Sunday, November 21, 2010

Guess what I got to race in??

No no, no cool Ironman or anything like that, just a 5k, but that's not the super cool part.  The race was fun and all, I got to run at my old high school, but I got to race IN the Altra Intuition road shoe!!  These aren't available to the public yet, but will be soon!  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before, but my husband is 1 of 3 co-founders of Altra Running, a high energy innovative thinking company creating new and unique and awesome running shoes!
There are plenty of running shoe manufacturers you might say, why one more, how are they any different?  Their concept lies in 4 key things
  • Foot shaped design - last time I checked my feet and toes weren't pointed in the middle like most running shoes.  Altra's shoes are rounded toes, wide in the toe box allowing the toes to spread out while running.  Try running barefoot on a soft surface sometime, or heck just stand barefoot on the ground.  Your toes will naturally spread out a little.  Altra's shoes make that possible, allowing you a bigger more powerful platform (your wide toes) to push off from.
  • Zero drop - meaning zero hight deviation between the front of the shoe and the back, no chunky heel.  It does not mean NO material/cushion (the term cushion is very misused/misunderstood) under your foot, it simply means a flat natural surface to work off of.  No one's heel is raised off the ground when barefoot.  A large heel grabs the ground first, and a heel strike equals more impact and less efficient running, you're basically putting the brakes on.  You should try running in these, or just barefoot, it is so much easier to land on your mid foot underneath you, it's lovely
  • Gender specific shoes - Here's my favorite term ever - 'Pink it and shrink it'.  That's what every other running shoe does for their women's line.  Add some pink and make the shoe narrower.  Last time I checked my feet were not the same shape as my husbands.  Women's feet are anatomically different in their bone structure.  So these guys at Altra made a true female specific last (or model for what the sole of the shoe is made from).  I can attest it really is different, and great!
  • Learn To Run Initiative - Altra has a motto: Learn to Run, Live to Run, Love to Run.  Part of that is running with good form.  Not only will it make you faster and reduce your chances at injury, but it will make running more enjoyable!  So many people start and stop or never even start running because they don't understand how, it doesn't feel good, it's hard, I can't run.  Not true!  With some form guidance and the knowledge that you have to start out slowly, anyone can run if they want to.  You can read more about it here.  There are 4 simple steps to good form, it's worth your time.  Altra isn't just in this to sell shoes, their mission is to improve your running experience.
So anyway, the shoes are set to release to specialty running stores (contact yours and tell them you want Altra!) and online probably too, by April 1st (maybe Feb/March for the road shoe, Instinct and Intuition), but the boys just got back from the biggest running retailer expo in the country, The Running Event, in Austin, TX this week, and of course they needed demo shoes to show to the world.  Well after being rushed from the factory overseas, a couple came home with us and I get to wear the Intuition around for a while.  Yay!  It's been a long hard road getting this far so it's great to hold the real thing in your hand.  And it's almost time for everyone else to be able to too!

One quick note I thought I'd make, I mentioned barefoot running a lot in the 4 points above.  When people say barefoot running, they don't usually mean truly bare feet.  Yes some people do run many miles that way, and no they aren't tribal.  Barefoot Running usually means natural running by wearing minimalist shoes or simply running barefoot some of the time.  The misconception starts when people think they're supposed to throw their shoes away and never use them again.  Well yeah, that might make some people question the validity and safety of this barefoot movement going on.  This isn't the case though!  Barefoot running is meant as a drill, a strength tool, strength training for your feet if you will.  By taking your shoes off once a week and running on a soft surface for 30seconds-30 minutes you will improve your running.  Your feet will get stronger, joints more resistant to injury, and you'll teach your body better form.  It's much harder to reach way out in front of you and heel strike barefoot.  Most people land closer under their body and take faster shorter strides when barefoot.  So for the beginner barefooter, seriously, start at 30 seconds one day a week and don't run fast, just a easy to doable pace.  The next week add 30 seconds or a minute working your way up to maybe a mile or two after several weeks.  That's a great distance, you don't really need to go past it.  You must start gradually though as our feet are very babied and weakened by traditional shoes.  Those arch supports?  A crutch for most people.  Barefoot running will strengthen your arches.  I am not a wing nut barefoot proponent.  I'm a proponent for strong feet and joints and proper form, and incorporating a few minutes of running barefoot on a soft surface will help you achieve that.
Checking out the shoes pre-race  :)

And just like barefoot running, when the Altra Running shoes do come out, you'll start gradually with them, and there will be guidelines in the box telling you that.  Most shoes don't expect as much out of your feet or legs, and the positive change in form that will happen with a zero drop shoe will take time for your muscles to adjust to.  I've been running in modified zero drop shoes for about a year now.  We take regular running shoes into a cobbler, or shoe-smith if you will, and they cut out a section of the heel, glue it back together so we can have a closer attempt at zero drop, but the real thing?  Oooh baby it's nice!  I was 'blessed' with bunions (bony protrusion by my big toe) on both feet and they make finding any kind of shoe a challenge.  The Intuition felt so great, in fact, I could hardly feel them at all.  The shoe wraps around your heel and ankle so well and feels very secure.  I am so excited that these are finally becoming public, they sincerely are great shoes!  And they're not only for the elite runner or the extremest.  They will make anyone's running a better experience.  I'll keep you updated as the release dates approach, but you can also visit their website or Facebook page (lots of new shoe pics on Facebook too).

No new PR, I took 3rd overall, but just the chance to get out and be with my family, run fast and run in some great shoes made for a great Saturday morning for me!
Running on my old stomping grounds with 2 of my babies after the race


Sara said...

Leslie, the shoes sound great. Glad you had fun, and I'm excited for your husband's venture.

Jarvis Family said...

Hey, I have not even commented! I love the shoes. Although I like Eve's a lot better. Just the way they look. And def. want to get myself a pair. But Karl says I have to wait until April. Bummer! Glad to see your still racing... I have not done any race since BAM. Can you believe it? I am just bottling all that racing excitement for next year... :-) Hope you are well and had a great Thanksgiving! Yay for your sister running her first race! Way to go!

Nurse Heidi said...

I am really interested to try these. With my latest round of new shoes, I stuck with the same thing I've been running in for a while...but since I've focused on changing my gait, I noticed that the inserts that I've used for the last two years bug big time instead of feeling like necessary support. Once the Altra shoes are released for general public consumption, I'll give them a try - I suspect my gait will improve even more.

Chris said...

The Altra's sound like they're going to be a great shoe. I look forward to seeing them in shores in my neck of the woods!