Inov8 Road-X 233 Shoe Review

So I know what you are thinking;  “I want to be more efficient, but I don’t want to stray too far from what I know.  If only there were a great transition shoe.  Something light, level but still recognizable as a shoe.”  Alas my friend your shoe salutations have been answered.

The Inov8 Road-X 233 has a brilliant feel to it.  It features a 6mm drop from heel to to and weighs about 8 ounces in a men’s size 10.  The weight makes the lifting (getting off the ground) part of the gait cycle that much easier.

Inov8 Road-X 233

The sole is designed with a highly durable rubber that promotes an accurate communication with the ground.  For those looking to dip their toes into natural running waters, this is a great way to make a splash.

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Inov8 Road-X Lite 155 Shoe Review

Inov8 Road-X Lite 155: Light, level and super fast. If you haven't noticed it is also very yellow.

There is a ton to like about the Road-X 155 Lite from Inov8.  This is another home run from a company who has put out some great products in the natural running/minimal shoe category over the past few years.  The genius behind this shoe is that if you create an environment where the foot is reasonably protected but not inhibited that your body will become a lot more involved in the running experience.  Here are a few of the highlights.

Wicked lightweight:  In a men’s size 10US this shoe weighs a less than 6 ounces.

Level:  The Road-X 155 features a 3mm drop from heel to toe.  This level feel creates an environment your body is much more adapt to react and respond to.

Generous Toebox:  Your piggies will have room to roam.  There is not a stitch wasted on the upper material and thus creates ample room.  There has never been anything in the racing style category that has this kind of width.

Grippy Sole:  Upon first look the flatness of the sole may raise some questions about the ability to maintain ground contact.  The Inov8 Road-X 155 knocks it out of the park on this one.  The texture of the sole provides great feedback and gives an accurate picture of the road.

Mellow Yellow:  I dare you to put this shoe on and be in a bad mood.  Seriously it is impossible.  You have on a bright yellow shoe that wants to run fast.  The only way to make it look cool is to rock this thing with confidence.

Enjoy the tunes, a little self deprecation and a pretty bad ass shoe.

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Altra Intuition Shoe Review

This review of the women’s Altra Intution came to us from our very good friend and athlete extraordinarre Crystal Sullivan.  You can follow her on Twitter and find her running with beautiful form and a big grin in the hills of North Carolina.

Altra Intuition: An In-Depth Customer Review
I’m sure you’ve read Patton’s post detailing the Altra Instinct features and why they are so loved at Natural Running Store. I wanted to provide firsthand perspective on how these features have affected my running.

Let me start off by telling you a little bit about my running history. I am a fairly casual runner. I hated to run up until I got to a point in life where I wasn’t being graded on my performance. Now I run for its multiple health benefits: physical and mental. Running is my go-to cardio routine, but it’s also a fantastic way to clear your mind and take in nature (provided you hit the pavement/trails).

Back when I started running on a regular basis, I wore traditional running shoes by Nike, Brooks, Asics, etc. Running was fun, but it seemed to be taking a toll on my body. The biggest nuisance was the pain in my shins. It was a sharp, jolting pain that occurred any time I knocked/brushed my shin against something. Frustrated, I began doing research to find the cause and why the multiple running shoes I’d tried weren’t alleviating the problem. Enter: Barefoot Running!

Since I couldn’t get my big toes in the Vibram FiveFingers, I bought a pair of Saucony Shay XC flats and they changed my life. My shin pain was gone and I was enjoying running more than ever. That was until just a few weeks later when the impact caused by the lack of cushion in my beloved racing flats caught up to me and resulted in an injured right forefoot. Sidelined.

My research continued and, for about another year, I ran in Mizuno Wave Riders. The shin pain came back, I was even introduced to some occasional hip and knee pains, but there was nothing I could do about it. I had once described to my husband the running shoes I would design if I were in the business: “They would have the traditional 12mm cushioning or even a few less, but most importantly, they would have a zero heel-to-toe differential. They would make life so much easier!” Then, one day during my search, I found out the running shoes of my dreams were already in the works!

The Intuitions have really made running carefree for me again. Contrary to the recommendation, I had to go up a full size, but they fit perfectly. I don’t have to worry about foot injuries anymore because there is 12mm cushion to protect me (Note: Follow a Transition Program when switching to minimalist shoes). Another thing I like about the cushion is the firmness. Before Altra Running released the Intuitions, I tried out the Saucony Kinvara, but I’m not a fan of the really squishy running shoes nor did they help relieve my other issues. Even the soles of the Intuitions have amazing grip and wear insanely slow. You can look at the bottoms of my shoes right now and it looks like I bought them yesterday. I even read the compression rate is only ~10%, while traditional running shoes compress at a rate of 70-90%. Only time will tell!

The foot shape of the shoes is fascinating to me. I would have never thought that running shoes weren’t already foot-shaped, but looking at them, they’re clearly not. I have a narrow foot, but I have to admit that the extra room in the toe box is really great at helping your toes splay to help promote natural balance. I’ll admit that the shoes look a little Ronald McDonald, but if they help you run better, who cares? The heel of the shoe wraps around so well that my feet don’t slide forward in my shoe while I run.

The Zero Drop™ benefit of the Altra Running shoes have made all the difference at relieving any pain I’ve had caused by running. I’m just so relieved that Altra released these shoes. They have made running an enjoyable part of my day again!

About NaturalRunningStore.com:  Founded on the idea the running is a natural and instinctual action, this store supports only shoes that promote the genius of human design.  You’ll find staff who are the leading experts on efficient running form and technique.  We are passionate about the running experience, highly opinionated and committed to the idea that each of us is born to run.  NaturalRunningStore.com

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The Next Great Crossfit Shoe: Altra Instinct & Intuition

Who's the king of the crossfit footwear throne?

Picking a great shoe for crossfit is a little like picking a bed.  Not too firm, not too soft and you know when it is just right.  Inov8 is a company we are huge fans of and they have long dominated the crossfit world with their very popular F-Lite series.  The big demand has made the shoes in some instances challenging to come by, and it opened the door for a few new companies to explore the crossfit space.

On the whole crossfitters were looking for a shoe that was light, level and extremely durable.  An option that has become very popular as of late is the Altra Instinct.  The weight and feel of this shoe is very similar to the F-Lite 230, but with a few key differences.  The Altra Instinct has a more generous toe box and is great for those feet that need a little extra room.  The Instinct also features a completely zero drop platform, as there is no difference in the height of the heel and height of the forefoot.  This level environment promotes natural stability and provides a more accurate  picture of the ground than with a shoe that has an elevated heel.  It is this feature in particular that has made this a popular choice for WODs with significant running, overhead squats and body weight squats.

Altra has also created a women’s specific version, rather than traditional unisex sizing in an excellent shoe called The Intuition.  The Intuition is a women’s specific design and is engineered accommodate the differences in the arch and length of the toes for women.Inov8 is not in danger of losing the throne, they just have a little bit of welcome company into the crossfit kingdom.  The Instinct is a great complimentary shoe in any crossfit gear bag.

“So tempt me intro trying something new, I double dog dare you!”.  

You know we dominate FREE SHIPPING all the time and to make getting into a pair Atlras even easier you can ender the code:  ZERODROP10 and save an additional 10%.

About this punk: Patton Gleason is president and founder of NaturalRunningStore.com and the Flow Running teaching method.  He is a running industry veteran and loves the irony of promoting barefoot running and owning a store that sells shoes.  He lives in McKinney, Texas with his beautiful wife and three children.  He has got a thing for long runs, burpees, pumpkin pie and bluegrass music.  Seriously send him some pie.  

@naturalrunstore
http://facebook.com/naturalrunningstore

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Three Things We Love About Altra

This is a shoe we have been waiting a long time for.   When we first heard whispers of this company being developed we got really excited.  We expected this to be a big splash into creating more options for natural running footwear.  There is something really compelling about their overall message; make a shoe that was designed to promote a more natural movement and put a premium on learning efficient running technique.

This is a company that gets it; if you create a healthy environment for the foot and empower anyone with a little knowledge to become more efficient then the quality of the running experience is limitless in how great it can be.

At NaturalRunningStore.com a ton of thought goes into the kind of shoes and companies we carry.  We work to provide shoes that are level (6mm or less), light, flexible.  We actively seek companies that promote the importance of efficient running technique.  We could not be more proud to have them as a partner and Altra has set a pretty high mark for themselves right out of the gate.  Currently available are the Instinct for men and Intuition for women.  Expected soon is the minimalist shoe, The Adam (expected in July) and the trail shoe, The Lone Peak (late summer 2011).

There is a ton to like about this shoe, but here are our three favorite things.

 “Zero Drop” platform:  Not all shoes are created equal and this is one of the best features about this shoe.  Zero Drop refers to the difference in the height of the heel and the height of the forefoot.  The standard in a traditional running shoe is around 12-15mm, and even a well know five fingered shoe has a 2mm drop.  Standing barefoot on the ground with good posture, you are as naturally balanced as you could ever hope to be.  This is the environment your body is designed to handle.

As we introduce any kind of raise in the heel your center of balance changes.  This makes you less stable (or have to work much harder to be so) and manipulates the angles in your back, hips, knees and ankles while shifting the weight from the center of your foot to the front.  (Check out our video on the case for a level platform.  Good music too.)

Why most shoes have an elevated heel, is anyone’s guess because there is ABSOLUTELY NO RESEARCH that supports this as a better alternative developing efficient running form.   Some traditional shoe manufacturers have difficulty communicating why there is a raised heel in a shoe or to show you the science behind it.  (Interesting thought:  What if shoe companies had to be held accountable for the claims they make and the design of their shoes in the same way a pharmaceutical company is?)

The Altra Instinct - Zero Drop Natural Runnning Shoes

Anatomical last and wide toe box:  Dear America, you need to know something.  For the most part you wear your shoes to small and you don’t even give your feet a chance to be as awesome as they could be.  Part of that is your fault for putting on something that looks nothing like the shape of your foot and the other part is on the shoe designers for creating a tapered toe box that pushes the little piggies together.  Why do people have such a problem with pinkie?!?!

But not too worry, Altra is making shoes with room to roam for your toes.  The shape of this shoe is wider by design in the toe box.  If you can create an environment where your feet can communicate with the ground, you can naturally create a more stable landing area.  Every part of your foot likes this idea, and you will to.

The promotion of efficient running technique:  The “Learn to Run Initiative” is a great way to get the basics of efficient running form and technique.  The exciting part is that it is such a big part of their message to having the optimal running experience.  Every pair of shoes includes clear instructions on developing efficient running technique and they will be putting on clinics all over the country.  Power to the people.

Altra Learn To Run Initiative

The next evolution of footwear is a natural one and Altra is ahead of the curve.  This is a really smart approach to running and a shoe.  Give these a go and enjoy a little gift from NaturalRunningStore.com.  Enter the code:  ZERODROP10 and get FREE SHIPPING and save 10%.


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Natural Running Tips: Land vs. Strike

Land (v):  To bring to or set on land.

Strike (v):  To drive so as to cause impact. 

 vs 

There is a big difference in the action of these two words, but the result is the same.  Something ends up on the ground.  One implies precise control and the other implies a traumatically impactful action.

The word strike is commonly use in describing how we run and connect with the ground.  Heel strike, toe strike, mid-foot strike all imply an very abrasive action.   Language for better or worse can impact the outcome of an action, before it has even begun.  If I am a “striker” of some kind, then I am conditioning myself for my gait cycle to be impactful.

Perhaps another way to think about how we communicate with the ground when we run is by thinking about the action as landing.  To land implies precise control that can be done over and over in an exact manner.  I would rather my pilot land the plane on the ground rather than strike the plane on the ground.  When we run, it makes more sense to land on the ground in a controlled and precise manner rather than striking it.

The difference between these two is choice and practice.  You have complete control over what your running gait and experience look like.  It is your job to exercise that control.

About this punk: Patton Gleason is president and founder of NaturalRunningStore.com and the Flow Running teaching method.  He is a running industry veteran and loves the irony of promoting barefoot running and owning a store that sells shoes.  He lives in McKinney, Texas with his beautiful wife and three children.  He has got a thing for long runs, burpees, pumpkin pie and bluegrass music.  Seriously send him some pie.  

@naturalrunstore
http://facebook.com/naturalrunningstore

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Team NRS Athlete – Kristen Dymmel

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Team NaturalRunningStore.com Athlete:  Kristen Dymmel
Here at NaturalRunninStore.com we get to interact with lots of very cool, very driven and very inspiring people.  Few emulate those qualities better than Kristen Dymmel of Palo Alto, CA.  She is a talented athlete, a terrific mother and pretty amazing woman.  We consider ourselves real lucky to have Kirsten as our first sponsored athlete.-NRS

Tell us a little something about you:
 
I am a runner, wife and mother of three young future runners.  I started running in high school, but really got hooked in college when I ran my first marathon on a challenge.  Since then I have completed more than 20 marathons and quite a few ultras.  I left a career in law enforcement to start a family and am now the proud mother of two preschool girls and my little man of almost a year.  I balance my running, family, and faith and believe they are all connected.  Each enhances the others.  Fitness is an integral part of living and I want others to experience the incredible joy that comes with being able to run and live your life however you choose.
The role of running in your life:
Running is my sanity, my escape and my passion.  What started as a way to get in shape, became a way to travel and see parts of the world and experience things few people do.  Without intending to be, running has also become a way to inspire others to achieve their goals and believe in themselves.  That might be the most humbling aspect.
Dream running destination: 
Let’s see, if I won the lottery and could go run anywhere, I would get myself to Australia to run the outback.  I’ve not been there, but I did read Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country. Sounds rugged and beautiful, perfect for some trail running.
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Best running experience:
 Really my best experiences have been the times out on the trails when I forgot I was running and got lost in the beauty of what was around me.  This has happened a lot, but most often on the trails of Boulder, CO, Marin Headlands and East Bay Hills in California.  The best experience is remembering how incredibly blessed I am to be able to run so freely.
Favorite music:
Country or Christian stations are standard for the car and I am known for torturing my kids by singing along in a loud voice.  For running, I’ve got my Ipod stacked with high cadence hip hop, rock and alternative.
Thing you are most scared to do on your bucket list:
I’ve thought a lot about this one.  I can’t say I really have a bucket list.  I haven’t told anyone before that I would like to do Badwaterone day, but that would probably scare them more than me.
Something that people should know about you but probably don’t:
Most people would never know that I am a total creature of habit.  I eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and often dinner every day.  I run the same route almost every day.  Routine rules my life, but I am also trying to free myself of this.  CrossFit has added a lot of variation to my training and of course kids really challenge me as well.  This is a little known fact that might be good and might be bad…the jury is still out.
What are you training for:
I am focused on improving my running form while training for the Ohlone 50K in May and the Tahoe Rim 50M in July.   I would love to be able to complete my first 100 miler either late this year or next.
To learn more about one of our favorite people on the planet, you can read more about Kristen and her adventures on her blog www.iultramom.com and follow her on Twitter @iultramom

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