Friday, April 27, 2012

Inov-8 Bare-X 200 Shoe Review

This maybe the most underrated and unappreciated shoe on the market today (probably due to the recent release of the Inov-8 Bare-X 180).  I had heard very little about this shoe. but when an Inov-8 representative asked me if I would like to review this shoe I jumped at the opportunity.

From the Inov-8's website:

"The Bare-X 200 is designed for pure minimalist runners. Zero differential and zero midsole keeps the foot as close to the ground as possible while the rubber sole provides protection from any debris. The Met-Cradel TPU lacing offer an intimate fit and reduces slippage"

Weight: 7.4 oz (size 10.5)
Stack Height: 6mm

Toe Box: Medium
Heel to Toe: 0mm
Flexibility: Very Flexible

That is a very accurate description of the the Bare-X 200. However, I would point out that this is a pure road shoe that would not do well on technical trails.  

For me the Bare-X 200 fits true to size with maybe just a bit extra length.  I would not suggest sizing down as the Bare-X 200 wider than traditional shoes but not as wide as other minimalist shoes on the market.  The shoe is not restrictive in my opinion.  It has a nice close fit that hugs your foot and makes it perfect for speed work and racing.  I would be a bit concerned with the width for longer runs as feet tend to swell. There is one weird fit issue for me. Just behind the arch there is what feels to be a small "bump".  It is noticeable when standing or walking but I don't really feel it while running.  

The upper of the shoe is a very breathable synthetic mesh with TPU overlays that run down the sides and along the toe box. The overlays gives just a bit of support to the upper but not sure if they are necessary.  The Bare-X 180 uses less of the TUP overlays which is the only real difference between the 180 and the 200.  The upper is soft and comfortable even without socks.  However, if you you remove the 3mm insole, you will need socks as the footbed is a bit rough.

After removing the 3mm insole, the first thing I noticed about this shoe is the amazing ground feel.  This shoe has some of the best ground feel of any "normal" looking shoe on the market.  I would argue that the ground feel is right up there with VFF KSO.  It is that good.  The outsole on the 200 uses Inov-8 Bare-X outsole that is really unlike any other outsole that I have seen in a shoe.  It reminds me of a cross between the Altra Adam outsole and VIVOBAREFOOT EVO.  It is very firm and extremely durable and flexible.  Both are a must in my opinion.  I still can not see any wear on my pair after at least 200 miles on them.  

This shoe has become my go to shoe for tempo and speed work as well as my preferred short distance racer.  I can not emphasize enough how much I love the outsole of this shoe.  Inov-8 really has something special with their Bare-X Sole

My only real complaint about the shoe is the white color.  It should be a rule that running shoes can not produced in white! However, I have long stopped being concerned with the looks of my shoes but some color choices would be nice.    

I highly recommend purchasing this shoe from Patton over at the Natural Running Store.  You will love this shoe but love the customer service more!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Perfect Blocks Review

Nutrition is by far the most difficult and confusing part of training for me.  I struggle with how much to eat and what to eat daily.   There are so many theories on what diet is the best for endurance athletes.  Many of the top ultra runners are vegetarian or vegan, while others follow the Paleo diet, eating meat with almost every meal.  Many swear by carb loading with pasta and bread while others will not let a processed grains or any sort of processed food touch their lips.  I have dabbled with many of these different diets but I have finally settled on moderation.  I tried to eat a balanced diet while not leaving any particular food group out but I still struggle on making sure I get enough of the right kind of nutrition especially after a hard long run. 

This leads me to Perfect Blocks. I was sent several samples try out.  I used it as recovery drink, as mid run fuel, and as a meal replacement. Below is a description sent to me by a representative.  

Perfect Blocks is fundamentally different than other products on the market   It is a completely All-Natural, Balanced, Low-Glycemic food supplement and we are members of the NPA (Natural Products Association).

Perfect Blocks is formulated specifically in the ratio of 40% Carbs, 30% Protein and 30% Fat.  So for a lot of athletes, fitness enthusiasts and everyday people out there that subscribe to a balanced diet, Perfect Blocks is IDEAL to help get high quality nutrients without all of the weighing, chopping, and measuring.  
Featured Highlights of Perfect Blocks:
Perfect uses absolutely NO artificial flavors, preservatives or ingredients!  This is key because people are now making a significant effort to scrutinize nutrition labels and lean towards eating only good quality, real food. 
Perfect Blocks also has ZERO sugar and is naturally flavored through the use of vanilla and Stevia, and all of the nutrients used are all high quality, highly beneficial nutrients to provide the best nutritional value! 
Perfect Blocks ingredients includes:
·     Oats for a great complex, low glycemic carbohydrate
·     Olive Oil as a Monounsaturated fat (Omega 9)
·     Coconut oil as a MCT (medium chain triglyceride – a good saturated fat)
·     Protein blend of Whey and NO GMO Soy for an outstanding amino acid profile
And above and beyond all of this, Perfect Blocks is also supported with:
·        A complete line up of 24 essential vitamins and minerals
·        Prebiotics
·        Probiotics
·        A complete line up of Digestive Enzymes
It is the Perfect food for anyone, and can be used for anything from a simple meal replacement, to a pre-work out or post-work out fuel, to weight loss or weight management food supplement, and great for controlling insulin and blood sugar levels!

In all...  Perfect Blocks is an absolutely amazing product.  Once a customer understands the level of nutritional quality of it, they fall in LOVE with Perfect Blocks once they have their first shake!

That is a lot of info.  A lot of it  sounds great but some of it I could care less about.  What I really care about when it comes to a powdered supplement is, how much protein, how much fat, and how many carbs are in it.  I also am looking for something that tastes good, mixes well, and is easy to use.  Perfect Blocks hits on all of these.  

The carb, protein, and fat ratio makes it more of a recovery drink for me after long runs or speed workouts  However, I have used it in middle of my long trail runs and did not experience any sort of stomach issues.   

I also found that the slightly sweet tastes makes it a good "stir in" item for my oatmeal or a topper for cereal.

When it comes to most powder mixes, my biggest complaint is that they usually they don't mix well and you are left with large chunks of undissolved powder.  Perfect Blocks is really one of the few mixes that I've tried that mixes well and you don't have to warm the water first.    

Do Perfect Blocks help with muscle recovery? I'm not sure but then again I've never taken anything that I'm convinced helps lessen muscle soreness or fatigue.  What I can say for sure is that Perfect Blocks taste great, mixes well and is simple to use.  I will continue to use this product to help simplify my nutritional needs.  

Perfect Blocks can be purchased from the Fortified Nutrition Website for $59 but if you use OR15 coupon code at checkout, you will receive a 15% discount.