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Barefoot Running - A Leg Up On Standard Running?

Friday, January 30, 2015 3:27:00 PM America/Chicago

So what's the deal with Barefoot running? Well, barefoot running - also known as minimalist or natural running - is a modern movement amongst long-distance runners that believes running without shoes is the healthiest way to run. They also believe shoes with the minimal amount of material is also acceptable. Basically running without the aid of gait-correcting shoes.

Remember the post a couple weeks back about running styles and how certain shoes offer specialized support to correct deviations in pronation? Yeah. We're not at the opposite end of the spectrum.

This modern movement in Barefoot running really hit its stride in 2010 when Harvard released a study on the impact of heel-strike vs fore-foot strike on running. It showed that, while heel-striking isn't necessarily harmful on a runner's body, fore-front striking reduced impact stress on runners while also maintaining more kinetic energy in recoil. Basically, because the body doesn't hit the ground as hard with a fore-foot strike, running takes less energy when moving through the gait cycle.

While that is a large argument in favor of barefoot running, it isn't the only one. Supporters of the movement also cite that until the advent of the modern-sneaker (circa 1970s), humanity had been doing great with little to no shoe support while running! Even the early versions of the sneaker leaned towards barefoot running. They had unpadded upper-body coverings with thinner soles.

Proponents of barefoot running also point to several pockets of people across the globe, particularly the Tarahumara people of Mexico. Running is a way of life to them. Tribes are dotted across the Sierra Madre Occidental (a rocky mountain range in Mexico) where the primary form of communication between them is still running a messenger. A one-way trip can take up to two days - without stopping - and covers up to 200 miles!

With all this supportive evidence - and the added hype of the Vibram Five-Fingers shoes - many people have abandoned their conventional running style to embrace barefoot running. This, however, has resulted in more harm than good. Several lawsuits have been filed against the Vibram company because of falsified claims - that the shoe itself would result in stronger muscles and less injury.

It makes sense, however, that if a person abandons a method they have used their whole life cold turkey, then injury is likely to occur. So while a shoe may influence how your foot hits the ground, or how you flow through the gait cycle, it takes timing and training to do it properly and do it well. Like with the running style blog, we encourage that you seek out professional advice before making any sudden lifestyle changes.

While there are merits and disadvantages to both barefoot and conventional running, it all depends on the individual runner. Barefoot running follows the notion that most people pronate neutrally and do not need corrective shoes for running. So if you fall into the categories of over- or under-pronating, it's generally agreed that you should first correct your gait with supportive shoes before moving from conventional, padded sneakers to barefoot running.

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

Resolution Check-In

Friday, January 23, 2015 7:41:00 AM America/Chicago

We here at ShoeBacca encourage each and every one of our employees, friends (that's you all), and family to Get Fit, Get Active. The majority of people jump on the New Year's Resolution bandwagon and start working toward a healthier lifestyle at the beginning of the year. A lot either fall off the bandwagon before February rolls around, or the cynics just don't bother. We're here to encourage you to keep trying! Now is the best time because of all the support offered in stores, from fitness clothes, to fitness-friendly foods, to fitness accessories. After all, we're only in the 4th week of the new year. That leaves 48 weeks left in 2015, and it only takes 40 weeks for a new person to be born.

Long story short? It's not too late to start a New Year's Resolution! Even if you started one and didn't follow through - don't worry! There's still plenty of time to get back on track. And if you're still working hard? Keep at and inspiring those around you! We'll be covering a couple of tips and tricks to help with making sure you following your fitness goals.

Running

Running is the easiest/hardest thing to do for your health. No gym membership or crazy expensive equipment required. All you need is an area to run around (like a local park or your neighborhood) and a good pair of running shoes! Last week, we covered the 3 different running styles, how they influence your gait, and what you can do to correct it. We recommend you check it out in case you missed it! A few weeks back, our weekly newsletter covered setting small attainable goals to keep you on track to help you feel accomplished. So while some people can just get up and run (and run and run!), it's easier for newbies to chase a goal - Like running a set distance or time and increasing it gradually? Or, since everyone basically owns a smart phone, why not follow a fitness app? We've mentioned it before but we completely endorse the C25K running app. The reviews and success stories are overwhelming! It guides you through an 8 week process of increasing your running distance and endurace (with 3 weekly exercises.) It's time based, VS. distance, so it's friendly to treadmill users too! Heck, you could even use it on an elliptical, technically. Why not try it out? It's completely free (ads) and you can uninstall it if it doesn't work for you.

Calisthenics

Everyone knows what Calisthenics are. Remember the Presidential Fitness Test in middle school? The boring part of gym class where you did pushups and arm circles before you played kickball? That's Calisthenics. The technical definition is a form of exercise involving repetitive movements/motions, utilizing primarily your own body weight with minimal use of additional apparati. So yeah. Crunches, push-ups, lunges, squats, etc. Calisthenics, like running, are great because they don't require any additional memberships or equipment - Not even shoes! Though we do recommend doing them on a soft surface, especially if you go barefoot. You can do calisthenics literally anywhere. At home, on vacation, in the privacy of your cubicle at work - as long as you have an area large enough to move in. Check out this great list of exercises you can do anywhere, compiled at Greatist.com.

Diet & Hydration

This is where the biggest divide occurs in terms of fitness. Most people ascertain that healthy eating (what you put in) will eventually lead to weight loss. However, the otherside of the arguement is that caloric restriction (how much you put in) is the true path to weight loss. The fact of the matter is that neither are mutually exclusive. Academic studies have proven that caloric deficits lead to immediate loss in weight (see the Twinkie diet study) - But this was a short-term study. Who knows what long term repercussions could emerge if the diet lasted longer than a few months? And it's not sustainable, either (really, who's going to eat just twinkies for the rest of their life?). Eating "healthy" food rampantly doesn't lead immediately to weight loss either because your body never gets a chance to get into the fat-burning cycle (because excess fat is where excess weight is located.) Jillian Michaels released an article explaining this aspect of weight loss.

Regardless of which side of the argument you take (caloric content vs. nutritional value), we recommend using a tracking app. Both MyFitnessPal and Lose It! are great assets to help keep track of both calories consumed and the nutrition of the food you've consumed! Not to mentioned they also track water intake! And NO ONE disagrees that hydration is important to fitness and weight loss.

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

What's That Running Style?

Friday, January 16, 2015 2:51:00 PM America/Chicago

Disclaimer: This blog was written with no intention to be an authoritative source of information. Nor was it intended to provide diagnosis to any physical or medical conditions. Seek out health providers and medical practitioners for expert advice in regards to the topics very briefly discussed in this article.

We're halfway through the first month of the new year. Many of us have established our New Year's Resolutions - most of them are health or fitness related. Those of us have yet to settle on anything. Well... why not try running? It doesn't cost you any special monthly membership fees, and you can literally do it anywhere. However, like any other sport, you need to have the right equipment in order to succeed: proper running shoes.

You're in luck! As a matter of fact, Shoebacca carries a wide array of running shoes, in many different brands and styles. But where do you start? Which one do you choose? Thick sole? Thin sole? And what's the hullabaloo about this minimalism movement? Well it all boils down to one factor: You.

More specifically, the running shoes you need directly relate to your running style. You've got your Normies (Neutral Pronators), your Overs (Over Pronators), and your Supers (Under Pronators - Or supinators). Pronation just refers to how your foot hits the ground and distributes weight during your gait cycle (stepping from foot to foot.)

Normies

Image Courtesy of ASICS UK.

A good chunk of people, roughly 20% to 30% of runners, are Normies. Meaning the heal-to-toe roll of the foot doesn't rotate too far to the left or too far to the right. Weight is distributed evenly across the foot, and - as you're stepping/pushing off - most of the weight is supported across all 5 toes (with a good portion - about half - on the first and second toes.)

Overs

Image Courtesy of ASICS UK.

The more common irregularity in runners is Over Pronation. The natural rotation for pronation inclines to the inside of the foot, along the arch. Over pronating happens when your foot over-rotates inwardly and weight is no longer distributed evenly along the foot. Most of the weight is displaced along the inside portion of the foot and the first two to three toes shoulder the majority of the support.

Overs who do not correct this issue often experience pain with running because the work that should be handled by the feet and ankles is displaced to other parts of the body, like the knees, hips, and lower back. Other issues could also arise even when not running, like chronic pain in the aforementioned areas.

Supers

Image Courtesy of ASICS UK.

Under Pronating (Supinating) is just the opposite of Over Pronating. During the gait cycle, the outer half of the foot shoulders the majority of the weight, forcing the pinky and outer toes to support the body, with very little help from the Big Toe (who is still involved because balance.)

Since the natural pronation of the foot is to roll slightly towards the inner portion of the foot, Under Pronation is often associated with lack of ankle flexibility. Because of this, Supers can often correct the irregularity in their gait cycle through practice and stretching.

What's My Pronation?

The best way to find out what kind of pronator you are is by seeking advice from your medical or health professional, especially if you suspect something is seriously wrong or experience abnormal amounts of pain while running. However, if you're just curious and have time to kill, we suggest the Wet Feet Test. Check out this post from Running Shoes Guru on how to setup the test and then evaluate your results.

Recommendations

So you know your pronation. What do you do? Well, you buy the right equipment and be on your merry away to New Year's Resolution fulfillment. Usually an evaluation from a professional will also come with a recommendation (and orthotics in extreme cases), but we've got you covered if that's not the case.

Many different athletic shoe brands will cater to the different pronation styles, and many won't. We recommend ASICS though, as they have specific shoe collections tackling the different kind of Pronators.

Normies: Neutral pronators can get away with wearing any shoe, really. Avoid shoes that are specifically designed for severe over pronating or under pronating. Basically, the shoe world is your oyster! We recommend the Cumulus, Noosa Tri, Excel33, and Kinsei collections for Normies, as their support systems span from slight under pronating to slight over pronating.

Overs: Over pronators should seek out moderate to high arch support to help correct the inward inclination of their feet. We recommend the GT 1000, GT 2000, Super J33, and especially Kayano collections.

Supers: Under pronators should keep padding and arch support to a minimal. This keeps the shoe from pushing the foot outward, exacerbating the over pronation. Plus it allows more room within the shoe for your foot to self-correct. Try the Nimbus, Flux, Lyte33, or Sendai collections.

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

Go Big or Go Home: February

Friday, January 9, 2015 2:40:00 PM America/Chicago

Hey everyone! Last month, we did an intro post on a series of blogs that we'll be doing through 2015. It gave a preview for some of the major franchised 5ks, marathons, and obstacle courses coming up this year. If you want a refresher, check out the blog here. Anyway, towards the beginning of each month, we'll be posting a preview post of all the events - and locations - coming up during the following month!

In our soft launch, we included The Spartan Race and The Biggest Loser RunWalk. In addition to those, we'll also be covering: The WipeOut Run, The DirtyGirl 5k Mud Run, The Warrior Dash, The Color Run, The Color FunFest, DIVAS Half Marathon & 5K Series, and the Tough Mudder races on a regular basis. Each Post will include a brief paragraph on the race as well as location & pricing. Be sure to follow social media for other important dates, like early-bird registration cut offs!

The Spartan Race

"Spartan Race was created with a simple, yet important, mission in mind. That mission is to get people back to their primal roots. To do what they were designed to do: run, jump, climb and sweat." Taken straight from the Spartan Race website. The race itself was founded in 2010 and is now present in over 10 countries. Most Spartans are available in 3 different segments: the Sprint (3+mi, 15+ obstacles), the Super (8+mi, 20+ obstacles), and the Beast (12+mi, 25+ obstacles). There are even races available for children! It all depends on the location.

Arizona Sprint • Feb 07 • Fort McDowell, AZ
Tampa Sprint (Stadium) • Feb 14 • Tampa, FL




The Biggest Loser RunWalk

"The Biggest Loser RunWalk is a non-intimidating race series designed to challenge America to get fit." Much like the Spartan, the Biggest Loser RunWalk is compromised of 3 different series: the Six Flags series, the Premier Destination series, and the Off-road Challenges. The Premier Destination series is their featured half marathon & 5k races. The Six Flags series is.. well, basically their Premier Destination series hosted at Six Flags amsusement parks. And the Off-Road Challenges are just set on trail runs with obstacle courses (and hosted at Spartan Race locations!).

Off-road Challenge • Feb 07 • Fort McDowell, AZ




The WipeOut Run

Inspired by the hit TV Show, the WipeOut Run was design to be a fun yet engaging (NOT BRUTAL) 5k experience, encouraging people to enjoy the challenge of physical activity. Run the 3.1 mile course yourself, taking on the 12 obstacles alone, or race your team mates to the finish line for an added layer of challenge.

Nothing for February, but watchout for Texas in March!




The DirtyGirl 5k MudRun

The DirtyGirl 5k MudRun was created to encourage women to embrace athleticism and the outdoors. As such, it was the first of now only a handful of national races exclusively for women. While obesity is just as likely to occur in men as it is in women (36% of adults are considered obese), women are twice as likely as men to be considered extremely obese.

Nothing for Febuary, but watch out for Sacramento in March!




The Warrior Dash

Warrior Dash is one of the largest international races at only 6 years young, located on 4 continents across the world. The able few who are can conquer this grueling course are rewarded with Tshirt, Warrior Helmet & Medal, and revelries to celebrate their accomplishment!

Nothing for February, but watch out for Caifornia & Texas in March!




The Color Run

The Color Run is a newly-created 5k event, forming only in 2012! It was founded to encourage novices to join the running community, and serves as a fun introductory event! The shower of color was inspired by Holi, an ancient Hindu Festival of love.

New Orleans • Feb 14 Las Vegas • Feb 28




The Color FunFest

The Color FunFest is more or less the Color Run but run by a different company, although the Color FunFest puts more emphasis on the availability of evening running. Like with any great idea, multiples will popup! Choices are great, though, as that makes variety and availability much more widespread. While the Color Run may not be present in a certain city, The Color FunFest (or any other comparable color 5k) will most certainly be there!

Stockton • Feb 17 • $20.15 until Jan 11
San Diego • Feb 21 • $20.15 until Jan 11
Sacramento • Feb 28 • $20.15 until Jan 11




DIVAS Half Marathon & 5K Series

Another Girls' Club 5k run! This time without the mud. The DIVAS Half Marathon & 5k series offers something for newbies and veterans alike - all from the comfort of a nicely paved race course.

Temecula • Feb 28 • SOLD OUT - Keep a lookout for April Races!




Tough Mudder

The Tough Mudder is by no means a novice event - though that doesn't mean you cannot try! It is roughly 3 times the length of a 5k, coming it at about 18-20km (10-12mi), and it doesn't stop there. The whole course is littered with obstacles specifically designed to play into basic human fears (fire, deep water, electricity, and heights.) Not for the faint of heart, or the financially challenged! Tickets start around the $100 mark.

Nothing for February, but watch out for Arizona, Californa, & Florida in March!

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

Go Big or Go Home: 2015 Athletics

Friday, December 12, 2014 2:57:00 PM America/Chicago

Christmas is Here. Thanksgiving is over. Halloween is long gone. Most of the major stumbling blocks (AKA Holiday Meals & Treats) have passed or will pass soon. This is the time of year people rediscover their resolve and once again commit to a health goal. Others are still committed and continue to work towards that goal.

It's a lot easier to succeed when your goal is tangible. And by that I mean Set a Number of pounds to lose instead of just trying to Lose Weight. Or maybe commit to exercising 3 days a week instead of just exercising more. So while you're trying to determine what you want to do in 2015, why not also consider running a race as your end goal?

Most of the major races have already released their 2015 schedules!


So you're one of those over-achievers who has already been working hard and hitting their goals. Great! If that's the case, why not pit yourself against one of the hardest obstacle courses to hit American Shores? America Ninja Warrior is accepting applicants through January 11 for their 7th season. Apply Here


Maybe you want something steeped a little more in American tradition. Not a problem. The Spartan Race is just 5 years young, having been founded in 2010 in Vermont. It's butt-kicking blend of obstacle courses and racing. Whether you're a tenured runner, or new to the obstacle scene, Spartan has challenges ranging from 3 to over 12 miles of brutal fun. Is fun the right word? Either way, brutal definitely describes it. Check out upcoming events here.


Okay so you're a veteran athlete. Running and sports and whatnot have been part of a good chunk of your life. King Leonidas would humbly bow to your display of anatomic, athletic perfection. That's all fine and dandy, but platitudes account only for so much! Put your money where your muscle is: Compete this year in the Ironman Triathalon. Competitions start as soon as Jan 11 internationally, but the first US event isn't until March 28. Check out the full calendar.

It's okay, Newbie. I too am decades from ever even considering those competitions! I'm lucky if I can exercise for several consecutive weeks. Anyway, there are plenty of introductory events to help get you on the way.


One of the biggest factors tipping this country towards a healthier lifestyle was the show The Biggest Loser. They now host a series of races called The Biggest Loser RunWalk. Just like its namesake, you can participate either by running or walking. The goal is to get Americans just like me (or you!) on their feet and active. They already have 10 races scheduled across the US - Get more details here.


You don't have to go namebrand either. Try something smaller, local, and maybe for a good cause! There's a YMCA in nearly every state. They're constantly sponsoring or hosting races, and proceeds feed directly back into the community or benefit some national charity! Find your local Y to see what's coming up in your area.

Go Big or Go Home. But big is subjective - what does it mean to you? Competing in the Ironman Competiton? Or getting off the couch and going for a jog? Doesn't Matter. Go Big or Go Home.

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

Team SHOEBACCA: 2014 MS 150

Friday, October 31, 2014 2:02:00 PM America/Chicago

Team SHOEBACCA.com finished up their 150 Bay-To-Bay Bike Ride for the National MS Society last week. We wanted to get some first-hand accounts of the ride, but Team SHOEBACCA just loves riding so much, they wouldn't get off their bikes! So while they were out rolling away for whichever charity fundraiser of the week, we went ahead and wrote up a brief summary of the event.

Team Shoebacca is a volunteer based cycling team that rides for charities under the name Shoebacca. So, naturally, they ride the Bike MS Bay-to-Bay Tour. Did we mention they're based in Southern California? So their 150 miles are from Irvine to San Diego. That's the same as riding from Philadelphia to Washington DC.

Through it's 5 year history, every Team SHOEBACCA ride has been meaningful, however this ride had something special – Cierra. Cierra's mom Carmen is a long time friend of Team SHOEBACCA as well as MS Sufferer. Carmen has supported their races for some time now – walking on her own or with assistance across the finish line with the team. It has been a long-time tradition for Team SHOEBACCA to stop short of the finish, dismount, and walk behind her as a show of respect, as well as a nod to the 250,000 nationwide who suffer along with her.

“It was not meant to pull on heart-strings," Team Lead Dee Folse said, "but was meant as a reminder of why we ride. It's not about the bike ride. It's about those suffering from MS."

This year Cierra joined Team SHOEBACCA to support her mother as well as the National MS Foundation. Not only was it her first time riding, she was also a top fundraiser for the team! Together she and Team SHOEBACCA raised over $23,000! Since Team SHOEBACCA's inception, they've raised over $500,000 for local and nation charities. (Let me remind you they've only been a team for 5 years – That's over $200 a day!)

Cierra will continue to ride the Bike MS Bay-to-Bay as a Team SHOEBACCA member, not only to raise money for MS sufferers like her mother, but also for other charitable needs.

The National MS Society bike ride was adopted in 1985 after a father (Minnesota Chapter Executive Director) and son duo rode 150 miles to see how long it would take them. Two days, to be exact – one of the many timelines for today's fundraising rides. The MS 150 fundraiser is now available in every state across the US, with some states having multiple opportunities. Find your nearest chapter today and whether you're riding or racing, don't forget to get new shoes.

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

Keep Calm And Get Ready For Some Football

Friday, August 15, 2014 3:11:39 PM America/Chicago

I do not know about you guys, but I am super pumped for the start of the NFL season! I am a Dallas Cowboys fan, so I do not have much to look forward to this season, but I love to watch football, so I am still excited for the start of the season.

One of the coolest things about this to me is that Thursday Night Football will now be on CBS for the first 8 weeks of the season!! This means you get to watch more games this season, even if you don't have NFL Network. I’m hoping the rating will be sky high so they will continue to offer Thursday Night Football on CBS, I like the idea.

I’m just ready for football period! I’m ready to talk about football, debate about football, and watch football. I love both college and the NFL, and I sometimes take an interest in local high school games as well.

All this excitement about football season starting came from us discussing our football cleats and turf shoes that we have here at Shoebacca.com

Well, I wish you and your team a successful season!

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Shawn Jones

Have You Met Team SHOEBACCA?

Monday, August 4, 2014 8:10:18 PM America/Chicago

Team SHOEBACCA is our (SHOEBACCA.com) cycling team based in San Diego, California. Team SHOEBACCA is simply made up of good people using their passion for riding and being active to help others and make a difference in their lives.

Team SHOEBACCA is gearing up to ride in the ‘Bike MS Bay To Bay Tour 2014’ on October 18 & 19, 2014. This will be the team 7th year riding in this event, and they are just as excited as the 1st year we participated. Unfortunately, our team has many riders that are directly affected by this disease and that is “WHY We Ride." We have riders on our team with MS, and we have co-workers, family and friends who are battling MS. For this reason, everyone on Team SHOEBACCA crosses the finish line together; on Sunday you can find us riding two wide and wheel to wheel as we approach the finish line in Honor of All living with MS.

Visit National MS Society to join or donate to Team SHOEBACCA as we ride to Fight MS.

In addition to the MS Rides, Team SHOEBACCA does trail preservation and repair, and participates in other charity fundraisers like the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and the YMCA’s Spin-a-Thon. To learn more about our team or to sign up visit Team SHOEBACCA

Team SHOEBACCA Rocks!

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Shawn Jones

Thinking Back To School!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 4:38:00 PM America/Chicago

During a break today, I was talking with my coworker, Elda, about our kids and how back to school is already upon us. Of course, working at Shoebacca, we've got miles of shoes from which to choose to make sure our kids feet are complete for that big first day back. (Reminds me of syncing up my sneaker color scheme to whatever Geranimals my mom would let me pick out for the first day back to elementary... but anyway...)

Turns out Elda's kids have already picked out a couple of pairs: the Nike Free 5.0 Grade School running shoe in orange and the Nike Free 5.0. The mesh thing is big with the youth set these days. My girl's headed to a magnet arts school and definitely needed an upgrade for her first day of 7th grade. She's accessorizing her first impressions with the Nike Lunarspeed+ Womens. Pretty sharp call!

Whether it's fashion or school supplies, Elda and I both agreed the excitement level is already high with our kiddos for back to school. If you're out there sharing in the same fun with your kids, let us know! We'd love to hear from you on how you're planning for school supplies, shoes, clothing and all the other needs that go with getting your child ready the back to school action!

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Matt Thompson

Throwback Thursday: BMX

Thursday, June 26, 2014 4:38:00 PM America/Chicago

When I joined SHOEBACCA over a year ago, one of the first things I did was buy a pair of VANS. I soaked in the memories of my early years when BMX riding was all-consuming. After 7th grade, I spent a summer working at a local gas station making $1.70 an hour to buy my first real frame and fork, a Torker.

Any day becomes a throwback day when I'm watching the X Games and bikes are on. In my day, it was "BMX Freestyle" which was an up and coming challenger to BMX racing. My buddies and I would spend hours riding around our small town in Oklahoma. I was also fortunate enough to have a dad with builder skills that helped me build a quarter pipe ramp in our driveway. Alright, some kids do have it better than others...

I've been having a lot of fun lately going through the interwebs:

Mike Buff and R.L. Osborn were two of the most popular and innovative riders back in the early days of BMX freestyle. Pretty sure that's the first time I saw a pair of VANS, on one of those guys in BMX Action Magazine. Every time I pick up a new pair of VANS, it takes me back to 7th grade. Here's the latest edition:

Which work well with this:

Time to get home and get on the bike.

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Matt Thompson
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