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Inov-8 Road-X 255

Tags  inov-8   |   Road-X 255   |   Ben Abdelnoor

The Inov-8 brand

Inov-8 have made a very successful impact in the off-road running market, producing a wide range of lightweight and fashionable trail and fell shoes. Now Inov-8 have taken a brave and ambitious step into the world of minimalist and barefoot running, producing a range of minimalist and zero-cushioned shoes.

Minimalist running for the masses

Whilst minimalist and barefoot running is nothing new; from the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico to the South African Olympian Zola Budd and the African marathon runners. We know about the relative few who have always ran this way and many of us have always thought it the preserve of the elite. The recent wave of excitement and buzz of discussion sweeping the running world is due to the ideology of this type of running being championed by leading shoe manufacturers, including Inov-8, and offered to the masses.

Inov-8 Road-X 255

Inov-8 and minimalist running

I’m not going to rehash a discussion on the merits, delights and potential pitfalls of barefoot and minimalist running. There’s plenty of that already available on the Internet. I’ve been training in a pair of Inov-8 Road-X 255 for the last few months, with a view to making the transition into the lighter, more minimalist, Inov-8 Road-X 233. I’ve also, very interestingly, been training in a little-known Swiss brand of shoes who have gone in the opposite direction to the traditionally cushioned running shoe design. They have produced a shoe with a series of hollow, compressable cells.

It’s been a great exercise, excuse the pun, to trial both of these shoes. It has helped to highlight just what each of them is aiming at. Put simply; the cushioned shoe is my ‘lazy’ shoe: it doesn’t require me to compromise or alter my running style and is a comfotable slipper-like shoe.

The Inov-8 Road-X 255 & 233

Photo: The Inov-8 Road-X 255 & 233

Road-X 255: the review

The Road-X 255 has made me made take a good, hard look at my running technique and style; exactly what Inov-8 have said, and wanted, you to do. Every run I do in the Road-X 255 I’m concentrating on my style of running, conscious of each footfall. They’re not as comfortable to wear as other running shoes, this is not to say they are uncomfortable, but you become more aware of your actions. Within a few trial runs the idea of what minimalist running is about has become much clearer to me. Sure, you will have to take it easy to begin with; short runs at a slower pace and not always wearing the Road-X. Inov-8 have said it may take 12 months to make the transition to running in a zero-cushioned shoe. There has been some tightness in my lower calf and achillies; but this has been recognised by Inov-8 as something that will be overcome with time and training. Some things in life take time and require perseverance, but the rewards are worth the effort and patience. This is how I think of the transition into the Inov-8 Road-X range.

Inov-8 have been honest; their freely available literature states that if you don’t have running injuries and are happy with your running style then perhaps the Road-X range isn’t for you. I like the openness in that statement; it speaks to me of a confidence in a product – Inov-8 don’t need a hard-sell approach.

Now to the shoe itself. Yes, it’s light and yes it looks good, but these are two statements that are synonymous with the Inov-8 brand. The lacing is straightforward and there feels plenty of room down by the toes, with a comfortable fit around the ankle. The sole is quite smooth and firm, whilst the shoe itself has plenty of lateral twist. We’ve become used to settling straight in to a new running shoe; it’s all comfort and cushioning, bounce and air. Well here’s a surprise: the Inov-8 Road-X 255 let’s you know that this minimalist idea is a wake-up call. If you want to achieve, you’re going to have to work at it. Improving at hill reps and speed reps doesn’t come easy, so why should improving your running efficiency and speed come easy? Settling into the shoe will take a little bit of adjusting, but again, this can only be a good thing: it makes you aware of just what is going on. To begin with I felt flat-footed, with the shoes slap-slapping as I ran. After time I was able to make conscious efforts to think, to run lighter, to land more carefully and to concentrate on my posture, my head position and how I was running as a whole. There is less cushioning and there is a firmer contact with the ground, but this is what minimalist running is about: making contact with the ground, training the foot to feel what is beneath them and learn to adapt with each footfall, not relying on the shoe to do all the work.

Inov-8 isn’t the only company on the market to be offering the idea of minimalist running shoes. But if their Road-X range is anything like their trail and fell range of shoes then they are sure to have a hugely successful and satisfied following of customers.

Click here to read more about the inov-8 minimalist shoe range


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Inov8 Road-X 255

by Britta Sendlhofer
16:22, Tuesday 16th August 2011
Great to see a manufaturer who accepts that minimalist shoes need to be introduced slowly.
TereréJordan Blood