This past Friday I participated in the Jerusalem Marathon. I ran the half-marathon event.
The Jerusalem Marathon is unique in its difficulty, considering the extremely hilly topography. Despite that, I had a glorious run, with a wonderful experience, and my time was only a few minutes slower than my general half marathon goal.
What was especially interesting was shortly after the various races were finished, I saw someone walking away wearing Xero Shoes (formerly known as Invisible Shoes). The fellow was too far away for me to ask him in which race he ran, whether it was the 10km, the half marathon ro the full marathon, but he clearly had run in one of the events.
This was the first time I have seen anyone running a race in Israel wearing the Xero Shoes – the barefoot huarache sandal. I have personally worn them in runs up to about 20km, but never in a race. I myself have run 5 full marathons and many more half-marathons in other “barefoot shoes”, and I have seen the occasional other runner running races in other barefoot shoes as well, but never before have I see Xero Shoes being raced in.
Maybe by now you have heard, or even seen, that Xero Shoes (formerly known as Invisible Shoes) took its haurache sandal to Shark Tank to make a pitch and look for an investor. It did not turn out so great for Xero Shoes, as they left without an investment, and only one of the potential investors even made an offer, and a lousy one at that.
Personally, I have no idea if the company is or is not worth the amount they were asking for, but one thing was clear to me; the investors did not understand the concept. Perhaps Steve Sashen and Lena Pheonix should have taken a different approach in their pitch, but clearly the concept was not understood. Xero Shoes are more than just a piece of rubber and string – they are a simple product in a growing industry that is complex.
Xero Shoes has the benefit over all the other shoe companies in that Xero Shoes are cheap. For $20-$25 you can get your pair of barefoot running shoes, whereas buying from any of the big boys will cost you in the range of $100. It is sometimes difficult to understand how running barefoot can cost so much for shoes, but that’s the way it is.
When the investors suggested a potential problem that the big companies will undercut Xero Shoes and crush them like cockroaches, they were wrong – the big companies are already all producing minimalist and barefoot shoes, and they cost $100 or so. It is a different market. Xero Shoes is not going to put Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Brooks, Vibram, or Newtons out of business, but they will continue to be a force in the barefoot market, especially among runners who do not want to spend $100 for running barefoot.
The fact that it is just a piece of rubber and string is irrelevant. It is the concept. People are not cutting their own pieces of rubber out of old tires or whatnot, but they will be willing, they are willing, to spend $20 instead of $100.
If you have not yet seen the episode, you can watch it here (Xero Shoes comes on at about the 32 minute mark):
It is a shame Xero Shoes left Shark Tank empty-handed, but that was not because Xero Shoes is not a good company with a good product. It was because the concept was not understood, and perhaps they should have explained it better.
There has been some confusion among many people, and among some of my readers who have emailed me, and truthfully I was in a similar position. Just that it did not really bother me, so I did not take the time or make the effort to investigate and figure things out. Until now.
I was running in Invisible Shoes, and I liked them enough to let you know about them and even promote them. Suddenly the name got changed to Xero Shoes. I did not care about the change – after all, what do I care what they are called? What I did not understand all along though was why they were called “Invisible Shoes” – they were not invisible! I just figured it was a bit of a stretch, and the name was to make a point, that they are like barefoot running, they can hardly be seen because there is very little to see, and it just was not being precise.
When the company changed the name to Xero Shoes, they said the reason they did so was because people had that exact question – why were they called Invisible Shoes if they were not invisible!
I don’t know how they chose Xero Shoes as the new name, but I don’t really care. To me the name is not important. Just that they do what they are meant to do! And they do!
The [relatively] newly named Xero Shoes are just as great, and cheap, as they always were. Nothing else about them, besides for the name, was changed. They are cheap, they come with a 5000 mile warranty, anybody can use them, they have all the benefits of being barefoot and (if you run in them) barefoot running, and did I already say that they are the cheapest huarache sandal on the market! They are the cheapest barefoot running shoe on the market!
You can make the Xero Shoe customized to the shape of your foot – I did this and it is very simple to do, and you can design it and color it with colored laces and accessories however you want to, or not at all. No, I did not jazz up my Invisible Shoes, er, Xero Shoes, but if you want to, you can.
Be sure to check out Xero Shoes and get a pair. Xero Shoes are so cheap that it is so easy and affordable to even just buy a pair to try out. There is almost no financial risk!
And what is even better is that while they normally cost $24.99, the Xero Shoes are right now on sale!
Invisible Shoes‘s 3rd anniversary is coinciding, right now, with Cyber Monday (and Black Friday a few days ago).
To celebrate, Invisible Shoes is offering a great deal on their haurache sandals, both the 4mm Connect and the 6mm Contact models.
Until midnight of December 2nd, 2012, you will get 20% off your purchase of Invisible Shoes (or off the purchase of a gift certificate), as long as you use the discount code of “anniversary” when you check out. The Invisible Shoes are already so cheap, much cheaper than any other running shoes, that this should not even be necessary! Yet, they are offering this deep discount anyway, making it even that much more ridiculously cheaper for you to buy now!
Take advantage and go to the Invisible Shoes website to cash in on this great deal right away!
Feel free to email me with any questions about running in Invisible Shoes…
Marathon Season Beginning
Here in Israel marathon training season is about to begin. Summer here is too hot to have marathons, so the summer is mostly for enjoyable running rather than competitive, or for short races such as 10km races. The marathon season starts with the first in January, the second in march and the third, and last, in April. Israel is the host to three full marathons each year. With the first marathon being in January, training season begins September 1.
I have been running through most of the summer, with just short periods of non-running. I am in decent shape, but could be better, but I hope and expect to take this years marathons seriously and train well rather than haphazardly like last year. I want to run well, maybe even set a PR but that’s not something I will push for. I just want to run well.
With that being said, I have to now decide what to plan to run in this training and marathon season. All summer long I have been mixing my running between Vibram FiveFinger Bikila, the Invisible Shoe and the Vibram FiveFinger SeeYa.
They are all great shoes for the minimalist runner, and all are very similar. yes, even the Invisible Shoe is very similar to the Vibrams, in a sense. The minimalist experience in each of these is great, while each might have a specific benefit over the others.
Benefits of Bikila, Invisible Shoe, SeeYa
For example, I would say:
the benefit of the Vibram SeeYa over the Bikila and the Invisible Shoe is that it covers the entire foot while remaining super-light and ultra-minimalist.
the benefit of the Invisible Shoe over the Bikila and the Seeya is how cheap it is compared to the Vibram models, while at the same time offering the same minimalist protection to the soles.
the benefit of the Vibram Bikila over the SeeYa and the Invisible Shoe is the durability and fit while providing great minimalist running.
Bikila vs Invisible Shoe vs Seeya
My choice is a difficult one, but I think in the Bikila vs Invisible Shoe vs SeeYa debate I am going to plan to continue running my marathons in the Vibram Bikila. As great as the others are, and as much as I like the other benefits, there is some comfort in running with the shoe that just feels the best, and the Bikila just feels so much better on my feet than the others do. Others might decide differently, and as they say, your mileage might vary, but for me the Bikila just feels the best. I might continue switching between Bikila and Seeya, but Bikila will be my main running shoe for this marathon season.
One thing I have found frustrating with Vibram FiveFinger shoes is that they are almost never on sale, and when they are on sale it is an old model that they are clearly just trying to get rid of. Vibram seems to have very good control over the pricing among the retailers.
The models I buy for running run between $90 (for the Vibram Bikila) and $120 (for the Spyridon LS), with a couple models in between. It is frustrating because it is fairly expensive, even though I can use them for a long time. Yet still, it is plopping down $100. And there is the sense that you are paying almost like for a regular running shoe but “getting less” in a way.
So it gets frustrating knowing that Vibram FiveFingers are rarely on sale.
That is why when I just found a shop selling Vibram FiveFinger Bikilas on sale I just figured I had to tell you. I ordered a pair right away. The only pair they have on sale is the Royal Blue-Black-Gray model, but I figure to save $30, that’s 34% off the normal price!, I will care less about the color this time.
So, take advantage of this sale while supplies last and head on over to REI to buy your Vibram FiveFinger Bikila barefoot running shoes at a great price! I did see some other shoes on sale as well, another model of Vibram, a Merrell and maybe others, but I got excited about seeing the Bikila on sale.
And no matter how much I like the other models, the Bikila is still my favorite for running.
In my post reviewing the Vibram SEEYA barefoot running shoe, I compared the SEEYA vs Vibram Bikila. I did so, because I was comparing the two Vibram shoes, and they are pretty similar.
In the past I have compared the Vibram Bikila to the Invisible Shoe haurache sandal.
I now realize that the truer comparison would really be between the Vibram SEEYA vs the Invisible Shoe. The two are more similar to each other than the Bikila is with the Invisible Shoe, because of the minimized structure of the SEEYA.
I have now completed and posted my review of the Vibram FiveFinger SEEYA barefoot running shoe.
In the review post I compare the SEEYA with Vibram’s king of running shoe, the Bikila running shoe.
You definitely want to read the review before selecting a model.
I just added to my barefoot shoe running reviews my latest review! I just reviewed my brand new Vibram FiveFinger Spyridon LS Trail Running Shoe.
Check it out!
After running a marathon, one can act in two different ways. One can either keep running as if nothing happened, or one can get into a rut and stop running. After the various marathons that I have run, I have experienced personally both reactions. After my last marathon in January, I fell into a rut. I could not get myself out to run. I found every excuse in the book why I was not able to go out for a run. A month went by, literally, with me running only once. And despite telling myself regularly that I have to get out for a run, that I feel I need it, that i am gaining weight, that I am turning to jelly, etc. I still could not get myself out. The bad weather did not help, but that was really just an excuse. there is no shortage of excuses when one is looking for them.
Finally today I got out with a friend for a 10km run. It was greatly needed and felt great. However, not only was this, hopefully, a break from my sluggish routine, but it was also my first opportunity to try running in my Invisible Shoes instead of in my Vibrams FiveFingers.
I am not yet going to compare the running between Invisible Shoes and Vibram FiveFingers, though my initial reaction is that they are very similar.
I bought my Invisible Shoes haurache sandals a little while back, before my marathon in January, but decided not to start running with them at that point. After all, one does not change his running shoes so close to the marathon after training with one model. So, they have been sitting on my shelf pestering me to wear them. Finally I did today.
I must say there were four things I was unsure about, even skeptical perhaps:
- the knot underneath the sole. I was pretty sure that would bother me.
- the toe floss - thinking it would irritate my toes
- that my toes would run over the edge of the sole and get all scraped up
- that the lace would be uncomfortable in general