Christmas, New Years and loads of travel (150K to go):

It has been a good while since my last post, more than a month in fact and not surprisingly Christmas and New Years, coupled with a load of travel bear the majority of the responsibility.

First "mini" session

First “mini” session

Add in a season that alongside running have to make room for my other favourite winter activity… Snowboarding, then it all makes sense.

Christmas was spend with my family in Copenhagen, followed by a quick trip to Greenland to celebrate new years and get the first 4 snowboard sessions of the year. Our slopes are somewhat short, and we only got two, but they both feature an ocean view and some pretty awesome sunsets.

Got in some good winter running too, plenty of my favourite runs along the nordic skiing trails.ย Which in t urn means that I have been running the spyridon quite frequently.

The EL-X has been and still is my favourite winter boot though. I wear it day and day out during winter. Only exception is when running or when snowboarding, aside from work of course:)

Been hiking a fair Bit too.

downhill sledding

downhill sledding

Done two hikes too, both to the nearest peak and we have been sledding all the way down too on both accounts, there is just something over putting your self on a tiny kid sled with on a plastic seat and one handle and then speedsled down a newly groomed alpine skiing slope, it is both quite fast and super fun ๐Ÿ™‚

On both accounts I dug out an old pair of vivobarefoot neo trail as I wanted a closed toebox for the downhill sledding.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

The last two weeks have been spend primarily in Naples, FL with overnight stays in Miami and Key West. It has been two absolutely amazing family weeks. The first time in a year with both my sister and my brother at the same time.

It has also, been an absolutely wonderful experience to get a two week completely barefoot break in January, I wore shoes only when going to restaurants in the evening and most locals seemed rather relaxed about me not wearing shoes anywhere. well it kind of makes sense on the beaches, but elsewhere too and you gotta love the clean streets.

The one piece of broken glass I saw was on the beach.

Evening walk at Vanderbilt Beach

Evening walk at Vanderbilt Beach

Lots of barefoot running too, and mostly with company from family (wearing shoes), such a please to run on so many different textures, there were quite a few patches of some rather nasty chipseal, but also wonderful beaches with sand and seashells, smooth concrete and anything in between.

Speaking of seashells, it was a seashell that gave me my first cut, a 1,5cm very clean under the arch of my right foot. It hurt for a day, but as it did not bleed a lot, it never stopped me from being barefoot ๐Ÿ™‚

I can easily see why people love Southern Florida, the climate is absolutely gorgeous for barefooters in winter.

The travels continues though, next stop is France (Nice and a few days at Isola 2000), before heading back to Greenland for most of February.

Arctic winter running – on shoes (219K to go)

Winter running in Nuuk, Greenland

Winter running in Nuuk, Greenland

Now before I get to the actual shoes that I prefer and a few alternatives I highly recommend, then I want to add a few words about how I approach my choice of shoes. reading my previous post may shed some additional light on the subject.

Winter where I live dictates snow, ice and very little actual pavement available, it also dictates very cold temeperatures. Even been running up a steep icy hill, run it without spikes and it will teach you a lot about efficient running form. ever run through 20cm during your entire run, well you quads will come home burning in a very different way.

What I try to say is that I do not run winter like summer, but see it a bit like a different sport.

My favourite trio - seeya, spyridon and el-x

My favourite trio – seeya, spyridon and el-x

The sharp reader will notice it is exactly the same shoes I run during summer and therein lies the truth for me. Winter running does not require a special kind of footwear in general.

The el-x is my go to winter boot for casual wear, I wear it down to -25C without socks, when I go shopping, to from work, when going for a walk, had it not been for the tight upper and the slightly narrow sole profile I would be running them too. The sole itself is near perfect, very grippy on all surfaces and still soft, flexible and light.

The seeya is an excellent running shoe for anything from road to light trail work, true for summer and winter alike. it is not the most grippy, but since I am running for the experience and use the slightly poorer traction to optimise my technique it is a great shoe even in slippery conditions.

The Spyridon is the shoe for when the going gets tough. hard technical trails in summer, nordic skiing trails and snowmobile trails during winter. it is a shoe that will take anything you throw at it smiling. it has the advantage that it is roomy enough to take a thin smartwool toesock, thus making it good for as cold as you would want to run. add a inov8 debris gaiter and it will be good well into knee deep snow.

Now I do not say that the approach some take with big sturdy, spiked, thermo lined, goretex protected shoes is wrong. I used to like it a few years ago, as it essentially would make me plough through winter as if it did not exist. truth is that I have just come to value feeling my environment while running and that comes at the price of speed during winter.

“But are you not freezing wearing so thin shoes during winter?” is a very common question and the reply is simple one. I have found that by nearly not wearing shoes the feet start heating from within. barefoot is probably on the frostbite risky side of things, but if it was not for the crushed rock the spray all over the place to buy people some traction on ice and snow I would likely be experimenting more with this barefoot thing during winter too ๐Ÿ™‚

If I were to run a closed toebox shoe during winter, then I would likely look towards vivobarefoot evo lite, or breatho trail, perhaps even the merrell trailglove 2 as it has a wonderful fit, it is however not exactly a durable shoe and Merrell so far has decided not to respond to my emails on the subject.

If you are in the need of a little foam or more of a real shoe minimalist thing, then the Sketchers gobionic trail is an excellent shoe, with a very very nice sole design and good traction on all surfaces. I own a pair and I really like both the fit and the feel of them, even if they are too padded for my taste.

So that concludes the shoe side of things, now get out there and run ๐Ÿ™‚

The barefoot shoe writeup and a 12K (577K to go):

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Most of the barefoot shoe collection ๐Ÿ™‚

OK how much sense does it make to have all this talk about barefoot running and then a massive amount of shoes.

Going completely barefoot is preferred and nothing beats the sensation of feeling the ground beneath you as you run. However sometimes you cannot get away with going barefooted, thus shoes for me serves two purposes:

a) a social function, when I am in a setting where shoes are the norm and bare feet would be frowned upon, a business meeting or conference is a good example

b)A practical function, when I am running distances or conditions where my bare feet are either not seasoned enough or the environment too harsh. +20K distances, off trail mountain running or the like are good examples.

all of the shoes above (and the ones missing) serves either purpose a or b, occasionally a pair of shoes will serve both, but rarely so. Some will claim I have too much money or a shoe fetish, but that is a story for a different day ๐Ÿ™‚

All shoes has been bought and paid for by me, no “review samples” or “loaners”, it does not make me unbiased though. In fact it makes me 100% biased towards what works on my feet.

So lets get to it and start looking at what they are all good for, if anything at all.

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KSO on winter duty

The Vibram Five Finger KSO:

The casual observer will notise they are not in the picture.

My first pair of five fingers, bought in 2008 or so and has been used for a variety of purposes, but primarily as a gym, lightweight hiking or shoe for short technical running exercises.

However it excels at pretty much anything, one of the thinnest and most flexible soles in the five finger lineup , with excellent ground feel thanks to it and a thin lightweight upper with a velcro strap closeure to sefure it, it really has very few faults if any.

The picture kind of tells the story, I have used it for lgiht technical trails, snow, ice, gravel road and stuff in between.

Paired with a thin Injinji sock it is good down to -20C if you do not stop for too long or run multiple hours.

These days it is my gym shoe when in Greenland and not much else.Other shoes have taken over for any other use.

It was however the shoe that dragged me into the five finger shoes and barefoot running thing, thus in some ways a reference shoe for me and I got essentially nothing but praise for it.

If you can only get one pair of Barefoot shoes, these ย and a thin pair of injini socks should be on your list.

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Seeyas can get dirty too ๐Ÿ™‚

The Vibram Five Finger Seeya:

Without a doubt the most perfect Five finger running shoe at least for my feet.

A soft, thin to the point of almost not being there upper, with a thin velcro strap to lock it down a bit, mine is essentially loose and never adjusted nor really doing anything useful, but it is there if needed. I especially like the super soft heel cup, msot other vibrams have way too much support and shoe in their uppers, this one while probably not to every ones liking, just have enough structure to stay on your heel, but nothing else.

The sole is unusual, a soft EVA(?) at the arch portion (middle foot) and vibram rubber pods on heel and forefoot where you have contact with the ground. The sole while curling nicely into a ball, gets a touhc stiff ย in the downwards movement of the toes, but ground feel is some of the closest to being barefoot you can get. it is a very finely tuned running sole and I adore it.

These are my preferred running shoes, I have done several half marathons in them, one of them in a blizzard, on ice and in snow. They do trails much better than most think, at least until the trails get too muddy or technical in nature.

I sincerely do not know what to criticise, could I only have on running shoes it would be a seeya

I know a lot of people like a more structured shoelike (for the lack of a better term) upper and if that is the case, then this is not a shoe for you.

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The Spyridon where it belongs

The Vibram Five Finger Spyridon:

Made specifically for trail running and functional masterpiece from Vibram. The upper is some active material that is quite tear resistant and while not water resistant or water proof in any way then it sheds water reasonably well. add a KSO like velcro strap and a serious upper is in the making.

A lot will talk about waterproof trail shoes, I am not one wanting it. I would rather have a shoe that is light breathe well and dries fast. because if you run deep snow or muddy trails, have to cross streams then you feet will get wet and your shoes will get soaked and a waterproof upper is just not optimal in such conditions.

The real magic is in the sole though. a quite hefty thread that makes for excellent grip in almost all conditions combined with a mesh just underneath the sole that helps distribute impact from sharp stones or ridges. for rough off trail terrain it is perfect. It provides a lot of ground feel, but takes care of all the stuff that would potentially hurt your feet at the same time, all in a really flexible sole. The only thing lacking in this almost perfect off trail sole is a little less grippy on steep smooth rock sections. it is probably a trade off for durability, but I have taken one slide where I would normally stay upright because the rubber did not connect well enough to grip. Now that I know I can adjust for it and it has to be very steep for it to be a problem, but it is a small thing worth mentioning.

Almost sounds too good to be true, but they are that good.

They are my go to, hiking boots and off trail running shoes. Now they can do a few miles of road if you want them to, but they are not made for it and one can feel that when running roads in them.

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The EL-X – on its first and last run

The Vibram Five Fingers EL-X:

Few shoes have had me as excited as the EL-X the promise of perhaps the most flexible and minimal Five finger yet and with a sloe with a by the look promising grip.

The first thing I did when receiving them was walking for a day or two and then give them a workout on a 12K summer run in Copenhagen

However everything that looks so great on paper, does not translate into the finished product.

The upper is made from the same superlight and flexible mesh as the seeya, but with lots of rubberband coatings to secure it. I am not sure who came up with the idea, but what a night mare, it creates a super tight fit but with plenty of pressure points and hotspots as a result.

I can go with the slightly added structure to the heel cup compared to the seeya, but why ruin this super comfy upper with rubber bands squeezing your feet.

The Sole I absolutely love though from a flexibility, grip and ground feel point of view, probably the best Five finger ย sole so far. But why they decided to go with the same narrow heel and mid foot design as the trek sole, in stead of the wider design used in the seeya, KSO and spyridon is a complete mystery to me. The end result is another series of pressure points that will create blisters on my wide feet, especially with the massive amount of rubber bands squeezing it into my feet.

I would love to see this material used in a sole design with a width like the KSO and with a seeya upper. Would be such a perfect shoe, but in the current state the EL-X is not really anything but a walkaround shoe for me, I doubt it will see that much use. which is a shame when the potential is huge.

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The Bikila LS in Barcelona

The Vibram Five Finger Bikila LS:

The Bikila LS is marketed as a running shoe, but to be quite frank I find it to be way too much shoe and too cushioned to my liking for running. Thus I do not run much in it, that said it has been a great winter boot for me.

The upper is as said very shoe like and the speed laces works a treat creating a very snug yet soft fit and you can feel the upper support and hug your feet.

The sole is fairly padded for a five finger, which may not be a bad thing, I just prefer a ride closer to the ground.

I have been wearing them as my primary casual shoe throughout the Greenlandic winter, where the very shoe like and padded upper and slightly thicker sole is great to insulate your feet that extra bit.

I have walked countless kilometres and travelled a number of countries in them, and for a casual wear five finger, they are amazing, still super comfy after 12-14 hours of walking.

They are not for warm climates though and I think they perform the best in temperatures below 5C, belwo -15C they can get a little chilly if you stand still for too long.

I am experimenting with the Seeya LS as a replacement, but will keep them at hand for winter.

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Speed after a rare case of winter duty

The Vibram Five Finger Speed:

The first five finger to have the running specific sole also found on the bikila. and the sole share the same pros and cons.

The upper I think is a love/hate thing. I have heard several refer to it as looking like a bear paw and being super ugly. Personally I think it looks nice enough. The upper is a fairly thick mesh with a classical lace closure. IT is quite supportive and there is a lot of shoe to it.

I mainly use it in the gym, where it performs very well, save for being a little warm, but I have been running in it on occasion during winter too and it does well in most common winter situations, it is not good for ย icey roads or trails though.

I have yet to encounter temperatures where running in vibrams is not viable up to a couple of hours and the speed is no exception. I would not want to run them on a hot summer day though.

If I were to find a gripe with it, save for the too padded and to shoelike thing, which I think is the intention behind the design, it would be the way they have constructed the upper, some of the seams creates hot spots and blisters if I run them barefoot for more than say an hour.

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The Gobi in action in Rome

The Vivobarefoot Gobi boot:

The Vivobarefoot Gobi is perhaps the most comfy barefoot shoe I ahve ever worn, at least of the closed toebox type.

Vivo has managed to get everything perfectly right with this shoe.

The upper is soft soft suede and really molds to the foot and ankle, the toebox is perhaps the widest I have seen and that without the boot does not look weird or “duck like”.

The sole is soft and offers great ground feel, I have walk more kilometres than I can count in these and they still look great and feel great.

If you need a short casual boot or shoe, the Vivobarefoot Gobi should top your list, barefoot enthusiast or not.

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A well worn pair of Vivobarefoot Ra

The Vivobarefoot Ra:

Well the Ra is essentially a shoe version of the Gobi, thus as you might imagine this is at least to me every bit as amazing.

My Pair is the black leather ones, bought specifically to replace the shoes I normally wear when I need to be dressed up.

I have worn them through countless of long business meetings, conference days, strolled I do not know how many kilometres while travelling, been running through airports, and other +12 hour days in them.

Albeit not being a fashion shoe, they do blend in well in the business environment and has for all, but the really dressy stuff replaced my suit and business shoes.

The best part I think is how well they age and it speaks volumes of the quality of the leather used.

I am due to the many days on the road quite tough on my footwear, but these takes it all in strides. The only thing is that I had to break mine in a bit, as the leather around the keep is a little stiff in the beginning, it quickly softens up though.

The full leather is not quite as comfy as the suede version thus not the comfiest closed toebox shoe ever, but they are without a doubt the most comfy business shoe I have worn and that by quite a margin.

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The Vivobarefoot One in Barcelona

The Vivobarefoot One:

3 years in the heads of the Vivobarefoot team before making it to to production and in my very humble opinion it should probably have stayed there a little longer.

The upper is not bad at all actually super light and super thin mesh, and a regular lacing system to close the shoe, the tip of the toebox and the heel has been reinforced with some more durable fabric and all of that is perfect. But why oh why has the mesh been reinforced with patches of stiff reflective fabric or plastic is a mystery and it totally destroys the soft flexbile upper fo me and I do not have particularly wide feet.

It is also mystery why the company that makes the Ra and Gobi (two of the most comfortable shoes ever) decides to go with such a narrow toebox, I was told that the shoe would mold and widen a bit, but it has not.

The sole is surprisingly stiff than (much more so than the Ra and Gobi) and the insole is surprisingly thick, that said it actually has a pretty good ground feel, but that narrow toebox.

I have walked a fair bit in these and been running a few laps. they are for me intolerable for running, uncomfortable does not even describe the feeling. They are tolerable for walking though and had it not been for the issue below I would have done so, when I’d needed a casual shoe with a close toebox during summer.

Now my biggest gripe is not the fit or anything else, but the fact that now a good month later, the sole and the upper has begun falling apart in several places. we are talking a 150 EUR shoe here and that is just not good enough. I will be returning them to the store next week.

Most disappointing experience.

Final words:

Two Vibram five fingers that I own has not been mentioned above, The Vibram Five Fingers XS and the Vibram Five Finger Classic. I was told long ago that if I had nothing nice to say then I should shut up and I really got nothing nice to say about them.

Add it up and it is a massive amount of shoes, I admit that, but it takes time finding the right shoe for the right application, that said the best thing really is not wearing any shoes at all. It provides the most varier running experience and a unique connection with your surrounds. It will even tell you if you are doing something wrong ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy running out there ๐Ÿ™‚