Monday, December 12, 2011

Beware the Offset

Or at least be aware of the offset. Offsets are the buzz in the world of running shoes. This isn’t new but you’ll soon hear a lot about it. You’ll also see many more options added to the current offerings from Inov-8, Saucony, Altra and Brooks. First, a little context; the offset is the difference in height from heel to toe of a shoe measured in millimeters. Traditionally (at least for the past 30 years) running shoes have been 10mm or 12mm. There have been exceptions in the form of racing flats and in the past decade from the UK brand Inov-8. Now there is an ever expanding selection of 8mm, 4mm, and zero drop (even from heel to toe) shoes.

So what gives, and why should you care? First of all, you don’t have to care. Many people don’t get injured and are happy with their shoes. Assuming that’s the case, it would be difficult to make a compelling argument that you should change anything. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Most companies have shown no sign that they will change the offset in their franchise shoes. You’ll be able to stick with them and run your brains out.

Saucony, most notably, is choosing a different path. With the tagline “a new angle on running” they will come down to an 8mm (or less) offset on all new shoes that come out going forward. This will take some time as many of their shoes won’t update until Fall 2012 or even Spring 2013 but within the next 18 months they plan for all their shoes to be either an 8mm, 4mm, or no offset. Even in a time of ample change in running shoes, this is a gutsy move by Saucony. Other major shoe companies are on board. We saw Brooks make a splash in October with the introduction of their Pure project shoes (all 4mm offset) but Saucony’s willingness to move ALL their shoes shows some serious commitment.

Our take at FootZone is a positive one. This is a lot of hubbub over 2-4mm (if you take the difference from 10 or 12 to 8mm). Look on a ruler, that’s not very much. Saucony feels confident after testing that moving to 8mm will not require break in for the average runner and will improve the ride and stability while allowing for a less emphasized heel strike and encouraging a more natural stride. They would advise that switching to a 4mm or zero drop shoe may require a more gradual transition to avoid calf strain and injury. Based on personal experience and watching many runners experiment with different shoes, we would have to agree. The 8mm offset will not even be noticed by many runners and if they choose, the 4mm offset will also be an option. The zero drop shoes require a bit more patience and practice and for some runners simply feel too strange.

Of course, the frustrating part of all of this is that there is no science supporting any of it. The idea of natural running makes some inherent sense and appeals to many but has already proven that it’s not simple for most runners. Many are calling for a more definitive study and surely there will be many on that task in labs across the country. Given all the variables of different runners with different histories, foot types, biomechanics, and efficiencies, I struggle to think that we will come up with anything TOO definitive. Regardless, I trust that runners will do as they always have and buy the best running shoes available that work for them. Whatever the slope from heel to toe will be interesting to talk about but will ultimately mean less than our ability to go out and enjoy our run. Cheers-Teague

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Back to Bend

Rob, Melanie, Max and I are just back from Austin, Texas where we attended the Running Event. This is an annual conference and product expo for the specialty running industry. It is primarily a gathering for independent running stores (like FootZone) and the vendors that we buy our product from. This was our third year attending and it is always an opportunity to not only see product for upcoming seasons, but to meet other great people in the industry, learn new things, and share ideas. There are some great running stores out there and many that I greatly admire. As you might expect, all stores share similarities but are surprisingly diverse at the same time. It's not really surprising since running can be really different depending on where you are. Some of that is simply geography and climate. Where there are lots of trails, people run on the dirt and ­runners want trail shoes that don't sell in big cities, while in Florida, warm tights and Yaktrax aren't much of a contemplation. In Bend, it’s difficult to overemphasize how fortunate we are to have so many trails and beauty around us to be explored.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is that stores really do seem to have a personality. I had another store owner from back East tell me that he had been in FootZone last year while visiting Bend and how impressed he was with our selection but mostly what a great “feel” the shop has. It’s not the first time I’ve had customers and folks in the industry compliment the comfortable “feeling” of FootZone. Of course I beam with a bit of pride when I hear such things but I’m also trying to put my finger on what exactly that “feel” is. Not sure I’ll ever know entirely but I think we have two advantages that I don’t see everywhere.

First, we live in an amazing community with a very sophisticated customer who places value in something different. Many have chosen Central Oregon over someplace else for a reason and they appreciate what makes this community different from every other place in America. We hope that FootZone is a tiny part of that or at least that the person who is drawn to Central Oregon is also drawn to a local, healthy, fun running store.

Second, we work to treat our customers with the respect they deserve. Even as I type it, that comes off as a very generic and benign statement but I’m speaking from the perspective of creating a culture at the FootZone where that respect is constantly at the forefront. Sounds easy and in some ways it is but the longer we’re in business and I note all the examples around me, I realize what a complicated thing that “culture” is. First of all, you can’t fake it-- people are smart. Secondly, it is obviously all about the people who work at FootZone and the fact they are good people and very much valued in this equation. I wish I could say that they are all incredibly well-paid and will eventually live well on their FootZone retirement plans. That would be a stretch, but working at FootZone provides a livable wage which is shockingly rare. A decent wage is an important start, but it’s only a start. The essential part is not taking for granted the modest success that we have. Thinking of each customer as an individual deserving our time and respect. We often joke that it would be so much easier to get things done at FootZone if we didn’t have all these customers interrupting us. That ironic twist is what reminds us that the customer is the ONLY thing that matters. Everything else we do is meaningless by comparison. On every level at FootZone, we believe in that idea. We certainly make mistakes but at our collective core is the understanding that we have a simple job to do. If we get people in great products that will help them enjoy their running, walking and fitness, they will keep coming to see us. That gives us the opportunity to work in an environment with fun people supporting the activity we love. Plus, we get to live in a place we want to be. Hopefully, somewhere in there is that “feeling” that we often hear about. Of course, it could just be a great downtown space with brick walls and wood floors. Either way, we’re grateful for the opportunity. Cheers-Teague

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Brooks Pure Project

Brooks launches their Pure Project this week. Marketing blitzes like this can be a bit much and I often meet them with eyes rolled and minimal enthusiasm. However, I'll argue that the Pure Project is a little different, and here's why:

I've been selling running shoes for the past 20 years, buying running shoes for 15, and owned FootZone for 13 years. I've seen a few things come and go in this industry and always looked to cut the crap and get to what actually means something to my customers. But honestly, in that 10 years the running industry has followed a fairly consistent course. The objective has been to make better fitting shoes that offer cushion and support. Honestly, especially as I look back. there hasn't been much variety. Most of the shoes have been the same offset from heel to toe (10-12 mm) in either stability, neutral, or motion control categories.

When Born to Run and Vibram Fivefingers came along they introduced many to at least the concept of less is more when it comes to shoes. This got a lot of play in the media and it made sense to people so they started asking for new options. Meanwhile, runners, running stores and vendors started challenging what they've always thought and realized that this isn't just a fad. Minimalism works for many runners. The challenge has been defining what minimalism means to runners and what is sustainable and what isn't when it comes to shoes. I'm well aware that many will argue for purity when it comes to minimalism. I've also watched many ride that bandwagon only to end up back in what allows them to get out for their daily run (minimalism be damned). Seems the holy grail is footwear that borrows from lessons of minimalism but will allow people to log their miles without getting injured. Runners want smooth, simple shoes with a de-emphasized heel but most still want some cush.

So... Fivefingers made a huge splash and they make great product but it's not most runner's new pair of everyday runners. The Nike Free has been around for years and fits into this conversation (they almost bailed on the whole thing before the minimalist craze boosted it back into the limelight). The shoes are great and have been a valid option despite still being pretty high in the heel. New Balance nailed it with the Minimus Trail as a great piece of footwear that some folks can run in. However most still utilize them as a workout shoe or everyday footwear. I'd argue that Saucony has led the way for shoes that most runners can actually log daily miles in with the Kinvara and Mirage. These are both shoes with a 4mm offset from heel to toe, a de-emphasized heel, plenty of cushion and a very smooth ride. Saucony doesn't get enough credit for being the first to bring to market viable running product that realistically addresses the minimalist ideal for runners in an everyday running shoe.

Now comes the Brooks launch of the Pure Project. It's relevant because they have a shoe for every type of need (stability wise) all with a 4mm offset and enough underfoot for everyday running. It's also relevant because it's Brooks. They're the strongest brand in specialty running these days and they execute product incredibly well. The whole company oozes the running vibe that most runners relate to and they back it up with consistent product that works for real people.

We're anxious to see what it means and excited to be included in the launch. Please come and let us know what you think.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's the FZ crew up to?

Summer is in full swing and the FootZone Crew (Zoners) have been doing the juggling act like all the rest of you. We're fortunate to have a busy shop to take up many of our days but we're also balancing all our active pursuits with family, friends, travel and all the expectations of summer. Specifically, here's what's going on:

Colleen - Just ran the Speedgoat 50K in Utah with her husband Jason (they rocked it). Now she's planning to just enjoy her running for the rest of the year focusing more on adventures than events. Current Favorite Shoe- Mizuno Ascend

Rob - Recently moved into a new house. Running, skiing(!) biking and going to South Dakota for his annual “working vacation” on his family’s farm; pouring concrete, building grain dryers, repairing miles of fence following spring flooding, and spending time with his niece and nephews. Current Favorite Shoe- Scott T2C

Dave-Building a fort for a four year old. Planning a 5k and a trail festival. Hoping to get some miles in so he can run "fast" at some races this fall.

Chris - Mtn. biking and running pretty regularly and using his new Panini maker a lot. Umm...Oh yeah, he and Tracey got married on July 14th....He's planning to run The Twilight Run and possibly the Dirty 2nd Half. Current Favorite Shoe - NB 101

Tonya- Recent trip to South Africa for the Comrades Marathon with her husband was the highlight. 56 miles of fun. She continues to be inspired daily by BendFit, the marathon training group she organizes. Next on the schedule is Cascade Lakes Relay and Flagline!

Nancy- likes to point out while Max is preparing for the Olympics and Colleen is finishing yet another ultra, she's preparing for her colonoscopy (it is what the elderly do!) and sending her last child off to college. She just got back from a great time in Minnesota with the family. I continue to run with her morning running group more days than not. Current Favorite Shoe- Brooks Glycerin

Max- Just back from a week at Steen's Mtn Running camp where he's inspired every year by what cross country athletes can put themselves through. While up there he was also able to teach Good Form Running to 350 high school runners. Just helping spread the good word. Next it's off to Switzerland for the 19 mile Sierre-Zinal mountain race. Should be a doozy of a climb. 6000ft in 10 miles then it's all downhill after that. Current Favorite shoe - Montrail Rogue Racer

Jenny- Currently training to be able to push a baby out of her body and eventually two children up Pilot Butte. She and Owen (son) have been on the constant lookout for the BEST playground in Bend (pretty sure we’ve found some of the best ones) current favorites include a park where fresh fat worms are available in abundance and another park where Owen can fly anywhere in the world in a matter of moments. Their locations are top secret however. Current Favorite Shoe- Brooks Ravenna

Melanie-Training to feel healthy and to really enjoy running by going to the "core". She's realizing that building some true core strength is essential and finding that Pilates is giving her that missing element. Current Favorite Shoe - Saucony Mirage

Kristy- Watching the snow line religiously....awaiting the opening of Flagline and trying to stay upright on her mountain bike when she's not massaging folks or teaching yoga.

Kristen- Recently ran the SOB 50k in Ashland. The summer has been lots of camping, pool time, and bike riding. The girls (Kristen and her daughters) roll without Dad as he is very busy training for Ironman Canada- Go Todd! She can't get enough our of the stand up paddle board mania!

Ryan- Lots of cross training on the road bike and Mt bike to get stronger for running. Looking forward to running CLR for the first time (he's got the costume leg)!

Marybel- Running Haulin Aspen race this Sunday and maybe the Half at flagline. Current Favorite Shoe- Brooks Adrenaline

Katie- Chasing around her 2 and 4 year old boys. She's loving helping out with the Women's running group and meeting new people along the way. Otherwise just making time for running whenever she can. Current Favorite Shoe (s) Brooks Ravenna and Cascadia

Teague- Keeping up with the family and enjoying the trails as much as possible. Summer bustle has made for some inconsistent training but no complaints... too many fun summer activities. Mt. biking has been offering up some great cross training. Twilight 5k, Flagline and Mac Forest are all on the radar. Current Favorite Shoe - N.B Minimus Road

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

10 Years of the FootZone Dirty Half

A little Dirty history... the Dirty Half started in 2002 primarily because there weren't any trail running events at the time in Central Oregon. That seemed borderline criminal in our trail rich community so at FootZone we decided to change that. SuperDave is full of good ideas and he was willing to take the lead on this one. A half marathon seemed like the perfect distance (not too long, but long enough) and there really weren't many mid distance trail runs anywhere in the West. So it began, Dave pulled together a course, got the permits and the first year had about 150 runners.
The focus was always (and still is) to make this a super cool event for the participants. So many events were really focused on the cause and we thought it would be fun to do one focused on the participant. We always asked ourselves what we would want and tried to make that happen. First, it had to be an interesting, fun course on the dirt (we knew this wouldn't work for all but would really work for some). Second, we wanted awesome technical race shirts with cool logos. Sure, nowadays every event has a tech tee but Dirty Half was the first in Central Oregon. At the time, none of us had done an event anywhere that used a tech tee. The logo was and continues to be the work of Jeff Browning aka Bronco Billy, local ultra runner and graphic designer extraordinaire. Some years we have to pry it out of him with several beers and some logos have been stronger than others but Jeff has always come through. He'll be quick to point out that it was his idea to change the logo every year. It has been a fun part of the event and job security for Jeff. Third, we've always worked to have a cool finisher’s prize, something you could ideally drink a beverage from at the finish line. Some years we've done socks but generally it's been able to hold liquid. Last year was especially cool as we brought in the very first order of SILIPINTS to Central Oregon.
As far as food, Nancy P's was and is our sought after choice to make copious amounts of finish line treats that aren't skimpy on butter and sugar (two things people seem to like). Deschutes Brewery stepped up in 2006 and started brewing us the Down and Dirty IPA. We almost stopped putting on the race after that because we felt like it could get no better but then we added Taco Stand burritos and Pizza Mondo.
How about the money? Events are good business these days (and we don’t have a problem with that) but Dirty Half is a bit of a kick back. For the first 4 years we simply put every $ back into the event itself and did our best to spoil all participants rotten. At some point we realized that it was big enough and there was an opportunity to raise some funds for a cool local organization without taking anything away from the runners. Thus, since 2006 all the proceeds have gone to the Deschutes Land Trust. Dave is paid a modest race directing fee for all his work. Up until last year, FootZone paid Dave's race directing fee separately but now 1/2 comes from the Dirty Half and 1/2 comes from FootZone. We hope this all creates a reasonably priced event where you get more than what you pay for and truly support a great cause. We hope the Dirty Half is a little less hype and a little more fun.
This year the Dirty Half turns 10. We’re like parents who can’t believe how it has grown and even matured a little. The race is still full with 800 + runners like it has been for the past several years (although the Happy Girls Half took some pressure off this year). This 10th year brings a new course. We weren’t especially excited to change the course but through it all, we ended up with a positive relationship with the Forest Service. Change is hard but this is honestly a better course to spread runners out and provide a start/finish that is much more accessible.
That’s the story; we love this event and appreciate that so many of you do too. It’s great every year to see people getting excited about their first Dirty Half or their 6th. We love it that the fastest runners in town turn out most years while others see completing the Dirty Half as their ultimate running goal. We’ll keep trying to make it great so you can keep coming out and getting Dirty! Cheers-Teague

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reco-Fit Leg Compressors

Two weeks ago we were shipped a sample of a full leg compression sleeve and I knew immediately I had to try it out. They were the RecoFit Leg Compressors and I was fortunate enough to get a pair a day before traveling to London for the London Marathon to check out. Well, the verdict (or part of it) is in. They are great.

The reason I liked the concept of the full length sleeve is because I don't like wearing a full pair of tights while traveling. One, they slip down and I feel like I'm sagging like a 17yr old wannabe skater. I just need a flat brimmed hat to wear backward and an over sized T-shirt down to my knees. Two, they're too hot on an airplane while traveling. You never know what the temps going to be. I've used calf sleeves and socks and they're fine but I figured having full leg compression would be more beneficial. So when I saw these, I had to try them.
I've always had pretty bad swelling in my ankles when I fly and thus my legs feel pretty heavy when I get off the plane. Trying to prevent that I've tried socks and calf sleeves. The socks worked the best as they had compression on my feet and ankles as well as my calves. The RecoFit Leg Compressors certainly helped more than the normal calf sleeves but I did still have ankle and feet swelling since they end at the ankles but it definitely wasn't as bad as not having anything.
On the size chart I was right between a medium and a small-long. I decided to go with the smaller as I've noticed the RecoFit calf sleeves tend to stretch out a bit after wearing them. They were tight (as they should be) but not constraining. I still felt I could move pretty well in them as opposed to some tights. I was a bit worried about having a muffin top where the elastic band is around the thigh that holds them up but it really wasn't an issue and wasn't uncomfortable either. It did take some getting used to however. Getting them to stay up was a challenge until I figured out that I needed to pull up some fabric at the knee rather than just pull from the top. After that I had no issues with them staying up and they stayed up way better than other compression tights I've tried.
The thing I like about RecoFit over other compression components is the fabric. It's cool, thin and like a second skin. It has compression zones where compression is needed and allows movement in areas where compression is not needed, such as the back of the knee. And it looks great too. Others I've tried have just been too warm depending on conditions or too movement constrictive to be comfortable.
One issue I did have with these was that the sticky rubber around the upper elastic band did become somewhat irritating toward the end of the 15hrs of travel. It wasn't bad but I was certainly aware of having to sit on the band for that long. But hey, it was 15hrs of sitting, anything is going to get irritating after that. Moving it around a little bit fixed the problem for a while.
The legs never feel great after going for a shake out run after a trip like that and more than not, they just feel heavy and terrible. I kept the leg sleeves on for the shake out run and I have to say, this is where I felt the difference. This was the first time I had a full length compression on, usually I'll just have calf compression, and it made a big difference. My legs felt almost normal on the run and much better than usual after an intercontinental flight. They didn't have the normal stiff, heavy feeling the legs usually have.
The Leg Compressors will definitely be back on for the trip home and I'm betting the legs will be thanking me. These will replace a few other compression pieces in my arsenal just because it's full leg compression but doesn't have the issues of a full tight.
I can see just slipping these on after races instead of just a calf sleeve and for long travel days for full length compression.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pear Blossom Weekend in the Rogue Valley

This last weekend a horde of Central Oregonians traveled over the pass to the Rogue Valley to compete in the 35th running of the Pear Blossom 10 miler held annually in Medford. For me, this race has become a special homecoming each year that I’m lucky enough to run it. It’s got a great following among the community in the Valley that very few races have aside from the major marathons. I love that it gets a front of the sports page preview article in the Mail Tribune the day before the race and a huge front of the sports page photo and two or three individual articles on the event winners the day after. In the Rogue Valley it’s become one of the premiere sporting events of the year.

As a graduate of Crater High School in Central Point I always followed “The Pear” winners each year and hoped that one day I could return and become one of the lucky few, following in the footsteps of greats like Frank Shorter and Rick Sayre (both “Pear” winners). Now I return each year to see my old teachers, classmates and friends I had growing up there. My old athletic director is the RD and has been for the last 20 years or so. My middle school principal yells out the one mile splits the same as he always has since I first ran back in 1997, and countless others that have been volunteering since I was just a wee lad. I was also fortunate enough to be the recipient of the Pear Blossom Scholarship in 1998 as I went off to college, a fund that goes to four area prep athletes involved in cross country each year. It’s been a great way for the community to be involved and give back to the Valley’s youth runners.

It’s an important race for me and it’s great to see that it continues to grow and meet the needs of the running community across the state. A testament to this is the number of Central Oregonians that made the trek including this year’s women’s champion Marci Klimek of Bend and graduate of Phoenix HS in Southern Oregon. There was a great group of Footzone Learn to Run Alumni including Jenniffer Smith, Stacy Case, Valerie Walkley, Patti Brown, and Pam Bicart with a few supportive husbands in tow. One of our CORK youth runners, Jessica Cornett, ran a 1:14. How amazing is that for a 13 yr old? And Frans Alajoki, a regular TPGer (Tuesday Performance Grouper) ran a 59:17 for 17th overall out of 1584 people. And there was still another half dozen or so Central Oregonians that ran that I haven’t mentioned. It was great to see so many familiar faces from the High Desert down in the valley for one of the biggest event of the year.

I made the trip over for my 6th and toughest “Pear” victory. Little did I know that Mike Reneau, a friend and sponsored runner from Corvallis, would show up to give me a great challenge. At 5 miles he had opened up a gap of 1:05 on me and I had to start reeling him in. Picking up the pace I pushed hard to catch him with only a mile to go. I was starting to get pretty nervous with 3 to go and Mike still a good 100m in front of me. With his help we ran the two fastest times in the “Pear” history as a 10 mile race. It was one of the sweetest “Pears” I’ve had the pleasure of running. (pun intended)


Monday, April 4, 2011

Horse Butte 2011

Sunday April 3rd was the 6th running of the Horse Butte 10 miler held on the sweet singletrack Southeast of Bend. The race has built a reputation of a challenging run with a low key atmosphere and some seriously foul weather. Sunday's event had such amazing weather that enough people hung out afterward to eat all the Oregon Country beef hotdogs and drink all the Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Wouldn't mind this becoming a tradition.
I have to call out a serious oversight on my part from Sunday. In my astonishment of the nice weather and all the other stuff that goes with organizing an event I overlooked a course record being smashed. The ladies obviously ate their Wheaties before toeing the line. Overall winner and new course record holder Kami Semick ran a 1:06:26 which seemed fast as I read it at the awards but after things settled down I looked it up and it beat the old mark by almost four minutes. Second overall female Katie Caba also bested the old record with a blistering 1:08:53. Nice job ladies.
Also want to thank the volunteers who graciously donated their time to the event. Rodger Rudolph who cooked all the dogs. Josh Davis who parked cars, course marshal, and official beer tester/server. Andy Barram and the Boneyard cycling team for parking folks and sweeping the course. Nicole Lang and the Central Oregon Youth running club for organizing and running the aid station and the finish chute. All races would suffer greatly with out the generous donation of time by volunteers.
Thanks to all the everyone who came out to be part of the race.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Summity Track and Field Community Events

With a great new track at Summit High School come great new opportunities for Central Oregon runners. Keeping in the spirit of a community track complex, Dave Turnbull (Summit Head Track Coach), is holding a community track event at each of their home meets this season. Next Wednesday, April 6th Summit will be hosting a community 2 mile race. If you haven’t had a chance to see the new Summit track this is a great way to get an 8 lap tour of the facility. It’s one of the nicest high school track and field facilities in the nation. So come on out. Participation is free and every once in a while its fun to get on the track and see what you got under the hood, so to speak.

The meet starts at 3:30pm and the community 2 mile will begin at 3:45. Please email Summit coaches Joe Padilla or Dave Turnbull at or to enter.

They are also looking for volunteers to help at the track meets, so if you’re there for the race, they would love it if you could stick around and help with an event after.

We’ll try to keep you posted on the next meet and the next community event. Who knows, for something completely different maybe they’ll even have a steeplechase at one meet.

Other home meets will be on:

Wednesday, April 13

Saturday, April 23

Wednesday, April 27

Thursday, May 5

Saturday, May 14

Monday, March 14, 2011

Merrell and Minimalist March

In a post last summer I explained how excited I was when Merrell busted out with the first shot at more "conventional minimalist product". You can read that post HERE (it's at the end). Well, we've had these shoes in the store for more than a month now and I can confidently say, they have not disappointed. There are flashier options out there but relative to most other minimalist shoes, the Merrell Barefoot shoes don't lift the heel relative to the forefoot. Some won't think this is a big deal while others will. Even if that doesn't matter to you, you might appreciate that the Trail Glove and Tough Glove for men and the Pace Glove and Pure Glove for women are as understated as they are comfortable.
Let's face it, some of you want to try minimalist shoes but don't necessarily want to draw attention to your feet. I'm happy that Merrell has addressed this need. Merrell also recognizes the lifestyle appeal of this footwear and you'll see that in the solid leather Tough Glove and the mary jane style women's Pure Glove. If this is strictly to run or walk or hike in, you'll be happy with the simplicity and function. Buy a pair this month and get entered in our Minimalist March Giveaway. -Teague

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Minimalist March - Going on NOW!!!

Welcome to March. Minimalist March. It’s gonna be awesome. In case you haven’t heard, March is minimalist centric down here at the Footzone with minimalist clinics, give-a-ways, and cool new shoes that have arrived just in time to try out in March.

We, the folks at the Footzone, always say that moderation is the key staying healthy, injury free, and keeping things fun and this is our approach to minimalist running as well. While running barefoot might work for some, we’re well aware that the majority of runners out there won’t need to or even want to. There is a lot more to this minimalist “fad” than running barefoot though. For some it might be getting into a little less of a shoe, something with slightly less structure to it, or lowering the heel height to get a more balanced feel, but not necessarily separating the toes and taking out all the cushion that shoes can offer. For many of us it becomes a tool that we use to strengthen our feet and extra muscles we don’t always think about strengthening, kind of like a workout we do twice a week or so. Maybe most of the time we stick to the shoes we’re comfortable in but for a few minutes a day or 30min twice a week we slip on our new minimal shoes and go out for a quick run focusing on good form, quick turnover, and a light, smooth, efficient foot strike. For some of us still, it just becomes a new approach to daily living. We still want running to be fun and we see this as a good way to keep things interesting. It certainly has here at the shop.

We’re kicking off with the Moderate Approach to Minimalism Clinic on Thursday March 3rd at 6:30 pm with Max King. We will focus on what, why, and how minimalism should be approached.

Next up are the New Balance Demo Days with the new Minimus line that just came in. These are shoes designed with a less is more attitude with a stripped down upper, midsole, and outsole that allows the shoe to move with your foot naturally as you run. What’s different about this line is that minimal doesn’t necessarily mean less cushion, just a different approach.

Throughout March, with every pair of qualifying minimalist shoes purchased, your name with go in the hat for a drawing at the end of the month for some cool prizes. Six pairs of shoes, an iPod Nano, training sessions with Max King, iTunes Gift Certs, just to name a few. Just a little incentive to try out something new.

And if you haven’t had a chance to get into one of our Good Form Running Classes yet, what are you waiting for. This is the perfect time. The running season is upon us. It’s time to rejuvenate your running with something new to get you out the door. We’ve had great success with these few simple techniques and it’s a great way to get motivated.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Introducing Max

Our newest employee here at FootZone is someone you're likely familiar with. His name is Max King and he just so happens to be fast (ok, REALLY fast). Obviously, being speedy doesn't make someone a good FZ employee, in fact it could just make them intimidating. Fortunately, Max is really bright, a great community member, and just an all around good guy. He knows a lot about running and shoes and we're lucky that he wants to work here while he's training hard for the seasons ahead.

We know Max pretty well around the shop. He's run the Tuesday workout for us and generally likes to come hang out at the Zone. It's only been a couple weeks but we have learned a couple new things about Max since he started: 1. He eats a lot, it must be hard to fuel all those miles. 2. He's not afraid to work hard (not surprising considering his running accolades). 3. He can laugh at himself (pretty much a prerequisite to working at FZ).

Max will be helping Teague with the footwear buying, doing inventory managment, working on the floor, and helping out with Good Form Running and other community stuff. It's a part time gig so that he can continue to train and race like a madman. We're pretty sure that Max, like many Zoners before him, will make the FootZone a better place. Hopefully we won't ruin him (or slow him down) along the way.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Shoes from Montrail, Vibram Five Fingers and Saucony

January is sure lively at the FootZone especially with the addition of lot of fun new shoes! The following shoes came in this week and are waiting on the shelves for you to come and try them on.

Montrail- Many of you know that Montrail was purchased years ago by Columbia. This was a frustrating move for many as the Montrail styles of old have slowly disappeared. Honestly, Montrail is one of those lines that always had more aura than they actually had great shoes so, with the exception of the Hardrock (that beefy ole shoe had a very loyal following and a great fit), I can't say the move really broke my heart. The reality is that creating great footwear is an expensive endeavor and I hoped that Columbia could infuse some cash into things and move them forward. Well, the first couple years were tough and didn't produce a single style that really stood out.

Fortunately, with the new Rogue Racer and Fairhaven, I think we've got some worthy options. The Rogue Racer is a relatively low profile, light shoe that will work really well for efficient runners who want a typical heel to toe drop but generally less shoe underfoot. The fit is snug but opens up in the toe box. Compared to similar shoes on the market, the Rogue Racer has enough protection under foot that it should hold up well to mileage and longer races.
Fun as the Rogue Racer is, the Fairhaven* is the shoe that might really gain some traction. This is a supportive trail shoe with a great fit that holds the heel and midfoot but has room in the toebox. This shoe will be great for the runner or walker who needs some added support with a nice fluid right. I expect it to offer another fit option to some of our best selling shoes like the Brooks Adrenaline ASR and 2160 Trail. The Fairhaven has plenty of bounce and isn't stiff enough to be a problem on the roads. All in all, these are both good shoes and great to see that Montrail's best footwear isn't necessarily a flip flop anymore (although we have those too).

From Vibram Five Fingers, we have a couple new shoes and some new colors in current favorites. New are the Komodo and the Bikila LS which are both great additions to the Five Finger collection. The Komodo is directed at fitness and cross-fit type workouts. It has a little substance under foot (comparable to the Bikila) and is secure moving side to side. It's equally appealing for those who want to do a little running in their Vibrams. The Bikila LS is putting a big smile on all of our faces down at FootZone. This running VFF has a lace that makes getting in and out much easier for those with higher insteps. The upper is secure and the laces offer enough flexibility that its going to fit most feet. All we can say is "thank you" to Vibram for this wonderful new fit option that will only enhance the minimalist experience.

Finally, from Saucony, check out the cool color updates in the Kinvara. We had great feedback to this shoe all Fall (even before it was listed as Oprah's favorite). It's great as a second shoe for someone wanting a lighter, more flexible option or a good everyday trainer for the efficient runner.


* Fairhaven is a little neighborhood/ferry terminal in the South part of Bellingham, Washington and is where I first worked at a running store while in College at WWU. So, I have a positive affiliation, but I promise that's not tainting my view of this shoe.