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Gear Review: Inov-8 Road-X 233

Gear Review: Inov-8 Road-X 233

 

Inov-8 Road-X 233 Running Shoe

In this resurfacing world of barefoot or forefoot running there are too many brands, like always, that claim they have what you’re looking for. Asics , New Balance, Nike all claim to have the best running shoe for any particular style. For most people a running shoe will also be their work-out, everyday, go-get-groceries shoe, but for those of us that know shoes, like most consumer goods, were made with a particular audience and function in mind, there’s one brand that stands out to me: Inov-8.

I shopped around for a long time, and went to numerous running specialty stores before I could finally feel comfortable pounding the pavement with a pair of Inov-8 Road-x 233’s. Inov-8 is a company that is known more for their CrossFit style shoe, they’re light weight, minimal, and rugged enough to do thousands of burpees before they fall apart (if you haven’t done a thousand burpees, your one of the lucky ones).  The company is primarily geared toward helping runners and athletes get back to natural running which, according to their website, “relies on the strength of the runner’s feet and legs rather than the cushioning or support of a shoe.” So, comfort is not what they have in mind at all, right? Well you would think that, but Inov-8 has done a fantastic job of weaning it’s customers from a big bulky pair of Nike Shox, to what’s called a zero drop shoe. A zero drop shoe has to do with the millimeter differential between the height of the heel and to the ball of the foot. Known as a heel-drop, the classic pair of Nike Shox, of which I had plenty of in high school, had a 15+mm heel-drop. It sounds like lunacy when you see that the norm is ~12mm and now shoe companies are making zero drop shoes (0mm from heel to ball of foot).

Inov-8 is a company that acknowledges the fact that some of us made the mistake of buying big bulky shoes in the past and so they have a scale of shoes with different heel-drop heights to them. Starting at 9mm, the company makes shoes in 3mm increments so the next transition stage is 6mm, then 3mm, and finally down to 0mm. See there full explanation on their website.

The pair I chose was the Road-x 233. They have a 6mm heel drop on them because I wanted to transition into what was comfortable to me, not dive right into a zero drop shoe. After putting a couple hundred miles on them, I have been thouroghly impressed by how well they’ve held up. They have a few stitches coming fraying off and their pure white exterior has turned a dingy light brown, but other than just the normal wear and tear they are still going strong. I was a little hesitant about the soles of the shoe because there isn’t any real lugs to them, which isn’t a big deal if you’re just running on pavement, but occasionally I like to cut across the park on a short semi-trail run. The sole isn’t you’re normal rubber with light lugs engraved into a neat design that only you care about. They are actually pretty flat on the front half and heel of the shoe with what’s called a sipe cut. This sipe cut is a small zig-zag cut in the rubber that isn’t noticeable until you flex the shoe backward and they spread apart. A lot of boat shoes will put this in their design because they are extremely good at creating enough friction and surface area so you don’t slip. And I’ll attest to that, I haven’t had one unsure foot in anyone of my runs. And in fact,  they’re pretty stout too. I remember running one day and felt something big stuck to my shoe, at first i thought it was a rock stuck in between the lugs, but remembering the shoes don’t really have lugs, I stopped to check it out. It turns out I had about a quarter size piece of beer bottle lodged in my shoe. Good thing I wasn’t running in a zero drop shoe…

Another great attribute to these shoes is the anatomical fit. Inov-8 wins me over again by incorporating this into most of their shoes. The anatomical fit is different than you average shoe fit in that, the toe box is a little wider than normal with everything else being a little tighter. This allows the foot to splay and spread out when landing on your forefoot. Again, they want you to run with a natural motion so that’s supposed to happen. I found that some of the other shoes I own can actually force my foot to land differently if they don’t have ample room in the toe box, especially towards the end of my runs when I get lazy.

Finally,  shoe is also extremely lightweight. I love the feeling of putting on a new pair of shoes in the store and barely feeling them on my foot. Anyone who has ever done any sort of heavy backpacking knows the old adage of “an ounce on you feet is a pound on your back,” and that’s never a good thing no matter how cool you look. With the Road-X 233’s the name says how light they actually are, 233 grams. That’s it! And when mile 5 rolls around of your 7-mile run, you still hardly feel them.

So there you have it, in my book Inov-8 is tested and proven to be one of the premier barefoot/natural running motion shoes out in the market. They’re transition stages of heel-drop, the fit, and how light all of their shoes are (just look at the last number to get the weight in grams) make this company on the top of my list for running shoes. And, as always if any of you have questions feel free to call our shop or just leave a comment on here, we love our customers and realize that we’re still here because of you guys.

Ride into a Resolution You can Keep

Ride into a Resolution You can Keep

Hope everyone had a good Christmas break. I know that it’s been a while since our last post, but we promise there will be more for you to handle this year. 2013 will be the year you follow the Mountain Hideaway Blog better than you did the (insert primetime sitcom here). Here’s the first post of the new year!

 

January, where everyone vows to get healthy, be more productive, and live happier than they did a month ago. Whatever the resolution may be, or whether or not you actual said it aloud (or put it on some form of social media), you or someone you know has made an active change in their life. A lot of people will do their best to work out more or eat less Oreos, but who ever gets past Valentines day? Do you remember your past resolutions? I don’t remember mine. Why do we seem to lose momentum when the uphill’s of our resolution stand before us?

This year instead of giving in and taking the easy way out when you realize your credit card bills from Christmas are due, make a lifestyle change that is both utilitarian and worth bragging about.

One of the best birthday’s I can remember is when I got my first “cool” bike, the type all of my friends had and where you felt invincible every time you jumped it off the curb or your homemade ramp. My dad surprised me with it by telling me I had to come inside and clean my room. After an automatic whine/debate combo, he drilled me with the “mom said.” I drug myself through the front door and into my supposedly dirty room only to find my brand-new bike waiting for me. It wasn’t anything special; it didn’t have a carbon fiber fork or even disc breaks, but it went as fast as I could pedal and got me places five times faster.

Let’s relive those moments of freedom in a new way this year. Instead of waking up at 6am to puke your guts out at whatever CrossFit gym you think beats the rest, why not ride. Ride to work, ride to lunch, ride to the bar, ride to the grocery store, and everywhere in between. The benefits are all there; let’s take a look.

 

Health

 

Riding your bike is one of the lowest impact exercises you can do. For those of you with knee, hip, foot, or any other problems that keep you from running, riding was made for you. It also works out your heart and whole cardio vascular system to keep you from huffing and puffing on your second flight of stairs. Concerned about loosing weight? At a leisurely pace, you can burn up to 200 calories in 45 minutes. Want to get serious? According to the Livestrong website, at a vigorous pace (vigorous being subjective to your overall skill and fitness level) you can burn up to 1000 calories in 60 minutes of riding. I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves on that one.

 

Economic Value

 

The next time you get your bank statement in the mail, look at how much you’ve spent on gas for that month, kind of high but manageable. Now multiply that number times 12 and you’ll see why a couple hundred dollars isn’t so bad. With a bike you’ll have two main categories of expenses: initial purchase and maintenance. Compared to an annual gas budget with 4-5 digits in it, I think riding your bike half the time to work or to a friend’s house will pay for itself. If you don’t want to be concerned with basic upkeep, most bike shops offer a free basic maintenance upgrade at time of purchase. Now I know you’ve seen the bikes that are 10lbs and worth more than your car, but you don’t need to go that far. Our good friends at Velocity start their Specialized mountain bikes out at around $500. Go find your bike.

 

Lifestyle

 

Whenever you enter into a lifestyle that acknowledges bikes as a part of life, you enter into a culture all it’s own. If you’ve ever rode with your friends for more than a couple blocks you know what I mean. This may sound cheesy to you or it may be the last thing that would make you give up your car for a week and strap on the pedals, but trust me it’s just something you have to experience. Remember the story about the bike I got for my birthday? You probably have a memory just like where your bike was a top priority. Go back to where two wheels was all you needed to get you anywhere and everywhere you needed to go.

 

I’m not saying this will fix your marriage or help you become two pant sizes smaller, but there is no doubt that riding your bike consistently will, in some way,  improve your life. And, if it’s only while on the saddle that you feel that improvement, then don’t stop pedaling.

 

The Grocery List: Prepping for Ski Season

The Grocery List: Prepping for Ski Season

Backcountry SkiingSki season is approaching our doorstep. Whether you enjoy the snow on one board or two, this is an anxious time of year. If you’re like my friends and me, you start re-downloading your favorite snow report app because you deleted it around April when you realized you hadn’t looked at it in about 6 weeks. You’re staring at your skis in the corner of the room, daydreaming about the last time you got stuck in waist deep powder, and you plan out the first big trip of the season, hopefully before Christmas. But, rather than just mentally preparing for this upcoming season, here’s a few things to be thinking of when the daydreaming subsides.

1. Be Physically Prepared.

No one likes to be enjoying themselves on a run right after lunch and then have to stop to take a gasping breath or massage their new friend, the Charlie horse. A good way to get the most out of one day on the mountain is to be able to handle a full day on the mountain.

Lower body is the name of the game on the slopes, but don’t just crank out the squats in the gym. With how much your legs becomes a suspension system for the rest of your body, it’s important to incorporate a dynamic element into your workouts. Plyometric workouts are extremely beneficial because they combine dynamic muscle movement in a cardio package, but if that isn’t your cup of tea, here are some great suggestions from the On the Snow website.

2. Have the Right Gear

It’s one thing if you have your uncle’s old snowboard and boots because you only go once a year and you have to book a $400 plane ticket because driving 20 hours for a few runs just doesn’t seem worth it. It’s another thing if you’ve been renting for the past 10 years. Get the right gear this winter. This might mean just getting a good pair of boots this year and then look at a board or skis next year. For those of us that can’t afford a pair of $600 skis, i’m sure your attire can use at least one upgraded piece. Don’t be rocking pants that you barely fit in. Get clothes that kill two birds with one stone: functionality and lookin’ good. Because a well-known fact is that if you look good, you ski good.

I won’t pretend to know about the technical features of skis and snowboards, but the guys over at Outside Online sure do know a thing or two. Visit their website to check out all the new and improved gear for 2012. Here’s a short rundown of what to wear while your carving the pow: Softshell jackets and pants will let you have full range of motion and let your body breath better when overheating while Hardshell jackets and pants will be substantially more durable and are usually waterproof. Check out some of the apparel from our top brands: Marmot, The North Face, Outdoor Research, and Patagonia.

3. Ski/Board the Best Mountain You Can.

There’s definitely an element of subjectivity in the phrase “Best Mountain.” The local that skied at Sipapu every other day for as long as he can remember might think that there’s no place this side of heaven better than that mountain. However, the pro that gets paid to travel the world and free ski the mountains of Valdez, Alaska might have something a little different to say. The point is to find the best mountain you can get to and in your budget. Being in Texas, I’ll be outlining a few local favorites in CO and NM (sorry if you’re from the North West or North East).

So far this season has been lackluster at best for snowfall. The highest base reported by the Open Snow website in Colorado is 23”. But, the good news is that it’s still early in the season, and Colorado snowfall historically doesn’t pick up until mid December. A local favorite for my circle of friends is Wolf Creek Ski Area just outside of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. It always has good snow, it’s semi-close to home, and it’s fairly priced at $56 for an adult full day pass. The ski area is located on top of Wolf Creek Pass so there isn’t a resort tied to it, which is nice because you don’t get as much of the fluff that’s usually combined with a mountain resort. The big three in New Mexico, Red River, Angel Fire, and Taos, are also local favorites here in Lubbock. If you only have a weekend to ski, 2 days tops, no one really wants to drive further than 6-8 hours and those 3 are all great mountains to ski. Toas is definitely a harder mountain with more difficult terrain than the other two, but I’d argue that they’re equally sufficient to get your powder fix.

 

So there you have it, 3 considerations to think about while the slopes are still somewhat dry before the first big snow of the season comes in. Get fit, get gear, and get going to the right mountain. Do your research, don’t go to a mountain geared toward families like Red River with your drinking buddies. If you don’t want to get scowled at for dropping the F bomb in front of a family, then go somewhere that has areas that are better suited for your group of friends. Have fun this winter, I know I can’t wait for the first time I step into my bindings as well as the first time I fall a little harder than I would like. Take all the experiences you have with a grain of salt and learn to laugh at situations that don’t necessarily warrant it. Also, take pictures because nowadays it doesn’t count unless you post it to Facebook, which is a different post all in itself.