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Soft Star RunAmoc DASH performance in the Blue Ridge Mountains

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  • Tuesday, September 20 2011 @ 10:26 PM UTC
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A few weeks ago I was on vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I wore my Soft Star RunAmoc DASH moccasins on a number of occasions.

I was completely in awe of the RunAmoc DASH trail sole's traction on the rounded boulders of the Appalachians.

Pictured here are my RunAmoc DASH on the Grandfather Mountain mile high swinging bridge, 5280 feet above sea level:



I was only able to sneak in one trail run during my vacation. I chose to wear the RunAmoc DASH since they felt so good crawling around on the rocks near the Grandfather Mountain visitor center.

I had researched some trails in advance of the trip and decided to run on the Tanawha Trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandfather Mountain. In summary, the trails were rooty and rocky and beautiful. I saw humans only once the entire time. I enjoyed the solitude.

I parked at the Cold Prong parking area (BRP milepost 299) which had a clearly marked sign to get on the Tanawha Trail, pictured here:

Barefoot 2011 Melon Run

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  • Wednesday, July 06 2011 @ 11:40 PM UTC
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Even though the 4th of July festivities and fireworks were cancelled due to funding issues here in Gainesville, FL, another Independence Day tradition is still going strong. The 33rd Annual Melon Run (3-miler) is a Florida Track Club event that took place at Albert Ray Massey Westside Park on Monday. The race course is mostly sidewalk and streets, with a half-mile of greenway boardwalk and dirt trail.

I raced barefoot. This was my first barefoot race on (mostly) paved surfaces. Last year I ran the John Holmes 16 mile trail run barefoot but I have not been confident enough to race barefoot on paved surfaces until recently.

I'm still in the "resting" phase of my training after having an entire year of running under my belt. My legs have been telling me that they need a recovery break. Since I knew I wouldn't be racing all-out I decided to run the race barefoot and wear a goofy hat (thanks to my wife for acquiring the appropriate festive holiday attire). My main goal was to run fast but stay within the limits of my bare feet, not pushing so hard that I got blisters, focusing on form and technique. After the race I only had a few hot spots, so I feel like I accomplished my goal.

Here is a picture at the start where I am still wearing the hat:


[Photo copyright: Martin McCrory Photography]


[Photo copyright: Martin McCrory Photography]

The hat only stayed on for about 20 meters. I was wearing a du-rag under the hat which stayed on just fine for the whole race. In retrospect it was very warm to be wearing anything on my head.

This is a picture from the last 100 meters of the race, working hard to maintain form:

One year of running

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  • Wednesday, June 29 2011 @ 11:22 AM UTC
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Thanks to dailymile I have a very nice graph of my monthly mileage for the 12 months since I started running regularly in 2010.



Training logs are great. It's pretty clear that I was able to boost my mileage after receiving my Altra Instinct running shoes in April. In May I reduced mileage but increased intensity, adding speed sessions to get ready for races.

My last race was the Memorial Day Inaugural Freedom 8k race in Green Cove Springs, FL where I won my age group (age 35-39) with a time of 32:08 (average 6:25 per mile).

Soft Star RunAmoc DASH Smooth Is a Great Minimalist Work (and Running) Shoe

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  • Wednesday, June 15 2011 @ 01:52 AM UTC
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Soft Star Shoes recently released new models of running moccasins, the RunAmoc DASH Smooth and the RunAmoc DASH LITE. These shoes are different than previous RunAmocs in that they have a true shoe lacing mechanism. I bought a pair of the DASH Smooth to become my new work shoe since my Sanuk Overboard sandal shoes were starting to wear out. It is actually fairly difficult to find shoes suitable for work that do not have a raised heel.

The DASH Lite are perforated in the same way as the original RunAmoc Lite. For work shoes I decided to go with the DASH Smooth model.

I have owned the shoes for about three weeks and as they mold to my foot shape they become more comfortable each day. I had a few days of break-in period where I felt uncomfortable pressure on my big toe nails. To help this process I just crammed a balled-up sock into each shoe overnight. I can now wear even my thick socks and not feel like my toes are being squeezed, but for a while it also helped to wear thin socks. They are great sockless, too.

What I most like is that I can snug them around the ankle/midfoot and then the toes are free to do whatever they want up front. This seems like the perfect shoe fitting strategy... secure it to the foot and don't hinder the toes. If I were a super-hero, these are the type of shoes I would wear since I wouldn't have to change shoes to go crime-fighting. With the DASH, Soft Star has resolved all of my complaints about previous RunAmocs... mostly related to the sloppy heel fit. The DASH fit snugly to my foot and don't slide around at all and the laces allow me to adjust the fit as needed.

Even though I bought them to be work shoes, I just *had* to try them out on some runs to give a proper review. When I put them on, I feel like it is early 1950s and I'm about to go run a mile of the century. They remind me of those famous leather track spikes pictured on the cover of The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb. I like them enough that I am considering the RunAmoc DASH Lite as my next minimalist running shoe purchase.

Here is a photo of my DASH Smooth shoes:



These are the default black color scheme with the 5mm trail sole. During my testing, that particular sole seems to be absolutely perfect for running on grass. The sole works fine on other surfaces too (paved and trail), but the grip on grass made an impression on me. It seems like the RunAmoc DASH would make a great Cross Country shoe for high school or college runners who don't want a conventional shoe or can't fit into normal XC racing flats which tend to be narrow.

You can see here that the RunAmoc Smooth upper is very pliable but without much built-in vertical height:

Altra Running shoes - the Instinct

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  • Wednesday, May 11 2011 @ 11:10 AM UTC
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About a month ago I received the long-awaited Instinct shoes by Altra Zero Drop Footwear. I have already put almost 150 miles on mine. They have worked so well that I've been too busy running to take time to blog about them.

Prior to owning the Altra Instincts, my weekly footwear rotation included barefoot, Vibram FiveFingers Bikila (VFF), Mizuno Wave Universe 3 (MWU3), and sometimes my Adidas Kanadia 3 trail shoes or Soft Star RunAmocs (and for a short time the New Balance Minimus Road).

I like the Altra Instincts so much that I am running in them almost exclusively. I still try to incorporate at least one barefoot session per week, but I haven't reached for any of my other shoes (including the VFF) since getting the Altras. The experience has led me to question some of my previous notions about minimalist running shoes. Yeah, I like the Altras THAT much.

The Altra Instincts are not minimal shoes. They are fully-cushioned but with zero drop from heel to toe (there is no ramp angle, no differential in sole thickness from the back of the shoe to the front). The front of the shoe is shaped like a foot, so it does not squeeze the toes back together towards the middle of the shoe. There is no extra "stuff" in the shoe to interfere with the human foot's amazing biomechanical capabilities. These features allow one to run with a natural gait and encourages a foot landing on either the forefoot or midfoot (e.g. the whole foot).

These are pictures I took when the shoes were still fresh and shiny:





And here they are on my feet:

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