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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.