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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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Running and Fitness

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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:

RunAmoc and Huaraches revisited

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  • Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 11:17 AM UTC
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I meant to post this a few months ago, but I have been too busy running to spend time blogging. ;)

I have changed my opinion about the Soft Star Shoes RunAmoc Lite and the Invisible Shoes huarache sandal.



When I first blogged about my huarache sandals, I complained about feeling the knot under my toes. Later on, when I tried to run in them, the lacing between the toes caused painful rubbing. My feet are wider now, my toes are spread farther apart.

Similarly, when I first blogged about my Soft Star Shoes RunAmoc Lite moccasins, I complained that my big toe would hurt due to pressure from the front of the shoe.

With both shoes I can now feel the shoe sliding forward when I run, rather than having my foot jamming up into the front of the shoe. I am now running with a wholefoot strike rather than a forefoot strike, and I have learned to run closer to my center of gravity rather than so far behind it. All of these factors seem to have combined to make running in the sandals and mocs a more enjoyable experience.

I now find the RunAmocs to be comfortable for running. The heel area is still a little loose which allows the heel to slide over and off the footbed (I hear rumors that Soft Star Shoes may be working on this issue with some kind of heel cup), but this hasn't turned out to be a tangible issue. They are fun to wear when running on gentle trails. I wear the RunAmocs frequently as a casual shoe (I'm wearing them right now, in fact!).

I still don't find the huarache sandals quite as comfortable for running but I will likely give them another chance this summer since it is getting hot again. I do wear them frequently on nights/weekends and even occasionally to work. They were fun to wear while hiking in El Yunque National Rainforest, Puerto Rico. My huarache sandals were custom made (by me!) from a kit available at Invisible Shoes - huarache sandals.

Barefoot Running Video of Cucuzzella at Antietam

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  • Tuesday, April 19 2011 @ 01:00 PM UTC
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High quality barefoot running video of Dr. Mark Cucuzzella on beautiful rolling countryside at Antietam National Battlefield.


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