A walking review of the Vibram Bakila LS minimalist shoe

After putting down the book, “Born to Run“, by Christopher McDougall, I made myself a fresh cup of lemon-aid and started drinking. In the Cult of Barefoot Running, we believe that you should run totally shodless, or, if you prefer, with some Luna Sandals, or Invisible Shoes, or, of course, a congregational favorite- the Vibram shoe. The truth is, we in the COBR have a lot of opinions on how you’re supposed to run barefoot and we argue about them…a lot. We confuse a lot of people (including ourselves) over the question- what is the best way to run barefoot?

I bought a pair of Invisible Shoes (the kind you put together yourself- and are also awesome, by the way), and then, just to prove I was really going to give this barefoot(ish) thing a whirl, I bought a pair of Vibram Bakila LS. There really is no method to how I dive into a subject or challenge- I just start throwing paint at a wall until the masterpiece reveals itself.

When I first tried on the Vibram Bakila, I noticed, immediately, that my toes were a little bit separated and felt somewhat pushed apart- sort of annoying. But I walked around the shoe store a bit and even ran around the inside track they had. I had no idea how to even start to judge this shoe. I’d never run in a minimalist shoe of any kind. But I took a leap of faith and bought them.

I started wearing them, everywhere. One of the biggest pieces of advice that you should adhere to (no matter what sect of The Cult you heed), is that you don’t want to just done some minimalist footwear (this goes for the naked foot, too) and go for a typical run. You have to get this through your head- your feet are wusses. They are not ready to singlefootedly support you on a 3-5 mile run. You have to start slow. You must build the muscles necessary to handle walking and running without the support your feet have come to expect from shoes that have mimicked the role of your feet.

You start slow by walking around barefoot or in these minimalist shoes. When your feet become stronger, you can start to run a little (but only a little) and you take it easy. Some say that it can take up to a year (or even longer) before your feet are conditioned and ready to handle the load of running.

Which is why I still haven’t taken my Bakilas for a run. I’ve only been at this barefoot/minimalist thing for a couple of months. And I’m trying to do it right. So what right do I have in writing a review on the Vibram Bakilas, you might wonder. Well, here you go:

I have worn them faithfully, as much as possible. I work in them, walk in them, drive in them, and attend my daily COBR sessions in them. On rare occasions, I run up a flight of stairs, or across a parking lot, when I’m late to work. (Some of you will be amazed to know that I hold a full-time job, in addition to keeping up this incredible blog. Those who know me best are amazed I can hold down a job.)

But my feet are getting stronger. Soon, I’m sure I’ll be able to run on some superior-to-my-peers ankles and achilles.

So it is on the merits of Just Walking Around that I judge these shoes. They are comfortable, flex to my feet, allow me to feel the ground and yet- they provide the protection that I need when out in a dangerous world of cigarette butts and movie theater soda-floors.

However, in the interest of full-disclosure, I have been running short distances barefoot. I’ve been running about 10-20% of my daily runs without shoes. I believe that form is learned best when feet are undressed and your heels are full-mooning the runner behind you. Once this proper form is learned, I think that you could run in just about anything. However, from the very little that I know about minimalist running, you must return to your barefoot roots, from time to time, in order to “tune up” and keep your good form.

But back to our review- As far as an everyday, minimalist shoe, which use is strictly for the sake of strengthening feet until they are strong enough to run on their own, these are terrific shoes.

I have one gripe about the Bakila LS, but it’s a small one: When I first bought this pair of shoes, the shoelace, which works on a drawstring system (which is awesome), broke away from the tab that you hold with your thumb and index finger, when tightening the tension of the shoe. It wasn’t a big deal and it’s doesn’t impair the function of the shoe. But it’s annoying to have to gingerly cinch up the lace and not worry about it slipping out of its lacing system. Fortunately for me, I managed to get a replacement pair from The Runner’s Corner in Orem (thanks, guys!)

So, all in all, a wonderful, minimalist shoe- even if I’m not running in them. If I do start to quicken my pace, I’ll rewrite this review. But for those of us who are interested in dipping our feet slowly into the world of barefoot running, these shoes are a great choice. By the way, you get used to the feel of your toes being a little further apart.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to head back for a refill of lemon-aid.

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Lakeside run with an interesting trail in the State Park (3.1 miles)

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A little panorama of the Provo River trail (click for a larger view)

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This morning, I went to bed at 6 AM. I’m working some interesting shifts for OC Tanner and so I get a lot of interesting workout times. I’ve been running early morning, or late at night. But today, I woke up at 9:30 AM, but I got <sarcasm>plenty

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of sleep</sarcasm>, really, and decided I needed a jump-start to my day. Running fills that role for me. So I drove down to the lake where I’d walked yesterday, so that I could see just how far that path went. The answer is .94 miles. One mile if you’re a cheat (you know who you are.) This might turn out to be one of my favorite stretches, which is incredibly close to home.

Park on North Boat Harbor Drive, not quite to the west end of the road. There is a pathway on your right where you can start your walk/run

It’s a 4-5 minute drive from my neighborhood and you can just park on the side of the road (pictured in this post.) From there, you can run north on the Provo River Parkway for a mile.

It took me a long time to run this, because I kept snapping off pictures. The water from Utah Lake comes right up to the path (it probably floods at times in the year) and you get to just run alongside it. It’s pretty neat. If you squint your eyes just right, you’re at the ocean.

Anyway, my right achilles is a little sore (has been for a while), so I might take tomorrow off, or bike or something. We shall see.

 

Airport Loop and why do I get spooked around water? (6.6 mile route)

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This is a path that moves North along the East side of the lake, from the State Park.

Today, for lunch, I drove back to Utah Lake to find another good place to run. These days, half of the fun of a workout is exploring the next place I’m going to run.

I’ve run a rut from my house to Utah Lake, but I’ve never run North along the lake, nor have I explored the area around the airport- which is what I did for lunch, today.

I met a man on this trail, who told me that it only runs up for about a mile. So I’ll have to explore that later and map it out.

But after that, I hopped back in my truck and drove back to the road that would allow you to go all the way around the airport. As I learned from the other morning, this road goes to dirt

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When I shot this, I was standing on a ton of thick reeds that were actually laying down on the lake. Pretty cool.

and is a little bumpy. The further you go, the harder it is for cars to continue on. I even saw one car think better of his decision and start to reverse about 1/4 mile back to the road. That was pretty funny.

This is work for a truck to do. I had to slow down to 5 MPH to not be thrown about the truck as I meandered around the airport. It was pretty eery, I’ll tell you.  I don’t want to get into the position of defending stupid phobeas, but I really get spooked by lakes and oceans.  I love swimming them, but when I’m alone, driving or walking along the water’s edge, I just get that feeling in my stomach.  Uhg.

And I have some bad news: It’s the end of February and I saw thousands of mosquitos, buzzing about. I could see them hitching a ride on my windows. I could never get enough speed to convince them that this was not the best public transportation in the entire lake area.

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To me, the lake is always beautiful...even if it is Utah Lake.

Finally the road went back to asphalt and I was able to gain some speed to head back to the State Park. From there, it was just my old, familiar drive back home.

I was glad to have this all mapped out. I’d always wondered if there was

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This road got bumpy and at one point, I had to negotiate with another truck, who had apparently never learned to make room in this type of situation. Keep in mind, it's water off to either side.

anything runnable to the south of the State Park. Now I have another 6.6 mile loop to explore…as long as I have some good bug repellent.

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I'd never seen this tower so close until today. Pretty fun.
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Airport Loop, in all it's glory.

NelsonShack evicts the BloodyToe

Well I think we all saw this coming.  It used to reside at www.nelsonshack.com.  Then it moved to bloodytoe.nelsonshack.com.  It rode on the coattails of The Nelson Shack, learning from the ways of it’s parent site, waiting for the time that it was strong enough to stand on its own…

That day has come.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…uh, well…you’re already here.  Sort of deflating for presentation’s purpose.  But anyway, here at bloodytoe.com, you’ll get more of the same awesomeness that you’ve come to expect from such quality sites, such as bloodytoe.nelsonshack.com.  You’re going to get the same author, the same drivel that spews from my inane thoughts, but with less letters.  11 less letters to be exact.  We’re cutting the waste, trimming the fat, losing the excess- we are reducing redundancy. (And we are also getting rid of stuff that we already have enough of.)

What does this mean to you, my humble readers?  I means that you will be able to get your bloody, BloodyToe fill faster (“The Bloody Toe- where alliteration matters.”)  In recent case studies, our new domain’s beta testers were able to absorb the content of this website much more quickly- in some cases as much as **Note to self: Before this post is published, I need a reasonable number here** percent faster!  Now that’s what I call **Also need a funny, hip word, here**!  Hahaha!!

Some of you, for nostalgia’s sake, will undoubtedly try to visit the old site.  Let me save you the trouble- it’s gone, man.  It’s just going to redirect you back to www.bloodytoe.com.  Sorry.  (But not sorry enough that you can talk me out of this.)

I also know that there are some of you who wonder, “Now, if bloodytoe.nelsonshack.com is just going to redirect us over to www.bloodytoe.com, isn’t this post sort of worthless?”  To that, I answer- “Not if you’re looking for an excuse to use the word ‘alliteration.'”

Enjoy the new site, folks.

-Nathan

I ran so far away…for a Monday

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Ye old paved Provo River Parkway (or Provo Jordan River Parkway, depending on who you ask)

This morning, I woke up, knowing that a run wasn’t going to happen easily.  I’ve felt this feeling many times in my running career (which spans over 10 years and boasts of many accomplishments- I have a perfect record of waving at other runners, for instance.)  But I made it out the door, which, some runners will tell you, is half the battle.  The other 99% of runners will tell you that the 1% are full of crap- the battle is comprised of finding time to run, keeping up with shoe expense, convincing your wife you need a new pair of shoes approximately every 2-3 weeks, battling injuries, shoelace malfunctions, cars that weave, cars that hate, cars that expel an unworldly amount of exhaust, the inversion,

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Me by a 1 Mile sign, which actually meant I'd hit about 3.5 miles. The signs always lie.

the weather, the running parters who don’t show up, the ones that do and won’t shut up (me, sometimes), blisters, missing toenails, missing socks, missing the glory days of a 6:40 minute-per-mile 10K, the injuries, the icing, the constant advice from running friends, running strangers, elite runners, barefoot runners, new runners, experienced runners, Runner’s World, and non-runners.  But yeah, I suppose that sometimes, half the battle is turning the door knob.  My three year-old daughter, Lucy, can turn that door knob.

But I did make it outside.  And then I took off at an alarming rate.  Trying to slow myself down, I told myself, “Nathan, ease into this.”  “Nathan,

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The other day on my trailrun, I stepped on a thorn and it didn't hurt. One extra byproduct of barefoot running.

what are you trying to prove?”  “Nathan, it’s Monday- we’re justgetting started, here.”  “Nathan, stop addressing yourself by name- it’s weird.”

But I got out there.  I greeted the week by running, not jogging.  Vigor replaced a

I wonder how many times I've run this exact route...100's is my guess.

casual nod to health and I made some good time.  Even a 10 minute barefoot last mile didn’t hurt my numbers too bad.  If this is a good omen for my week, the Sharks just might win a game one of these days.

My 11 mile run on the The Bonneville Shoreline, or, "Deer and beer"

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Lately the treasures on the BST have become more and more interesting

After sending my invitation to the masses, I woke up this morning and started driving south on I-15. I’ll admit it- I was nervous. This would be the longest run I’ve been on, since…well, I can’t remember. But it’s been a while.

When I parked my truck, I noticed a six pack of Natural Light Beer on the side of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, right by the road. Sort of a misguided welcome, I

suppose. So I did what anyone would do in my situation- I put the beer in the back of my truck, tied my shoes in double-knots and headed out.

Either way, I started off from what I think is the southernmost point of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. From the start, I was confused. There were “No Trespassing” signs all over the place- threatening, government-owned signs every mile or so, warning me that
one wrong move would send me into a bullet-riddled heap of overpronation. I ignored the signs, but kept a close eye out.

End of the line for the first section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Payson

I had some slight IT Band pain at mile 3.5, which I ignored and willed into submission. At mile 5, I turned around after I saw a large fence that wasn’t easily scalable. It was also owned by the government and came across as somewhat threatening, what, with the signs and all.

Not to change the subject or anything, but as I’ve studied barefoot running (it’s an actual “thing”), I’ve learned that as human beings, we have a history of being persistance hunters, meaning that, instead of using guns, arrows, or what have you, we’d out-endure our kill. Human beings have the unique ability to sweat, which means that we don’t overheat as easily as animals. So while we’re easily outsprinted by tigers, bears and our little Sister Lindsay, we can catch up to animals in the long run with our awesome ability to endure.

Not to change the subject or anything, again, but this is what I was getting at in the first place- at one point on my run, a deer ran out onto the trail and we really surprised each other! I didn’t change my gait, but that deer took off like a…a really fast deer! It was really fast (super fast.) But I must have caught up to it at least 2 times, as I’d catch it taking a break on the trail. It couldn’t go left because there was a canal that would more than likely break its legs if it were to go down (I don’t know that- I’m just guessing.) I’m not sure why the deer didn’t break right, because it was just a mountainside. Deer know how to climb, so it seemed like a likely option. Either way, it was sort of a fun, modern-day persistance hunt (except that, when it comes down to it, I can’t really kill anything in good conscience- I’m a wuss that way.)

Saturday's trail

As I finally wound down my run, I finished off one more mile to get 11 for the day. And wouldn’t you know it, when I got back to my truck, that deer was waiting for me, cold Natty Light in hoof. I began to explain the complications of my religion, why I was turning down the beer and why I felt uncomfortable cooling down and stretching with a doe, when I realized that I should come up with a more honest way to tell the story of yesterday’s 11-mile run.

An open challenge invitation to runners anyone in the State of Utah

Click the map for a larger view

Hello, friends (yes and the rest of you, too.)

Some of you know that I’ve been venturing out into the wilderness for some trail running.  My goal is to run as much of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail as possible and sort of get to know Utah from a different vantage point (and get off of the road a little bit.)  Fortunately, for most of us in Utah, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail is within just miles of many of us, but will probably, someday, be within 80% of our population (this, according to The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Wiki site.)

But that’s not why you’re here.  You’re here because you felt pressure, either because you saw a link on Facebook, an email yapping further about the benefits of the BST, or because I’m standing behind you with a gun, while your fingers tremble at the keyboard, shakily, typing in www.bonnevilleshorelinetrail.com.  There’s a reason for this.  We need to get out and start exploring our world a little more.

We have comfortably waddled down the Provo River Trail (which is fine, sometimes), or our neighborhood streets, or (heaven forbid) slumped along on our treadmills, fearing winter weather (which has been marvelously mild) or any other trail-related phobias that beset us.  Your treadmill sucks and you know it.  Your treadmill is a great way to run when time is tight or you can’t get out of the house- I get that.  But your treadmill wants a break and the mountains are calling.

So here’s my promise:  Meet me tomorrow at 8 AM at this place (you have to click on the link.)  We’ll go as slow or fast (within reason) as you want.  You can go as far or short a distance as you like.  Heck, I don’t care if you walk this thing.  Just get out and try something new.

You’ll love it (that was the promise.)

Gracie's loop

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I am a man of good intentions.  Yesterday I woke up at 5:30 AM and got all runner’d up in my running best- black, long pants from Costco, my old, light-blue running shorts that I think my dad gave to me, years and years ago, black socks, black shirt, a thicker black shirt for warmth, grey hat, black gloves.  Just like they teach you in running school- if the cars can still see you, you’re not wearing enough black.

Gracie's loop

I have been getting up a little bit earlier, it’s true, but 5:30 is pretty extreme for even me. But my little 7 month-old niece, Gracie Page was having a heart and lung bypass to fix a part of her heart that needed to be patched.  It’s a pretty big deal, when your infant goes in for something of that magnitude (I know, also from personal experience with my twin girls- but that’s another story…)

So I moved my schedule up so that I could fit a run in, before I made the one hour drive to Salt Lake City to be at Primary Children’s Hospital (top notch place, btw.)  I drove down to the place where I figured I’d start.  My goal was to run all the way around the hospital and loop back to my truck, as shown.  But that’s not what happened.

The run started at about 5:50 AM.  At first, I had a lot of light from the streetlights.  But then I ended up on a dirt road with no light.  I turned my iPhone toward the street to eek out enough light to know if I was already falling into a ditch, being eaten by alligators, etc.

I eventually wound up running along the Provo Bay side of the lake.  That’s when I panicked.  Do you ever get that feeling that you’re so alone that all it would take is one mistake- just one mistake and no one would ever find you, ever again?  Well, that’s because you are, what is termed in the medical community- “normal”.  I’m not, and I just flip out when I get that feeling.  So there I was, running along a lake on a dirt road- a grown, 37 year-old man.  It should have been fun and liberating, but instead, it was just sheer panic.  I was 7 years old, all over, again.

So I turned around and just prayed that I’d make it back.  I did, of course.  It ended up being a paltry 3.3 miles- not the 6 and a half I’d planned.  Originally, I’d decided that when I completed the loop, I’d call it Gracie’s Loop.  I had this grand idea that I’d be able to tell my sister and her husband that I’d run Gracie’s Loop- and I imagined that they’d love it.  But that didn’t happen when the run got cut short.

As it turns out, Gracie was quite a bit more brave than I was, yesterday.  I saw her after surgery.  She looked war-torn.  But she made it through and was all the better for it (she’s doing really well.)  I’ll make it up to her, though.  One of these days I’ll finish that run that I started at 5:50 AM, Wednesday morning.  I’ll be braver.  I’ll bring mace.

On Tim Tollefson's epic post…

My brother in law(ish) wrote a fascinating article on whether CrossFit or ultrarunners are more annoying (spoiler alert:  The correct answer is both.)  He lambasted those in each event, especially those who think they’re better than others who do “lesser things”, like run a marathon.  By the time I got to the end of it, I was so hopping mad that I went out and signed up for the Tough Mudder.  Anyway, it’s a good read and you should check it out…even if it makes you so mad you curse him in the comments.

<cough>Whiners.</cough>