Thursday, 20 October 2011

Marathon Season: Useful Articles on Barefoot Running

With Marathon Season in full swing, I thought I'd make a comeback with my blog and continue along the lines I'd started. I already ran my first half-marathon of the season, and beat my 2010 time of 2hrs 18mins by a whole 12 minutes!

Ok, so I know this isn't that good, but at least I'm progressing. For this race I wore my trusty Reebok RealFlex running shoes, which are now about 9 months old and have about 600kms on them. They were great. Although I felt quite a bit of pain in my inner thighs and left inner ankle by the last 3 kms, I put this down to a lack of conditioning, rather than any problem with the shoe, since three days later, there are no lasting injuries.
Why barefoot running?
It looks cool, yes. But there are so many good reasons to make the switch to minimalist running shoes:
  1. Better muscle and joint strength;
  2. More efficient stride;
  3. Long-term prevention of injuries as a result;
  4. And hopefully, better times!
Here are links to informative articles that make a case for barefoot running:

  • Science Daily: Barefoot Running: To Ditch the Shoes or Not?
  • Naturally Engineered: Barefoot Running is More Efficient. But Why?

  • Happy running!

    Monday, 6 June 2011

    Barefoot running with Reebok RealFlex - UPDATE

    Customised RealFlex shoes.
    As a follow-up to my initial review, I've decided to post a short update. So, 6 weeks and about 110kms later, the RealFlex shoes feel like second nature to me. My leg muscles have completely adapted to the softer impact from the shoe's "sensors", and the extra effort of using my foot muscles now feels normal (my partner says my calf muscles are looking extra ripped).

    One of the main differences, I've observed, is that after an increase in my kilometres per week over 6 weeks, I have not picked up any niggles or injuries in my hips, knees, or ankles, which used to happen after prolonged bouts of running for me (don't laugh, 6 weeks of unbroken running is LONG for me). 

    My 5K (sub-25 minutes) and 10K (sub-60 minutes) times have improved over the last month, but I'm not sure if it's because of the shoes or just because I'm running more often than I used to!

    As mentioned in my first post, I've been using the Nike+ iPod sensor and syncing my runs, routes, times and distances with the Nike+ Running website. They have made such a difference to my own, and my partner's training, that I will devote the next post to a review of the sensor, iPod/iPhone App, and a how-to for getting started with their website.

    Monday, 16 May 2011

    Barefoot running with Reebok RealFlex Running Shoes - A Review

    The natural, barefoot running movement has taken off in the last two years, with the most striking example being those rubber-sock-like shoes known as Vibram FiveFingers. While they will most probably help to reduce the number of running-related injuries you are likely to pick up over the course of your running career, they will probably not add much to your street cred.
    If you're looking to buy a barefoot-like running shoe without attracting the accompanying scorn, you may just want to give the new Reebok RealFlex a try. Nike released a similar line called Free Run, which you may also want to take a look at.

    My new-ish Reeboks (with a Nike+ Sensor:
    more on that in a future review)
    I bought the shoes on a whim after a good 4-year stint with my well-loved (but very ordinary) Adidas shoes, and I've had the Reeboks for about three weeks now. I've run about 50kms in them, and all in all, they are amazing shoes.

    Comfort: Putting on the shoe, the immediate impression is one of lightness, and good fit. Because most of the upper has been replaced with a thin (nylon?) fabric, the shoe is extremely light and seems to fit like a glove. Even on the first run, there was no chafing or discomfort, and they fit as though I'd worn them many times before.

    Support: I have moderate to low arches, and need a decent amount of support. Surprisingly, for a "natural", barefoot shoe, the Reeboks feel as though they offer a great deal of support. Running on trail-like surfaces, I felt curiously well cushioned from the impact of stones and other surface irregularities. On the other hand, because of the flexible sole, and the multiple "sensors" (according to Reebok there are 76 of them), I could definitely feel when I was stepping on a branch or an edge. On the whole, though, I always feel like my run is more stable in these shoes and that I am at less risk of injuring myself.

    "Natural" running: After my first run in the shoes, the muscles in my feet, calves and thighs felt thoroughly worked out, similar to how they feel when I run barefoot on the beach. My foot muscles, in particular, felt as though they had been put through the ringer. Although it took a few days to get used to the shoes, having worn them for over 3 weeks, these muscles have strengthened and toned and I feel like a stronger runner. What's more remarkable is that the usual joint and ankle pains I tend to feel after an extended run are gone! The shoes feel very natural on my feet, and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that they've revolutionised my running.

    Overall rating: 5/5

    Buy it at Amazon >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Watch Reebok's official ad: