I’ve posted pictures of these shoes a few times in various online venues since I got them and they’re always greeted with a round of questions. Because you gotta admit… they’re funny looking!
These are the B2R Road Performance Shoe. They’re special because they’re minimal shoes with a zero drop and the back story in how they came about has a little bit of history with the phenomenal book Born to Run. I’m not going to re-iterate the whole story here, you can read it on their site. But just as a heads up, they were created in conjunction with Eric Orton, the coach who helped Christopher McDougall (author of the aforementioned bestseller) get into shape and re-learn how to run.
B2R is more than just a shoe though, it’s a whole system designed to help build a better runner. Let’s go through some of the parts I tried.
First, the shoe.
The split toe is designed to help the runner with better balance and power. It’s extremely lightweight, the men’s version is only 6.9 oz. The shoe comes in red or green, they’re not subtle so people will notice the shoes and then they’ll notice the split toe. And yes, the split toe means you need special socks. Fortunately, each pair of shoes comes with two pairs of socks.
I’m not that much of a fan of the socks though. They come up higher on the leg than I’m used to for running socks. And the pocket for the 4 toes that aren’t my big toe seems a little big, I have extra material up there. I keep thinking I should pick up another pair of Injinji socks to wear with these. (I haven’t worn Injinji since 2009 and the pairs I had then are long since worn out.) They seem like a better solution for me. Of course, they are also meant to be snug and close-fitting, designed without seams so you can wear them without shoes. They are treated with an anti-microbial agent to help prevent stink… but sometimes funk is inevitable!
To be perfectly honest, each time I put these shoes on I am a little bit unhappy with them. They feel kind of like slippers and that just don’t seem “right” for running shoes. But then I start to run and they actually feel pretty good when running. I’m not entirely sure why this is, but my calves seem very sore after I run in them. Typically it seems you could just blame a zero-drop, but I’m running in zero-drop shoes pretty much all the time now, so I don’t think that’s it. I’m curious if having the toe separate does that much to make my muscles work harder. Due to this, I’ve only run 2-3 miles at a time in them.
But I do concede that these shoes are not very attractive and people will notice them!
Next, the strength training component.
This comes with a slant board, poles and a DVD. I have the Level 1 program. You stand on the slant board and use the poles to help you retain your balance. It’s designed to build foot strength, but it engages every muscle from the foot to the hip, as well as working the core. You turn the slant board in different directions to work muscles differently; uphill, downhill, left, right. It’s an interesting program and I like seeing improvement in being able to balance longer at different angles.
Beyond the Level 1 program, they have two more DVDs (Level 2 and 3, go figure) that utilize stability disks. I have not tried those components though.
Born 2 Run offers a training program for transitioning to minimal shoes, as well as a few other training programs available through Training Peaks. Finally, they have started the “aid station” where they feature nutritional items. So far there is just one product, Verde Go, but they don’t have a list of the ingredients or nutritional information on it posted. I don’t know if it’s for during-run or recovery or just general health. But it does say it’s a gluten-free, probiotic drink with fruits and vegetables in it.
Born 2 Run is a relatively new company, but it looks like they’re doing some cool things. I can’t imagine the shoes catching on widespread. They feel pretty decent while running but I don’t foresee them becoming my main running shoes. But I do think I’ll use them for a short EZ run each week, I like that “good sore” feeling that my calves get, knowing that I’ve worked them out! I would recommend the strength training program in a heartbeat though, it’s innovative and cool to have this system designed to target all the tiny muscles that are needed for runners.