RunBare Footwear Mini Review - Surprisied by Xero Amuri Clouds
I must admit I'm in love. Or at least, I'm in like at first sight. As a die-hard barefoot runner who's been kicked out of more places than you can imagine (including one Whole Foods in Boulder, where the security guard literally had his hand on his gun,) it's hard to get me into a shoe, ANY shoe.
But I know there's a time and a place for everything. And many runners want the benefits of barefoot training, but then want to be able to run fast, or on challenging terrain, back in a shoe. So we need to give them options.
And so, we're out trying shoes, and surprisingly, having fun. After a hobbling of a year, I'm finally back running on the trails, rather than just wobbling. It's still slowly-slowly as our Tibetan teacher likes to say, but it feels great to be back out there. Yesterday Jessica and I ran on a chewed up sharp-lava and soft-dirt trail, quite the juxtaposition! It was NOT a place for barefoot running, unless you have skin of steel...and I'm still regrowing my "shoes".
So I tried the Xero Amuri Clouds. Now for me to try out Xero's is pretty radical. Though the founder Steveen Sashen was a member of our barefoot club (and therefore I admit, we're good friends with him), and though Jessica or I may have been a slight influence in his starting a company, I have quietly steered away from his shoes for years. For one thing, the string on top of them always irritated nerve damage I've had on the top of my foot since my severe accident 8 years ago. But that was the minor thing, the biggie was a fear, that the formerly floppy front of the Xero shoe's (back when they were "Invisible Shoes") would get sucked downward or flip under while on the road or the trails, and I would "eat poo poo and die." This eat poo poo factor successfully scared me away from trying them.
But you know, I've been wrong before, and I want to try to review everything we can for our mindful running series and for you, our readers. So I asked Steven to send me the latest shoes he's got, and I'm so happy I did. The Xero Amuri's are thin and light, but not floppy in the front! They also have a double-strap or string across the top of the foot, which didn't irritate my nerves. This meant I could try them! And without the dreaded poo poo fear factor. (Sorry Steven!)
And try them I did. Now I'm not that fast at the moment (grandma and grandpa with their walkers or canes could certainly take me in a sprint!), and I was only daring enough to wear them on a steep uphill, rather than the downhill. But wow. The freedom I felt was amazing. Okay, I couldn't feel the dirt beneath my feet, and that's a bit of a bummer. But hey, I wasn't on dirt, I was on razor-sharp lava...and these worked miracles for that! They didn't suck under, I didn't trip on them, and I barely knew they were there. I do think they changed my gait a little bit, which I'll have to watch, as I felt a slight twinge in the shins. I also kept on having to tigthen them to keep them from slipping off, something I hope goes away after I get them settled in. They also weren't quite as grippy as I'd like them to be (I did slip a bit on a few steep loose downhill sections), but I'm not sure these are touted as full off-road vehicles anyway.
1. They weren't too thick to where I couldn't feel what was going on under my foot. And yet they protected me from lava.
2. I could still grab with my toes thereby supporting my arches and letting my feet be feet.
3. They were super light, I didn't feel like I had anything on under my foot (we'll have to get them on a scale to get an exact weight.)
4. My feet could breathe!!! That's why they felt so great to me. I never knew my feet could feel so naked, and yet still have a certain amount of "protection."
I'll need to do longer runs in these before I have a definitive opinion on them, and I'll need to run downhills, where I'm still a bit concerned "will they catch anything and send me flying?" I'm guessing the answer is no, but I'll way till I have more of a leg under me, before I give that a go.
And speaking of giving things a go. Jessica tried out the Topo ST's on the run. Now she's a LOT faster than me (understatement) as a 4 x 400 state champion in high school. Her get up and go is something truly special!
She found the Topo ST's too narrow for her strong wide foot...so we're checking with the company to see what else may work. This made the uphill a bit uncomfortable for her. But running fast in them, or taking off on the downhill ("bye Jessie, don't forget to write!") she didn't feel the width challenge so much.
What she did find, is that should could fly in them! They helped her get on her forefoot on the trails (though they are slippery and decidedly NOT a trail shoe. They have different models for trails) and she felt like she was springing ahead. I couldn't believe how fast she was on the downhills on them, and I swear she got more air in them then most full-suspension mountain bikes! She felt she could fly!!!
We'll have more of a review on the Topos to follow. And for a complete Xero Amuri Cloud review, check out our Mindful Running Video Series later this year.
So that's it from here for today. It's back to barefoot for me now, I'm just so happy to be running on the trails again. And happy to have an option for when the going gets tough. A great thing about the Xero's is I could slip them on and off, almost without thinking about it. This means I can be barefoot over 90 percent of the time, but if I hit the lava, they can be on lickity split. Thank you Steven, I must eat a little crow now (better than something else), and admit I'm quite impressed!