Monday, September 26, 2011

Inov-8 Bare-X 200 Now Available

Yeah, that's right, Inov-8's highly aniticipated zero-drop road shoe is finally available for the rest of us. The Bare-X 200 showed up at last week. And, better yet, it's in stock at for an even more enticing price.

Here are a few points of interest about this latest Inov-8 offering:

  • The Bare-X 200 is a minimum feature, minimum neutral shoe designed for road racing. It is built with a semi-curved shape.
  • For a barefoot experience, this shoe contains no additional cushioning technologies.
  • Anatomic Last follows the natural shape of the human foot for a close and comfortable fit.
  • Sticky Rubber for optimal performance and maximized grip in wet conditions.

As excited as I am about these shoes, I'm going to have to abstain from purchasing them for now. This is mostly due to the fact that they're almost completely white. That's a downer. I don't like white shoes. In fact, I don't think I've ever met another runner who likes white shoes. So, why the clever Inov-8 designers felt compelled to release these in white is beyond me.

Also, I just can't afford them right now, not with the impending release of the Bare-X 150, NB MT00, and the Merrell Road Glove; all of which will be available in colorways ranging from not white to definitely not white (I swear I've seen the 150 in green, orange, and blue).

So, unless the good people at Inov-8 feel magnanimous enough to send a free pair of these shoes to me, I won't be able to review the Bare-X 200 for you fine people. I'd really like to. But, you know how it is.

But, hey, if any of you are feeling adventurous and unopposed to white shoes, grab a pair of these from and let me know how you like 'em! I'm especially curious to know how the sizing of the anatomical last fits relative to the performance last of the f-lite 230, etc.

The Inov-8 Bare-X 200: Might be difficult to see against the white background of this web page Inov-8 Bare-X 200 profile
Inov-8 Bare-X 200 top
Inov-8 Bare-X 200 outsole

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

If You Don't Feel Like Running

If you don't feel like running today, that's okay.

Every runner needs an unscheduled break now and then, something to put a kink in your otherwise predictable routine. You'll avoid burnout and return to your schedule after a day or (dare I say it) two feeling revived and invigorated.

However, if you don't feel like running for several consecutive days, then chances are there's something wrong with you.

Chances are you already know that.

By "wrong with you" I'm not saying that you're physically injured, which would technically mean that you simply can't run. Not running due to injury is certainly different from not running due to not feeling like running. If you can't run, you probably feel like running—would actually love to run; but physical restrictions prevent the fulfillment of this desire.

Figure against a silver building on a sunny dayRather, if you do not feel like running, the inspiration to get off your ass and participate in something you've enjoyed doing on a regular basis is just gone, absent.

Someone mentions running, and you almost cringe in shame, knowing you've neglected your training schedule for so many days. You look at your shoes in the closet and glance away quickly to avoid thinking about the last time you laced them onto your feet.

You could run if you wanted to. But, you don't, you don't want to.

Being somewhat obsessive about running, as most runners are, you will experience a great deal of inner turmoil and emotional confusion when faced with the realization that you don't feel like running. I mean, how you could you just not want to run all of a sudden?

Clearly, something apart from running is preventing you from going through the motions of the run, clearly. And, it would not be wholly inaccurate to identify that something as heavy shit of a psychological or emotional nature.

The schematics of this emotionally charged psycho shit are not all that clear to you, though. And, that's understandable. Otherwise, the shit would be neither heavy nor all that psychologically complex. Otherwise, we wouldn't be trying to figure out why you don't feel like running.

So, primarily, you're having to struggle with this abstract shit, this heavy, phsycho-emotional-shit thing that's getting in the way of your urge to run. This takes a lot of energy, facing such complex psychological shit. You might even lose weight.

And, successfully navigating through such enormous loads of psycho-shit on top of trying to understand why you don't feel like running can be very overwhelming indeed, emotionally and physically speaking.

The irony is that running would actually be helpful in counteracting the effects of the emotionally draining thing, because of the endorphins, see. Chances are you're aware of this fact. But, the heaviness of the psycho-emo-shit thing is just too much to handle directly for a few days. And, there's just no getting past that, the heaviness.

So, take a breath and accept that life has suddenly turned all serious on you. And, by "accept", I mean deal with it. Do it quickly, because you've probably figured out that anything preventing you from wanting to run for several days is very serious.Yes, very serious indeed. Get help if the nature of the psycho-shit thing demands such measures. Talk to anyone who will listen.

I'll type it again for emphasis (since I've used up my share of italics in this post already): Get help!

As for your running: Make yourself get out there, even if it's just a short run. A week may have gone by already. But, you can still run. You need to exercise through this shit. Otherwise, it's just that much easier for the complexity of the psychologically troublesome thing to wear you down and get the better of you.

Psycho-emo shit can get even more shitty before you realize it.

You'll pull through this, endure the shit. If it isn't your middle name, "endurance" is at least one of your nicknames. And, this psycho-emotional-shit thing won't keep you down, not with your ability to endure. Running is a passion. And a passion like running trumps that shit. Every time. Eventually. Somehow.

Not quite the same shit. But, nevertheless, relevant here, I think.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 :: 30-Miles-from-New Review

Those of us who are less than perfect will occasionally spend our hard-earned money on things we don't necessarily need, superfluous items that do not fill huge, gaping voids in our material lives. These are things we want, things that look really cool, things that require great effort to justify purchasing.

Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 lateral right view
The Bare-Grip 200:
with Zero Arrow Shoc-Zone™!
For me, the Bare-Grip 200 from our friends at Inov-8 is one of those things. I already have a marvelous collection of trail shoes, which more than sufficiently accommodate my runs on the various trails around the Triangle: There's the Roclite 285, the Minimus Trail, the f-lite 230... So, I certainly don't need another trail shoe.

But, look at it. That is an awesome shoe! (Okay, maybe it's not as awesome if you don't like green) And, it was on sale for 25% off!


Given it's pronounced lugs, the Bare-Grip 200 is more of a specialized trail shoe than anything else I've worn. It's designed for very wet, sloppy, and/or loose terrain with lots of inclines to climb and descend, fell running, really. And, the last time I used the word "fell" in a sentence about running, it wasn't a noun.

Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 lateral right view
The Bare-Grip 200 is all kinds of awesome!

So, we don't have fells here in central North Carolina. But, it rains. Our trails get muddy. And, those leaves, they can be pretty slick in the Fall and Winter, wouldn't you say? Plus, the snow and ice certainly warrants a shoe with significant traction. So, yeah, I'll be able to use the Bare-Grip 200 pretty regularly! This might even have been a wise purchase, safetywise. (Did I mention that it was on sale?)


Notable features of the Bare-Grip 200:

  • Grippy lugs (duh) — These actually serve as a bit of protective cushioning while running over rocks. So, the Bare-Grip simulates barefoot running without subjecting your feet to the perils that VFFs might.
  • Zero differential between the heel and the toe — Inov-8 markets this feature as a ZERO Arrow Shoc-Zone™. (I imagine that the capital letters are for emphasis)
  • No midsole at all — This makes the shoe incredibly flexible and fun to wear. Inov-8 explains that the lack of a midsole "allows all the natural power and speed of the foot [to be] transferred directly through the shoe." The video I've embedded below explains the appeal of forgoing a midsole quite nicely.
  • Better protected toe box — Well, this is subjective, I suppose. To me, that's a rather sturdy bit of rubber, or whatever, buffering the toe box from the outside world. I've found it to be quite useful already. The toe guard is more significant on the Bare-Grip 200 than the one on the Roclite 285. And, I appreciate that.
  • Read more about features in this Bare-Grip 200 review. I lack the attention span to really delve into specifications, etc.
Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 lateral right view

Sizing and Feel

I tried the Bare-Grip 200 on in two different sizes, just because. These are built on the Inov-8 performance last, which coincides with the last of the f-lite 230 and Roclite 285. But, my US Men's size 11.5 Roclite 285 is a bit roomier in the front than my 11.5 f-lite 230. So, just because those shoes are built on the same last doesn't mean they fit the same way. But, I digress.

Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 profile view
The Bare-Grip 200 is a long shoe

The size 12 Bare-Grip felt better on my feet than the 11.5. I liked the added width in the toe box the larger size afforded my little toe while the 11.5 squeezed just a bit. Although, in retrospect, the shoe's upper may have stretched enough after a few runs to warrant keeping the smaller size. I make note of this because I've been second-guessing my decision to keep the 12 now that it feels a bit more loose on my foot. And, if I could have kept the 11.5, I would have preferred it, because I feel a little self conscious about the length of my feet.


The shoe feels fantastic on my feet, light and incredibly flexible. I wouldn't say it fits any more snugly than the f-lite 230. The upper is just as breathable as I'd expect by looking at the photos, which is to say that it's very breathable indeed.

As usual, this Inov-8 shoe includes an insole, 3 mm. I leave it in there. You can remove it if you like. I suspect that those of you who do not wear socks will prefer to leave the insole in place, because the foot bed is a tad rough. But, what do I know about not wearing socks? (Nothing, because I wear them)

Running in the Bare-Grip 200

Since the Bare-Grip 200 marked my foray into zero-droppedness, I was a little nervous about running for too long on the first try. But, my other shoes with their relatively low heel-to-toe differentials probably prepared my calf muscles well for the Bare-Grip. So, a little under 10 miles for the initial run went well. (If you're trying the Bare-Grip while running regularly in a more cushioned shoe, you should use caution and work into this one gradually. Everyone says so.)

Here's a great video overview of the Bare-Grip featuring a runner with a cool accent. This video proved very persuasive to me when the shoe was on sale. Just sayin'.

I took these on the trail for the first time after a day of rain so as to test out the Bare-Grip's traction over soft, wet surfaces. It didn't disappoint. The grip is especially superb over muddy inclines. I found myself running directly through the squishiest parts of the trail just to test the shoe's hold on the surface.

The Bare-Grip's über-flexible outsole is definitely my favorite attribute of the shoe. It conforms to various shapes on the ground in a way that really heightens your sense of the terrain without impaling your feet on pointy rocks hiding under loose debris. I mean, sure, you'll still feel the rocks. You might even wince a few times as you step on a sharp one at an unfortunate angle. But, the balance between proprioception and protection inherent to the Bare-Grip 200 is good.

I'll mention, perhaps superfluously, that the Bare-Grip is not something you want to wear for any length of time on pavement or hard-packed trails. Not, only will you feel the pressure of the individual lugs on the outsole pressing into your foot, but you'll also feel like an idiot. I mean, why would you wear something like this on a flat surface? Granted, you won't be rendered immobile if you're wearing these at the start of a trail race that begins on pavement. You just don't want to have to run more than a couple of miles on the road with the Bare-Grip on your feet.

Worth the Splurge?

In a word: Yes! Clearly, I like the Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200. After a little more than 30 miles of running in them, I've not been disappointed at all. If I had to change anything about these shoes, I'd make the toe area slightly less pointy or make the US Men's size 11.5 slightly wider in the toe box. It wouldn't have to be NB-Minimus-Trail wide, just a little wider than it is now.

This is definitely a specialized type of shoe. If you're looking for your first trail shoe, or an all-around type of trail shoe, try something else. Then, get the Bare-Grip 200 as your secondary, super-fancy trail shoe for special trails, like the convertible sports car that you take out on weekends when the weather is nice (antiquated analogy?). You deserve it.

Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 with a dirty outsole
Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 with a dirty outsole


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