Second Wind

Second Wind
"Run With Purpose!"

Friday, September 20, 2013

TUNEfootwear: company and product review (Minimalist dress shoes!)

Today we have a company (and a shoe!) that I am pretty excited about. 
The company was founded by a normal 9-5 guy named Mike Norris who, like most of us, tried minimalist shoes and never looked back.  His problem?  Again, same as a lot of us, he was required to wear business dress shoes for work and “everyday felt like I was banging my head against the wall because I was wearing these shoes that were killing my feet!”  Where Mike is Not like most of us, he decided to do something about it and in 2011 launched the beginnings of TUNEfootwear

Currently, TUNEfootwear is using indiegogo to raise funds to get their shoes to the masses (tradeshows, etc.) so be sure to check out their video and their story here!

Introducing the TUNEfootwear Ornament

For all of us who have searched the world over for a minimalist dress shoe, who have scoured racks at cheap shoe stores trying to find something with no heal, who have given up and worn solid black Puma athletic shoes with pinstripe dress pants (yep… guilty)…. Search no more.

A little background:   Everything I wear is zero drop, everything, all the time.  Running shoes, workout shoes, casual shoes, hiking boots, trail running shoes, going to the grocery store shoes, everything.  So dress shoes… sucked.  For Brown I had to wear VivobarefootDharma (“but those aren’t dress shoes” I know.  You’re right.)  and for black, I literally wore a pair of Puma all black all leather athletic shoes (and tried to never need black dress shoes…).  For casual, I’d wear boots, all the time (because I did finally find a few pair of nice zero drop boots – another of which you’ll be hearing about in the next week or 2).
So, when I heard about this startup company, I was very intrigued.  Digging a little deeper I started holding my breath in hopes that they were as good as their marketing people (person ;)
They are.

The leather is beautiful, soft, supple, and genuinely feels like nice leather (which it is… but you know how some leather feels more like plastic?  Not these).
Attention to detail is great, from the stitching, to the hardware; truly a well crafted shoe.

They are built minimal from the ground up, extremely comfortable, and very sharp looking - at home beneath a nice pair of blue jeans, slacks, or a suit and tie.  For the review, I tried out the black ones but would LOVE to get my hands on a pair of the Tan – they are gorgeous!).
It’s like secretly walking around in a pair of house slippers camouflaged as dress shoes.  Also, should you decide to Clark Kent it one day and take off to run down a bad guy in your suit and tie, they are game (no kidding – the rubber sole and wide fit truly make them feel like any other minimalist shoe-as they should!)

·         Thin flat rubber sole
·         Soft leather
·         Zero drop
·         Nice wide toebox
·         Perfectly flexible
·         Extremely light weight
·         And a HUGE plus – these shoes are only $100 (as compared to certain other ‘minimalist’ dress shoe startups charging upwards of $350…)
·         They also wear great with or without socks.

TUNEfootwear offers a current lineup of 4 shoes in combinations of 3 different colors: 
Ornament, Tassel, Penny, and Boat:

I have to say, I really do Love these shoes.  Also, as always, I’m a huge sucker for a company’s story, and Mike has a great one!

Remember to check them out on and help support this startup!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

VA Creeper trail run part II -- Hope Now

Well, I didn't get any pictures.

Ended up not taking the camera and just opted to carry my iPod Shuffle instead (which died a few miles in... that thing has been a piece of Junk!)

But, the run was Beautiful!  The leaves hadn't changed yet, but the foliage was still gorgeous.

Someone asked 'why the Creeper'?  We obviously are blessed with tons of trails to run on here in East TN, I didn't 'have' to go to the Creeper to run, but here's why I did:

It started out that we have a group that goes and bikes it and camps every fall (for about the last 7 years or so I guess) and so the idea of running it one time instead of biking was always there.  Last year a friend and I had planned to run it and began getting ready, had the campsite booked, travel plans made, and 2 days before we were to leave, my wife and I went in for a routine checkup (she was pregnant with our 2nd after 8 months of fertility issues) only to have the doctors tell us that the baby was gone.  A miscarriage had taken her and that my wife needed to stop taking the progesterone (that her body requires to sustain a pregnancy), start taking pain meds, and stay fairly near a hospital in case of complications.  The Creeper was out, and the furthest thing from our minds.  We stayed nearby home instead, actually went to a little campground about 15 minutes away to camp just to get our minds off things and try to spend sometime with a few friends.  My wife, my stubborn, intuitive, hopelessly optimistic wife, refused to stop taking her progesterone and refused to take the pain meds.

1 year later, that baby that the doctors had said was gone is now 4 months old.
And we took her to the Virginia Creeper with us this year.

So why the Creeper?  To celebrate.  To celebrate miracles, hope, new life, and The Creator of the beautiful creation we ran through this year to celebrate - With the new life that, on that very weekend last year, we thought we had lost.

For those interested, here is that story, the story of our daughter who's middle name is... Hope.

Special thanks to my dear friend Kevin who was supposed to run it with me last year and came back with just a few days notice to run it with me (more than double the distance of his furthest run Ever) this year in honor of baby Hope.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Virginia Creeper Trail run

I'm taking off tonight to VA to go camp and then run the Virginia Creeper trail (no sanctioned race, just because it's breathtakingly gorgeous up there and the weather from White Top to Damascus is supposed to be low of 40 and high of 70 for the day!)

Very excited about the run - not even considering any times, no splits, no goals, don't care.  

I'm going with a friend and going to enjoy the Beauty of this!  
I'm considering carrying my phone in my hydration belt so I can snap some pics along the way -- if so I'll be sure to share them when I get back next week!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thacker Warm-ups (Crossfit)

Just thought I'd throw this up for everyone.  As most of you know, I'm a big proponent of Crossfit.  Thing is, it takes a long time to learn the lingo ('what the heck is an x,y,z???") and an even longer time to figure out how to properly do the movements.

If you Crossfit, chances are you've watched a nauseating amount of youtube 'how to' videos.  A couple days ago, after listening to the fellas over at Barbell Shrugged, I found this series called the Thacker Warmups (from The Lab Gym).

By far, this is the best snatch (mind out of the gutter) progression/warmups videos I've seen.  Take a look:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Best of the Best 2: Trail Running Shoe

**UPDATED 4/3/14 to shoe 2 new (clear) winners!  
See bottom of the page**

Here's entry number 2 of the Best of the Best series.

As I mentioned before, I'm doing this to try to highlight the very best in different categories after prolonged use.

Today's category is "Trail (specific) Running Shoe"

AND..... This is a tough one.

To be perfectly honest, I still haven't found The Perfect trail running shoe.  So what I'm going to do today is give you some honorable mentions for this category along with the +/- for each.  Additionally, there are trail shoes for "easy" trails, trail shoes for rocky trails, and trail shoes for highly technical trails that will eat your feet for breakfast.  I'll hit one of each.

#5:    New Balance MT00 Minimus
For "light/easy/soft" trails

At number 4 we have the NB minimus.  This is, in my opinion, the first time NB really got a minimalist shoe right.  They had an early entry into the market, but they made the shoes how execs wanted and never bothered asking the barefoot/minimalist community how to make it and, as such, they were awful.  This one was their first one that was right.  It wasn't perfect, but it was good (and their best yet).  

What it does right:
  • Unbelievably light weight (4.4 oz)
  • Good ground feel
  • Awesome flexibility
  • Wears well with socks or without (actually better without)

What it misses:
  • Your feet will get completely soaked.  For me, this isn't a problem because I wear them without socks, but for some it might be.
  • the pods on the bottom leave gaps:  

  • Now, this pod design goes a Long way in decreasing weight, but each of those gaps goes straight through to your foot.  So the problem is, you have the  mental 'comfort' of having shoes on and if you're (therefore) lax at all in your step you can have a stick or rock go right between those pods and hit your foot which is... Not comfortable.  
  • And the big problem with them is all that cool green mesh material tears.  Quickly.  A lot.

    Which is why, I'm sure, they're clearing these out.  In fact, you can get them at runningwarehouse for $50 right now.

#4:  The Merrell Embark Glove (Gore-Tex)
For moderate-more technical (rocky) trails

Remember when Merrell came out with their first "Trail Glove" and everyone LOVED it!?  Yeah... not me.  I thought I did, but after a couple weeks I ended up shelving them.  There wasn't some huge glaring thing I Hated... I just didn't love them.  However, This shoe (which apparently no one else liked because Merrell discontinued them very quickly after release) I did love.  

What it does right:

  • It's a light shoe
  • Still has the fused rubber toe guard (like the Trail Glove)
  • Wide toe box
  • Vibram sole
  • It's Gore-Tex.  I love that.  Really, really love that.  
  • And it has a 1mm shock absorbing rock plate.  This was the biggie.  It has a rock plate, but still no cushioning, and the rock plate is VERY thin so it takes the edge of rocks but doesn't kill your ground feel (ironically, that's probably what killed the shoe - people were expecting to not feel anything).

What it misses:

  • Can't be worn without socks comfortably
  • Loses a little flexibility

  • This is a trail shoe.  Specifically for trails.  And not just any trails, but more technical trails.  I would Not like this shoe for a road shoe... but that's not what we're talking about here.

#3:  Merrell Ascend Glove
For Technical trails (and all trails!)

This is the shoe that Merrell brought out to take the place of the Embark.
I haven't had this shoe very long (as it is a new summer release) but have managed to put quite a few miles on it already.  This is my go-to trail running shoe now and this is what I've learned:

What it does right:

  • Zero drop still (of course)
  • Much more comfortable for sockless wear (though still not the best)
  • Light for what it is (~8.0 oz)
  • Nice aggressive tread (not a cleat - but the best merrell has ever done in a 'glove')
  • Vibram sole
  • Now, for what really Makes this shoe:  It has a thin layer of padding full length and "Trail Protect Pads" (rock plates) in the forefoot and heel and Not full length - so you get the protection from all the hidden rocks that would otherwise wreck your world while not giving up any flexibility!

What it misses:

  • Sockliner still isn't great
  • What I didn't like, as compared to my Embarks, was that they didn't have a  Gore-Tex version - However, just as I'm writing this, I see they have now late-released a Gore-Tex version (of course... now that I have these).
  • Now, for what really Hurts this shoe:  It has an arch.  Seriously Merrell?  What the heck?  No mention of an arch anywhere, Merrell's have not had arches before in the 'Gloves' to speak of, but this one Definitely has an arch.  And I hate it.  Now, I still run in them a lot, but it Does really bother me, that's the one thing that kills this shoe... I just don't understand... Why in the world would they do that?

Since the writing of this post, where I wasn't really happy with any of the trail shoes, I've tried two new ones that are, in fact, clear winners:

#2:  Altra Superior

#1:  Altra Lone Peak 1.5

See New blog for these winners: