Saturday, April 16, 2016

Deep (more like quick) thoughts: Hoka Odyssey 2 vs Clifton 2 vs Challenger ATR 2


Odyssey 2: nice and firm. It almost was as firm as the old Saucony Mirage which at times felt like running on dehydrated sponges on the first run. It seems like it has softened up a bit on the last couple of runs - a little more forgiving. I'd give it a 4 of 10 in terms of softness (10 softest).

Clifton 2: really almost squish soft. Too soft for my taste for use as a regular trainer. Maybe a 7.5 of 10 for softness.

Challenger ATR 2: a little softer than the Odyssey 2.  I had previously said it was about a 5.5; that seems about right in that it is closer to the Odyssey 2 than the Clifton 2.


Odyssey 2: A pretty locked down feel. Plenty of room for my toes, no hotspots, no sliding around. A bit more structure than the Challenger 2, a lot more than the Clifton 2. A 7 of 10 for structure (10 the most locked down feel).

Clifton 2: About a 4 of 10 for structure. My feet had lots of room to move, perhaps a bit too much.

Challenger ATR 2: 5.5 of 10. A touch less than the Odyssey. More toe room and a softer fee.


Odyssey 2: Maybe the best tongue so far on a Hoka for me. No slip sliding down during the run, substantial enough to provide cushioning. A 9 of 10 (10 being moderately cushioned and stays in place).

Clifton 2: A 7 of 10. Nice cushioning, perhaps a bit too much for my taste. But really slides down during runs.

Challenger ATR 2: A 8 of 10.  Much like the Odyssey 2s, maybe a bit thinner. Mostly stays in place with a little slippage.


Odyssey 2: Don't have to tie too tight to keep the upper in place and the tongue from sliding.  And they don't come untied. Proper length. A perfect 10.

Clifton 2: I found I couldn't get the laces tied with the proper tension, but the laces pretty much stayed tied.  8/10.

Challenger ATR 2: I have a hard time getting the right tension to keep the tongue in place. It requires using the last eyelet so I can tie a heel loop, but ends up using too much lace. 6.5/10.


Odyssey 2: Feels like the heaviest of the three when running, but doesn't weigh in much heavier.  8.8 oz men's size 9 according to Running Warehouse.

Clifton 2: Says an 8.7 for men's size 9, but it feels much lighter than the Odyssey.

Challenger 2 ATR: 9.8 in men's size 9, according to Running Warehouse, but feels as light if not lighter than the Odyssey.

Ground feel:

Odyssey 2: You definitely feel "higher" up than with the Clifton or the Challenger ATR 2. But I was able to run very comfortably on the trail with them. I will consider using them as a trail shoe.

Clifton 2: Because of the marshmallow-y feel, I didn't have a good feel for the ground and didn't love the feel especially on pavement.

Challenger ATR 2: The best of the bunch. I love the ground/trail feel. A pleasure on both road and pavement.


Odyssey 2: Remains to be seen. I haven't noticed any overlay peeling, and they seem well made.

Clifton 2: Not good. Both pairs I had saw the overlays coming off the fabric fairly early in the lifecycle of the shoes - in the first 50-100 miles.

Challenger ATR 2: Fair. I'm getting close to 100 miles running with a good amount of hiking as well, and the fabric on the upper is starting to wear visibly. Hard to imagine getting much more than 250 miles or so before holes start opening up in the uppers.

Odyssey 2 on left, Challenger ATR 2 right:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Whack-a-mole: WHR 2.6 and 4.2 firmware upgrades for Garmin 235

So many times firmware updates from Garmin is like a game of whack-a-mole; one problem gets solved, another pops up. The latest dual updates from Garmin for the Forerunner 235 (WHR 2.6 updates the code for the Elevate heart rate module, 4.2 is a firmware update for the watch os) are true to form.

Improvement: the optical HR monitor is doing a better job during exercise. It seems like the heart rate is being updated on more like a one second than a 10 second or more basis. It locks onto real heart rate faster, is less confused from noise from your cadence (so-called "cadence lock" - where the optical hr monitor locks onto your footstrike cadence instead of your heart rate - why you may be seeing hr readings of 170 or more on easy runs), and is steadier over the course of a run - less spikes, more responsive to changes in effort. The run today was great - just a little spike around minute 45, but it actually may have been real given the increase in pace around that time.

Unfortunately, the bad comes with the good. Prior to this update, my resting heart rate is usually in a narrow band - usually 48-53. I've seen a reading of 40 once, but anything lower than that, or higher than 55 is abnormal.

This morning on waking, it looked as if the module did little or no reading during the night. It returned a resting reading of 50 as I was lying in bed, which is on target.  But after the run, it showed a 36 resting heart rate. Not on target.

There have been a number of similar observations on the Garmin 235 forum. Hopefully they can get this resting HR issue straightened out quickly without undoing the good work as far as responsiveness during activities.

Edit: resting HR of 48 on day 2, so perhaps the device is making adjustments based on day-over-day data.

I am running the latest version of Garmin Connect Mobile ( on a Nexus 5X.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Making too much of early returns - getting sick and recovery pt ii

As I wrote in my last post, I did a pretty good job of seeing a cold/flu coming on. I eased off in my training, cutting running and my step count down.

Unfortunately, I moved back into activity too fast.

A quick recap, with charts...

Week of March 12 (47 RHR): at my usual 47-48 resting heart rate. A normal daily up and down. The highest day of the week was on the 12th after racing a half marathon, but my resting rate settled down the remainder of the week.

March 19 (49 RHR): Average is on the move up steadily. I raced another half marathon on the 20th - you can see the rest of the week was definitely higher than normal. I idiotically failed to take a day off on the 21st or 22nd.

March 26 (51 RHR): Then ran 10 miles on the 26th. Felt punky during and after that run. Saw my avg resting rate creep up too high the next day, then took off from the 27th-30th (a period where I developed some allergy or cold-like congestion but nothing severe). Ran on the 1st when it seemed like my resting rate was back to normal, but I was only acting on one good day of data.

April 2 (53 RHR): Repeated my mistake on the 2nd, and by the 3rd, had a full blown bronchitis with fever. On antibiotics on the 5th, finally returning to a normal resting rate today on the 8th after four days with no running and no steps (beyond walking around the house and to the car, etc.)

The lesson: there's a heck of a lot of good data from resting heart rate. It's definitely a great early warning system. And it can give you an all clear after being sick or extremely run down. But be sure to give yourself a few days of evidence that things are back to normal before jumping back on the horse and getting back to activity. Right now, I'm going to make sure I see at least 5 days back to below 48 resting rate before I start significant activity again.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Getting sick (and recovery) and resting heart rates with the Garmin 235

I now have about six months of data on my resting heart rate via my Garmin 235. 

I'm in my early 50s and exercise to a max HR over 140 6-7 days per week. Most of that exercise is running: around 30-45 miles most weeks, but often supplemented by, or substituted for, a gym session on the elliptical anywhere from an average max HR of 110-140. I also hit an average daily step count of about 17K over the last 12 months. My weekly sleep average is around 7:45-8 hours per night as counted by Garmin.

My resting heart rate is around a 47 if I'm feeling generally good and in good health. That means no sickness coming on or heading out of the body. And no nights of excess alcohol consumption or running myself down, figuratively or literally. 

This screenshot from Garmin Connect mobile shows a 46 resting rate from the week of March 13.

Sure, on a day to day basis the average resting heart rate can vary +/- 5 beats. I'm not freaking out from a 43 reading or even a 53 reading on one day. They happen regularly, and are usually one-off readings that don't occur on consecutive days. A night of 3 beers can do it, as can a restless night due to travel or racing.

If I start seeing my resting readings repeatedly drifting into the 50s over the course of several days, I will cut down my running and other exercise. I'll try and avoid hard and or super long (much more than an hour) workouts, keeping my exercising heart rate well below 75% (or around 140). And I'll keep my daily step count around 10K - no super long moving days allowed.

Two weeks ago, I noticed my resting rate creeping up to a 49. I had run near pr half marathons in the two proceeding weeks, which could have explained it. 

And I did feel a bit off - fatigued and like I might be coming down with something. Sure enough, the night of the 27th, I started to have symptoms of a cold which I vainly hoped were just severe allergies. 

The week of March 27, my resting rate went up from a 46 to a 51 average, a pretty significant increase for me.

Presented with some data, it was easier for me to take a few (5) days off from exercise, get more sleep, and try and recover properly vs running right through the sickness. I would have ignored my body at age 30, but it seems pretty pointless in my 50s where going down with a massive sickness has too much cost to work, family, and longer term running life. 

It's also good to see five days off doesn't seem to have much of an impact on my pace or V02 max readings. I'm still sniffly, but the rest didn't hurt.