The Freeheel Running Pad – Doing Things by Half

Not sure about barefoot running? If only there was a way of going half-barefoot to see if you like it…

Drum roll please. Enter: The Freeheel Running Pad.

Winner of the ISPO Award 2012, the Running Pad is designed and manufactured by Starringer in beautiful Bavaria, Germany. Starringer claim the Running Pad is of minimal weight, protecting the foot only where it is needed, and is a great alternative for long-distance and high temperature runs.

FreeHeel Running Pad Barefoot Minimalist Natural Heel Toe Feetus.co.uk

The Freeheel Running Pad

The barefoot revolution has certainly brought us some of the most peculiar-looking shoes over the last four years (think Vibram FiveFingers, One Moment, ZEMgear), but the Freewheel Running Pad is certainly the most bizarre. It is genuinely innovative. It’s neither a shoe, nor a sandal. It’s not a glove, nor a hoof.

From the top, you could easily mistake the Running Pad for a sandal. Very similar to a Birkenstock. I particularly like the use of the straps – very trendy. But then we look at the side profile. The sandal has no sole under the heel, nor does it have anything to wrap around the back of your foot.

FreeHeel Running Pad Barefoot Minimalist Natural Heel Toe Feetus.co.uk

Would you dip your toe?

The Archer

Now I haven’t tested this ‘shoe’, and the jury is out on how they would perform, but I really fancy having a go at these. To me, they look like something you’d see on a half-horse/half man. As a Sagittarius, my Zodiac symbol is the archer – maybe that’s why I am attracted to them…

FreeHeel Running Pad Barefoot Minimalist Natural Heel Toe Feetus.co.uk

“I’ll have two pairs, please”

A little more:

  • Improves muscle strength/coordination lower extremities
  • Higher running efficiency as compared to heel striking
  • Optimal foot climate compared to other “barefoot shoes”.
  • Back to the roots – like in telemarking “free heel” & snow shoe “free-heel”
  • No need to squeeze your toes in little pockets
  • Water & gravel in & out!
  • no length adjustment needed – select from small/medium/large depending on the width of your fore/midfoot.
  • Backup-Protection for barefoot runners

Check out their website for more information: http://www.runningpad.de/ 

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A Warm Welcome for Skora’s New Range: The Phase and Core

Skora Running are releasing some fantastic new minimalist running shoes this year. Having seem them a while back in 2012, they were brought to wider attention at the recent Outdoor Retailer show.

Welcome Skora Phase and Shora Core

The Phase-X made Gear Junkie’s Best in Show list and was regarded by RunningShoes.com as ‘Best Shoe in Show’. Impressive.

The two shoes have an outsole constructed out of IBR (injected Blown Rubber), which is lighter and more flexible than regular rubber. The cushioning from IBR also means that an EVA midsole is not required. Although IBR is less resistant to wear, Skora have strategically placed rubber on the outsole to reduce the effects of wear.

Skora Phase

  • 7.2oz Men’s / 5.8oz Women’s
  • minimal, single-layer mesh upper
  • asymmetric lacing system
  • unique unibody IBR outsole
  • Zero-drop, 8mm forefoot/heel stack height
  • $110 MSRP (£69.99)
Skora Phase Barefoot Natural Minimal Minimalist Running Shoes 2013 at Feetus.co.uk

The Magnificent Skora Phase

Skora Core

  • 8.1oz Men’s / 6.7oz Women’s
  • perforated Pittards® Armor-Tan® Goatskin leather upper
  • combination lining with WR100X® leather and antibacterial Agion mesh
  • asymmetric lacing system
  • unibody IBR outsole
  • Zero-drop, 8mm forefoot/heel stack height
  • $155 MSRP (£99.99)
Skora Core Barefoot Natural Minimal Minimalist Running Shoes 2013 at Feetus.co.uk

The Wonderful Skora Core in grey

Skora Core Barefoot Natural Minimal Minimalist Running Shoes 2013 at Feetus.co.uk

“Rapid”. The Core in white / blue

 When Can We Expect to See Them?

These shoes are yet to be released in the US, but rumour has it that they should hit the shelves in March. Having spoken with Skora recently, they are adamant that they will have a UK distributor wrapped up within a matter of weeks. Whether this means the UK will have access to the full range or just the Base and Form shoes, it remains to be seen.

Regardless, I am 100% sure Skora will make a massive impact over here in the UK!

For more information, AnotherRunner has an impressive write-up.

Our Feetus.co.uk store goes live in February. Make sure you keep up to date at Facebook and Twitter to be in with a chance to win some fantastic prizes as part of our store launch, and for some exclusive discounts.

Gordon Pirie’s ‘Running Fast and Injury Free’ – A Must-Read for Aspiring Runners

Gordon Pirie’s ‘Running Fast and Injury Free’ – A Must-Read for Aspiring Runners

I first read this book back in 2009 whilst nursing a knee injury and trying to find a solution. Much of the content mirrors what Christopher McDougall covered in his bestseller Born to Run, and other subsequent running publications related to running performance.

Go Barefoot or Go Minimalist

He points out that no professional athletes compete in “overstuffed, wedge-heeled orthopaedic boots that most joggers wear”, and that “the difference between running in bare feet and in the typical jogging shoe can be up to 30 seconds a mile.” As such, Pirie always advised his trainees to wear the lightest shoe they could find. “These shoes” Pirie continues “should have the same amount of padding at the front under the toes as at the rear, with no wedged or flared heels.”

Technique

In Running Fast and Injury Free, Pirie’s advocated technique is not too dissimilar to the POSE Technique, or what is commonly regarded as the natural / barefoot style. He advises taking shorter steps (3-5 steps per second) as opposed to striding and heel-striking, which wastes energy on vertical movement of the body (Joggers ‘bobbing’ up and down). He also describes his collaboration with Adidas-founder Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler on designing running shoes.

Performance Gains

Pirie was a controversial character, and he doesn’t shy away from the odd controversial statement in this book. It is at times contradictory (“walking damages running”, then later adding he would add 4-hour walking sessions to his training. Yet ‘Running Fast and Injury Free’ is still an enjoyable read with some fantastic advice, and by taking heed of some of Pirie words you will probably cover more ground faster.

Running Barefoot Minimalist Fast and Injury Free Gordon Pirie Feetus.co.uk

Zapotek, Mimoun, and Gordon Pirie lead the way in the 1952 10,000m Final
(Also notice Sando (84) missing his left shoe!)

You can both read the book for free online, or download the PDF here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/13695/Gordon-Piries-Running-Fast-and-Injury-Fre

Gordon Pirie’s Laws of Running:

  1. Running with correct technique (even in prepared bare feet), on any surface, is injury free.
  2. Running equals springing through the air, landing elastically on the forefoot with a flexed knee (thus producing quiet feet). On landing, the foot should be directly below the body. (Walking is landing on the heels with a straight leg).
  3. Any and all additions to the body damage running skill.
  4. Quality beats quantity; the speed at which you practice the most will be your best speed.
  5. Walking damages running.
  6. The correct running tempo for human beings is between three and five steps per second.
  7. Arm power is directly proportional to leg power.
  8. Good posture is critical to running. (Don’t lean forwards!).
  9. Speed kills endurance; endurance kills speed.
  10. Each individual can only execute one “Program” at any one time; an individual can be identified by his or her idiosyncrasies (i.e. “Program”). An individual can change his or her “Program” only by a determined, educational effort; each individual’s Program” degenerates unless it is controlled constantly.
  11. Static stretching exercises cause injuries!
  12. Running equals being out of breath, so breathing through the mouth is obligatory (hence the nickname “Puff Puff Pirie”).

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts and comment on this post.

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In the Running World, Science > Marketing

It never ceases to amaze me how much ‘spin’ big companies use when marketing a new product. After watching Asics’ latest video pushing their hideous ‘Gel Nimbus 14’, it left me gobsmacked.

To me, the shoe looks more suited to an astronaut. Or maybe somebody imitating an astronaut, who needs a super wedge of cushioning to simulate slow-motion bouncing in the absence of moon gravity.

  • Rene Zandbergen, Product Manager at Asics, claims in the video that this ‘Guidance Line’ on the sole of the shoe will guide your foot whilst running. …What? …How?
  • He adds that the shoe “fits like a glove”. No, I think he should be referring to Vibram FiveFingers when he makes that comment.
  • He continues: “…the shoe helps you run more efficiently”. Bullshit.

Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOSDAXE1h1M&feature=player_embedded

With spiel like this, it’s not surprising that a staggering 80% of runners get injured each year. How many of us have suffered with ‘runners knee’, ‘shin splints’ and ‘plantar fasciitis’? How often do people have the best intentions of ‘getting in to running’, only to get injured and conclude “Running isn’t meant for me”. With the amount of money invested in technology and biomedical science, surely we can develop runningwear that can prevent running injuries?

Science > Marketing

That’s why I am a massive fan of VivoBarefoot. Rather than plough all their capital in to creating and marketing gimmicks such as a ‘guidance line’, they instead invest in research and training. They make the effort to educate the customer, teaching us the essentials about best running technique. They offer science over opinion.

Good Running Form

http://www.feetus.co.uk goes live next month, where I will be offering advice on running technique and sharing my experiences of running barefoot and with minimalist shoes. For now though, here are the five basic principles of good running technique.

  1. Strike with your forefoot, followed by a heel plant.
  2. Your cadence should quicken to around 180bpm, meaning you take faster, shorter steps.
  3. Your foot should strike just below your centre of gravity, or slightly in front.
  4. Your upper-body should remain relaxed.
  5. Keep your head straight. Keep your eyes at horizon level.

We’ll also be selling the very best barefoot and minimalist running shoes from the likes of Vibram FiveFingers, VivoBarefoot, Saucony, Merrell, Xero Shoes, and more!

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