Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teva Protons 4 review...minimal shoe running is not barefoot.

I have been worried for months now as to what I will do when the temperatures drop and I am no longer able to run outside barefoot. Will my feet keep their toughness or will I have to build it up again in the spring.
I have been barefoot running since June so about 5 and a half months and gradually have found shoes of any kind, even my flip flops, to be very uncomfortable. I find the squeezing of my feet and the toe rubbage to be almost intolerable and have taken them off and felt immediate relief from pain after walking with the family.

 I thought that the solution would be first to buy a minimalist shoe for winter running and then that idea turned into finding a shoe that would also suit me for walking with the fam.  I found the Vibram Five Fingers ,although very cool looking and loved by many, to be too expensive of a gamble since I had an inkling that any shoe I chose would not be perfect and always pale in comparison to my bare feet.

A friend on Runners World Barefoot forum posted a link to a website selling Teva Proton 4 water shoes that were on sale. Water shoes are light weight, no support or cushioning and if you can get them with a large enough toe box, fairly comfortable. Much like a Vibrams one finger would be.
I shopped and shopped and finally decided to get these.  I did not however try any of Jaymons suggestions to come up with an elegant solution of my own but caved and bought mine. I have stressed about that many times considering I have a limited running fund and shoe buying online is a huge gamble and felt sort of like a sellout since I know that for me shoes are just not an option anymore. My feet have changed. My mind has changed and there is no going back. Minimal shoes ARE NOT LIKE BAREFOOT as I hoped they would be........I digress.

The shoes.
I first ordered a size too small and had to eat shipping costs to get the larger size. They were too short.
I knew when I ordered them that it would be a gamble and I would probably have to send them back but decided that I didn't want to always wonder about the smaller size if I ordered the larger one first.

I am a half size so it lowers the odds of getting something that fits when they are only offered in whole sizes. I also have huge feet and often feel like Peggy Hill!
  I took them out for a spin  and had a pretty miserable run. Shoes suck. These were tolerable as shoes go. They are wide enough and stretchy enough to accommodate my foot and my toes did not rub at the end.

The tight grip at the ankle will be something to get used to but I very much doubt that anything will get into the shoe when running either.

Flexible and thin, the Protons had no problem being rolled into a ball however the weight was enough to throw off my form. They have a nice grippy sole that will suite me well in the Living History Farms Race next weekend. Its an XC race with many creek crossings and off road fun.

Overall, I got lucky and they will be a nice alternative to regular trainers and I do not think that they will bring back the lower back pain and heel striking that used to leave me feeling beat up and old after a run.

 I did find that I reverted to a heel strike during the first mile or so but was not surprised and corrected it easily. I felt tired and not as happy as I do on a barefoot run which I did not anticipate being as profound as it was. I had to concentrate on my form and it was much harder to relax.

Since I had to eat a second shipping cost they ended up being $40 and some change. This is half the price of Vibrams Five Fingers so I think they will be an ok alternative for when I need them and I have more money to spend on races!! I am also looking forward to long walks with the family checking out our fine city without pain.

Here is the link to the Living History Farms Race next weekend!  I am very excited about it! I would really like to run it in an hour or less but being that it will be my first time running it, I will use it as a baseline and try to beat it next year!
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I provide Bradley Method childbirth education, doula, belly casting, placenta encapsulation, and post partum doula services.
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