No Longer Barefoot in Vermont!

This is just a quick post to say I’m not dead, I haven’t stopped working out, I’m not eating crap, I’ve just….moved! In November my partner and I moved to Carlisle, MA. My massage and yoga practice reopened in December and business has been BOOMING!! You can now find me above Mountain Strength Crossfit in Winchester, MA (see my site for more details).

While I miss my beloved Green Mountain State, one of the really nice things about being back in MA is the accessibility. I’ve discovered a wonderful inspiring yoga studio, Serenity Yoga, and have been taking classes from Olivia and Nina. My partner and I have a membership to Central Rock Gym in Watertown and have been climbing 2-3 times per week. And every day still starts with a smoothie. ūüôā

So things are GOOD and I hope to be writing again here more regularly. That said, look out for a possible name change because my bare feet are now on MA soil. BarefootinMA perhaps?

I hope all your health journeys are taking you in a good direction, and if not today is a good day to get back on the horse. ūüėČ

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It’s Trekkin’ Season!

For those of us up here in the Green Mountains, we’re finally just starting to find Spring popping up all around. ¬†While today’s blustery winds brought a mix of snow and rain and there are still small heaps of ice and snow coating the wetlands behind my house, the flocks of birds at the bird feeder and blooming crocuses in my front yard let me know the end is near.

We had a long winter this year and some unusual thaw and freeze patterns. ¬†That mixed with the recent floods and thunderstorms has done some real damage to my most trekked trail along the Mad River. ¬†While I was sad to see the downed limbs, broken branches and layers of debris spread along the almost-washed-out path, I couldn’t fight back the urge to come out of my cocoon and get my butt back outside! ¬†It’s not surprising that it was just about a year ago when I started barefoot running. ¬†Today, I received my second pair of Vibram’s in the mail. ¬†It’s true, I’m hooked. ¬†This time I picked up a shiny pair of the new Vibram Fivefingers Treksports.

My KSO’s are holding up beautifully, despite all the running, swimming and hiking I put them through last year. ¬†However, there were several reasons why the Treksports lured me in. ¬†I recently started working with a personal trainer. ¬†Naturally, I brought my KSO’s with me. ¬†The first day, I took her spinning class prior to my personal training intake and I immediately regretted my decision. ¬†The pedal of the bike I was on rode right on my arches, the softest most vulnerable part of the foot (aside from, perhaps, in between the toes). ¬†I was visibly in pain, ¬†My trainer moved me to another bike with a wider pedal, which helped, but overall I found the KSOs were just not the right choice.

My main reason for seeking personal training right now is that I have some big plans in mind for my summer. ¬†Now that the weather is warming up I’m just itching to be outdoors as much as possible and I really want to push myself this year. ¬†Running was fun, but I’m not necessarily looking to run as much this year. ¬†I’m thinking of trying climbing and taking on more adventurous hikes. ¬†I also need a shoe that can continue to play with me while I kayak, canoe, and splash around in Vermont’s rivers and lakes.

While the KSO’s did a fine job of keeping up with my water-bound activities last year, the Treksport’s plated midsoles and lightly cleated outsole really appealed to me. ¬†I never fully felt comfortable using my KSO’s on adventurous hikes because of those few moments of stabbing pain on my arches when I hit a rock at the wrong angle, and the fact that I slipped quite a bit in mud. ¬†For running, they were perfect. ¬†For hiking, they just weren’t beefy enough. ¬†However, the kangaroo leather upper on the KSO Treks¬†didn’t jive well with my love for water or my being slightly put-off by wearing kangaroo hide on my feet.

So, on to the part you’re probably most interested in: a picture comparison. Disclaimer: keep in mind my KSOs are a bit worn.

The first time I slipped the Treksports on I definitely felt they had more continuity, but I still felt a firm connection with the ground and easy articulation.  My first test was to wrap my arches around a pointy piece of wood and the plated arch definitely works!  More on that later.

Let’s start by talking about the posterior difference:

As you can see, the Treksport have some padding around the Achilles.  This triangle-shaped pillow rises from the heel and makes the heel look wider than the KSOs in this picture, but when worn it hugs the heel nicely and provides additional stability.  Both feature the same strap design and both have a loop on the rear.

From the front there are some fun differences.  The Treksport toes have additional texture to them and the tips of the toes are reinforced:

While I haven’t experienced this with my KSOs, several folks online have complained that their non-reinforced toe Fivefinger shoes show signs of wear and ripping on the tops of the toes. ¬†In the champagne color Treksports, the reinforced toes are clear and shiny. ¬†I’ve read other reviews that the dark colored models have black reinforcing. ¬†Regardless of the color, this is an important feature for those of us who really want to put our Vibrams through its paces.

Laterally, there isn’t a huge difference between the KSO and the Treksport with the exception that the Treksport sits a bit higher on its cleated sole. ¬†It also appears that the outside rubber comes up just a hair higher on the Treksport.

Medially, there’s a noticeable difference between the two. ¬†The KSOs actually have greater coverage on the medial part of the sole which causes the Treksport to appear to curve more at the arch. ¬†While I haven’t played around with these enough to know yet, it does appear that the Treksports have more arch support whereas the KSOs are fairly flat with just a mild curve for the arch.

Now here’s the real money shot:

Oh, let’s see that up close!

The biggest visible difference between the KSO and the Treksport is the sole. ¬†While my KSOs are a bit worn, the texture on the bottom of the KSOs are minimal. ¬†The Treksport has noticeable grooves and mild cleats to provide better traction and grip in various terrain. ¬†I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t want the Treksport if I was new to barefoot running. ¬†“Real” barefoot runners already poo-poo us Fivefinger folks, and the Treksports push that line further. ¬†Yes, it’s still much less padding than a sneaker and one can certainly run in them, but it wouldn’t be my choice.

However, with the additional grip and the reinforced arch I will definitely feel more comfortable trying the Treksports out in environments I shied away from with my KSOs. ¬†One other thing to note is that the midsole is much thinner on the Treksport. ¬†I have narrow feet and after walking around in these for a while I felt no discomfort or insecurities. ¬†If you have wide feet you might want to really try them out in a store before making the investment. ¬†I’ve only read positive reviews on the midsole width so far, but it’s something to take note of.

I’m super-stoked to take my new Fivefingers out for a ride! ¬†Now that I’ve come out of winter hibernation, expect to hear more of my Treksport adventures! ¬†Let’s hope they can keep up with me. ūüėČ

Oh, and for those of you who are only here for the dog stories, here’s Toby and his new buddy, Charlie, enjoying some VT April showers. ¬†Seriously, this white death falling from the sky has got to stop!

Feet at Play

I apologize for falling off the face of the Earth for the past month. ¬†Work got intense there for a bit and then I took a much needed vacation. ¬†Luckily, despite my fingers not getting their blogging workout, my feet have been rocking the Vibrams in all sorts of fun adventures. ¬†While I’ve continued to run I have cut down to only one day a week for now. ¬†Much to my acupuncturists delight, but my chagrin, I’m no longer having any issues with my left foot so the new schedule appears to be helping that, but I plan to start alternating running twice a week every other week. ¬†Luckily, I’ve had plenty of physical things to do and with the addition of a FREE bowflex to my basement I’ve been working on strength training once again. ¬†This came in very handy on my vacation!

A Wet Dog Is A Happy Dog

There’s Toby, working on his favorite summer activities; swimming and stick retrieval. ¬†I’ve been on several quests this summer and a big one has been checking out local swimming holes. ¬†The above picture shows Toby at Swain Pond in Maine, which unfortunately wasn’t fit for human swimming, but Toby had a blast and I enjoyed canoeing around with him in tow. ¬†Quick funny fact: while Toby enjoys kayaking, he is adamantly against getting into a canoe. ¬†Even after I bribed him with cookies and sat with him in the canoe on land (all the “get your dog to boat with you” techniques), he still freaked out as soon as I tried to start paddling. ¬†Instead, he chose to follow me on land or by swimming next to the canoe. ¬†On some of the lakes this meant he got quite the workout. ¬†Luckily, he had his lifejacket on at all times so if he got tuckered out mid-lake he wouldn’t drown and I was prepared to hold him while paddling if necessary.

Last year, I bought a pair of Keene Venice H20’s, which I really love. ¬†I went swimming with them here in Vermont and in Aruba where I swam in rocky waters. ¬†They were good, but after doing some side-by-side comparisons with the Vibram KSO’s there’s really no competition; the Vibrams win. ¬†I find walking on moss-covered rocks in the Keenes can be quite the challenge, as their hard solid sole is inflexible so the surface area that I could grip the rocks with is slim. ¬†This meant quite a bit of slipping and sliding and at one point I slipped off a rock and ended up with my foot wedged between a couple rocks underwater. ¬†Luckily, I didn’t twist when I fell because I could have easily broken or sprained my ankle.

The Vibrams, on the other hand, still offer enough protection so when I’m walking on rocks or sharp objects it doesn’t feel painful (though I do feel it more than with the Keenes), but since I can contort my foot to the rocks I’m climbing on I find it’s much easier to get a good grip, keep my balance and have more accurate proprioception. ¬†Granted, both the Vibram and the Keene sole are a little slippery, but I feel much more confident in my Vibrams.

The other detail with the Vibram KSOs is the mesh top. ¬†With the Keenes, the toe is covered but anything that gets into the shoes from the top strappy-area just falls into the toes so when I wear the Keenes I find myself regularly slipping them off to shake out the debris that’s collected in them. ¬†With the Vibrams, the only thing that slips through the mesh top is sand and small pieces of dirt which I usually don’t notice while I have the shoes on and once the shoes are dry it’s pretty easy to shake them out. ¬†Overall, I feel more protected in the Vibrams and have been happily swimming with them all summer.

My vacation was all about fishing! ¬†I canoed and fished in Maine and both canoed and shore-fished in Vermont. ¬†I have to say that once again the Vibrams were super-awesome for boating and wading in the water. ¬†I wore my Keenes one day and noticed when going from the water into the canoe they drag a good amount of water with them. ¬†The Vibrams are easier to shake off before stepping into the canoe and since they’re so form-fitting there was no real way for them to add much water to the boat. ¬†There’s also just a huge fun-factor to standing in water with a fishing pole and feeling barefoot, but knowing there’s protection if I were to step on any hazards under the water.

In the past week alone I’ve climbed over piles of rocks, balanced on logs, tip-toed around beaver nests and beat my labrador in a couple water-bound stick chases. ¬†My feet are happy and playful and my body is reaping the benefits of all this outdoor fun! ¬†Just thinking about it makes me want to hop in the car and head back out to Eligo Lake with my fishing pole. ¬†Well, it is Labor Day, I think I’ll just do that!