|Smiling after the 8km off-road run|
I've had the Invisible Shoes just over a week and have run 120KM in them over the last 7 days. This includes a 25km and a 33km run and a 5km race along with my regular commute runs.
Note: regular readers will know I'm a barefoot (skin on ground) runner most of the time and wear huaraches of surf socks the rest of the time, so I skipped transitioning etc. I also carried my regular surf socks along with me for the first few runs. PLEASE read the transition notes that come with the Invisible Shoes.
The Invisible Shoes kit is comprised of 2 soles, 2 long laces, some printed instructions and guide and a lacing aid. The two holes at the rear of the soles are pre-punched leaving only the front hole to be punched to make it a custom fit. This is a 2 minutes job if you have a leather punch, or mark it and take to your shoe repair store. In common with all huaraches the integrity of the holes are key to long life of the sole - a good clean hole is a must.
The lugs on the rear holes are noteworthy. I've found these both allow a small comfortable gap right where the twists of most lacing techniques are. This adds great comfort. So far I see no wear on the laces at the rear of the shoes, so the lugs appear to do an impressive job of keeping the laces mostly away from the ground. This area is also slightly thicker than the rest of the material making them appear reassuringly strong.
The sole was just the right size for my wide feet, so though the soles can be trimmed if needed I left mine alone.
An effective tread pattern feels secure on all the surfaces I've come across and after 120km of running carry no scars as yet, signs are these Invisible Shoes will last a long time. The underside carries an Invisible Shoes imprint along with a small marque on the footbed. These features really aid the impression these are 'real' shoes and not homebrew Huaraches.
The front of the sole appears to slope upwards the tiniest amount which I believe has prevented the 'wrap under' I've occasionally experienced with my Vibram Cherry Huaraches. Though there is some shaping to the footbed there are no support features which makes this runner very happy!
|Note: prior to trimming the laces hence extra 'loop'|
I opted for the slip-on tying method demonstrated on the site. I have probably adjusted the lacing maybe twice in the 120km of running I have done in them over the last 7 days.
Prior to the longer runs I've simply undone the top loop and tightened up the lacing slightly for a more snug fit. The lacing method along with the lugs for the rear lacing makes a comfortable fit and I've not felt or been irritated by the toe string despite my apprehension of a non-leather lace.
Compared to my Vibrams the Invisible Shoes are much quieter in use and don't appear to suffer the same 'sag' in the arch areas as the Vibrams. I do find they 'slap' some when running downhill, but that is an area of my running technique I'm working on with or without shoes, so the Invisible Shoes will still give you some audible feedback when you start getting careless!
I'll go all out here and say in terms of ground feedback I don't expect another shoe to match the Invisible Shoe. Whilst taking away the 'ouch' of most things you will come across you definitely still have to run as a Barefooter. Hit the big stone and you will feel it, sharp gravel in particular still gives you feedback to allow you to respond to the surface.
I think this is achieved with the Invisible Shoes by the slightly springy material which allow ground imperfections to be felt on the top side of the sole. Vibram Cherry in comparison is rock hard and tends to deflect and 'bridge' imperfections without transferring any feeling to the top side of the sole.
On the longer runs I have been left with black feet from the material, I'm hoping this is just 'new shoe' related and it soon washes away anyhow.
I can't keep these things off my feet since trying the Invisible Shoes for the first time. I am loving the fact I'm getting as close to authentic barefoot feel I feel is possible currently and avoiding some of the barefoot hassles of urban running - you know trying to scan for traffic and the road surface at the same time at intersections, or ducking out of the way of the cyclist who just came round the corner.
I have a hilly, very rocky and mountain bike rutted off-road event coming up in a couple of weeks, so I'll report back my experiences from that.