Vibram Bikila EVO Shoes ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (March 25th, 2015)

Vibram Bikila Evo ShoesDepending on whom you listen to, you might think that minimalist or barefoot running (and walking) is completely passe. A fad that’s gone the way of Crocs.

But for those of us who got hooked on this style, we remain fanatics and there’s little changing our minds.

As you likely know, I really only started running a few years ago. I switched from my clunky (very old) gym shoes to minimalist running shoes when I got tired of packing my larger sneakers for trips. My decision to run in minimalist shoes was a practical travel one. I wasn’t trying to make a statement or follow a style. I simply wanted running shoes that were easy to pack in my carry-on bag.

I started with the Merrell Barefoot Run Pace Gloves. They definitely served me well (for far longer than they should have) but they needed to be retired. Merrell no longer makes that style which forced me to look elsewhere for a running shoe. While I’ve had Vibram walking shoes for years, it was only recently that I turned to them for running options and tried out the Bikila EVO shoes.

To understand what’s so great about the Bikila EVOs, you should know a little about minimalist/barefoot running

When running in minimalist shoes, your foot strikes the ground in the front (on the ball of your foot) as opposed to the back (on your heel) as is common with most other running shoes. This way of running forces your body to engage a different set of muscles. Therefore, it’s easy to get injured if you haven’t properly gotten these muscles used to working in a new way.

As a result, there’s been a bit of a backlash from people who’ve sustained injuries from running in minimalist shoes. The reality is they likely just jumped right in to doing long distances rather than slowly increase their mileage over time. Minimalist shoe companies have been very forthright about providing detailed instructions on how to run in minimalist/barefoot shoes so this is not new or hidden knowledge.

For me, minimalist/barefoot is basically how I learned to run. And other than testing out some other styles of running shoes, I don’t really know anything different. Running in Vibrams is pretty new to me, however. But I am now so hooked that you couldn’t pay me to stop running in these.

Why so awesome?

In addition to these being easy to pack, the feature that I find the most outstanding on the Bikila EVOs is the additional padding on the bottom that slightly softens the impact on the ball of my foot as well as my heel. I’m a road (well, technically, sidewalk) runner and while most of the paths I run are smooth, the times I’m making my way across gravel means that I can feel what’s underneath my foot, but it’s not uncomfortable. There’s no doubt these are minimalist, but with this extra padding, there’s no jabbing, sticking or poking into my foot. Vibram Bikila EVO bottom

The padding on the heel makes them comfortable for walking (when your heel lands first). I didn’t realize this was so important until I wore another brand of minimalist shoes on a walk that did not have this padding and it was pretty uncomfortable with every heel strike on the pavement.

Look, I know they look weird. And for some people that’s going to be a turn off. But the comfort level these provide me far outweighs the look. And, honestly? I kinda like the weird factor. :-)

Unfortunately, fewer stores are carrying minimalist shoes these days but they are definitely available online. These come in Black/Magenta (pictured), Yellow/Pink, Orange/Purple, Purple/Grey and Blue/Green and are available on the Vibram site for $120.

Be Bold,

Beth

Want to stay up-to-date on all things Wanderlust? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

Disclosure: Vibram provided these shoes to me for review. Regardless, everything I have said in the post reflects my honest opinions.

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Tapping Into Your Potential

by Beth Whitman (March 23rd, 2015)

PotentialI’ve been thinking a lot lately about possibilities and boundaries. The possibilities to accomplish things we never dreamed of and the self-limiting boundaries we put on ourselves on our way to pursuing certain goals.

Many of us tend to talk ourselves out of doing something before we even think through what the end results might look like.

Certainly multiple times each week I hear people make excuses for why they can’t do something. Here are just a few that come to mind:

  • I have no money to travel
  • I couldn’t travel alone, I don’t like eating by myself
  • I have no time to exercise
  • I could never meditate, there’s too much going on in my head
  • I can’t run, I have bad knees (or a bad hip or…)

The truth is, often we’re only motivated to do something when the fear or pain of NOT doing it outweighs whatever it is we’ve already talked ourselves out of doing. In other words, it isn’t until that balance is tipped that we become motivated enough to pursue what we’ve been telling ourselves we can’t do.

I’m not immune to this. But I think the fact that I’m aware of this bit of human nature is helpful. I often stop myself from saying “no” and “never” when it comes to new opportunities because under most circumstances whatever excuse I have is simply BS.

For example, I had always told myself that running was not for me. I had a whole list of reasons why. But one day a few years ago I stopped making excuses, bought some running gear and am now training for my first marathon.

Never say never.

As I push my own physical boundaries to see what I’m capable of, I realize there are a lot of women who are trying to push their travel boundaries to see what they are capable of.

For one woman, it might be taking the first steps toward a solo journey after the death of a significant other. For another, it might be putting everything in storage and traveling for a year while she rents out her house.

It doesn’t matter where you are on the experience scale, we all struggle with pursuing some aspect of travel. Whether we think we’ll never be able to afford our dream trip or never be healthy or bold enough to pursue some exciting adventure, we’ve probably all used one excuse or another.

Most of us are have some internal self-doubt talk. We’re surrounded by it, whether we get it directly from family, teachers and community or culturally through messages we receive about our race, gender or age.

But it’s important to make thoughtful decisions that are based on a world of possibilities rather than limitations. Allowing these attitudes, these excuses, to influence the decision-making process is a lazy way to live a life. If you buy into the fact that you are only capable of certain things, that’s all you will ever accomplish. As Henry Ford is often quoted as saying, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

I challenge myself every day by asking what’s holding me back from accomplishing something or feeling at the top of my game. What can I do to be a better, healthier, more centered person? And as a Buddhist practitioner, I’m often reminded that not only does improving myself Vietnam Lotus flowerhelp me but it benefits others as well. Kinda like the instructions for putting on the oxygen mask on a plane – you gotta take care of yourself first before you can help others. If I’m not living my best life, how can I help others live theirs?

I’m a work in progress (for sure) and am always looking to others for inspiration. I generally find it in those who approach every day with a can-do attitude despite their setbacks–whether it be age, illness or personal problems out of their control.

Whatever is holding you back from fulfilling a travel dream or personal goal, remember that it is (likely) a temporary setback and that you can make a plan to overcome your obstacles.

If a lotus can bloom from mud, we can certainly make our own beauty in this world.

Be Bold,

Beth

Want to stay up-to-date on all things Wanderlust? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

Photo credits:
Potential – Thejas Panarkandy via Flickr

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REI Venturi T-Shirt ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (March 18th, 2015)

REI Venturi ShirtA woman I know told me that when she shops for travel clothes, the first place she goes to is the activewear department of a store. You know, the area where you find yoga, running and hiking clothes.

I thought that was a brilliant idea and did a little head slap that I hadn’t thought of it before.

Generally, these clothes are going to have a relaxing fit and are likely made of a technical material that will wick away sweat. Since so much of my travel is to warm climates, I totally get the benefits of packing active-style clothing for travel.

I spotted the REI Venturi T-Shirt when I was in REI’s flagship store in Seattle and knew this would be a great top for both travel and running.

Here’s why…

The material is a polyester/spandex mix, giving it a bit of a stretch. This extra play in the material is not only great for being more comfortable but it makes putting on and taking off a backpack much easier. It’s got a couple of mesh panels (including under the armpits), allowing for some airflow.

There’s a zippered front pocket where I put my house key when I go running but I could conceivably see carrying some cash and my hotel room key in here if I was out and about in a city on a short walk.

Truth be told, one of the things I like most about the Venturi T-Shirt is the scoop neck. It’s a nice added touch of femininity that you don’t often find in more technical clothes for women. It’s also got built in UPF40 sun protection.

This is definitely a piece that won’t get stuck in either my running clothes drawer nor my bin of travel clothes (yes, I have a bin dedicated to travel clothes). Instead, it’ll be a versatile piece with multiple uses.

The only thing I would change about this top is to tighten up the waist a bit. For me, it’s just a tad (and I do mean a tad) billowy. Not enough to make me not want to wear it though.

The Venturi T-Shirt is really reasonably priced at just over $45 and is available on the REI website. It comes in multiple colors including Cavern Shade (pictured), Morning Rose and Brilliant Blue.

Now, tell me where you find your travel clothes?

Be Bold,

Beth

Want to stay up-to-date on all things Wanderlust? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

Disclosure: REI provided this top to me for review. Regardless, everything I have said in the post reflects my honest opinions.

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