being able to run to a meeting. Oh, and no he did not mind - he rode his bike to the meeting, so we were both in t-shirt and shorts. But I was the only one in Vibram FiveFinger Bikilas.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Night Special

Tonight I met up with a few guys and we ran the first run of the week. We ran about 7.5km out to the end of Road 10 and back.

Saturday night is usually a recovery run, running at an easy pace. We did not run an easy pace, but ran a fairly quick pace. The weather was great and it felt great to burn some calories.

Tomorrow morning I expect to run to Bet Shemesh for a work meeting.

Runner's Guide To Israel: Tel Zofit

Now that marathon season is over, until September, in Israel, the Bet Shemesh Running Club spends the summer Fridays running various trails in the region of Bet Shemesh.

Running barefoot presents a great challenge when running trails. While my feet can handle it much more now than it used to be, I still have to be careful and run a bit slower, and check in advance what kind of trail it is, and how hard/soft the trail is.

Friday we met and ran out the trail to Tel Zofit. This is a trail that begins along the Highway 383, just across from Sedot Micha, just after the Sedot Haaretz wedding hall when coming from the Bet Shemesh direction. The trail begins on cracked asphalt, and eventually switches to full trail.

It is about 8.5km to the end, where you meet up at the bottom of the Tel Zofit mountain. Running through those fields is a beautiful terrain. There was a large but dead snake in the middle of the trail at one point. It was  beautiful run out, and part of it was fairly rocky but it was pretty good. I decided not to go up the mountain, but a few of us ran back instead.

Running back was more difficult. It was starting to get hot and sunny, and there were more uphill sections on the way back. As well, this was the longest run i have gone on since the Tel Aviv Marathon a month ago. This was ended at 17km (8.5 each way), and my previous long run was less than 11km.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Are Marathons Worth It?

There is an interesting article on 3 Quarks Daily that asks "are marathons worth it?". It is definitely worth a read.

To excerpt parts of the article, the author writes:
It's 10:00 on a beautiful Sunday morning in California. To my left is some of the most spectacular coastline America has to offer. I'm walking along a road on Point Lobos that is ordinarily packed with cars on days like this, but today, thanks in part to my $135 entry fee, the road has been closed to traffic.

There's only one problem: I should be running, not walking. Over the past year, I've spent hundreds of dollars on running gear and race entry fees. I've logged more than 1,600 miles training for this event, including nearly 1,000 miles in the past four months alone. I've lost over 35 pounds and steadily improved my speed and stamina. Why can't I make my body do what I've trained it to do?

Dozens of runners pass me on either side, each of them experiencing varying degrees of misery similar to my own. Most of them, like me, have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to get here, spending $500, $1,000 or more to participate in this event, the Big Sur International Marathon. Like Boston, New York, Paris, and Berlin, Big Sur is a "destination marathon," a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is so beloved, many runners return year after year.
Last year, over 500,000 runners completed a marathon in the U.S. alone. Nearly all of these runners had absolutely no chance of victory: The 625 marathons held in 2010 yielded only 1,250 slots for victors (male and female). To encourage more runners to participate, many races offer a variety of other awards: Age-group winners, a master's division for runners over 40, awards for runners above a certain weight, for runners who live in snowy climates and so have limited opportunities to train, for relay teams, even for best costume. But even when you account for all these awards, only a tiny fraction of competitors actually wins anything.

No, the runners in all these races are rarely actually competing against the other runners. Most runners have only one opponent: Themselves. Once you've run one marathon, you need to run another one, to see if you can do better. The PR — personal record — has become everyman's definition of a "good race," whether he finishes in first or three thousand and first.

The quest for a new PR can lead runners to spend hundreds of hours training, and thousands of dollars on gear and services designed to help them trim a few minutes off their previous records. Running shoes now routinely cost over $100 a pair, and Mizuno this weekend cracked the $200 barrier with its latest offering. Supposing these new shoes actually make you faster — a dubious proposition — does it really make sense for an average runner to buy them? This runner isn't going to win any races regardless of what shoes they wear. Even if they set a new PR, what's the value in that if it doesn't actually reflect improved conditioning?
A few days after the race, the race organizers email me a link to a site where I can preview my official photos — and download them, for a fee, of course. There I am, crossing the finish line. There I am, looking strong in the early part of the race, with the waves of Big Sur crashing to the shore in the background. But I'm most intrigued by a photo taken around 10 a.m., on Point Lobos. I'm walking, not running, and the look on my face is somewhere between exhaustion and despair. That photo, more than any of the other professional photos or the ones I took myself, captures what it's like to run a marathon. I had never pushed myself as hard in my life, even during those hundreds of miles in training. It's a feeling I've never experienced before, and one I don't want to experience again in a race, but it left me with an almost overwhelming desire to be stronger than that, better than that, and damn the cost.

I wish I could say the feeling was unique; it's probably not. Indeed, it's probably a feeling most runners get in most marathons. There's almost certainly something better that marathoners could be doing with all that time and money. Running a lot of marathons, in fact, may not even be good for your health—while the research on the effects of long-distance running is mixed, it stands to reason that a more moderate workout regime puts much less stress on the heart. While many races benefit charities, they also feed for-profit companies like The Competitor Group, which manages the wildly popular Rock-N-Roll series of marathons. Surely there's a more efficient way of getting resources to people who need them.

In America, marathoning is a rich person's sport. There's certainly no way my stepbrother Mark, who I've discussed here before, could afford it, even if his health permitted it. My brother's situation, for me, is the strongest argument I've yet encountered for ending this whole business. So far I haven't succumbed, though. I'm registered for another one in Colorado next month. Maybe I'll get a PR.
I disagree with his assessment. Running need not be a rich man's sport. Runnign can really be the cheapest of sports. There is no need for a gym membership. No need for expensive gear.
There are really only two things about running that cost money:

  1. You need is to buy a new pair of shoes once in a while. So you spend $100, or $130 in a good pair of running shoes twice a year.
  2. Race entry fees. It sounds like in America marathons cost more for registration than they do in Israel, but even so, how many marathons a year is a person going to run? 1 or 2? Sure there are some crazy people who will run 10 or 20 marathons in a year, spending way too much money on this, but most people do not.
I don't see the money being a big factor in running, especially considering that other sports are so much more expensive. Take up swimming and you have to pay pool memberships. Biking, you have to buy a bike, and replace parts regularly. Pretty much every sport requires the participant to purchase equipment, and many force you to join a gym. Running is relatively cheap - put on a pair of shoes and get out onto the road.

Regarding his point that runners are narcissistic, I would say that among the runners I know, very few are like that. Yes, some are. Some love to look at their picture crossing the finish line and revel in how good they look doing so. Personally, I like to look at the picture because it reminds me that I can do whatever I put my mind to. I can overcome the greatest of challenges. The marathon is a challenge that is beyond the human's normal abilities. The fact that I was able to complete it, and even complete it respectably (without collapsing and needing to crawl across the finish line), gives me a tremendous boost in other areas of my life. So yes, I like to look at my picture from the marathon, but it is because of what it motivates me to do and not because I like looking at myself.

Yes, some worry about every second and look for ways to shave off time wherever they can. Most runners that I know are not like that. Most take the challenge of the marathon as a challenge of a lifetime, they train their hearts out, they run the marathon and that's it. While many continue to run, with some always looking for the PR, most just want to run. they participate in marathons because it presents them with a challenge. Some need to look for a PR to get the challenge that motivates them, while others just want to run, and the paid entry is enough of a motivation. I have run 3 marathons in 2011 - I set my PR in the first of them, and the others I just ran to enjoy and to challenge myself again. Am I a better person because I ran 5 or 25 minutes faster than the previous time. Probably not, which is why most runners just want to finish.

Are Marathons Worth It? That is a very personal question, and, I think, it depends on why you are running the marathon. For the most part, marathons are worth it. When you complete a marathon, the first one at least, it becomes a life altering event.

Monday, May 9, 2011

9km Steep Trail Run

After 9 days of no running, and 3.5 weeks of minimal running, I went out for my second run of the week this morning.

The first run was a 7km run on Saturday night, We ran around the perimeter of RBS, which is 4.8km, and I ran halfway around a second time.

This morning's run was going to be a path we don't normally do. We were going to run out to Road 10, turning left instead of right, then running up through Zanoach and on the trail out into RBS. Along the way, one of the guys wasn't feeling well and dropped out. It was hotter than expected. We decided to turn up a different trail instead. This trail was very steep and rocky, but I have gotten used to running rocky trails. While needing to take it slow at rockier points, and the steepness of the downhill required a slower descent, overall it was pretty good.

Along the way we passed some Bedouin who had set up tent along the trail. They had a small pen of young lamb, along with doing laundry by hand and everything else that is part and parcel of a Bedouin tent.

After continuing along the path, we eventually got dumped out at the junction connecting RBS B and RBS A. I turned off and ran home on Kishon, concluding my run at 9km, while my running partner ran the other way up Yarqon towards his house.

It was hot, it was a difficult trail to run, especially because of how steep it was, and it felt great at the end.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gaza Marathon Underway!

The news is reporting that the first ever Gaza Marathon is underway! With out me, I might add.

The news is reporting that 1400 runners are participating, though only 9 are planning to run the full marathon. The majority of the rest plan to run varying distances from 1-13 kilometers. The UNRWA raised 1 million dollars through this marathon that will go to support the summer camps for children of Gaza.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bum Knee and New Male Model Career

I have not run this week yet. After Friday's 10.5km run I went and played basketball. It was the first time I played since 5 or 6 weeks before the Tiberias Marathon in January.

Even though I have played basketball nearly every Friday for many years with this group, as it gets closer to the marathon it is difficult to play, mainly for two reasons:

  1. fear of getting injured, like twisting an ankle or jamming my knee, and being unable to run and train for the marathon, or possibly even needing to drop out of the marathon completely.
  2. timing. Friday is our main day for long runs, as that is the day most people don't work. It is usually not possible to do a long run and get back in time for basketball, and usually after a long run I am too sore for basketball.
So this Friday was my first time playing in my old regular game in a long time. And of course I hurt my knee. It is mostly better now, but after the game it was swollen to about 3 times its size and I could not put any pressure on it. Now I can put most of my regular pressure on it and there is very little pain. Another day or two and it should be fine, unless I injure it at my softball game tomorrow night.

And in other news, Gillette, the main sponsor of the recent Tel Aviv Marathon, has asked me for my permission to allow them to use my image in the promotionals. I gave them permission and they sent me the picture they will be using. I think it is a pretty good shot of me crossing the finish line:
Look at that wing-span!
My new male model career is being launched