Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Interview with the New Balance Minimus' Brand Manager

They are going in the right direction...

Vibram's Plans for World Domination

The picture is becoming clear. 

You've got to remember: Vibram is in the business of selling soles to shoe manufacturers.  Vibram FiveFingers were a little sideline for them, an experiment, that took off beyond their wildest dreams.

Apparently Wolverine (the company that makes Merrell boots and shoes) is one of their bigger customers. The new Merrell Barefoot line of shoes is being comarketed with Vibrams.

My local outdoor store said Vibram and Merrell are coming together next week to show the new lines: FiveFingers and Barefoot, side by side. A complete solution.

You want toes? Vibram Fivefingers. You want barefoot-style shoes without toes? Merrell Barefoot, with a Vibram sole.

NB Minimus
And now, the last piece of the plan: You want something a little more traditional? New Balance Minimus, with a Vibram sole, and Tony Krupicka's smiling face.

Vibram offered the five finger concept as a sole to all of their existing customers (the shoe manufacturers) and they all turned it down. That freed up Vibram to create it. They won't compete against their shoe manufacturer customers, however, so all the "shoe" versions of Vibram's concept are going to come from traditional shoe makers.

Vibram clearly can't meet the manufacturing requirement for these kinds of shoes.  They're trying hard, but you can only ramp up so fast. Wolverine and New Balance already have the capacity, on the other hand. It's pretty brilliant, I think. A nice win-win situation.
What will be interesting to see is how Vibram will respond to this.  It's pretty clearly a patent violation, IMHO.

UPDATE: Follow-ups here and here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Runblogger Hits The Big Time

An Evolutionary Runner

Ibuprofen and Running

Wow, pretty fascinating article.  I don't use ibuprofen, and certainly not when exercising.  After reading this, I will continue that policy.

Low-fat diet with lots of fruits, veggies, and grains

CONCLUSIONS: Over a mean of 8.1 years, a dietary intervention that reduced total fat intake and increased intakes of vegetables, fruits, and grains did not significantly reduce the risk of [Coronary Heart Disease], stroke, or [Cardio-Vascular Disease] in postmenopausal women and achieved only modest effects on CVD risk factors, suggesting that more focused diet and lifestyle interventions may be needed to improve risk factors and reduce CVD risk.
"More focused"?  What does that mean?  Shouldn't they recognize that this approach simply does not work

Trying the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome is a definition of insanity...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It Can Be Dramatic...

From BFT's group today:

You influential bastards! I was very happy on my 75% wheat-based carb diet (well, I was happy about 75% of the time). After a combination of lurking through all the paleo discussions here, reading the links Tuck et. al. have posted, and a recommendation by my Crossfit trainer, i decided to give up wheat and refined sugar-based foods. I really didn't notice a difference... until I ate some cake a week ago. The behavioral change was striking. Within 30 minutes, I felt depressed and extraordinarily irritable. Being the skeptic I am, I wrote it off as a fluke. Then I ate some chocolate chip-laden trail mix without realizing it contained the chocolate. Same deal... depression and irritability within about 30 minutes.

Those two data points have convinced me to experiment further. I'll be spending the next few months systematically testing a variety of foods. The real question... how will my new diet affect distance running?
UPDATE: Jason posted more about it here.

New Blog I'll Be Following...

Health Correlator.  He did some interesting analysis of the China study data after Denise Minger pointed out to everyone that it was publicly available.

He's got a very interesting post on how he lost 60 lbs.  If you're doing it right, and you're patient, it's not hard.

I Eat Meat Now

When the facts change, I change my mind.  What do you do, Sir?  --John Maynard Keynes*

* I am not a fan of Keynes, but it's a great quote.

Dr. Michael Eades on The China Study and the China study.

I started this blog after Denise Minger lobbed her grenade, but this is a great way to get up to speed on this controversy. 

The China Study vs the China study

Miss Minger is in the comments as well.

My New Feet

I'm not one of these people who have memories of running around barefoot as a kid. My parents never let me.

So this whole barefooting thing is about as unlikely a scenario for me as for anyone on the planet.

I also always thought feet were pretty unsightly things, best to be hidden away.

So you can imagine what a shock the last six months have been to me.

I've discovered what my feet are for. And it's pretty cool. Six months later and I still feel like I've gotten a new toy.

My feet have developed. They're wider, stronger, they've developed massive vascularity now. My wife pointed this out to me one evening (now that I'm in the habit of walking around barefoot). "My God", she said, "look at your feet!"

Tonight in the gym I was able to jump backwards onto a bosu ball, something I was advised not to try. It wasn't a problem, because I've learned to trust my feet. In Vibrams, they're able to feel the ball and adjust to land gently. My trainer commented on how folks in sneakers couldn't do that, their feet had no feedback. Fortunately, he grew up in Ghama, in Africa, where barefooting is unremarkable.

He's a huge supporter of this experiment.

So forty plus years into my life, I've discovered my feet. They're great things. I can't wait for the spring so I can kick off the Vibrams and really start barefooting.

Note: I posted this on January 20 in BFT's group.  Replies at the link.

Terry the Tortoise and the Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200

Great review, in both senses.  He's got a race report as well.

This is a very exciting new shoe.

Experts wrong again...

The numbers don't lie: two weeks ago, skimmers picked up about 25,000 barrels of oily water. Last Thursday, they gathered just 200 barrels.

Still, it doesn't mean that all the oil that gushed for weeks is gone. Thousands of small oil patches remain below the surface, but experts say an astonishing amount has disappeared, reabsorbed into the environment.

"[It's] mother nature doing her job," said Ed Overton, a professor of environmental studies at Louisiana State University.

(Via Instapundit)

Grandfather’s Rules for Safe Milk

When his last sister was 5, Grandfather sold his dairy farm, and moved on. He started a number of businesses, every one of which was successful. He even prospered during the Great Depression. He became wealthy, and retired at age 40. But money was not everything. He told my father that the best time of his life was when he had the dairy, and was getting up at 3:00 each morning to milk the cows. My father was surprised, and asked why. Grandfather said that making good milk that made children grow up strong and healthy was the best thing he ever did, and he should never have done anything else.
What a great story.  Read the whole thing.

UDPATE: This is by the same Stanley Fishman as the earlier post, btw.  Entirely by coincidence; it's not Stanley Fishman day.

Article: Running Barefoot Becomes Increasingly Popular

Hartford Courant.  It's great that they mention Charlie Robbins.

The Magic of Steak and Eggs

Makes your mouth water.  Fishman really does have a way of describing food.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Vibrams

Via Birthday Shoes.

The Elderly and Bare Feet

Someone on BFT's Group asked about an "Article on bare feet helping the elderly?", and Laskey posted this:
This study seems to say the opposite
"Going barefoot in the home, or wearing slippers or socks with no shoes, may contribute to falls among the elderly, according to a new study from the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife"
Maybe going barefoot might be good for other reasons, but it seems maybe a smooth foot, or socks will lead to a greater chance of slipping and falling. VFFs then?
I replied:

That study doesn't tell you much, actually.
What would be useful to know is not what percentage of people were in their bare feet when they fell, it would be the inverse, what percentage of people who fell were in their bare feet.
So if 18% of people were in their bare feet, but they had 14% of falls, then there's an advantage to being in your bare feet, or the reverse could be true.
"Recommendations such as wearing well-fitting, low-heeled shoes with slip-resistant soles seem sensible," says Dr. Hannan, "but there is only limited data to support this advice."
In other words, "We think we know what we're talking about, but we have no proof." So to be safe, ignore them until they have proof.
Now, there are certain situations where barefoot is not best, primarily peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the feet, for instance), which is common in diabetes, which is common in older people, unfortunately.  (Especially common in older people who follow the medical profession's dietary advice.)  Also people with weak feet from wearing shoes may have difficulty transitioning, especially if they have balance issues in addition.

But that said, this study seems to be a glaring example of a medical "conclusion" in search of proof. 

Since pediatricians all recommend that children need to go barefoot for proper foot and leg development, I would like to hear a doctor give a clear-cut explanation of at what age all of our feet suddenly become incapable of supporting us, as they clearly evolved to do.

Many podiatrists would have us believe that once we leave the pediatricians' care, we must slap our feet into shoes and orthotics for the rest of our lives, and now the gerontologists would have us catch those few elderly rebels who have escaped the podiatrists' clutches and finally stuff their wriggling feet in shoes for the few sunset years of their lives.

A pretty grim prospect, if you ask me.

Given the above caveat, I think this "research" is ridiculous on its face.

Oh, I should have mentioned:

The study, which will [sic] be published in the summer issue of the journal Footwear Science.

No conflicts of interest here.  Please move along.

It's for your own protection, Ma'am.

"I still can't believe they took our yogurt," said Rawesome volunteer Sea J. Jones, a few days after the raid. "There's a medical marijuana shop a couple miles away, and they're raiding us because we're selling raw dairy products?"

Cartons of raw goat and cow milk and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese were among the groceries seized in the June 30 raid by federal, state and local authorities — the latest salvo in the heated food fight over what people can put in their mouths.,0,4951907.story?page=1
(via the Weston A. Price Foundation's Facebook page)

Stupid Google Tricks

So Google Reader (a fine product, generally) allows you to share items that you receive via a RSS feed.  This is a neat feature, and one I really appreciate.  (See "Shared Web Pages" in my list of Links to the right (hopefully) on this blog.)

Now the folks at GR offer a little snippet of code that promises to allow you to share webpages that you browse independently of your RSS feed.  Cool!  So I copy the snippet into IE, so I can use this feature, and I receive a warning about it not being safe code.  That's not promising.

Then I actually try to use it, and get the following:

Grrr! A popup blocker may be preventing Google Reader from opening the page. If you have a popup blocker try disabling it to open the window.
Darn it.  I'm using IE's popup blocker, not Google's.  Annoying, but OK.  So I switch to Google's popup blocker.  Same error.  The feature really only works when you've disabled your popup blocker. 

They've got to be kidding, right?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Climate Change and Consensus

The next time you hear that "scientists" all support the theory of Global Warming, remember this:

Seven Eminent Physicists Skeptical of AGW

Do toning shoes work?

No, duh.  It's good to see someone debunking this stuff for a change, however.

Running barefoot or in Vibrams is, in my experience, awesome core and leg training.  Not surprisingly, given this is how we were designed.  Just ask the Kenyans...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tubers and Evolution

Stephen Guyenet, whose blog Whole Health Source you'll note is in my blog roll, has been very active in discussions about ancestral diets.  His blog introduced my to the whole topic, or, I should say, inspired me to pay attention to it.

One of his favorite topics is carbohydrates and their role in the diet.  He's of the opinion that many grains, unless properly prepared, are quite harmful  to humans, as are, to a lesser extent, tubers (potatoes and yams and the like).

But he parts from many other advocates of ancestral diets on low-carbohydrate diets.  He notes they work for many people, but also observes that healthy groups eat lots of carbs, and don't suffer the ill effects that most do.

...The Kitavans, for example, don't seem to have heart attacks or strokes (although no autopsies have been done so we don't know how much atherosclerosis they have).

They get 69% of their calories from high-glycemic starchy tubers, and their 21% fat comes mostly from coconut so it's highly saturated....
(The Diet-Heart Hypothesis: Oxidized LDL, Part II)
The paleo diet (small caps, to differentiate it from the book of the same name), suggests that many of the foods we eat are problematic for us because we are only recently evolved to eat them.  Milk is the most commonly cited example, but there are others.
From what I've read of Stephan's writings, he agrees with a good bit of the premise of the paleo diet, but...
We part ways on the issue of carbohydrate. [Mark Sisson] suggests that eating more than 150 grams of carbohydrate per day leads to fat gain and disease, whereas I feel that position is untenable in light of what we know of non-industrial cultures (including some relatively high-carbohydrate hunter-gatherers). Although carbohydrate restriction (or at least wheat and sugar restriction) does have its place in treating obesity and metabolic dysfunction in modern populations, ultimately I don't think it's necessary for the prevention of those same problems, and it can even be counterproductive in some cases. Mark does acknowledge that refined carbohydrates are the main culprits.
(Book Review: The Primal Blueprint)
I don't know enough about the topic to have an opinion one way or another.  Since I've found that I do better on a low-carb diet, and carbs tend to make me feel poorly (which may simply be a sign of a metabolism damaged by other factors), I avoid them, but I've filed this little unresolved dispute away in the back of my brain.

Gary K in BFT's list brought my attention to this NY Times article.  It's about developments in our understanding of recent human evolution.  They apparently have a way, not well described in the article, of determining which bits of the human genome are of recent vintage.  I found this part quite interesting, in light of the above:

She found particularly strong signals of selection in populations that live in polar regions, in people who live by foraging, and in people whose diets are rich in roots and tubers. In Eskimo populations, there are signals of selection in genes that help people adapt to cold. Among primitive farming tribes, big eaters of tubers, which contain little folic acid, selection has shaped the genes involved in synthesizing folic acid in the body, Dr. Di Rienzo and colleagues reported in May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This suggests, but does not prove, that people who eat tubers may be evolving into that role, just as those who eat cow's milk are evolving into that role.  And, just as many people without the proper genome don't do well eating cow's milk, so they may have problems with high-carbohydrate diets.  Or it may be the other factors that are causing the problem. 

What I do find interesting is that Di Rienzo does not mention genetic activity in those eating grains, or agricultural diets.  Does that indicate that the adaptations to eating milk and tubers are older, and have had more time to work on the genome?

Unfortunately we still don't know, but it's an interesting data point to file away.  But it does suggest that if you don't do well on a high-carb diet, you'd be well advised to listen to your body and eat in a manner that keeps it healthy.

You know...

If this keeps up, they'll be telling us what we can eat and to wear our shoes....

New Balance Minimus?

New Balance Minimus?

Thanks to Pete.

It's the New Balance Luna Racer, more like it.  It's progress, I suppose.

I don't think this is a picture, btw.  I think it's a CAD rendering.

What a run...

Jurek and Krupicka at Long's Peak

Mountain Bike Cross-training

Went mountain biking with a friend at Trout Brook this morning.  Mountain biking may be the perfect sport to cross-train with barefoot-style running.  I've found that running in Vibrams makes me better, more fit, and develops my reflexes for mountain biking, even if I don't do any mountain biking.

I can get on my bike after a few month off, and it's like I hadn't missed a day.

Mountain biking, on the other hand, works the hamstrings hard, which hopefully will help me in my speed work.

The nice thing is you can do both on the exact same trails, and it's a completely different experience.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Barefoot Meetup in Colorado Springs

I'm going to be in Colorado Springs on August 7, and Harry came up with the brilliant idea of meeting up and doing a 5k race.

As it happens, there's a race called the Run for Rwanda, which is run in conjunction with a race in Rwanda, and the proceeds go to benefit a health center in a town in Rwanda.

Overview and race details.

The race does have a barefoot category, BTW. I don't know that I'm going to be up to that challenge, and I don't know if Harry will be able to turn off the killer instinct and go barefoot, but perhaps someone else can take the prize. ;)

I live a few hundred feet above sea level, so this race is likely to be the end of me. :)

I look forward to meeting any barefoot/minimalist runners in the area.

Speed Work

I went down to the gym and spent a little time on the treadmill.  A very little time.  But I did my first run in my Vibram Speeds.

They're extremely nice to run in.  I think the nicest Vibram for running so far.  Nicer than the KSO or the Bikila.

My goal for my speed work is to win a 5k for my age group next year.  The fellow who won the age group under mine this year ran 6-minute miles in KSOs.

So, taking Gordon Pirie's advice, I'm first trying to progress up to running my target speed, and then trying to extend that speed to the target distance.  I did this a few years ago with some success, but was sand-bagged by surgery and plantar warts, and training hit the wall.

Hopefully it will go more smoothly this time, and even though I'm no longer being chased by a man with a knife, I feel pretty motivated.

Bacteria in your gut can cause Multiple Sclerosis?

Apparently so.


She turned the page...

Runblogger on Nike's Minimalist Shoe plans

"What is Nike Doing?: Speculating on a Shoe Market in Motion"

I agree with Pete's take on this.  I am in no way a fan of Nike's products, in fact I avoid them like the plague.  However they deserve an enormous amount of credit for the research they are doing and supporting.  They are probably having more impact in moving the running industry in the direction of barefoot-style shoes than any other company (Vibram included).

The BJSM study Pete mentions isn't even the most radical bit of science Nike's supported.

A relevant question therefore is: is the Western foot, used in most studies, not ‘natural’ any more, and is our current knowledge of foot biomechanics clouded by the effects of footwear – in other words, are we studying ‘deformed’, but not biologically ‘normal’ feet?
The effects of habitual footwear use: foot shape and function in native barefoot walkers (link to PDF of the full text)

The authors hedge their conclusion, but the implications of this study are quite clear.  Nike liked it:

Winner of the Nike Award for Athletic Footwear Research presented at the IXth Footwear Biomechanics Symposium in South Africa, 2009.

Why Yell "Stop"?

A year ago, I clicked on a link in an ad in Google Reader.  The link took me to this video.

At the end of the video, Christopher McDougall puts on a pair of Vibram FiveFinger Sprints.  I'd bought a pair of these two years before, but had largely given up wearing them.  The fact that someone who wore these had written a book about running piqued my interest, so I ordered the book Born to Run, read it in one sitting, and had my mind blown.  The next night I read this book again.  I can't remember the last time I'd read a book two times in a row.  The premise that McDougall presents in that book is, simply put, incredible.  The next day, I got my Sprints back out of the closet, and started hiking and running in them again.  And I started reading, trying to find out if McDougall's hypothesis, while incredible, might actually be true.

McDougall's premise, writ large, is that we've been misled by Progress.  We've trusted in Scientific Authority, and they've taken us down the wrong path, a path that is not only making us less happy, but is actually injuring us and our children.  McDougall's premise in Born to Run is limited to the world of running shoes, but over the last year I've learned that the same premise applies in other important areas of our lives.  Areas in which I'd assumed the scientific and commercial establishments could be trusted, only to find out over the last year that they could not.  On a number of fronts we've been led down the wrong path, in the wrong direction, and it's having an enormous negative impact on our health.  My goal is to present information that will allow you to Yell Stop, and head in a better direction.

I started this blog to share some of the enormous amount of research and reading I've done over the last year.  A good quantity of it has been shared already on Barefoot Ted's (one of the characters from Born to Run ) Minimalist Running email group, and can be found here.  Unfortunately the search interface is horrible; which is odd, as it's a Google Group, but there you go.

I'll be reposting and updating some of that material, and adding new stuff as I go along.  Welcome.