sandals

Review: Earth Runners Circadian X

This review has a bit of back story. To get the most out of it, I suggest that you read the review of the Earth Runners Alpha X sandals that I posted a while back. (You don’t have to, course. I’m just sayin’.)

Circadian X top view

You’re looking at state-of-the-art Earth Runners Circadian Xs here. At time of writing, they’re not even on the Earth Runners website. That’s because mine are kitted out with fully conductive leather straps. If you take a look at the Earth Runners site (which I heartily recommend you do), you’ll see Circadian Xs with conductive nylon straps and Circadian Xs with non-conductive leather straps. Soon, you’ll see Circadian Xs with fully conductive leather straps as well.

What does that mean?

It means that Mike Dally, the founder of Earth Runners sandals and the guy who designs and builds them, has come up with the conductive straps, not just as an enhancement to an already-good existing product, but as part of a re-design of that product.

To go back a step or two, let’s compare my new Circadian Xs with my Alpha Xs. They’re similar – but different.

For one thing, the Circ Xs have a thinner footbed. They come in at 8mm, whereas the Alpha Xs have an 11mm sole.

Sole thickness comparison

Second, the Circ Xs sport a Vibram pebble-textured sole, rather than the Vibram “Woodstock” tread pattern on the Alpha Xs.

sole_pattern

Those two differences suggest using the Circ Xs as a road or light trail sandal and the Alpha Xs as a sandal for more heavy-duty trails. That’s how I’ve used the latter (and how I’m currently testing the former). I’ve also found the Alpha Xs to be ideal as a general purpose, wear-all-over-the place sandal. And I’ve worn them with Injinji Trail 2.0 socks as pretty decent winter footgear, at temperatures down to -18C (28F).

The simplest way of putting it is that the Circadian Xs offer better ground feel and are closer to being barefoot, while the Alpha Xs offer more cushioning and more protection. How that plays out for you will depend on where you run, what kind of surfaces you run on, and, of course, personal preference.

Now, let’s look at the whole thing about conductive leather straps.

Currently, the Earth Runners Circadian X sandal can be ordered with either nylon or leather straps and copper plug inserts in the sole of the sandals to provide the benefits of earthing. In the very near future, it’ll be offered with a choice of nylon or leather straps, but without the inserts. As Mike Dally explains, “After testing the new conductive leather straps, conductive inserts have become obsolete. The conductive straps test slightly better than the inserts. Factoring in the manufacturing difficulty of the inserts and the unsustainable nature of this process, we have decided to slowly phase out this option.”

Mike also says that his tests show that inserts or conductive straps are about 97% as effective as going barefoot, in regards to earthing.

OK. That leads us to the question of earthing. Does it work? Yes, emphatically, it does. It may be a new concept to you, and may sound a little flaky at first, but it’s based on solid science and verifiable by experience.

The benefits of earthing yourself are basic, but impressive. Earthing appears to minimize or eliminate inflammation through the transfer of negatively-charged electrons from the surface of the Earth into the body (where the electrons neutralize positively-charged destructive free radicals involved in chronic inflammation). Naturally, this has a positive effect on your brain, heart, muscles, immune and nervous systems, and, in turn, the whole body and the aging process.

The most convincing argument for earthing I’ve is this short video of how earthing was used by the Discovery Team in the Tour de France:

I first learned about earthing soon after I got my (non-conductive) Alpha X sandals. That lead me to purchase an earthing mat and a set of earthing patches. Now I’m delighted to own a pair of conductive Circadian X sandals. And yesterday, I ordered a pair of conductive leather straps for my “old” Alpha X sandals. The conductive leather straps are currently available on the Earth Runners website for US$15 (plus shipping), with the regular, non-conductive leather laces still available for US$12. (My advice? Go for the conductive straps. They’re well worth the additional three bucks.)


Circadian X side view

One thin piece of rubber. One leather strap. One plastic buckle. And earthing. That’s all you really need!

Note: Product for this review was supplied by Earth Runners.

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Coming Up: Earth Runners Circadian X Review

I’m delighted to announce that, in the very near future, I’ll post a full review of the Earth Runners Circadian X minimalist sandal. This is an exciting new product from Michael Dally of Earth Runners, featuring 8mm soles with conductive inserts, suede leather footbeds, and fully-conductive leather straps. Given the impressive design, construction, and performance of my present Earth Runners Alpha X sandals, I expect the CircXs to be quite something. Stay tuned!

Race Report: Run4RKids 8 Hour

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Above is an image of the indoor track at the Toronto Track and Field Centre at York University. My plan last Saturday was to run that track for eight hours at the Run4RKids 8 Hour Ultra. The reality was that I bailed at about five hours, having completed approximately 38K. I was still feeling good, had no aches or pains, and was pretty much on target pace.

So what happened?

Long story short – Asperger’s.

As I’ve explained in a previous post (“Running and Asperger’s”), I have Asperger’s Syndrome. Two of the primary manifestations of that are social isolation and a sensitivity to sensory overload. That means I don’t function well in groups of people, and that I don’t function well when there’s a lot of sound or movement around me.

Think about that for a minute, and you’ll understand why I always run alone, and almost always without music. And why running in races is somewhat problematic. Sometimes I can manage races, sometimes I can’t. When I can’t, I simply can’t.

Last January, I ran the Run4RKids 6 Hour successfully, and had a wonderful time. I met a number of very friendly and supportive people (ultra runners are like that), and completed a respectable 52K. So I was looking forward to this year’s 8 Hour. In fact, I’d worked out some specific strategies, building on solid feeling, pacing, and psychological learnings gained in the past twelve months.

Some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield. On Saturday, it was my turn to be the bug.

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Above is a pre-race photo of the full field of runners. About 25 people were in for the 8 Hour, a few for the 6 Hour, and the rest for the 30K, marathon, and half marathon events. That’s yours truly in the back row, wearing a white shirt (and looking as apprehensive as always when in a group of people).

The five hours I ran went according to plan and were smooth sailing. I followed my usual drill for the race. Minimalist sandals and compression clothing, a short breathing exercise/meditation before the race start, an easy pace going out, low-carb high-fat fueling (a couple of handfuls of macadamia nuts, a couple of small pieces of salami, a couple of pieces of 89% cocoa chocolate, and water were enough for the five hours), and a Morton Stretch every two hours. For this race, I also added power-walking breaks of 400m every 90 minutes.

No problem. Everything felt good physically, and I was well on pace. But the feeling of dissonance was there from the start. And that soon grew into a familiar feeling of disassociation. Too many people, too much interaction, too much sound and movement around me. It’s hard to explain to neurotypical (i.e., “normal”) people, but, if you read though my ““Running and Asperger’s” post, you’ll get a sense of what I was going through.

So I decided to call it a day. I sat down at trackside to think it through, made my decison, and headed for the door. No regrets.

None of that took anything away from my appreciation of the race itself, nor did it diminish my appreciation of the friendliness and support of the other participants. I simply knew I shouldn’t be there.

I’m not sure what to do about my upcoming race calender. I’ve got two ultra races scheduled. One’s a 100K road event in June, and the other’s a 24 hour event in September. For the time being, I’m going to leave the calendar as it is. But I may revise my thinking, opt out of all organized events, and explore long-distance running on my own. I’m still passionate about running, but I need to do it the way that makes most sense to me.

Earth Runners Affiliate

I’m pleased to announce that I’m now an affiliate for Earth Runners minimalist sandals.

That means that, if you follow a link on this blog and then buy an Earth Runners product – such as a pair of their sandals or socks – I’ll get a small commission.

I don’t often do this sort of thing, but I want to support Earth Runners, because I believe that their products are worth it.

So have a good look at the Earth Runners site – and feel free to ask me any questions you might have.

I’m currently testing a pair of Earth Runners Alpha X sandals, and will post a full review soon.