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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Go Lite Timber Lite Review

Go Lite Timber Lite

Wearing minimalist shoes, or at least shoes without a drop during the day is complementary to running in an ideal shoe. On the days when it is not raining or snowing at The University of Vermont, I wear shoes such as the Terra Plana Evo, Feelmax Osma, Soft Star RunAmoc, or Vibram Fivefingers KSO. Not one of the aforementioned shoes is waterproof, or ideal for snow. When it isn’t snowing, or bitterly cold, Burlington, Vermont is as rainy as the Pacific Northwest. For this reason, I purchased the GoLite Timber Lite.


The Timber Lite does not have a heel rise. It is a true “zero-drop” shoe. This is a good thing. Shoes with a heel rise shorten the Achilles tendon and detrimentally affect posture.
While the shoe is flat, it does have a small amount of arch support. You may get over this, you may not. If your arch is high enough that the shoe doesn’t come in contact with your foot in places other than the heel and forefoot, you'll be fine. For me, it’s not like I’m wearing a shoe with inserts specifically designed for arch support, but after wearing them for a week, I felt a strange pain in my inside, right-frontal arch. Every day, in my training log, I write down which shoe I wore for the day, and there is a direct correlation between the Timber Lite and the arch pain. To solve this problem, I cut the arches out of the insoles, and the pain went away. Doing so wasn't a big deal.
The toe box width and height are spot on. I’ll admit that my feet aren’t abnormally wide, but even with wool socks, my toes are nowhere near cramped. The heel width is tight enough to keep my heel in place, but it still leaves ample room to avoid any pain. There is no plastic heel counter, and the heel cup is bendable, but it isn’t like wearing a Soft Star RunAmoc.
The upper material is very flexible, but seems durable. It’s breathable, definitely waterproof, and fends off heavy, wet snow. Running with wool socks, in about 25 degrees, my feet felt warm, but not as if they were in a neoprene oven. Even with basic cotton socks, in single digits, my feet are never cold.
GoLite claims that the Timber Lite is designed to “move fast over rugged terrain.” I would agree with that, but only if the word “dry” were added. The sole of the Timber Lite would be fine for rocks, mud, gravel, or anything rough and not frozen. Running up hills of hard-packed snow was a bit iffy. I wouldn’t use these shoes for broomball, but as long the snow isn’t packed or icy, the traction is fine. Think L.L. Bean boots with a bit more traction. The flats are fine, but trying to walk up the sledding hill with your kids might be difficult.
The lacing is fine: not much to worry or complain about. The boots come with thin laces that stay tied. Like most hiking boots, you can also tie them as high or low as you want, allowing for sufficient ankle flexibility. On the first silver rung, they were fine for running: no pinching or rubbing. The “Internal Lace System,” as GoLite claims it does, secures my foot and heel in place, but it doesn’t feel like my foot is caught in a bear trap.
SAT G: Soft Against The Ground. This is GoLite’s claim to fame. They turn the sole of a traditional shoe upside down, putting a hard surface against your foot. Personally, I like this a lot. My foot doesn’t sink into a marshmallow as it would in a traditional road shoe, and the shoe feels a lot more stable than my New Balance trail running shoes.
Flexibility. What you gain in protection, you lose in flexibility. The shoe certainly isn’t an Evo or a Five Finger, but it’s not meant to be minimalist. Despite the thickness, it’s flexible enough for the snow covered trails, and you get a surprising amount of ground-feel. I ended up climbing down some snow-covered rocks, and I could tell which ones were secure, and which would slip under my feet.

Running in the Timber Lite:

The lack of a heel rise definitely allows for a nice midfoot/forefoot strike. The Timber Lite doesn’t have the perfect flexibility and thickness of the Evo that are conducive to a light, quiet, quick footstrike and turnover. On the trails, in my KSO, I my feet can respond as quickly as my brain can to what’s on the ground, and where I should or should not step. The Timber Lite is too heavy for that, but I can still maintain a decently quick turnover. Think 75% of the speed of BFT’s feet in the video of him running on the rocks in huaraches with the music by Kodo playing the background.
In 3 inches of wet powder, the snow didn’t get into the Timber Lite at all, and my feet stayed dry. With gaiters, turnover is decreased even more, but if you still want to hit the trails without snowshoes in the powder, the Timber Lite would be a solid option.
I was considering Feelmax with wool and neoprene socks, but running on rocky, rooted trails without being able to see what’s under your feet, without a lot of protection didn’t seem like a good idea. There were several instances today where I definitely would have done some damage to my arch had I not had on the Timber Lite.
I usually judge a shoe by how hard I have to work to maintain my running form while wearing it. Bare feet are a 1, and something that legitimately makes me heelstrike, such as the Asics Gel Landreth 4 and beyond would be a 10. Shoes with more support than that aren’t worth mentioning, just because they’re so incredibly awful. Feelmax are a 1.5, Newton Distance are about a 3, and Adizero Adios are around 6. I’d give the GoLite Timber Lite a 4.5 on the trails. The snow makes me want to shuffle along, which isn’t ideal, and the lack of flexibility for the roads would interfere with a nice midfoot landing, either resulting in a loud midfoot landing, or an uncomfortable forefoot scuff on a sandy pavement downhill. Flats and uphills would be fine.
Questions? Just comment or email me at

Friday, December 10, 2010

Vid from Zack and my kayak trip (grammar?) to the Rapid River, which feeds into Lake Umbagog. We stayed at a campground Errol, NH, had corned beef hash and eggs for dinner, along with cherries, choc milk, Naked Juice, stride flavor changing gum, and chips and salsa. For lunch we ate turkey, PB and or Jelly, more cherries, and Cabot (R) Seriously Sharp lumberjack cheese made by real lumberjacks. We were informed that there were skunks near out campsite. I didn't see any. I woke Zack up with Roni. I'm sorry Trevor. The end.

Two days later:
Hadn't run barefoot for a looong time. Got a dec quarter sized blister, but that's not a bad thing. Looks like a form inconsistency...left foot lands too straight and initial ground contact is too far forward...right foot is a bit duck toed, probs resulting in the little bit of pain I get on the inside right, right behind the ball (PF?). Stride frequency decreases in the Newtons. Not a terrible thing, but BF definitely looks best.

Form Check 12/7

Pretty much hadn't run in a year...this the fourth run back. 12/7/10
Shoes: Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot Evo

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The last year in brief.


Miles run from 12/9/09 - 11/30/10: 0.

Tuesday 11/30/2010
Today, I ran for the first time since December 9, 2009. I'm healthy for the first time in a year. Knee is great...foot is a thing of the past. I no longer have to limp. Aside from running, I can soon hike, ski, fence, ride, and be me. I couldn't ask for a better birthday present. (.4 miles)

Thursday: Ran again (.75 mile)

Friday: 30 miles on the bike

Saturday: Ran and lifted. (1 mile)

Right before thanksgiving, 2009:
UVM T&F Green and Gold meet (time trial/make the team): I run 1:26 in the 600, and make the indoor roster. Right after this race, I feel a strange pain in my foot. It hurts when I land (when running). I train through it until winter break, hoping it will go away. It doesn't. It continues to hurt to run and/or walk for a long time through the summer, and into the new year (9 months). In that time, I have 3 x-rays, an MRI, and get orthotics for a mysterious foot ailment that I do not know the cause of. I cross train as best I can, and pick up swimming to fill in the dearth of competition. Earlier in 2009 I had posted something on the USA Pentathlon website, and never received a response. On 1/1/10, Margaux Isaksen facebooks me, renewing my interest in Pentathlon. That whole thing is a different story for another time.

September 2010:
I ask Coach Belfield what I should do about my foot. It's been 9 months, I haven't done anything to aggravate it, and it's still bothering me. Coach gives me a book called "To Be or Not To Be...Pain-Free The Mindbody Syndrome." I read it. My foot hasn't hurt me since. What's up with that? I know, right?

Ever gotten a headache when stressed? Well it turns out that I essentially get headaches in my foot. I think the foot pain started out physical, but since running is such a huge part of my life, in my lack of running, I began to dwell on my injury, and even though it was physically fine, my brain made it continue to hurt. This may sound crazy, but I assure you, it's valid. After reading the book several times in about two months, my foot pain became increasingly rare. At one point, it hurt significantly during an exam, but as soon as I convinced myself that there was no physical reason for the pain, it ceased its bickering. Thank you Coach Belfield.

August 2010: I tear my Meniscus (fencing I think?)
Surgery on 9/30, Chris from UVM Athletic Training has me do a ton of PT, and finally start running again on 11/30. I had been limping for so long that the muscle in my left leg was pretty weak, but it's getting a lot better now. Running feels great, and I can ride the bike for extended periods of time. Thank you Chris.

Present: 12/05/10
What got me through a year of not running: knowing that I would be able to run again. I wrote some journal-esque that I think is on my old computer. I'll post that later, but the gist of it is that running and competing, even with myself, is what I live for, and neither nothing nor no one, not even myself, can take that identity away from me. If I can go a year without running, and still be as dedicated to it as I was a year ago, I can do anything. This past year has made me realize how focused I really am. One could say that the only thing harder than running is not running. If I can take a year of that, I can and will take years of training to get where I want to go. Even if I pull a Tim Morehouse, I will get to 10,000 hours, and I will make it.

Who has helped me keep the faith, whether you know it or not, in no particular order and not limited to:
Alan Webb
Dathan Ritzenhein
Mitchell Switzer
Alex Judge
Doug Maisey
Michael Phelps (not really what he did in Beijing, but what he did to get there)
Jared Alvord
David Blake
Ariana Klinkov
Tim Morehouse
Always Steve Pre

Call me zealous, call me crazy, but I've found what I want to do with my life.

Day in day out, lay the life aside.
Worth it? All of it…run, fence, swim, shoot, and ride.
Dedication never a part-time mindset,
yet a lifestyle I'll never once forget.
While the road to the top may be long,
life is short. Have I doubt, may my past prove me wrong.
Look at Bill? Please…look at me,
all these things that I've done, and what you're about to see.
I don't give less than my best; to give everything I see fit.
Don't tell me what I can't do, because I will never once sacrifice the gift.