Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Saucony Ride 10 review

Saucony is a brand I keep coming back to but don't stay with for that long. Occasionally they have a winning shoe like the Mirage 3 and then end up modifying it or discontinuing it or both. Generally they get it just right, but not for consecutive models.

I loved the Mirage 3 - it was lightweight, a little stable, and firm - a great shoe to race in. The original Zealot was a great cushioned low drop shoe. And I liked the Triumph 3 - a real tank of a cushioned trainer. But I moved on, mostly in search of shoes that had more splay in the forefoot and less tightness in the midfoot area.

I have had excellent experiences with the Peregrine 8 - it seems to have gotten the right balance between forefoot room and midfoot lock with a nice heel, not too much weight, and great grip on the trail. That shoe gave me some desire to try out the Saucony Ride 10, a shoe that is about to get upgraded to an ISO bootie in the next version. 

The 10 is a fine shoe. It checks a lot of boxes for me:

- 8 mm drop. I prefer somewhere in the 4-6 range, but honestly I think my heel and achilles tendon prefer a little more here.
- 9.5 oz weight. They feel pretty light to me - it would be great to get down to the 8.9 oz of the Mirage 3s - but really that's a quibble.
- The nice roomy forefoot. My toes have space, nary a blister or black toenail, and no foot discomfort that comes with tight shoes for me.
- A great upper with a secure lockdown. No hotspots or rubbing for me over the metatarsals like Sam from Road Trail Run experienced. A little tight right out of the box, but they loosened up nicely after a few runs.
- A cushioned yet not too much midsole. Goldilocks for me - not too firm, just soft enough. Some disagree and find it harsh, but I don't.
- And a durable and grippy Tri-Flex outsole. No slipping on wet roads, and excellent wear (really, no wear that's visible) through 75 miles.

These seem to be a winning shoe for me for both training and racing in the 10M-13.1 distance. I'd wear them for a marathon as well, I think.

Hope they don't fuck up the updated Ride ISO - due to drop in June. 

This post would suck even more without photos!

A nice forefoot, grippy laces that stay tied, and breathable and quick to dry upper.

I dig the hologram film overlays! Nice and reflective.

A better shot of the nice reflective hologram-esque overlays above the Ride 10 logo.

Looking good... a little dirty but no rubber wearing at 75 miles. These guys should make it to 250 with plenty left.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hoka Napali and Napali ATR

I don't have much to say about these shoes, other than they were way too tight in the midfoot and the toebox compared to the Clifton 4 and even the Clifton 3. They were not a wearable alternative for me, although I did find the Napali (non-ATR) version to be pleasantly light and have a less restricting upper material than the Clifton 4. The Napali could be a good alternative for those with a narrower foot in D width.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 top ten list

1) Was able to run six weeks after abdominal surgery when at initial diagnosis wondered if/when I'd ever run again. 
2) Got times down to 1:44 in the half and 47 min in 10K, pre-surgery times.  
3) About to hit 300 miles on a single pair of shoes (@HOKAONEONE Clifton 4). 
4) Whipped heel and calf pain through PT and millions of lunges and heel lifts. 
5) Ran new races incl Gunpowder Falls and Rodeo Valley. 
6) Made more new friends at Fletchers Cove and College Park @parkrun.  
7) Learned to love cross training on the bike.
8) Understand core strengthening is not an option. 
9) Got smarter about shutting it down early when an injury or cold is coming on. Saves much more time in long run than it costs in the short term. 
10) Most of all, enjoying being healthy and just being out there. Longevity in running is still my top goal, more important than any race or time or annual goal. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hoka OneOne Clifton 4 Review: 4th time a charm?

The Clifton line from Hoka has always been one step away from a great shoe for me. 

The first iteration was a revolutionary shoe, combining heavy cushion with lightness. Unfortunately, the thin tongue killed it as a wearable shoe although most other reviewers loved that feature and the model overall.

The second version mucked up nearly everything good in an attempt to remedy the tongue issue. Unfortunately, the changes to the rest of the upper and the midsole were counterproductive in my experience; I found it to be a hot and overly firm ride.  

The third version got the closest in my book to a big winner, but the upper really couldn't stand up to the beating I delivered during DC summers. http://www.midpackgear.com/2016/08/170-mile-revisit-of-clifton-3-not-so_18.html

So is the fourth time a charm? Through the first 40+ miles, I'd say yes.

Things I like about this version:

- The upper is a sturdy yet breathable nylon mesh that does a good job of holding down the foot without having to tighten the laces too much. It seems like its going to be a lot better in keeping its shape and tension over the course of hundreds of miles than the Clifton 3. For me, this is a major improvement.

- The midsole seems significantly firmer yet still cushioned as compared to the 3s. I found the 3s to verge on marshmallow-ish, especially as the miles layered on. The midsole changes has led to some weight gain in this iteration (In mens size 9, it weighs in at 9.3 ounces vs 8.6 in the Clifton 3). This is ok by me - the shoe doesn't feel like a heavy clunker compared to the 3, though compared to the 7.6 ounces of the original Clifton it is a tank.

- The toebox may be a little more relaxed than the 3s, but its not very noticeable. My toes are able to splay decently in the shoe, and feel comfortable to an Altra-lover.

- The lacing is most comfortable slightly loose, which is the way I like to wear shoes. I tightened it too much in the first couple of runs which led to toe bruising on my middle toe (no photos, you can thank me for that) from not giving my foot enough room to expand under the laces. Loosening it up on subsequent runs has taken care of the problem, and don't feel any hotspots and haven't experienced any blistering.

As always, I'll update at 100 miles.

Looking good in the Griffin/Micro Chip colorway:

A pair of Hoka OneOne Clifton 4 Griffin/Micro Chip colorways

They look more tapered in the toebox than they feel. 

Nice padded tongue that stays in place and doesn't get in the way

The same outsole which we know and love in the last iterations of the Clifton

Getting a little wear on the left outer shoe rubber pad, but the foam is holding up ok
Edit: 100 mile update

The shoe is wearing beautifully at 117 miles compared to any other Hoka I've ever owned. The upper is holding up perfectly, and I don't see much additional wear on the outer rubber pad that was visible when I first started running in these. The midsole doesn't feel compressed and I haven't detected a loss in energy return, either. Hopeful these will hit 250 miles in good shape with more miles left in them!

No change 

Haven't worn much more through the outer foam, and most of the rubber shows minimal wear pattern.

The edge of foam around the rubber is holding up nicely. No shredding or ripping!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Best of 2017 Running Podcasts

Podcasts: a running conversation inside your earbuds

There's still nothing like getting lost in your own thoughts while out for a run. But I do also like good conversation as well to make the miles roll by. I think of a podcast as a conversation between the earbuds - and find they are a great way to take your mind off of some of the discomfort of running while not being too distracting. Another side benefit of listening to running podcasts while running is allowing you to geek out in running talk and even pick up a few useful pointers or two.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite running podcasts in regular production in fall 2017. These people spend a lot of time and effort producing these free shows, often on a weekly basis. I urge you to support the ones you listen to by becoming a Patreon supporter at the link following the mini-reviews.

Science of Ultra - Shawn Bearden. The gold standard of ultra endurance health podcasts. Shawn calls the bullshit out and elevates the science which is always interesting and often actionable. http://www.scienceofultra.com/support/

House of Run - Jason Halpin and Kevin Sully. A very entertaining podcast covering news in track and road racing. The click and clack of running. https://www.patreon.com/houseofrun

Marathon Talk - Martin Yelling and Tom Williams. A lot of marathoning, but a lot of conversation about other aspects of running, from 5K parkruns to ultra endurance feats. They have a great rapport together and are always entertaining. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4923212

Pace the Nation - Chris Farley, Joanna E. Russo, William E. Docs. A running related podcast sponsored by Pacers Running, from the center of the universe in Clarendon, Virginia. Also a lot about problems, preoccupations, and pets. If you like to laugh, this one can’t be beat. Veers from discussions of the ridiculous (emojis) to the sublime (Gabe Grunewald). Led by three guests who play each other expertly mostly for our amusement but often for theirs as well.

The Shakeout Podcast - Canadian Running, Michael Doyle, Sinead Mulhern, Tim Huebsch. Our friends to the North put on a heck of a podcast about everything from heptathletes to joggling. Highly recommended.

Ultra Runner Podcast (URP) - Eric Schranz. A great way to keep up on the latest news from the pro ultra scene as well as pick up some real wisdom and knowledge about going long from Eric, his sometimes co-host Sarah Lavender Smith, and a lot of average Janes and Joes who do some incredible things. https://www.patreon.com/ultrarunnerpodcast

The Strength Running Podcast - Jason Fitzgerald. A good one for geeking out on the training side of things from a coach, particularly strength training. He also pulls a great variety of running luminaries (from Shalane Flanagan to Dathan Ritzenheim) as guests,  Very sensible and science based.

Talk Ultra - Ian Corless. The European mountain/ultra/trail scene plus a lot of global coverage that URP doesn’t have the bandwidth for. Ian is extremely knowledgable and very opinionated, but I admire him for putting it out there, even when you’d like to slap him. https://www.patreon.com/talkultra

Run Faster Podcast - Jay Johnson. Another great podcast where great coaching advice gets dispensed. Jay is a student of coaching and tells it like it is. Make sure to listen to him about your strength and mobility (SAM) training!

Marathon Training Academy - Angie and Trevor Spencer. More aimed at the marathoners, and often at people just getting started in terms of their coaching advice. But interviews with folks like Bart Yasso and travelogues from races like Berlin, Munich, etc., are very listenable and amusing. Good husband and wife chemistry on the air as well.

Running for Real - Tina Muir. Tina’s new podcast after leaving Run to the Top with the goal of making running real. Tina scores great guests and asks a lot of questions you wouldn’t expect.

Personal Best - Brian Dalek. Runner’s World’s new podcast which seems to be a rebranding of their old one from what I can tell. I liked the previous Runner’s World Podcast and Brian Dalek is a good interviewer, so I expect this one will stick on the playlist.

Run to the Top - Sinead Haughey. Sinead took over from Tina Muir, and has done a fine job filling her running shoes. Churns out a ton of shows like clockwork - seems like there’s always another one to listen to. I find the cheesy show sponsors to be off-putting but someone’s gotta pay the bills for the content.

Trail Runner Nation - Don Freeman and Scott Warr. A good listen with a lot of great guests, like Andy Jones-Wilkins, Candice Burt, and others. A lot of holistic health and nutritions solutions which I find of questionable science get peddled, but still overall a quality podcast and love the roundtables.

DC Rainmaker Podcast - Ray Maker and Ben Hobbs. Hilarious repartee and quality DCR insights into running/tri technologies in response to audience questions. Great when it exists, but in the middle of a regular multi-month hiatus. Come on, guys.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Topo Fli-Lyte 2 review and 100 mile update

Topo Athletic's Fli-Lyte 2: an alternate to Altra

I already shared some thoughts a while back about the Fli-Lyte 2 here. I haven't changed my mind that much. The shoe has held up very well, and is one of my favorites for everything from training to racing half marathons on down. I'm not positive it would be enough shoe for me for a marathon, but it isn't totally out of the question.

The shoe is light and doesn't have a ton of energy return - but is nicely cushioned, not overdone. And it is very roomy, breathable - all around comfy. The mesh doesn't get your feet overheated, yet it seems to be a tougher, more durable mesh than what Topo uses on the Ultraflys which doesn't hold up very well (I have gotten holes in the Ultrafly upper fairly quickly in the shoe's life cycle).

The only complaint is a little premature wear in the rubber near the outside of my left heel. There's a small area where there is a break in the rubber and I see wear around that spot. The rest of the rubber pods seem very durable. I'd expect to see these shoes wear well for the remaining 200 miles or so I usually put on shoes for a total of around 300+.

You can see the durability of the upper and outsole in these photos:

you can see the extra
wear spot on the top left of the photo

Saturday, August 12, 2017

New Balance 1080 v7 review

I feel like I'm having a hard time finding a shoe that has a few essentials:

- big forefoot with plenty of room for my toes to spread out
- durable upper and outsole that can last 250 miles without any wearing through in either place
- 4 to 8 mm heel to toe drop
- a decent amount of structure in the heel, a minimal amount of stability through the running gait

The Topo Ultrafly came pretty close. It showed wear in the upper - burning holes through on both sides just past 100 miles was the only demerit. Not sure why, but I'm liking the shoes enough to continue using them as walk-arounds and ordered another pair to see how they wear.

The Hoka Clayton 2 checked all the boxes. However, they gave me a nasty blister along my arch below my big toe joint which is a common issue in the originals and happens to some in the 2s as well.

So my search continued. Joanna at Pacers Running on 14th Street suggested trying out the New Balance 1080 v7 because of the heel drop and big forefoot specs. I was open to trying a shoe that I hadn't used since the original Fresh Foam 980 (review by Road Trail Run) from several years ago. It was a pretty light and spacious shoe, but I found the foam a little dead on the energy return. 

Normally, I avoid shoes over 10 ounces - and the 1080v7s weigh in at 10.8. But I was getting pretty desperate to find a shoe that gave me some relief from nagging heel pain and felt like trying an 8mm drop shoe made sense.

I like this shoes a lot. I wish they were lighter by an ounce or two, but I can deal with it - it is a smooth shoe to run in, so whatever impact the weight has it's offset by the nice gait I have while running in them. I have run 110+ miles in them to date, and they are holding up nicely on the outside heel spot where I have extra wear. Cross fingers, but I hope I can get 250 miles+ on these before retiring them.

The upper: nice mesh that's pretty breathable. I've run in 95 degree temps with 100% humidity and I haven't found them to be as uncomfortable as a lot of shoes in those conditions. The laces are a good length, but I found the best locked down fit with using the last lace hole on the shoe with a looped tie.

There is an internal bootie in these. They are fairly tight feeling when you first put them on, but they stretch to fit very nicely. I usually like a loose fit but these are comfortable for me. Some have complained about a rubbing seam inside the bootie, but I don't feel it. 

The insole is pretty standard - nothing to report here which is what I like. Medium high arch, not super soft. The midsole is a little firmer than even the Fresh Foam 980 which is ok but could go for a touch softer.

The outsole is the kind of durable rubber I like on shoes, with a couple of breaks in the forefoot and the midfoot to increase flexibility. The wear is visible but not excessive on the heel area, so I hope it can handle another 150 miles or so without wearing through straight to the midsole foam. We'll see...  The outsole is grippy enough for pavement, but seems to retain mud and dirt until the shoes get a good knock together.