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Archive for the ‘Wardrobe’ Category

A while back I wrote a somewhat controversial post regarding my thought to the whole minimalist/barefoot phenomenon that was occurring in the world of running these days.  I didn’t do any research on the subject to keep my opinions my own and as outspoken as possible. To save you some time (and since my job blocks wordpress I can’t do much editing & adding a pingback), my summary went like this: Barefoot running doesn’t make sense to me and that regardless of foot strike you are placing the same amount of stress on your body just in a different place. To further the point I also commented that shoes are awesome and they help considerably. It is similar to my wife’s thought on epidurals “If the technology is there, use it.”

My opinion on this matter started when I first got into running. It was in 2006 I weighed 272 lbs. I wanted to do this running thing the right way so I got fitted for shoes at a specialty running store which will remain nameless but I won’t go back there. Also, I’ve learned the art of internet scouring to find the the best deal. They did the whole gait analysis and charged me $130 for a pair of Brooks Beasts since I was a fat over-pronator. The shoes were a step up from what I was wearing and I liked them at first. I did notice that whenever I would up the miles (at this time anything over 4 miles was a long run) the medial (inside) part of my knees would hurt. I figured this was normal since the shoes were now providing support where I didn’t have it before. After running with those shoes for a year the pain didn’t go away, but it didn’t get worse either. I went out on a limb and for my next pair bought some New Balance 991’s which were a bit more neutral. There was no knee pain with these shoes. Hmmm.

​Fast forward to 2010 & 2011 and I am running in Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9’s which are a shoe that provide moderate support for over-pronators. I really like these shoes. I’ve had no real issues with them and as my experience with the other pair of Brooks, they hold up very well.

Well, when I wrote that previous article I promised that I would keep an open mind about the minimal thing since there was so much feedback telling me I was wrong. I kept my promise. By a stroke of luck and a need from some trail shoes, I found a pair of New Balance 101’s on sale to get into this minimal thing. I don’t think that there are any arguments that the NB101s are pretty minimal especially when compared to my previous shoes. I’ve started out slow with them and have noticed that my calves are getting a better workout when running and there is a “difference” in the way my knees feel. It’s a good difference. They feel a bit looser after I run with the NB101s. I’ve also taken the NB101s out to the track and did some speed work with them, they were awesome for that environment too.

Finally, I have purchased “Born to Run” which I have been told is the greatest running book ever. I haven’t started on it yet because I am knee deep in the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series and I don’t want to break up those books. So, I have a feeling my research will be picking up once I crack that sucker open.

So, after a couple months I have gone from Minimal Skeptic to Casual Minimal Tester-Outer and I like this progression I am seeing. Its too early to say that I am hooked and that minimal running is the thing for me but my mind is a bit more open.

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So I felt the need to post the letter below that I just sent to Bostonian Shoe Company. I will follow up here if/when they reply to my email.

Greetings,
I’m not sure where to start on this, or what category to even place this under, but here goes. THANK YOU! I have had a pair of Brown Bostonian Strata shoes for the last 10 years. Today, they may have met their demise. as the rubber sole has finally worn all the way through and they are now taking in water on the forefoot.

I remember purchasing them at Macy’s. I was just out of college & working for Enterprise Rent-a-car (don’t judge me) where the normal pair of dress shoes lasts only about 6 months due to the water and soap from washing cars. But not these shoes. They withstood hundreds of car washes. In fact 3 months after I bought the brown pair, I bought them in Black (which I still have/wear).

After my glorious career at ERAC they served as my primary dress shoe for the last 8 years. Interviews, Weddings, going to bars, work, nothing was too big or too small for these shoes. They were wonderful. And the one that doesn’t leak is still wonderful.

So, I wasn’t really sure how to deal with this today. Should I be mad that my foot is wet? or should I celebrate these shoes and the journey they have helped me on? I think I will choose the later. 1 day of a wet sock can’t replace 10 years of everlasting style and performance. Thank you Bostonian for making such a wonderful shoe.

This is what quality looks like

I am giving the Bostonian Strata the highest award possible on our Sandwich Scale. The Amighetti’s Little Bit of Italy.

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The fact that I am writing about running again only confirms that I have something wrong in my head. My wife agrees.

We have all grown up wearing shoes. We wear them for everything. They help us look good, protect our feet, and make us comfortable. From the time we start walking we are introduced to shoes. We adapt accordingly throughout life to be one with our shoes. Shoes are more of an extension of our body than any other piece of clothing. So, why try to take away a part of your make up?

It’s no secret that there is a big “minimalist” running trend going on. In the races I’ve been a part of over the last 4 years I’d usually see some dude running barefoot and think to myself “How can that be good for you?” There was usually only 1 person doing it so I didn’t pay much attention. However, in the last year, this minimalist mentality has gained increased popularity thanks mostly to the folks at Vibram and their FiveFingers “shoes”. I am loosely categorizing them as shoes because they go on your feet, but to me they look more like Foot Work Gloves.

I fear these "shoes" would destroy me

Other manufacturers have gotten into the concept also. My two favorite brands New Balance and Brooks have their lines called the Minimus & Green Silence. These are your more traditional shoe-looking foot covers, but are supposed to promote a barefoot feel when running. I will say both these shoes actually look like they could be comfortable, but still not sure on the hype around this whole thing and that the shoes can live up to the daily demand you place on your running shoes.

I fear I would destroy this shoe.

I am biodegradable.

Here’s a little background info on the supposed benefits of Barefoot running. Also to qualify my perspective a bit I will say that I have a degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Biology. I’m not a doctor and I don’t work in a health related setting. I now work in IT and my only connection to health & fitness is that I run, workout, & read a lot. So take my opinion it for what its worth (which is nothing short of awesome).

  • Comfort & Efficiency – They are kind of one in the same with running. The theory with Barefoot running is that it will promote runners to run/land on the balls of their feet as opposed to leading with the heel and then rolling through the toes. Its believed that this is the more “natural” way of doing things and that landing on the mid & forefoot lessen the blow to the joints as opposed to landing on the heel. Got it?
  • Increased lower leg strength. Remember that Seinfeld episode with Jimmy? Well Jimmy uses special jumping shoes that help his vert. This is similar but instead of adding to the front of a shoe, you take away from the back and emphasize landing towards the front. This will cause the calves & other lower leg muscles to build up and promote more stability in your lower leg. Also, George likes his Kung Pao spicy.

Here’s why I think its goofy:

  • Over-compensating for a lack of shoe could promote just as many or more injuries than just running with shoes. We are familiar with shoes. Unless going barefoot to work becomes socially acceptable, only then will we all get natural or minimal.
  • As a larger person (200-ish lbs) are you to tell me that I would benefit from having less cushioning to absorb shock between the ground and my foot? It wouldn’t matter where I landed on my foot, I’d be applying more direct stress to my body for sure. Its simple math really.

If someone would like to prove me wrong on this, I am all for it. I will gladly take on a challenge to try it, I am a size 14 2E. However, know that my opinions and body type are stacked against liking this and ultimately succeeding at it.

Also, I know I use a lot of bullet formatting in my writing. I am not a poet & this is the way my brain processes info.

-S

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Pants are a staple in every non-clinically insane person’s wardrobe. They keep us warm, protect our legs from would be intruders, and in most cases serve as the base for a Man’s work wardrobe. Before we dive into this topic much more, I want to distinguish here that when I say “Pants” I mean your khaki-type material 2 legged variety. Anything made of denim are jeans,  & mesh or thick cotton are sweat pants. Also, pants start at the waist and cover the entire leg, not 3/4 of it. They have 4 pockets 2 in front & 2 in back (not cargo pants). They are simple and wonderful.

Until recently, I didn’t take much stock into my pants. I had a few here and there and I stayed within the Dockers arena. Dockers are a fine pant indeed, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t crazy about them, the weren’t flattering and everyone else on the planet (of Metro St. Louis) wears them. They are safe pants. They had served me well before I had lost all my weight because I could find that size 42 waist pretty much anywhere I went, try them on, sulk about being fat, and buy them. And quite frankly when you are fat, you just want to blend in anyway. Which Dockers are great for. Any additional attention would make you seem like you were a fat guy trying to be trendy or cool and that’s not what I wanted. I don’t want this to sound bad for Dockers, they serve the masses with quality, affordable pants.

So, after the lbs have dropped and I am at a steady size that I’d like to be. I am a new person, more confident, yada yada, yada. I needed to refresh my closet. It has been a slow process for me to upgrade my wardrobe accordingly due to the cost. Shirts are pretty easy for guys, they come in lettered sizes and they have buttons on them. Also I can get away with some of the shirts I already had. However, it has recently come down to getting some new pants and I refused to buy Dockers because I wanted my wardrobe selection to change with my new image. Enter Bonobos.

I was briefly introduced to Bonobos by a friend a few years ago but never bought anything. I completely forgot about them until one off my favorite sites Earndit had a $50 gift card as one of their rewards (and they still do). So I saved up the points and got that Gift Card. Little did I know that gift card would start a small obsession with this company. I went online and bought the The Graham Slackers. It was a good match. The pants fit very well and they have just a small bit of the “hey look at me” that I would shy away from in my fat days. I just bought my second pair this week and I am excited about them. If there’s one issue I have with the first pair is that the Length of 32 was a little shorter than what I am used to. I am talking about maybe 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch or so, but not quite enough to test the return policy. They still look good.

So what makes Bonobos different? Here’s my opinion. They only exist online. I guess one could go to their NYC office (not retail store) and try stuff on, but I don’t think I will get approval to fly to NYC to try on a pair of pants unless Bonobos would foot the bill. So existing online is a cheaper way of doing things for sure, but what if the pants don’t fit correctly? Bonobos is crazy about customer service. They will take their pants back for any reason at any time. This security helps a dude in St. Louis feel OK about buying something and not having to deal with the hassle of trying to get a company to accept a return. Also, I have called their “Ninjas” (customer service reps) on a couple of occasions and they are easy to talk to and know their product. Lets be honest, its tough for a guy to call up another guy and ask “Hey whats the inseam length on your “Crabby Shack” shorts?” But its easy with these guys. They just get it. Surprisingly, they really don’t do much marketing that I have seen outside of the web. It seems they rely on word of mouth more than anything. Finally, their customers can get referral bonuses for sending people to buy stuff. I would want to work for these guys based on the quality of their product and their business model. Unfortunately the Mid-West is not known as a fashion hub. So the best I can hope for is they want to use my basement to store product.

I am giving Company a rating of A Little Bit of Italy & the Pants the rating of Amighetti’s Special (only because of the length issue) from our sandwich scale. This is a pretty impressive 1, 2 punch.

So anyway, you should go check these guys out, do it, buy the pants. Also use this link so I can get some referral love from them:

-S

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Christmas was last week, and as always, I gave a lot of gifts, and received a handful in return, as is the case for daddy’s worldwide for any major gift-giving holiday. This Christmas I got two stand out gifts, both from my wife (or I guess maybe technically one from my kids, but those selfish little takers didn’t earn the money, didn’t wrap the present, and probably didn’t even go to the store, so the missus still gets full credit).

The first was a two-person, four-night trip to Mexico some time this spring, which I am really, really looking forward to. She didn’t come out and say it, but I’m guessing she expects to be the other person heading south with me (dicey word choice, no?). I’ll clarify, and if that isn’t the case, I’ll hold a twitter comment contest to see who gets to ride along. I can’t in good conscience recommend holding your breath.

The second was a pair of sweat pants. That’s right. Sweat pants.

Normally I wouldn’t get all excited about this sort of thing, but I’m the type of guy who is very tall (almost a 30″ inseam) but even wider (a more than 30″ waist), so buying any pants is tough, and buying pants with sizes likes size S-M-L-XL usually results in buying shorts or something with enough elastic at the ankle to cut off blood flow.

Well, at the local Tar-ghey, they sell some Champion athletic pants that come in S-M-L-XL sizes for the waist but they also have an inseam measurement. So I could cover my ample butt and still not walk on the heels of my pants. Awesome.

Other key features include:

  • Pockets. Name me one father who doesn’t need at least one pocket in every article of clothing he owns and I’ll show you a father who carries a man-purse*.
  • They are made out of that good-short material, not that usual track pant material what makes that gawd-awful whipping noise
    when you walk. My kids wear those pants, and I can’t stand it.
  • Solid colors, no big logo. I hate that trend where everything has to have some ginormous off-colored logo. Thank you Champion, for staying classy.
  • Comfort. These things are awesome. Just thick enough you can wear them outside as comfortably as jeans in December, and still thin enough to wear around the house without getting your duckbutter running**.
  • Seriously, these things are so comfortable I spent 6 hours Googling diseases I could talk my doctor into diagnosing me with that would allow him to prescribe my wearing them everywhere: work, church, etc. I suppose not being able to find one is the only failing of these pants.
  • They are only like $16.99, which is cheaper than most shorts.

In conclusion, if you are a man who loves pants, or are simply a woman loves a man who needs pants, I can’t recommend them enough. I got a pair on Christmas and bought two more pairs the next time I had to do laundry because I seriously couldn’t handle the thought of wearing something else during a full wash and dry cycle.

*In all fairness, they are very European.

**We here at the SFA do not condone Googling “duckbutter” from your work computer.

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