Saturday, February 27, 2016

Clifton 2 part 2 review

I have had three go-rounds with the Clifton.

The first: the original Clifton.  I liked it a lot, but found the thin tongue lacking. Also, I didn't feel like the upper offered enough support.

The second: a pair of black and white (Black/Anthracite) outsole Clifton 2 s. I bought them as soon as they came out. An improvement in the tongue, but not a comfortable fit in the upper. They were also a little too cushioned compared to the more firm ride of the original. An worryingly, the upper plastic appliques  overlays were starting to peel early on.

The third: another pair of Clifton 2 s.  This time, the grey and yellow outsole (Grey/Acid). My reaction is that over the year, Hoka has tweaked the shoe to make it closer to the original. It has a better tongue, a nice forefoot fit, and a slightly firmer outsole than my first black 2.  Still not perfect: the tongue doesn't stay put, sliding a little to the side when you run. But all in all, a solid shoe that works well on road and non- rooty, rocky or slippery dirt.  A nice counterpart to the Challenger ATR 2.

Looking forward to the Clifton 3 at the end of Q2. It looks like I'll have worn these out by then - 26 miles and looking good.

Edit:  Ooops! No sooner than I posted, I spotted overlay separating from the shoe just like in the first pair of 2 s I bought.  Guess Hoka didn't solve this issue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Resting Heart Rate explained and analyzed

A few notable articles on resting heart rate, why it's important, and how to measure it. I find it to be a key health metric for me to monitor wellness, training and overtraining, and physical fatigue (vs. mental fatigue).

- A more geeked-out article from DC Rainmaker on Understanding continual (24/7) optical HR data and resting heart rate

And from, a post on irregular spikes in resting heart rate on Garmin optical HR devices.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Best Running Podcast Roll, Running Polls, general reshuffling.

I've reorganized the site a bit - adding some ads which I don't think are too obtrusive, and a couple of more content evergreens in the right-hand column. These include an ongoing running poll - right now, it is about shoes.  Vote once, and see the results.

Also, I've added a best running podcasts roll 2016 for your listening pleasure with the best links I can find - of course, they are also available with your Apple podcast monopoly or via Stitcher for those of us in the Android ghetto:

DC Rainmaker DCR Podcast with TRS Triathlon

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hoka Challenger ATR 2 review

I fall in love with shoe brands often to the exclusion of others. What happens is: I'll wear the hell out of a shoe I like, go through a second pair. Then an update, which is never as good as the previous version. Then a search for something else. 

I've been an Altra groupie since I discovered the Instinct 3.0s - and wore the hell out of several pairs.   I bought a pair of Lone Peak 2.5s - like them quite a bit, despite the fact they feel a little unwieldy on more rooty and rocky trail and aren't fit for much road running (a little slow feeling).

Altra just came out with the Instinct/Intuition 3.5s. Of course, they made aesthetic and structural changes that aren't a step forward, and arguably are a half a step back.  

So as I am mildly dissatisfied with my 3.5 Instincts, and not 100% into the Lone Peaks on all trails, I am vulnerable to any attractive footwear on the market for some transaction.

I walked into REI and saw a pair of the new Hoka Challenger ATR 2s... 

I loved the ground feel and cushioning of the originals - and the uppers were nice and light, and breathable. It was a good shoe in the first version, but still had some major flaws. 

The originals were too loose for me - I wear a 13, they felt like a 13.5. I didn't feel well locked down in them, and they weren't stable on more challenging trails. Plus, the inserts on the originals didn't stay in place because of the loose fit - comically looking similar to this after one hot and sweaty run. 

I put a pair of the CATR 2s on, and walked around in the store.  Sweet.  They felt like they fixed the sloppy fit of the original CATRs - these were snug enough, not too snug. The toe box was ok - definitely not Altra sized, but still comfortable. This review (loubrenner.06) reassured me that they'd loosen up in the toebox after a few runs.  The outsole seemed similar to the originals, same tread, possibly a little firmer but not by much.

I figured I'd take them - since I would wear them around, and could return them next week when I had to make a shipping pickup at the store if they weren't right.  

A day around the house and on the treadmill felt great.  No slippage, no tightness or hotspots, no foot discomfort.  Today, I took them for a 10 miler on trails, and they were terrific.  Just like the first review - very snug and comfortable. No irritation or rubbing. I felt confident on downhills - the stack height didn't come at the expense of groundfeel. They did nice on multiple surfaces -- ice, mud, rocks, roots and road. And the outsole is very close the original - firmer in a good way, but still pretty cushioned (I'd say a 5.5-6.0 in the 2s, a 6.0-6.5 in the originals, with a 10 being the softest). I'll check back here in 50-75 miles after they are nice and broken in, but so far so good.

Edit: Ginger Runner does a great review - points out the big change that I missed - tongue!  He nails the ortholite insert change. His view on the volume change is different than mine - but relevant to those who were happy with v1.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Roundup: reviews of Under Armour HealthBox

I wouldn't be interested in this product personally, as wrist-based GPS is a must have for me.  But the UA HealthBox could be a great "starter kit" gift for someone trying to get their health on track.  This review by AP's Anick Jesdanun delineates the many drawbacks of the device -- a higher cost than buying individual hardware separately, a high pace required to activate the running measurement. DC Rainmaker also gives a more in-depth review that's pretty positive, but comes out in the same place. The Verge finds it not only too expensive, but a little unreliable.  For now, the price should be a deal killer for most buyers.  

Since the devices are manufactured by HTC, I'd have some confidence in build quality. And the extra metrics -- and the dumbing down of exercise info (red and green lights to indicate effort, easier entering of meals as light or heavy) -- are very helpful for beginners, and I bet would improve compliance. Most people are already suffering from information overload, and this could help make sure data is used judiciously to create regular exercisers rather than turn people off. If they cut the price closer to $300 (why wouldn't they want to get people living inside the UA ecosystem -- they are also coming out with "smart" shoes Speedform Gemini 2s as well - also reviewed by DC Rainmaker of course) and iron out some of the kinks, they could be on to something good for the under-exercised masses.