Wednesday, March 30, 2011

La Sportiva Crosslite mountain running shoe

One of the most important parts of the wardrobe of a trail and mountain runner is the shoes...and as a member of the Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team I was introduced to the La Sportiva brand of trail running shoes. If we didn't have them as one of our sponsors, I may never have tried them, but I'm glad I did.

Back about 2 year's ago, I decided to try this minimalist craze to see if I could help rid myself of a nasty case of Patella Tendinitis. I had read Chirunning and learned of landing directly underneath your center of gravity and how to "push off" less and keep your legs more relaxed. Along with this style of running was the recommended shoes that have a lower heel than most, which claims have been made that point to these "higher heeled" shoes creating more heel landing and shock being sent up your legs. So, with this in mind, I looked at LaSportiva's lineup and saw the Crosslite running shoe. Lower heel, less cushion, lighter shoe...this sounded exactly what I I ordered a pair.

Original and new 2.0 version of Crosslites

The first thing I noticed is that they had this cloth covering over the laces and that they were a little narrow on my wide forefeet that have been smashed flat and wide from 36 years of running, many of those miles on the roads. So I thought that maybe if I removed that cloth covering I could get to the laces in order to do my magic that I have to do with all my running shoes.  

So I did the following steps to make these narrower shoes a much better fit for my feet and I hope it can help some of you, too.

Before and after

The first step and the most important one, I think is to remove that corset over the laces. I understand LaSportiva's reasoning behind this, which is to keep grit out of the shoe, but if I can't wear them, then what's the point. A little trick I learned from Dennis "The Animal" Herr during one year (2003) at Hardrock after surfing the scree down Grant Swamp Pass was it's a good thing to sit down now and then, take off your shoes, dump out the grit, take a drink and take in the beauty surrounding you. From that day on I never wore gaiters and enjoy my sits during the race. If I feel a stone in there, it's good to take a break, let your heart rate drop a little and continue on.

So with that in mind, I took a pair of scissors and cut down through the center of the corset, shown in the photos above. When I did that, it was like a spring had spring loose, the shoes exploded in width! I put them on to feel and they felt like slippers!

Next step is to trim away the excess material with a blade of some sort by just following the stitching on the edge of the material. Here is the finished product...

After the material is removed

Before and after

The shoes now fit my feet really well and probably increased a half inch in width without that material pulling the sides in.

I also do several other things, one is tying a knot up around three loops up to prevent the forefoot of the shoes from tightening up continually every time you tighten them. One thing I also do is take out the midsole and shove a tennis ball into the front of the shoe and leave it there for several days to stretch it out even more. I take out the insoles in order to not leave a permanent impression in that....I want my feet to leave that impression, not a round tennis ball!

That's it! The shoes then only get better with wearing them. I'm on my third pair now and in the Crosslite 2.0, which I like even better. They are no different to modify, even though they look different at first. Cut the corset down the middle and trim off the excess. It does no damage to the shoe at all.

I can't say enough good things about this shoe, they served me well all last year, with a slight tryout of the discontinued Skylite, which I wore at the Bear 100 last fall and the recent Salida Trail Marathon. The latest version, the Crosslite 2.0 feel even better with only an 8mm drop from the heel to toe (26mm/18mm) and are about as light as the earlier version at 295 grams. The rugged lugged outsole grips really well on my local Elk trails I run on in New Mexico in the Jemez Mountains...and the more stable, lower to the trail shoe keeps my feet planted well on the trail. Rocks? Don't feel them at all...

So if your feet are triangle shaped like mine are, narrow heel and wide forefoot, try the mods and let me know if they helped! Oh and my Patella Tendinitis? I think it's gone :-)

Until next time, 


Paige said...

No kidding, I was literally thinking about this very same thing over the weekend! I was trying to think of who I could e-mail to see if they've tried it before, and if they liked the change.

I enjoy the feel of my Crosslites, but the built in gaitor is annoying and shoves the loop holes into my foot, causing weird bruising, so I haven't worn them in months. I don't want to ditch them, so I was trying to come up with mods for the shoes...this is perfect timing!! I'm going to try this out. Thanks for the post, Steve!

Nike free run plus said...

very cool running shoes!