Tag Archives: minimalist shoes

Classification: Runner

People are always trying to classify runners and joggers. I think of jogger as an outdated 1980’s sort of term, a bit like “groovy” or “far-out”. Non-runners, be warned, runners are easily insulted by the term jogger. Fast runners, be warned, you might think we are joggers, but we make your sport a household name.

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I classify myself as a runner. Here is one of many reasons why:

It is because after I finished running my first mile, I decided to add another mile to my workout plan. After I finished running the second mile, I decide to take a detour that would add another half mile to my route. When I finished running the third mile, I looked around to admire the nice weather, beautiful landscape, and intriguing buildings. I was happy to be outdoors on my own power. When I looked at my watch to see how much more time I had to run, I was disappointed after all those miles to see I needed to head home which was only one more mile.

Not every run is like this but many are because I am a runner. That’s my classification.

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Filed under minimalist shoes, running, wonderland

Barefoot Shoe Photo Shoot

These are my new shoes. They are Merrell Life Serene Gloves.

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Blah. It seems like everytime I take pictures of my feet/shoes for this blog, I’m at work (on lunch, of course). The result is mundane. I’m jealous of those barefoot pictures with stunning backgrounds.

If I could magically transport my feet (port key? floo powder?) to an awe inspiring location for the photo shoot, my feet would go here…

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Except, these shoes aren’t very practical in two feet of snow, in temperatures hovering near the zero mark. The open top that allows for easy slip on might lend to frostbite in extreme northern climates.

Thus, I had better think of a more fitting backdrop for modeling my shoes, such as…

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Although, these shoes are comfortable enough to be worn anywhere, especially without socks, this photo is an inaccurate depiction. Because, if my feet were at the beach, they be dressed like this…

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I purchased these shoes to be my business casual, barefoot shoe. It’s likely that these shoes will traverse all their miles in locations such as this…

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Just right for the rat race in the city.

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One Week

One luminous January day, I was overdressed and perspiring within 1/2 mile of starting an excursion. Truth be told, if it had been a normal Saturday in January, I would have been struggling to keep frost from building up on my eye lashes rather than struggling to cool down after making a last minute decision to put on a light jacket. My two companions, on bikes, were fairing much better in just jeans and sweatshirts. I, on the other hand, had pulled crazy snowflake (hopeful thinking) socks overtop tech running tights then slipped them into Merrell Pace Gloves. On top, I had two (many) layers of shirts and a jacket, hot pink, ironically. The only thing I got right was my lack of head gear allowing my head to breathe.

Did I mention it was Saturday? The three of us were headed into town to drop a package at the post office, stop in for smoothies at Jazy’s Java then pick up a handful of candy at the candy store (otherwise known to adults as the party or liquor store) before running/biking home for lunch.

One week later the situation was as turned around as a contestant in Pin The Trail On The Donkey. Snow was lightly falling upon seven inches of powder that had accumulated the day before. I was trudging up a hill of untouched snow on the edge of a rolling soybean field. This time, my companions had replaced their bikes for antique snowmobiles and were driving them in gigantic circles at the center of the same soy bean field. On this cold and blustery Saturday, a pair of Rocky Gear hunting boots rated for forty below zero encased my snowflake socks. A fire engine red Columbia jacket and a pair of waterproof bib overhauls replaced the tech tights and hot pink jacket to protect my body from blowing snow. A ten pound, black and white striped helmet securely rested on my head with the face shield raised open. A mask protected the lower half of my face and neck from the arctic breeze. I was hiking the edge of the field as something to do while the boys practiced driving the sleds. Even then, I was sweating.

One week. A different world. The same person.

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Photo by Arnis Kengis

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Filed under Michigan, minimalist shoes, running, snow

Cruise-ing

You know that scene? The one where Tom Cruise does the famous slide and dances in his socks.

What? In his underwear? No. No. No. He’s dancing in his socks. Don’t you remember?

Ok, we all remember it as the underwear scene but it wouldn’t be the same if it hadn’t been coupled with that fantastic entrance, courtesy of his socks.

In the last couple of years, I was bitten by two bugs. First, I was bitten by barefoot running then I was bitten by crazy knee high socks. It’s a love triangle, I guess, because you don’t wear socks when you run barefoot and wearing socks means you’re not barefoot. My two separate loves are able have their place in my life thanks to the winter season.

This past summer and fall, I went barefoot more often than the previous year. I even switched to wearing minimalist shoes at work instead of dress flats. Considering that my minimalist shoes look like lizard feet (VFF) or trail trainers (Pace Glove) this is a rather big statement as to my preference for foot wear in all occasions. I’m anxiously awaiting delivery of Merrell’s Life Gloves that will be perfect for the office.

Back to my point, I embraced my barefoot nature as much as I could. Even at home with the No Heat Challenge I went barefoot all the time letting my feet adjust to the environment of chilled tile or cool imitation wood. (cool as in cold not as in sick which is as in cool not as in barf all over)

I looked forward to I wearing socks with wild colors and holiday themes again once the frost started to set in and frost bite was just a couple of miles away. It’s true, socks claimed their place in my love triangle.

Much to my chagrin, however, I have realized that bare-footing has put a wedge between my socks and me. I grew so accustomed to the language that my bare feet speak that my body no longer knows how to interpret my socked feet signals. Literally, I am slipping, sliding, and unable to navigate across the floor in a comfortable manner because I’ve lost my grip!

It has been a bit heart breaking and confounding, because, how did I ever walk accross the floor in socks before?

Now, when I am wearing socks, you’ll find me more often sliding across the floor like Tom Cruise in whitey tighties because I just can’t get a the hang of walking without grip. Oh, well, I might as well take those old records off the shelf. Spring is just around the corner.

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Wild Goose to Silly Goose

I pulled my car into the same hotel parking spot I’d vacated thirty minutes prior. I’d been on a wild goose chase for a trail head to the “greenways” in Wisconsin. I wished I had applied those thirty minutes to running on the sidewalk outside the hotel instead. The sun’s initial descent was punctuated by the dimmed daylight. Those thirty minutes lost in a wild goose chase would have been treasured running minutes under full daylight.

Regardless of greenway or greyway, I was going to run before dusk expired too. For a sidewalk, the environment wasn’t too awful, although, the grey concrete hadn’t absorbed enough sunlight bringing a halt to running bare. Shoes on, I then found myself impeded by a busy intersection. Being impatient with precious dusklight minutes passing by, I turned right to enter the rear drive of a shopping mall. There was no busy traffic but, the sidewalk also dematerialized.

Leery of cars that might turn right at the intersection behind me and might also not take note of a person running on the edge, I sprung up on the curb for a spell. It triggered an Anne Shirley memory.

“I knew a girl in Marysville who could walk the ridge-pole of a roof.” “I don’t believe it,” said Josie flatly. “I don’t believe anyone could walk a ridge-pole. You couldn’t anyhow.” “Couldn’t I?” cried Annie rashly. “Then I dare you to do it,” said Josie defiantly.

Well, we couldn’t let Josie Pye get the best of us. I accepted the dare minus the height of the house and Anne’s boots plus I would run across the curbs. Diana, Anne’s bosom friend, might have called me a silly goose.

Auspiciously, I didn’t crash through a tangle of Virginia creeper like Anne did. Positive circumstances such as wearing my Merrell minimalist shoes, being only 6 inches off the ground, and having grass on the left side kept me upright. No doubt, I had a lot more fun on the curb than Anne had on the ridge-pole.

While I may have regularly employed the ground to correct my balance, I found stabilizing my body as I ran over the curbs rewarding and smiley ;). It was invigorating to engage muscles all over my body. I concentrated without really thinking. When the curbs curved, I followed them in pointless pursuit. The more the run seemed directionless the more meaningful it became because it was fun.

I confess that I only ran on the curbs for 90% of the run. I also took advantage of my urban surroundings. I serpentined through a series of stately bushes and trees marshaling a parking lot. I leaped across a set of stone seats encircling a wobbly concrete table that shuddered gravely when I hopped away. I sprung off small boulders enriching a university parking lot. I imagined I was skate boarding down a ramp. Then rebelliously chuckled when I glimpsed a “No Skate Boarding Trespass” sign. Would anyone dare fine a runner? Dare to even scold one?

I passed people walking out to their cars at the end of a day’s work. They stared at me as they unlocked their cars or as they drove away. Despite the witnesses and the “Do Not” signs, I continued to run, bounce, jump, and balance. I have no doubt the beholders observing my antics concluded that I was a Silly Goose.

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No Regard For Dignity

As I mentioned in my sleeping post, we defied the weather forecast last Saturday by going camping at the K3 state park with our Cub Scout pack. With so many eager learners and helpers our camp was hoisted in record time. The scouts and their siblings were running around the area. Although the camping area was plentiful, we agreed that a hike might burn off some of the youthful energy.

Our hike traversed the two track converted into a bike path nicely lined with a multitude of foliage. Sure, adults lose some ability for imaginative play as we grow older. In exchange, we know how to stop and smell the tree leaves. That youthful energy quickly grew tired of observing the differences between trees. Their faces said, “Dude, they’re just green leaves.”

Fortunately, I have little regard for maintaining my dignity. The kids and I skipped, ran backward, side-stepped, laughed, walked with high knees, galloped, raced, grew breathless and smiled. We let loose and had some fun with it.

I’m not dismissing the retrospective nature walk. I like a good dendrology lesson as much as the next corn based, plastic soled, shoe wearer. It’s just that sometimes it’s fun to dismiss your dignity. You’ve got to live smiley and sometimes being silly helps accomplish that.

We went on that night to tell scary stories by the campfire that night. I, on the other hand, faced the scariest story right there on that two-track. One mom was telling another mom that her Shape-Ups really work. SCCCCCCRRREEEEAAAAMMM!

I’m not going to argue whether those shoes work or not. I don’t have any scientific evidence to back my opinion. I do like this article, Can Shoes Really Tone the Body? By Gretchen Reynolds from The NewYork Times. And, I have to agree with the FTC’s move to fine Reebok for making claims without scientific evidence. I have my own personal concerns after living 35+ years in various shoes that altered my center of gravity and forced my feet into unnatural positions. I admit, I used to love high heels. I gave up on them when I started to develop bunions. I also had life long issues with pointed toe shoes. Don’t give me that look. Even my penny-loafers of my high school years pushed my big toe inward. Consequently, I have concerns regarding toning shoes. I really don’t see how these strangely shaped soles can be good for you to wear all day, day in and day out.

Sorry, I got side tracked and ended up on a soap box just to tell you that after the Shape-Ups statements, I declared my love for barefooting and took my shoes off to race the boys on that gravel covered two-track. Imagine, I’m wearing jeans and a sweatshirt over a long sleeve t-shirt under my Class B uniform T-shirt while carrying my New Balance Minimus in my hand. Again, its useful that I have no regard for dignity. With that much clothing on, I got hot within a quarter mile. My feet begged to go farther but it was going to be another twenty-four hours before I’d see a shower so I wasn’t willing to stink up the tent for that nights sleeping. See, it was about odor issues not lack of dignity in becoming a sweaty mess.

In the end, our mission was accomplished. The youthful energy tanks were half empty just in time for the S’mores.

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Filed under Barefoot, minimalist shoes, personality flaws

I Can Brainwash

I mean, I can expose my children to new experiences and encourage them to keep an open mind.

It went something like this.

I was sitting at the computer with the barefoot Merrell web page up.  I said authoritatively, “These are the shoes you are wearing to school.  What color do you want?”

K-man took to them right away, although still wears socks. (Some things a mom can’t control)  Still, he says they are very comfortable.  This is Mik’s first day in them.  He hates wearing socks.  I’m looking forward to his shoes not stinking as bad as last year.  I’m very glad that they will be getting used to a foot free feeling.

I was hoping someone would choose the Cheddar color.

This was the first day of school.   Already we are doing homework.  Ugh.

I only have one person in the house left to “convince”.

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