Merrell Trail Glove 2 - Running Smart, Review, and Barefoot Running
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Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F - M

Locale: Southeast
Merrell Trail Glove 2 - Running Smart, Review, and Barefoot Running on 04/22/2013 07:18:01 MDT Print View

About one year ago, I started to run with more of a mid/fore foot strike and it has drastically changed my running. I no longer have any knee pain. I ran XC in high school as a heel-striker, so my knees are a little worn out. I've read some reviews on here of minimalist shoes and seeing comments like "my heels are sore, but my posture is better!" make me cringe. If you are still striking with your heels while running, watch this video and check out this website:

http://naturalrunningcenter.com/2013/01/06/video-the-principles-natural-running/

You will save your heels, knees, hips, and back. Keep in mind, this is for running, not walking. I see no point in walking with a forefoot strike...it's not natural...and even if it is, you look like a t-rex.

Anyway, I've been trail running in Montrail Masochists and love them. They are also excellent while hiking. Even though they are not a low/zero drop shoe, they were still working fine with my mid/forefoot strike. I wanted to try some zero-drop shoes, so I picked up a pair of Merrell Trail Glove 2's. I cant remember what the difference is between the first and second versions, but I remember reading a blogger who really liked the updates. I took them out for a 4 mile trail run and really enjoyed the way I could feel the ground but still had protection from small rocks and other corners on the trail. The traction wasn't as good as my Masochists, but that's a non-issue since traction has more to do with foot placement than whether your shoes can grab the ground underneath you. Running with that in mind will make you run smart - you will avoid stepping directly on top of a root and expecting your foot to not slip...why should a root offer traction in the first place? It took some time to get used to it, because I am conditioned to not look so closely at where I am placing my feet.

I liked the fit a lot better than a New Balance Minimus...can't remember which one - it had a "strap" over the forefoot. The TG2's have a much better heel and arch fit for me. I know the arch isn't technically "support", but it feels good nonetheless.

The uppers are light and breathable - more than any other shoe I've worn so far. The soles seem bomb-proof. They certainly are not the best for ground-feel, but that's not exactly why I got these. I got them for moderate ground-feel, traction, and zero-drop.

Also - after my run I went for a 1/2 mile barefoot run on the park road. My feet are somewhat tough already, but I swear by doing this - it will seriously teach you proper running form. Check out the videos on this blog for a great intro if you want some tips:

http://www.barefootjosh.com/?page_id=125

It teaches you how to land properly on your feet to avoid injury and increase efficiency. Anyone else on here running barefoot?

Edited by FightingTheTide on 04/22/2013 07:47:56 MDT.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
Me on 04/22/2013 08:09:39 MDT Print View

I'm running barefoot on beach. What I like about it is the simplicity and option to jump into water and run there for a while. It's so cool. What I also like is touch of the ground I feel when I step. On my 10K trail along a coastline there are some rocky places where I have to alternate and jump over a pits.

On road I'm using Saucony Hatori. Which is a 0-drop running shoe. They look more like slippers with thin and airy upper mesh. Very light. I run in them more than 500km.

I'm considering now minimal trail running also. So I thought about Inov-8 Trailroc 235 or 245.

Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Me on 04/22/2013 16:56:45 MDT Print View

The 235's look sweet. I have a friend who runs ultras and he uses them. If you get them, let me know what you think.

They seem to be perfect for longer distances. Trail Gloves seem more suited for shorter runs...but I bet some people use them for longer distances. Really, if your form is good, you don't need much padding. However, that's probably tough to maintain over 20+ miles of changing terrain.

Dowser Tom
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Thanks!!! on 04/22/2013 17:35:26 MDT Print View

This is great stuff, thanks. Years of installing ceramic tile and urban search and rescue have left my knees in less than stellar shape, to the point where I had to take several years of hiatus from backpacking due to knee pain. Its because of trekking poles and ultralight trends in backpacking that I was able to get back into hiking again.

You are saying that this isn't so much for hiking as it is for running, right? I saw the other thread here that said that one could benefit from hiking in more of a trail glove as well. I'll check it out, but if its something that will further alleviate knee pain, I'm there.

Edited by DaFireMedic on 04/22/2013 17:38:29 MDT.

Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Thanks!!! on 04/22/2013 19:37:50 MDT Print View

Post a link to that thread if you don't mind. I'd love to read it.

EDIT - is this the thread? I didn't notice it until now...lots of overlap.
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=76233

Personally, I can't say whether a forefoot or midfoot strike is more beneficial than a heel strike while hiking because I've never tried it or looked into it. I do think it's a little less practical. This may be obvious, but how you strike the ground isn't about how you point your toes, but it's all in how you move your lower body while walking/running. When walking, it seems that getting a proper fore/midfoot strike would require really short steps, really bent knees, etc. which is why I said it looks like a t-rex (sarcasm). It just doesn't seem to lend itself well to the mechanics required for efficient walking. With running, it works perfectly.

So yeah, check it out. That first video has literally transformed my running. Report back with what you find...stick with it for a few months to see if you can tell a difference.

Side note - sometimes I am tempted to yell from my car window at guys running in minimalist shoes with a heel strike. Most of the time they are wearing VFF's. It seriously makes such a difference if you change your mechanics.

EDIT - I will say, however, that a forefoot strike is my choice when going up or down steep sections of trail. It makes no sense to heel strike on steep uphill sections. With downhill sections, striking with your forefoot takes more of the pressure off your knees. This is really simple, obvious stuff, but I think it goes a long way.

Edited by FightingTheTide on 04/22/2013 19:44:15 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
. on 04/22/2013 20:11:10 MDT Print View

oops, wrong thread.

Edited by justin_baker on 04/22/2013 20:11:44 MDT.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Yes, but not for everyone.... on 04/22/2013 21:25:09 MDT Print View

I cannot say this enough...barefoot running and minimalist shoes are absolutely not for everyone. Most people, even with training, cannot change their foot strike. There have been tons of research studies of this lately and lo and behold...you run (and hike) the way you run and hike.

Sometimes you can kind of change your mechanics...the easiest way, interestingly, is by increasing your running cadence...but if you are a rear foot striker you will continue to be so, only in barefoot shoes. There was a great study a year or so ago and they took experienced runners and had them train to run barefoot. A year later they all had exactly the same foot mechanics as they did before they trained to run barefoot.

This is why you see all those folks in vibram five fingers heel striking...it's how they run.

If you have knee problems, over pronation issues (be careful with podiatrists...you are SUPPOSED to pronate), weak ankles, etc, then yes, you would benefit from improving the strength of the intrinsic muscles of your feet...but do not ignore your hips!! Most of the literature in the past decade has really illustrated how controlling the rotation and stability of the hip during a single leg stance can have a tremendous impact on your knee, ITB...it can even control over pronation in some people.

So just be careful...once the running season gets into full swing here in Chicago nearly half my patient load are people trying to run in minimalist shoes.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Respectfully disagree on 04/23/2013 05:03:39 MDT Print View

"You run and hike the way you run and hike"

Running is a skill, and like any other skill (golf, gymnastics, etc) can be taught and coached. Independent of the shoes you wear, there is room to learn better (and less injurious) form. One of the problems with the many studies looking at barefoot running techniques is the lack of real training in running form because experienced runners "already know how to run".

After years of repetitive running injury, I took good form running classes and retrained my stride as did the others in my class. Learning a midfoot stride and faster cadence has been a transforming experience and I'd recommend it for anyone wishing to run better or farther. I do wear minimalist shoes, merrills in fact, because I haven't needed anything more since I learned to run, but in the end, its not about the shoe.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Merrell Trail Glove 2 - Running Smart, Review, and Barefoot Running on 04/23/2013 05:44:42 MDT Print View

You make some assertions about foot placement making up for poor traction and cushioning in your new shoes. After using them for only 4 miles? Seems a bit presumptuous doesn't it?

I would withhold your review of the shoe until you've got more than 1 run of 4 miles in them.

Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Merrell Trail Glove 2 - Running Smart, Review, and Barefoot Running on 04/23/2013 06:08:20 MDT Print View

Traction is certainly influenced by the tread of your shoe, but if you learn how to run smart and have better foot placement, you could run barefoot on anything except slick red mud...but at that point, what shoe will help anyway?

Read this. It's not much, but it gets the point across.

Then read this. He compares the Trail Glove to the Vapor Glove and makes a statement similar to mine...however, he is a barefoot runner, so TG's are "stiff" to him. My experience with Montrail Masochists = his experience with Merrell Trail Gloves, etc.

BTW - I've been a runner for over 13 years. I can tell when shoes and mechanics make a difference or not, even after one run.

Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Yes, but not for everyone.... on 04/23/2013 06:14:13 MDT Print View

I appreciate your input here Jen. Especially on the other shoe thread. That's really helpful.

I think you reinforced my point when you said, "If you have knee problems...then yes, you would benefit from improving the strength of the intrinsic muscles of your feet." That's really where I'm getting at. I agree that running form is personal. I've always said (and should have included it, but forgot because of my zeal) that if you have no issues with your running, then don't change it. For me, it was an issue of severe knee pain. Switching my mechanics, and thus strengthening my supporting muscles, changed that.

As for heel striking in minimalist shoes - doesn't that absolutely hurt? I can't see why anyone would do it...or maybe I just have weak heels.

Edited by FightingTheTide on 04/23/2013 06:15:42 MDT.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
Just returned from Mount Carmel running event on 04/23/2013 12:45:18 MDT Print View

Guys, there were ZERO people with minimalist shoes! ZERO!

Oh, forgot myself. then ONE!

I couldn't see everyone's shoes, but I looked for them. Amazed me!

Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Just returned from Mount Carmel running event on 04/23/2013 13:48:02 MDT Print View

What kind of running event was it?

This is my friend Josh's blog. He's a huge proponent of low-drop shoes and they have served him well over many ultras.

http://onebodyrunning.com/

Dowser Tom
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Thanks!!! on 04/23/2013 17:57:31 MDT Print View

"EDIT - is this the thread? I didn't notice it until now...lots of overlap.
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=76233"


Yes, That's the thread.

I've been looking at some of the info out there, including Jennifer's blog and if nothing else, I'm getting some good info on how to maintain knee comfort during hikes. I'm usually OK, but sometimes pain begins to flare up on the downhill sections, especially if its been a few weeks in between hikes.

Edited by DaFireMedic on 04/23/2013 17:58:07 MDT.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
Khmm... on 04/24/2013 06:46:07 MDT Print View

Well, it was a 10K urban running event.
Nothing special.

Anyway, do you think all those minimalist shoes are good for hiking?

When you hike you heal-strike. Then maybe that cushioning is necessary to maintain your knees healthy?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Yes, but not for everyone.... on 04/24/2013 09:18:07 MDT Print View

I agree with Jennifer that minimal/barefoot running is not for everyone. If one is going to try and change their running form, they need to know the why and how. And as she has stated, there are a lot of considerations - hips, thighs, knees, ankles, etc. However, minimal/barefoot running will cause a shorter stride and a foot strike - the impact of heel striking is just too traumatic. Do a lot of minimal running, you will foot strike more when hiking, especial on steep hills (up or down), although normal walking is usually a heel strike, even for the minimalist runner. The reason minimal runners can/will foot strike on hills is because their muscles, especially calves are conditioned/built up to do this. For most hikers it is quickly too tiring. All of this is just personal experience and observation. I have no professional experience or training.

She also made a statement about cadence, I think in another post. Cadence is the number of strides per minute. Increase your cadence and your stride will shorten and your foot strike will move forward. Decades ago common wisdom was a cadence of 180 strides per minute was optimal for elite distance runners. Bill Bowerman, Oregon coach and Nike founder, thought lengthening the stride at this cadence would enhance performance. All it did was cause injuries to a generation of runners due to heel striking, in spite of his over-engineered shoes.

Running form is a skill, as Ike pointed. The best example is America's Galen Rupp. Alberto Salazzar has been training him since high school. Over the past 13 years he has been pretty much injury free due to a fast cadence; greater than 190 strides per minute and a foot strike. But as Jennifer pointed out, running is a habit and it takes a lot to change your form and you need to understand why and what you are changing. The older you are, the more difficult it is.

Another poster mentioned only getting out once every few weeks. This can be a recipe for injury. Need to get out several times per week for long walks, runs, or hikes. Have to keep our hips, thighs, knees, ankles, feet and related connecting components in shape. This why I have never had a serious injury in 50+ years of running/hiking. Of course good genes helps with this.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
+1 Nick on 04/24/2013 09:53:11 MDT Print View

Good post, Nick.
I think a lot of people buy into the marketing hype that if they slap on a pair of VFFs or other minimalist shoe, they will suddenly run like the Tarahumara. Jennifer probably sees many of these folks in her daily practice after they've injured themselves.

In the end though, I don't think that people can't change. Rather, they don't change. It takes a lot of effort to give up a lifetime of habits and to retrain your stride. Trying to do so while transitioning to minimal support is a process that takes at least a year if not longer. Many probably throw in the towel after 3-4 months when they have sustained their first overuse injury (lots of tendon injuries and stress fractures in those transitioning too quickly) or have become frustrated by lack of rapid progress.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Khmm... on 04/24/2013 10:19:57 MDT Print View

Greg,

I hike in minimalist shoes all the time, probably more minimal than most folks, using XC racing flats.

One needs to train in these, you just can't stap them on. A whole lot of foot flex going on. Even just hiking you will foot strike on some terrain, even if you don't run in them.

For most folks cushioning is important and protection of the bottom of the foot. Impact injuries to the sole are a concern. IMO the hiker using minimal shoes must not be overweight and should carry a light kit. For more thoughts you may be interested in this article I wrote.

Minimalist Shoes

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
+1 Nick ank Ike on 04/24/2013 10:21:34 MDT Print View

I was running marathons as a heel striker before I was eventually getting injured and switched my form.

I went from being able to run 30 miles as a heel striker to only being able to run 3-5 miles at a time as a mid to forefoot striker before my calves were blown. As awkward as it was, I stuck with it, built back up, and haven't looked back. I'm big- ditching the heel strike has done wonders for reducing the impact of running on my joints. Despite being 6'2", 215, you can't hear my footstrike on the road anymore- that says a lot about impact. Cadence is really important as well. I do practice staying at 180+ regardless of speed.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
Re: Re: Khmm... on 04/24/2013 13:24:54 MDT Print View

Nick, thank you for the info.

I see, when I go up/down hill I strike forefoot. On steps also. And I do so when I cross some "challenging" terrain like roots, boulders, rocks... But on paved road when I hike I still strike heal. So that was I was thinking about.

Should I also train to walk as a forefoot striker? Tried that and that wasn't that practical due to the reasons already mentioned above.

Running the natural way is a way to go. I think people should all switch to that technique. Maybe for some it will took 1.5 years, but this is the right direction. Should gradually change running habits.

It's like stopping smoking or eating junk food.