Yikes! 36 days until my first marathon! Ok.. I'm not panicking yet, but I'm sure that will come. From a training update perspective, I am in week 11 of a 16 week schedule that I built using the free Smart Coach app from Runner's world. I managed to complete my first 20 miler last Friday, which felt great. Especially since I really was stressing about it in the days leading up to it. But, I got through and recovered fairly quickly, so I am starting to think I may just make it through my first full marathon!
One reason I think I'll get through my first full is that I'm going to run like a Ninja!! If you recall, in mid-October I posted a preview of the goodies sent to me by Born 2 Run to help me train and run my first marathon. You can see that post here. The Road Performance shoe (shown above), sports a Tabi style split toe which is really comfortable to me (I credit my Japanese ancestry), hence my Ninja shoes... (or goat shoes as my wife calls them).
So, what follows is my comprehensive review of these shoes, as well as a review of the Strength Training program from B2R as well. Also, stay tuned because at the end of the review is a HUGE announcement... no.. really.. :-)
First of all, let me talk about the strength training DVD program. The Level One program includes a wobble board (what I am standing on), plus balance poles, and a really good DVD. I did the workouts (which includes core work), but then came up with a great idea. I have a core workout I like to do already, so I took the wobble board to my office and used it with my standing desk. I can go through the series of foot/leg strengthening drills while on a conference call! This worked out really well. The results? I know my feet and lower legs are stronger from these exercises. Where I notice it the most is when I run on ground that is off angle... especially side to side. That can really wear you down, but the exercises simulate those changes and have strengthened my feet so that I can handle that much better. Also, I've noticed less fatigue in my feet after long runs. So... I will continue to use this while working!
Now.. on to the shoes. Quick impression? Love them. But first, I'll give you a few specs/features, and then explain why I'm enjoying them so much.
Here are the highlights from the B2R website:
- All-purpose, everyday road shoe with breathable mesh upper
- Perfect for high-mileage minimalist runners, and those looking to make the transition to an appropriate natural performance shoe
- Zero-drop (the difference in mid-sole/outsole height between the heel and the forefoot is approximately 0 mm)
- Low profile 13mm Stack Height: Midsole 6mm, Outsole 3.5mm, Footbed 3.5mm
- Removable Insole for customized comfort - 3mm
- Weight: 6.9 ounce for Men’s shoe size 9
- Designed to fit men and women (shoes run true to size)
- FREE downloadable transition program with purchase
- Two pairs of split-toe socks included with each purchase
So, for comparison purposes, the closest shoe that I own to these would be the Merrell Barefoot Road Glove. And, its the only other pair of true "road" running shoes I own as everything else is either a huarache, or a trail shoe. Of course the Road Gloves don't have the split toe. From a stack height perspective, they are about the same, however I believe the Road Performance uses an EVA type rubber, so its a little more squishy compared to the Road Glove sole. They are also very light, which I like. And, although the upper is a breathable mesh, they actually stay warm. I've run some long runs in sub-freezing temps (even through some snow) and have had no issues.
Now, the split toe is kind of an interesting feature. As I noted earlier, very comfortable for me and I really like the feel of it when running. It gives you that extra flexibility of toe articulation, but without the individual sleeves for each toe such as Vibram Five Fingers. The toe box is still wide, and I can move my toes around comfortably. And, if you are wondering about socks, each pair is shipped with two pairs of tabi toe socks, which I have found to work really well. I have also run in these with Injinji toe socks, and that is a great combo too.
Here is what my pair looks like after 141.35 miles of running. Wow.. that still boggles my mind... I may have to admit to actually being a runner at some point, now that I've almost hit 800 miles for the year! I still have a hard time grasping that... ah well, getting distracted again.
I was a little concerned with the seemingly softer sole, but above you can see the amount of wear over these miles. And just about all miles have been on pavement. There is a little wearing on the outside of the mid-foot, and a little on the toes, but that is about it. Also, after the first 20 miles in these, they felt less squishy which was good.
I do have two areas of concerns at this point. Above you can see that right behind my big toe, the outer material is starting to separate. I'm not too concerned yet, as the material underneath is solid. This may end up being more of a cosmetic issue after a few more miles
And, this is the second area of concern. On the inside of the shoe, just in front of the arch, the material is breaking down as well. Again, placing my finger inside the shoe assures me that it isn't going all the way through, so I hope it remains that way! Needless to say, with all the road running I've done in these, I will be wearing these for my marathon at the end of January.
But, these cosmetic (for now) issues aside, I am very happy with the B2R Road Performance as my go to road running shoe. Of course, my passion is trail running (after all, I am entering a road marathon simply to get a qualifying time to enter the Pikes Peak Marathon!), and B2R is working on a trail version of this shoe, but from what I understand it has not been release yet. I would LOVE to put that shoe to the test!
Overall, I am really excited about the work Eric Orton has put into B2R. His running form video is one I've watched numerous times, and think about whenever I'm running. It's on the Level One DVD, but you can watch it right here as well.
So.. there you have it. As always, if I've neglected to cover something, or if you have questions, please leave me a comment or email me!
OK... THE BIG NEWS!!!!
On January 1st of this year, I hosted my first blog giveaway. My blog was only a few months old, but I found a few sponsors and had a great time giving a few things away. You can see that post here. I called it the Happy and Healthy 2012 Giveaway. So, now that I have a year of blogging under my belt, I went back to all the great companies that provided amazing products for me to test and review over the year to thank them for their support of Barefoot Inclined, and also asked them to help me give back to my blog readers/followers with another contest for 2013. And WOW... did they respond. Here is a list of prizes I'll have to give away:
Brite Buds from Far End Gear
Custom Xeroshoes Huaraches
Earth Runner Huaraches
DIY Sandal kit from Luna Sandals
$25 Gift Certificate to Softstar Shoes
Autographed soft cover "365 Day of Pikes Peak" book from The Pikes Peak Guy
And hopefully more!
So, be sure to look for a post on 1/1/2013 and enter to win. And thank you again for reading and following Barefoot Inclined!
Have a Merry Christmas!