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 My journey to success as a barefoot Olympic Athlete

I’m Montell Douglas, an Olympian, one of the fastest females in Great British sprinting history and a ‘barefooter’! Kudos to my mother’s 5”4 power and competitiveness, and my father’s 6”0 diligence and work ethic. I was born with a passion for all sports and graced with the gift of ‘moving fast’, so my abilities largely influenced my event selection. The 100m; the blue-ribbon event within Track & Field. The event sort of chose me. Now, having been involved in international sport for over 10 years, I’ve learned a lot about life and desire, but most importantly I’ve gained wisdom. I’ve had access to elite knowledge on many topics, and realised that acquiring this information is not the job done, but that the application of such concepts is the key to life’s successes. I’m an open minded individual and I continue to embrace personal development. Being introduced to the barefoot movement opened up doors to a world with new expectations; a lightbulb to a sphere of limitless opportunities. It became an obvious way of making those finer adjustments towards greater world class performance. I never really enjoyed wearing shoes and I’ve never been conventional in my approach to everyday tasks, so the chance to give my feet a break from footwear by going barefoot was a moment of epiphany. I was always more comfortable with doing things the simpler way, from using my left hand as a knife, to choosing to sit on the floor instead of a sofa! This, in turn, influenced my approach to elite sport. “Do the basics, but do them the best”, This lead me to an International athletic career in a world that I was ignorant to until age 13. Quite simply, my feet are my magic wands. The meat to a butcher and the car to a driver. Being barefoot gives me greater sensory feedback, when having to hit the track with 2.5 times my body weight per stride. Having access to a stronger feeling, whether in spikes or trainers, gives my body the chance to make the subconscious adjustments to my footing. My feet are the only part of the body that make contact with the ground when I sprint, at speeds up to 10m/s. Training at this intensity means recovery is sometimes more important than the work itself. Being ‘barefoot’ allows me to stay training to be the best, even when I rest. Train your feet up to move like an olympian in a pair of Vivo exercise shoes. Remember to start slowly and strenghten your feet gradually. SHOP MENS SHOP WOMENS

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 Saami Lite and Tabi Hi: Shoes Inspired by ancient wisdom

We have travelled the world on the quest for the perfect shoe, perfect for feet. We’ve worked with the leading modern and indigenous shoemakers, from the San Bushmen of the Kalahari to the Saami people of Northern Scandinavia, advanced mould makers in Germany and the automated pionieers of China’s manufacturing.....and the journey continues. The shoe designs we witnessed in the Kalahari, Northern Scandinavia and parts of Asia, have been refined over thousands of years. They honour natural foot function and use local materials, perfected for their environment. We are humbled and inspired by our interactions with some of the very best barefoot cobblers, who have been making shoes like this for a millenia. We continue to learn from them and gain incredible insight into how we could simplify our designs, improve the natural function and environment specific performance in all our shoes. We call some of these shoes “modern indigenous”. To us, this term refers to our never ending journey of exploration into designs that are inspired by indigenous wisdom, reimagined for the modern world, using advanced modern shoemaking technologies. Saami Lite The Saami people understand winter. For countless generations, they have lived and worked in sub-zero conditions in the Eurpoean Arctic, herding reindeer through knee-deep snow, from Autumn through to Spring. We visited them with our good friend and research partner Catherine Willems , on the last leg of her research trip. She’d been studying feet, gait and barefoot shoe-making. Her work helps indigenous shoe-makers continue to pass on their ancient skills and wisdom through generations. Our continued collaboration with Catherine takes us all over the world and allows us to work with some of the best traditional shoe-makers. Galahad and I, en-route to meet the makers of the Saami boot. The Saami people have kept their feet warm and dry using the best resource available to them: reindeer. Their traditional boots, called Nuvttohat, are made from the thinner hide of reindeer legs. They are strong and durable, yet soft and pliable. The boots are insulated with thick reindeer hair and natural sedge grass, keeping feet protected from the cold, without weighing them down. Simply put, the traditional Saami boots are the perfect footwear for natural foot function in Winter conditions. A tough design to beat, yes, but we drew great inspiration from the traditional Saami boot, learnt from the techniques of the Saami people, and the Saami Lite was born. We swapped the reindeer hide and sedge grass for 100% synthetic uppers and felt insulation. A simple, near stitchless construction makes the seams waterproof and the felt and neoprene insulation, alongside our thermal insole, seals the heat in and help keep the Winter out. Snowmaggedon will have nothing on you, whether you’re on the back of a dogsled in Norway, or scraping frost off the car on a chilly morning in Norwich. Tabi Hi The Tabi Hi is inspired by indigenous craftsmanship and centuries of design. The iconic Tabi socks of Japan were traditionally worn by the revered Samurai. The Tabi socks are made from super-tough waxed canvas, to keep feet protected from the outside elements.This footwear features thin, slip resistant soles, to allow feet to move skillfully, with natural poise and control. Infact, Jika-tabi means ‘contact with the ground’. Naturally, this concept spoke to us at Vivo, and inspired us to design the Tabi Hi. Like all Vivobarefoot shoes, the Tabi-Hi allows the foot to gain maximum contact with the ground, with a thin, patented sole and roomy toe-box, so feet can function as they should. The weather-proofed eco canvas is made from a rugged blend of 50% recycled PET and 50% cotton, which not only reduces plastic landfill (roughly 20 bottles per pair) but helps to keep the elements at bay. The insulated lining and thermal insole keeps the cold out, enabling you to feel the ground, not the cold, and move with the sure footed control of a Samurai. You can find the Saami Lite and Tabi Hi as part of our Winterproof collection. SHOP WINTERPROOF

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 MY EXPERIENCE WITH PRIMUS TRAIL FG

It has already been a couple of years since I started walking and running only in barefoot shoes - exactly in VIVOBAREFOOT shoes. Most of the time I’m running various trails in nature, so the last two years in only the Trail Freak. So, at the beginning, I was wondering if the Primus Trail could be a good substitute. After my first run in these new shoes I knew that it wasn’t only a good substitute it was even better. I enjoyed it so much that I almost ran a fast half marathon through the forest. Although I ran for the first time in the Primus Trail, the shoes did not pinch me neither it was necessary to get accustomed to them. The paths were muddy that day but the shoes did not slip. However, the real test came a few days later when I ran a mountain peak on Monte Baldo in Italy with many ups and downs. It was about 35 degrees Celsius. I ran 10 km uphill and 10 km downhill. The path was rocky and steep – the elevation gain was about 1500 meters. In this difficult terrain the shoes adhered to the surface very well, did not slip and the airy textile perfectly ventilated. Some stones were pretty sharp so I appreciated that the sole is puncture-resistant but still very flexible. I perceived a great change especially around ankles – the Primus Trail is slightly padded in that area and it makes the shoes more stable but it doesn’t limit the movement of feet, by any means. Not just the outsole changed but also the shoes now have a wider toe box. It is very comfortable and gives you even more freedom of movement. The Primus Trail FG has a new outsole – the firm ground sole, which is great for technical trails. The FG sole enables you to run in the forest, on wet, muddy and also dry and rocky surfaces. In every case the shoes were durable and didn’t slip. I really enjoy the barefoot feeling with a protective, minimalist sole and. I really love natural movement and being barefoot. These shoes are definitely my number one. See more from Lucie Zona here . You can buy the Primus Trail FG as part of our Off Road Collection. SHOP NOW!

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 Tracker Boot: A shoe review by the Sock Doc

The Vivobarefoot Tracker is definitely an awesome hiking boot, which could function as a work boot as many of you have been looking for. I’m always getting comments and questions from Sock Doc readers inquiring about something more substantial to protect their feet while they’re either on some rough terrain, or they need to protect their feet at work (such as at a construction site, for example). So finally, yeah finally, there is a shoe out there and one that will not screw up your foot function or gait. The Vivobarefoot Tracker is made from high quality leather and it’s designed for “wild and rough terrains.” With the waterproof lining and thermal protection your feet will remain warm and dry. Actually – correction – your feet might be too warm. After a good one hour hike in a local creek bed, my feet, fully submerged, stayed completely dry. In the 70 degree warm autumn day here in North Carolina they were definitely very warm, even with the thermal 3.5mm insole removed. So I’m really looking forward to wearing these in the snow and cold temps this year! I was really impressed that no water leaked through, and you can see in the photo, my foot was deep in the water. From Vivo’s website: “Heat sealed seams and / or hydrophobic inner bootie construction with non-absorbent materials, to keep the water out whatever the weather.” Warm and dry even fully submerged The outsole of the Vivobarefoot Tracker is their PRO5 patented, ultra-thin, puncture resistant layer. This has five times more puncture resistance than a standard sole of the same thickness. I’m barefoot most of the time and I appreciated that I could still feel the earth beneath my feet while wearing the Vivobarefoot Tracker, yet I felt very protected from sharp rocks. It’s nice to be able to move quick over terrain, that when barefoot, you might have to be a bit more careful with so you don’t tear into your skin. Those of you who are barefoot often know that there’s always that one rock or stick pointing straight up from the ground waiting to poke into that tender area of your foot! If you’re looking for a hiking boot for some rough terrain, especially one where it’s wet and cold, look no further than the Vivobarefoot Tracker. Like all Vivobarefoot shoes – it’s flexible, firm, zero-drop, and let’s your foot move naturally – even in this boot! Read Dr. Stephen Gangemi "Sock Doc" is a board-certified chiropractic physician and clinical nutritionist with a passion for true natural health care. He didn’t get paid for this review, but did get a pair of Tracker’s for free. You can read more of his shoe reviews here . You can buy Tracker now as a part of our Off Road Collection! SHOP NOW!

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 Primus Trail: Designed in the mountains

This is a little story about taking shoe design off road. A story about getting our feet wet and our hands dirty. At Vivo, we are constantly learning, adjusting, stepping back and pushing forward, in our quest to make the best shoes for your feet, for your life. Just like the other parts of your kit, shoes are not a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Some terrains require traction and bigger lugs. Some terrains call for water adaptability. For trail runners, your terrain calls for both. Back in November 2014, we realized that our trail and mountain shoes were simply not good enough. We knew we could do better. For the past two years, a dedicated and talented team of designers, developers and athletes, from Sweden to China, have been devoted to a single mission: create the perfect trail shoe. And this is where the story begins: PART 1: THE DESIGN Back in November 2014, we began developing a new upper for what was, at that time, the Trail Freak outsole. However, our shoe design might be born as a sketch, and then a prototype or 5, but that’s just the beginning. Great off road shoes come from getting out in the wild and woolly environments for which they are designed. We knew that we needed to work with some genuine mountain people, who not only understood our ‘feet first’ values, but also called these tough, wild, beautiful terrains ‘home’! That was when we met Sweden’s own Anders Nordström, a local trail running wild man with a tough-as-nails following of runners, willing to tap into this project. We started with long conversations over Skype with Anders around GRIP, DURABILITY, WET WEIGHT, MATERIALS and the mountains. Using our old Trail Freak model as the starting line, Anders cut the off lugs and we shared ideas on the best elements of trail shoes, from properties of the rubber sole compound, to the best materials for running through water. These early models really racked up the airline miles - popping back and forth from our London HQ to Anders in Sweden. Uppers, outsoles and molds all started to come together and the new shoe began take shape. It became obvious that to do this category properly, we needed one sole for firm, harder surfaces and one for loose, super soft terrains. With the FIRM GROUND and SOFT GROUND issue settled, we sent more specs for the new soles and uppers to our development team in China. PART 2: GOING OFF ROAD New prototypes in hand, we headed to Åre, Sweden, to work with Anders and the gang. This is where it got physical. For three days we walked, ran, climbed, swam, scaled and slid through breathtaking (and heart-pumping) mountains and trails. It was an adventure that I (and my calves) will never forget. Most importantly, we finally got up close and personal with the OFF ROAD trail shoes in their natural habitat! Needless to say, we learned a lot about what these shoes do well and what they needed to do better. PART 3: BACK TO THE CITY, AND THE DRAWING BOARD After saying goodbye to our incredible hosts, we gathered all this new feedback and returned to London, inspired to begin the next round of prototyping. Our time in Sweden reaffirmed our goal: make the lightest, toughest shoe possible with heaps of grip and durability, to give the wearer a ‘close to nothing’ running experience. Simple! So back to china we flew, armed with new designs, and bags of worn shoes for a further few months of development. PART 4: GOING OFF-ROAD…AGAIN. A handful of prototypes and hundreds of hours later, we returned to Sweden for another feet first off road experience. The next two days were a blur of running, moving and talking about the new shoes while refilling on wild boar steaks and local brew. The following day we took a boat to meet Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott, the originators of ÖTILLÖ Swimrun. Swimrun is an amphibious endurance race, that began as a drunken bet among friends. It’s now the fastest growing adventure race on the planet, of which we have since become proud sponsors (watch this space). The fellas led us on a long, very rocky off-road run: our first swimrunning experience and the first round of shoe testing in open water swimming. Luckily, the soft ground shoes did as well as we thought they would. They went in and out of the water like true amphibians, unlike their humbled wearer… me. Fall of 2015 was a whirl of sales meetings and product presentations. We roped in athletes from the US, Canada and South Africa to alpha test our newest trail shoes along with our Swedish crew : the PRIMUS TRAIL SG & PRIMUS TRAIL FG. The new shoes led us to a new year. 2016 went something like this: PART 5: THE PRIMUS IS BORN It’s been another beautiful Vivo journey, working and moving with some incredible mountain talent, designers and suppliers willing to go the extra mile. What we have created together is the ultimate tool kit of shoe's that lets you move through nature and experience an enhanced sensory feeling of running like no other. As our sore muscles can attest, the PRIMUS TRAIL shoes are the ultimate shoe to take your life off road. Joel and I had an amazing time bringing these shoes to life and made some lifelong friends along the way. We hope you feel the effects of a new generation of off road shoes come to be known at the Primus Trail SG & FG. “I have been running in nature my whole life and as long as I can remember, I have been very interested in shoes. When you have been running in all kinds of nature, all year around, since you were a kid, you know what works and you know what doesn’t. Long before I went into this amazing project with Vivobarefoot, I was thinking about how to make the best shoe for running in nature. So, when this opportunity came, I felt like a kid at Christmas! It’s been so much fun and extremely interesting to be part of the making these shoes - built from scratch, from the foot and from natures perspective. The coming trail shoes from Vivobarefoot are a result of letting nature and the human foot dictate the materiel, design, function and overall look.” Anders Nordström, Art of Running Words, story and photos by VIVOBAREFOOT Creative Director Asher Clark, Assistant Designer Joel Salamin and Art of Running's Anders Nordström Our full off road collection will be available soon. You can buy the Primus Trail Firm Ground now. SHOP OFF ROAD

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 Barefoot Diaries: Learning to run again

The first blog in a four part series. Dan from Run With Stockholm tells us about his experiences as he transitions into barefoot running, from a lifetime of running in 'normal' shoes. I took my running shoes with me on a recent holiday to Slovenia, with the aim to fit in some running in between relaxing and enjoying time in the sun by the lakes and in the mountains. Packed with me were a pair of road training shoes and my Vivobarefoot Primus Trail SGs. My intent is to start transitioning into more barefoot running, after a great first experience at the off trail race in Trillevallen (near Åre in the Swedish mountains) . “There is something really special about the feel of your foot and the connection it feels to the ground.” Going to Slovenia, I was also looking forward to finding some more off-trail mountain running, the type I do not get in Stockholm. My first two runs in Slovenia were around Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, two beautiful lakes in the north-west corner of Slovenia. They are picturesque in the summer, and the perfect place for people who love being in nature with a mix of lakes, rivers and mountains to choose from. My next two runs (6 km and 8 km) were trail and off-trail, so I wore my barefoot shoes. There is something really special about the feel of your foot and the connection it feels to the ground in this minimal shoe. I noticed this from the first time I wore them. For me it is the most noticeable difference between traditional shoes and barefoot shoes like the Primus Trail SGs. Because I have worn shoes with thick soles for so long, I had become used to this disconnect between the feet and the terrain you are stepping on. Now I was feeling the ground, whether that be dirt, grass or stones. In barefoot shoes, I became more aware of where I was stepping, how I was stepping, and my stride length. There is no doubt that having greater feel for the ground in the soles of the feet was the cause of this. The feedback you get from a stride with more of a heel strike is immediate, and this can only be a good thing for improving my running technique to more forefoot landing. “In barefoot shoes, I became more aware of where I was stepping, how I was stepping, and my stride length.” At the same time, as I started to run barefoot in Slovenia I felt a little nervous, and this is because I have heard of problems during transition like plantar (the tissue at the bottom of the foot) fasciitis or Achilles issues. For some people, issues can occur when the muscles that support the foot are too weak, which is a concern for me given I have always run in shoes. But I did not have any soreness after my barefoot runs in Slovenia, or any pain in the Achilles, so was very happy. Overall I feel like the first barefoot transition runs in Slovenia were a great success, and I will continue to incorporate barefoot running sessions into my routine in Stockholm, where I am currently training for the Lidingöloppet. Hear more from Dan on runwithstockholm.com Dan was off-road testing the Primus Trail SG. It's on it's way to VIVOBAREFOOT will be available soon for pre-order. FIND OUT MORE

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