I NEED SHOES

Saucony Virratas - Possible 100 mile shoe contender?
As I've said before, I'm ready to register for a 100 miler. I'm ready to see if I have it in me. Its hard for me to believe that just three years ago a ten miler was HUGE for me. So, yeah. Its scary but I'm ready. 

So why haven't I signed up for a 100 yet?

Its not that I haven't had plenty of inebriated hours of just fucking around online visiting various race sites that offer 100 milers. In fact, there's a handful of races I would have already signed up for in the midst of a drunken stupor (which, by the way, according to a few of my ultra running friends, is how they started ultra running) but not one race is in California.

And since it looks like my 100 miler is going to have to be somewhat local, I'm slacking on finding the perfect race. There's a myriad of good reasons why I'm putting this task aside and at the moment I don't feel like compiling the list of bullshit reasons so just take my fucking word for it.

Detect a little bitterness?

You should.

But bitterness aside, there is one important reason I haven't been able to will myself to sign up for a 100 miler yet.

Shoes.

I don't need much. I don't want to bother with Garmins or heart rate monitors. I already have a hydration pack. I don't need fancy ID bracelets or other ridiculous running accessories. All that I'm looking for is a pair of decent zero drop cushioned shoes. At least a pair that can get me from 50 miles to 100. 

I've been picking the brains of my barefoot and ultra running buddies for advice on my feet issues for the longer runs. These are people that basically run for a living so I can trust their opinions. Since I don't run long distances on a regular basis I've assumed that my feet feel brutalized after 50ks and beyond because I don't put the wear and tear on them my ultra running friends do. I fear that my style of training may have a downside and this could be it. 

But as it turns out, the consensus is that your feet will feel battered beyond 50 miles in the ultra light minimal shoes no matter what. I thought it was just me and my limited training. Apparently it may not be. So I'm in the market for a good pair of lightweight, zero drop, cushioned shoes that I can use once I get beyond 50 miles.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still in love with my Merrell Pace Gloves, I just need another tool in my toolbox to get me through to 100 miles. I feel that if I can fix this foot problem I will not only be ready for the 100, but I have a better chance of finishing it in good shape.

So I've been keeping my eyes peeled for recommendations. Luckily my coach is highly connected in the running shoe industry and being an advocate for minimal options he has a pretty good handle on what shoes could be my goldmine. 

Seth has suggested I keep my eyes peeled on the Saucony Virratas which are due to come out in February 2013. They are zero drop, lightweight and flexible. Rumor is that these shoes are the most cushioned shoe for its weight on the market. Not sure how they will do on technical trails, and I'm not sure how I will do transitioning to "more shoe" but at this point I will try anything.

But, I'm not a patient type so I might try wiggling my way in to see if I can test some shoes sooner rather than later. We'll see. I'm getting itchy to try a hundo. I NEED SHOES.

Anyone have recommendations for a California 100 miler or a good zero drop, cushioned shoe?
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Comments

  1. I've been eyeing Brook's Cascadia's for trail running. They look like they have more cushioning, and lots of grip for technical trails. Or the New Balance WT110 series. Even Patagonia has a pretty decent new trail running shoe. All I can say is my feet are BEAT UP from my Merrell Pace Gloves. I love them for hiking or short trail runs, but on the longer runs they begin to hurt.

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  2. Take a look at the Altra Lone Peak. Might be a big heavy for you, but it is both cushioned and zero-drop. Although it isn't zero-drop I have considered getting a pair of the Merrell Mix Masters as I have been running some trails that are super rocky lately and my feet always come away a bit beat up (which isn't always horrible, but for longer distances is probably not a great idea).

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  3. I tested out some zero drops from GoLite.. kind of heavy though... but I think the cushion might be what you are looking for. Good news is they are working on a new more flexible and lighter shoe (but with the same protection).. I'm supposed to circle back to them this month to get a test pair.. I'll let you know what I find out.. http://barefootinclined.blogspot.com/2012/06/keeping-open-mind-golite-dart-lite.html

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  4. Thanks for the recommendations, guys! I'll have to look into all of those. I've considered the Altras, but I've heard they're heavy. Looks like more cushioned zero drops will be coming out on the market in the future. I'm trying to be so patient!

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  5. I;ve been looking for the same thing. I like my trail gloves but want something else as well. Thanks for pointing towards the Virratas, I'll bet we have to waut an age before they are out in the UK.
    Chris
    www.barefootbeginner.com

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  6. I hate to say it... but how about the Hoka line. Seems like lots of the ultra folks are having good success with it, and it's got crazy cushion. Even Mr. Robillard seemed to like them in a review, if I recall.

    Might be worth a shot to survive your first hundo!

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    Replies
    1. Haha TT! That was the mantra from all the barefoot runners at the last Born To Run Ultra I did. EVERYBODY was seriously considering the Hokas after that course! I've heard they're super heavy too. My focus is on lightweight. Basically I want a pimped out cushy version of my Merrells. We'll see if I can find it.

      Otherwise, Yes. I might even be willing to try the Hokas. ;-)

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  7. Robillard also had a great article up recently about rotating shoes during an ultra to one with a slight heel drop as a way to use different muscles and therefore combat fatigue. Even though "heel drop" is a dirty word in the barefooting community, it's definitely something to consider.

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    1. Jimmy - Hmmmmm. I missed that article, but I know that the guys were trying the Mix Masters and Jesse used them for part of his hundred. Those were 4mm drop. I guess I just hate the idea of going back to the increased heel height. I have a neuroma problem that I think was caused by the heel height in my old shoes. Any added pressure to the front of my foot could be bad over time in my case. Thanks so much for the suggestion though. I appreciate your feedback.

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  8. How about Inov8s? I started to use RocLite 285s when I ditched my 'regular' Asics running shoes (after being plagued with calf strains)and started running trails. They are super light and comfortable. There are lots of different styles. I don't run much more than 13 miles at the moment though, so I can't really say how they'd be for an ultra (one day maybe!).

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    Replies
    1. Elisa - I've heard a lot about the Inov8s. I will have to look into those more for the longer distances. Thanks for the idea!

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  9. Check out Altra's Lone Peak. Zero drop with a 17.5mm stack height. Can be increased to 22.5mm with included foot bed.

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  10. Hopefully you get the shoe thing figured out!

    As for "California" 100 milers, what about Pine to Palm in Southern Oregon? I've heard good things about it! Otherwise, put your name in the lottery for Western States next year!

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    Replies
    1. Ooooh. That one sounds interesting. I haven't heard of that one and Oregon might not be too far for me. Thanks John! Also, I would throw my name into WS if I had done a qualifying race, but my 100k wasn't a qualifier (although it should be). Thanks for the advice!

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  11. I hope you don't mind that I'm lurking on your site. I am also in need of shoes. I have the Merrell pace gloves but also need something else in my tool bag for the hundred. Finished my first 50 miler and am waiting to find a hundo on the east coast that fits into my schedule. Thanks for all the awesome advice everyone. I actually went to the sport store and tried on some Hattori's and I really liked them. (just a side note, they run small, I usually take a size 8 and I took a 9 in that shoe), my invisible shoes won't cut it, my VFF are ripped and the dog tore off the tab(I'm gonna use some duct tape to fix them) being "mostly" barefoot except some trails where I NEED to have something, spending lots of money on shoes kills me so I need to find just the right pair before I make the investment. Good luck on your shoe search. If I find something that works I'll pass it on. :)

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    Replies
    1. Haha! BF Mama - I suspect I have a lot of lurkers on my blog ;-) so don't feel bad. Let me know what you find in the way of shoes! Hopefully I'll get this sorted and can share my opinions soon.

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  12. Second time chiming in here. Looks like Altra is going to be releasing a slightly (just barely) lighter shoe in the Superior which Jason Robillard mentioned in a post on his blog, and I found pictures of here: http://www.persistenthunter.com/2012/07/31/altra-instinct-1-5-and-superior/

    I went to the Altra site to try to find it, but didn't see any specifics. I did notice that the shoe is actually in a picture on the main page though. Looks very intriguing to me!

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    1. Wow. Awesome!! I'll check that out!

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  13. Let me suggest something a little less commercial. I'm a huge fan of my Soft Star Dash. My sweaty feet stay dryer in these than anything else. Donald completed a 100 miler in them and provides his insight here: http://www.runningandrambling.com/2011/07/100-miles-in-moccasins-part-2-soft-star.html

    Plus if you are looking for more cushioning I'm sure Soft Star would work with you since they hand make each pair in Corvallis OR. As an added bonus you can pick any color you want.
    http://www.softstarshoes.com/running-moccasins/dash-runamoc-black-lite.html

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the info and links. My only concern is the cushioning. I'll definitely check out the link to the dude that completed the 100 miler. I'm interested in seeing what kind of terrain he ran on to be able to do that. That's amazing!

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  14. More info on the Altra Superior: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-QJKBjkV1s

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  15. Hi Krista
    I like the way you are coming from the other end of the discussion. Most people go from shoes to barefoot, you are the other way round.
    I have just made this my post of the week at http://www.barefootbeginner.com/2012/08/09/pick-of-the-posts-no-4-the-best-5-barefoot-posts-to-see-you-through-the-weekend-are/
    Hope you like it

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  16. Hi Krista
    One of the readers (Caveman Clarke) on barefoot beginner responded to your post and said,
    'Tell Krista she should try the Vivobarefoot breatho trail or NB minimus wt00 as options for her 100miler!'
    Hope that helps.
    Chris
    www.barefootbeginner.com

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    Replies
    1. Hey Chris!! Thanks so much for the feedback. I'll check that out!

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