Showing posts with label Spira. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spira. Show all posts

Friday, June 21, 2019

The shoes I run in, ran in and revere

All hail the OG Kinvara!
Unless you are a runner who follows in the barefoot steps of Abebe Bikila, chances are that you've put some time into selecting, using and eventually discarding your running shoes. In the ten years since running became an important part of my lifestyle, I've probably owned over 30 pairs of trainers. I still have a lot of them, but quite a few have been donated or trashed due to their condition. I have one pair that I no longer use, but will never give up. Yes, I'm talking to you, original Kinvara.

Now that I no longer spend 2-3 hours a day commuting, I have more time to focus on the details of life. Upping my running from three to six days a week has caused me to pay more attention to my gear. More running means more running clothes and I'm planning to go through my sizable collection of running shirts to see what to keep or donate. Today I took on the easier task of addressing the assemblage of running shoes in my gear cabinet and you can see the results further below.

Over the years I've owned just about every major brand of running shoe: ASICS, Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Saucony, Brooks, along with some less well known brands such as Karhu, Helly Hansen, Spira and Sketchers. Many of these shoes were sent to me by manufacturers when I was maintaining Emerging Runner's sister site, Runner's Tech Review. Some shoes were worn over 1,000 miles, but a couple of pairs were donated after only a few runs.

Right now, I have three categories of running shoes in my house: 1) regular rotation, 2) special conditions and 3) decommissioned. Category three is where I'll be getting rid of some pairs. Going through my shoe collection has caused me to reflect on all my shoes and I thought I'd share those thoughts here.


I try to run in a different pair every day because I read that shoes need recovery time too. Happily, I have a lot to choose from.

New Balance Zante 2
Responsive and comfortable
If I ever race again, I'll wear this pair. Low and energetic. They remind me of the Kinvara 5, but feel a little faster.

Brooks Launch 
Smooth and stable
This shoe was a surprise gift from my daughter. They would be a great everyday trainer, similar to the Adrenaline, but lighter.

Saucony Triumph ISO
If the Toyota Avalon was a shoe
When my feet are sore and I have to run, this is my go-to pair.

Saucony Kinvara 5
Light and energetic
I stopped running in these for a couple of years because of heel wear, but now they're back in the rotation. Not quite as peppy as the Zantes, but they are running royalty nonetheless.


These are the shoes I wear for trails, bad weather or indoor running. I keep two of these pairs in a separate storage area and was too lazy to go get them when I was photographing my upstairs collection.

Spira Stinger XLT
Subtle as a chainsaw
This was a Runner's Tech Review special. Turns out they are pretty decent shoes, but the gimmick (springs in the mid sole) is ineffective. I use them when I run on pavement in the rain. Good traction.

Helly Hansen Trail Lizard
Not a good choice for technical running
Super lightweight and great for racing on hard packed dirt trails. No rock plate so they can be punishing on sharp stones and roots.

Brooks Cascadia 8
Handles mud, rocks, scree and steep inclines like a Range Rover. Surprisingly runnable on pavement.

Saucony Kinvara 3
700+ miles on the treadmill
This was originally my primary 10K and half marathon shoe. I switched them to treadmill duty when I got the 5s. They still look brand new.

Karhu Fast 2
Alternative treadmill runners
These shoes were incredibly awkward on the road and only slightly better for track intervals. Stiffness lessened with use and they are now a decent treadmill and elliptical shoe.


An interesting assortment of the good, the weird and the ugly. Sadly, the shoes with this little guy at the end of the description (🏃) will be recycled because they are no longer runnable.

Saucony Virrata
Minimal and cushy
I really liked these shoes because they were super light and near zero drop from heel to toe. I wore them out quickly because the out sole is primarily blown EVA. Tried them on to see if they were still runnable, but alas, they are done. 🏃

Brooks Pure Drift
Commonly asked at races: WTF are those?
Brooks sent me these as part of a wear testing program. Liked them a lot but wished I'd asked for a half size larger shoe. I thought they were as minimal as a shoe could get and then Saucony sent me the Hattoris. 🏃

Saucony Hattori
Weird but awesome
This is basically a pool shoe with better materials. No cushioning at all, no laces either. Ran a few PRs with them and used them as my daily trainers until I completely wore them out. 🏃

Saucony Kinvara
I have never loved a running shoe as much as these original Kinvaras. I wore them out to the point where I risked knee issues running in them for more than four miles. Tried them on yesterday for the first time in seven years and they still feel perfect on my foot. No more running in them but they're staying in my collection.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Can I adapt to late day workouts?

Evening elliptical
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

It wasn't much, but I managed to get in a second weekday workout this week. I decided on Tuesday that I would get back to early morning activity, starting with a 4:00 AM elliptical session. Although I'd laid out my workout stuff the night before, I woke up with a sinus headache and didn't want to deal with additional fatigue before a long drive to my office. I passed on the workout.

There's a lot happening at work right now and the energy of the day (along with a well timed hit of nasal spray) put me in much better shape by the end of the workday. I decided to do my elliptical session when I got home, even though I don't particularly like late day workouts. I had scheduled all my hybrid elliptical workouts in the mid-afternoon, so I was somewhat conditioned to the time.

My concern about doing a 6:00 PM workout was that I'd be too wound up at bedtime to fall asleep. That turned out to be a non-issue. In fact I had a great night's sleep. I may aim for after-work runs and elliptical sessions going forward, rather than return to 4:00 AM workouts. I hope I can sustain the late day energy.

I worked from home today and got out during the time between middle school and elementary school drop-offs. It was nice to have relatively empty streets and the 55° temperature, cloudy skies and moderate humidity made for great running conditions. I wore my Spiras and I'm pretty convinced at this point that I run better in more minimal running shoes. I feel guilty having the expensive, well cushioned Saucony Triumphs because I don't feel that I run that well in them.

Today's run was really nice. Besides the good weather, I felt energized and seemed to be running better than usual. I naively expected to finish my run and see numbers that matched my pre-2015 performance. Compared to how I have been running, I did measurably better, with a :40 per mile improvement over last weekend. At the same time, I'm still over a minute per mile slower than I was in early 2014.

I'm thinking about a Bethpage run tomorrow morning and, if I'm up to it, I'll aim to do my longest run in 2015.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hitting the streets with my Road ID

Sample Road ID wristband
 Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Earlier this week I received my Road ID, a light wrist strap with a faceplate engraved with my name, address, contacts, blood type and other information. I had mentioned to my colleague, FS, that I run with an ID card tucked into my SPIbelt, but she strongly suggested that I wear something on my wrist or on my shoe. Her point was that EMT's will look for ID in those places first in an emergency. I thought that made great sense and finally ordered the bracelet. It took a discount offered through to get the process started, but  I did it!

The Road ID works well because it doesn't violate one of the the most important Emerging Runner commandments for gear, "Thou shalt not distract or irritate me on my run." It's an inexpensive item and should be standard gear for anyone who runs outside of their home.

Speaking of irritants and distractions, I gave the Kinvara 3's another chance this morning and the feel underfoot was better, but not perfect. As I ran along, it felt better, and this makes me think it's my foot, not the shoe. I'm still dealing with soreness from the long runs that I've been doing on weekends.

 I didn't have a lot of energy today and so I wasn't surprised to see that the Gamin had clocked me at 25 minutes for my 2.53 mile loop. I tried to move along but I just couldn't generate much speed. I did finish with an overall pace in the high 9:00's, so it wasn't all that bad. Tomorrow I'll go out again in the Spiras as a point of comparison with the Kinvaras for both speed and comfort.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kinvara 3 discomfort - is it me or the shoe?

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Quit pokin' my plantar!
Winter returned to the New York area overnight and I stepped outside this morning into 30° temperatures. I wore the new Kinvara 3's to see how they'd feel after my feet had an opportunity to recover from a weekend of long running. I expected the new shoes to perform in a similar way to my original Kinvaras, and they did, but I also experienced some discomfort underfoot. Much to my chagrin, the mid-sole was poking noticeably against the sock liner on the lateral plantar fascia (top left side) of my foot.

I've had a similar issue with my second pair of Hattori's that cut in on the medial side, prompting me to retire them after only 70 miles. My other pair of Hattori's fits me perfectly after 300 miles of running. The problem with the Kinvaras could be more related to me than the shoes, and I'm hoping it isn't a design or fit problem. I went up 1/2 size on the Kinvaras because the Mirages feel slightly too snug in the toe-box, and I expected the same from the K3's.

Perhaps that sizing up created a vertical alignment issue that resulted in this issue. I'll run with the Kinvara 3's again tomorrow and, if the problem continues, I'll switch back to the Spiras for a few days. I really do like the Kinvara's design and by the end they did feel more comfortable. I just know that if the issue continues I'll probably end up passing them over for other, more comfortable, options.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Building character on the Bethpage trail

Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 9.1 miles

Today is supposed to be the better weather day this weekend, so I headed to Bethpage this morning for my long base run. It was tough week in the office, and I addressed my sleep debt by getting eight full hours last night. I hoped the extra rest would carry me through what would be my longest run (so far) this year.

Although I have a brand new pair of Saucony Kinvara 3's sitting in a box, I decided to do today's run with the Spiras. I didn't want to discover any fit problems with the Kinvaras that I'd need to endure throughout the bulk of my run. Still, I was concerned that I'd have a recurrence of chafing at the back, along the Achilles, that I'd experienced last weekend.

Bethpage's lot had many more cars than usual, probably because it was the first weekend of Spring. I also arrived an hour later than I usually do, owing to my later wake-up time this morning. As I made my way through the initial hills, I saw numerous runners along the way, most of them heading north to the start of the bike trail. The Syosset Cross Country boys team were running hill repeats on the big hill and it reminded me of when I did that last year to prepare for the town of Oyster Bay Supervisor's 5K.

There must have been forty high school age runners on the path today, I kept seeing them coming from the other direction at different points in my run. They all looked strong and fast and I was glad they weren't going my way because it would have been humiliating to be passed dozens of times. Surprisingly, I was only passed a couple of times today.

I knew I was in for a better experience than last Saturday's because I still felt plenty strong at the Southern State crossover that led into the Massapequa Preserve. I came up behind a couple of runners that I hoped would pace me a little, but I ended up passing them because they were running a little too slow. I U-turned after covering four and a half miles and prepared for the second half of my run.

I had no issues with the back of my heel today but I did have some chafing problems with my small toe on my right foot. It got fairly uncomfortable, but I didn't stop because I knew there wasn't any quick fix for it. As much as I like the Spira's I'm noticing some small fit issues that come out on longer runs.

Despite the foot issue, I felt very strong throughout the run. It seemed to take little time to get to the seven mile mark today. I didn't take any anything for an energy boost and only sipped on a little water late in the run. At Bethpage, the last two miles is what I call the "character-building" phase of the run. There are some smaller rises and some steep short sections, with a few downhills to balance it out. But, inevitably, the last hill awaits. There's no escape.

Despite arriving at the 8.5 mile point, I still had good energy as I made my way uphill and I even passed another runner on that section. The best part of the bike trail is the short, steep downhill that leads to the parking lot. I embraced it fully today and carried my run an additional tenth mile back to my car.

So despite missing a couple of morning runs this week, I feel on track for my Half Marathon training. Next weekend I may need to do my long run on Sunday so I can get in some speed work on Saturday. Before the LI Half is the Marcie Mazzola 5K. I'm hoping that a good base and some fast twitch activation will yield a decent time for that race.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hard work and quick shoes yield a fast 4 AM run

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

I'm in off-site meetings all day today and tomorrow. It's been a long day that will continue through the evening. It starts again early on Friday, and I'm trying to figure out whether I'll have the energy to work out tomorrow morning after getting (at best) four hour's sleep. In my college days I'd attend classes all day, stay out past 1:00 AM and be fully alert for class at 8:00 AM the next morning. I sure don't bounce back the same anymore.

I was glad that I went for my run this morning. I followed my plan to run hard and it yielded very good results. In fact, it was my first 4:00 AM run this year where I averaged under 9:00 a mile. Conditions were ideal, cool but not cold. I wore running shorts and a long sleeved top and that worked really well. I had good energy from my first steps off my driveway until I returned, less than 23 minutes later.

If not for yesterday's mid-9:00 pace, I would have given full credit to the Spira XLT's. I pushed a lot harder than I did on Wednesday, and that probably explained my much improved performance. But getting under 9:00 was a big improvement so I'll say it was the combination of hard work and fast shoes. I'm pretty sure I'll be running in the Spira's for April's Marcie Mazzola 5k.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Speed takes effort, it's that simple

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

The UPS truck mocked me as I drove into my driveway last night. The UPS driver usually does his deliveries in my neighborhood around the same time that I get home from work. I watched as he carried what looked like a shoebox-sized container, but he dropped it at a neighbor's house. Saucony is supposedly looking into what's happened to my pre-launch Kinvara 3's. I'm thinking I may never get them.

As much as I've anticipated the Saucony's, I'm still appreciating the Spira Stinger XLT's. I skipped yesterday's run, but went out this morning. Again I found the XLT's to be comfortable and responsive. I moved well during my run and, while my PE was relatively low, I felt like my pace was brisk. When I came to the end of my run I looked at my Garmin, only to see that I'd covered my route more than a minute slower than expected. So much for getting that bonus 15 seconds per mile from the XLT's.

I think the lesson I reinforced today is that, at my level, speed should feel hard. If I don't push it, I shouldn't expect to put up good numbers. Due to some scheduling issues this week, I'm swapping my Thursday elliptical session with a run tomorrow morning. I'll put in more effort and see whether that makes a difference. Perhaps the 15 second bonus only happens on harder runs.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Top of the mornin' run at Bethpage State Park

Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 8.2 miles

Green Day
Happy St. Patty's Day. I'm not Irish, but in honor of the holiday I wore my kelly green quarter-zip on today's run. This was to be my weekend base building run and, after a later than usual start,  I headed over to Bethpage State Park.

When I arrived I saw a few dozen runners dressed in green circling the parking lot in what looked to be an informal race or a fun run. Many wore leprechaun hats or green St. Patty's themed headgear. There were no signs saying what the event was for, but people seemed to be having a good time.

I wore the new Spira Stinger XLT's because I was curious to see how they would do on a long and hilly run. After getting past the first short hill and making my way down the long hill that followed, I was into the wooded section of the bike trail where the first mile seems to come quickly. I felt a little stronger than last Saturday, when I ran the trail for 7.4 miles. I hoped that I'd feel even better as I went along today.

The XLT's provided a responsive platform and felt comfortable underfoot throughout the entire run. It wasn't until I was into my third mile that I detected a hot spot above my left heel. I hoped it would go away but it grew worse, and when I reached 3.75 miles I needed to stop for a minute to adjust my sock and re-tie my lace. That did the trick and I continued south, passing over the Southern State and turning around at Linden St. after passing the 4 mile mark.

There were many runners, walkers and cyclists on the trail today. I recognized a lot of the runners that I see almost every time I run at Bethpage. At one point on my return leg, I was behind three women who were trotting alongside a man who was race-walking. They were all dressed in St. Patty's attire. This group took up the entire path and I had to run in the dirt on the left side to get by. They acted annoyed that I didn't greet them when I passed them. One woman yelled an unfriendly-sounding, "Top of the mornin' to ye!"

This was the third consecutive weekend since I started my half marathon training and I was pleased with the way I felt throughout the first six miles. Like last week, it was the last two miles that really challenged me. It's as much mental as physical. The last mile and a half have the biggest hills, and I always dread the final long climb.

I made it through the second-worst hill that comes a mile before the start (and finish). I was hurting but still managed to pass a few slower runners as I made my approach to the last hill. I gritted my teeth and went for it, slogging my way along the longest half mile of the run before finishing with a short downhill run to the parking lot.

It was a hard workout but I improved on my pace from last Saturday's 7.4 mile run. I don't think I'd do too well if the half marathon was next weekend, but there are still six weekends to train before the race. Tomorrow's run will be for recovery. I'm looking forward to that.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saucony's secret news is leaking out!

Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

The cat seems to be out of the bag in terms of the "top secret" news that Saucony plans to share. Via re-tweets on Saucony's Twitter feed and through blogs I follow, it seems like the running shoe stork is dropping off boxes of the pre-market Kinvara 3 to bloggers and reviewers like me. This is a shoe I've been anxiously anticipating.

After reading people's first impressions, I'm even more excited to receive my pair. I'm also worried that something got botched up and my shoes won't ever reach me. In the meantime, I continue to appreciate the feel and responsiveness of my new Spira Stinger XLT's that I wore on today's run. It was my third workout with the XLT's and the second on the treadmill (raining this morning). I hope to take them out on a long base run tomorrow.

So as I wait for the Kinvaras to arrive, I'll be happy to run with the XLT's. I'm really curious to see if the Wavespring technology delivers any extra support when I face that last big hill at the end of mile 8.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First outdoor run in the XLT's: interesting results

Today's run: 2.5 miles

I'm not quite sure what to make of this morning's run. My expectations were set to high for a performance boost that I hoped to get from the new Spira XLT's. I hoped the claim of a 15 sec/mile improvement was more than marketing hype. I've learned over the years that it's really not the shoe, but the person in the shoe, that determines outcome. Still, I was hopeful.

I was excited to try the new shoes on the road and I took off on a somewhat faster pace than normal, once my Garmin was ready. The XLT's felt good, not super-cushioned, but comfortable. I noticed the ride was high, compared to my Hattori's and Mirages, but I still felt like I was landing mid-foot. The slight uphill of the first road on my route was a good basis for judging the benefit of the Wavespring technology. I moved along well, but it wasn't a transforming experience.

Once I leveled out, I let the shoes do their thing. I probably pushed a little harder than usual, perhaps because I anticipated a dramatic improvement of my pace. I had no issues with the feel of the shoes but I wouldn't say they provided noticeable energy return. I knew I could have run faster, but I didn't want to add too many variables to the mix. My goal was to see if, during a normal run, I'd really see measurable improvement.

Regardless of the shoes, I felt good on this run. Like Sunday and Tuesday's workouts, my stamina has improved since I began my weekend base training. I crossed the threshold of my driveway, hit "Stop" on the Garmin and saw that I finished my run 43 seconds faster than the last run along that route. But that day it was windy and I may not have pushed as hard as I did today. Then again, it could have been the shoes. A few more runs will show whether I'm gaining speed, or if today was simply a fluke.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First impression: Spira Stinger XLT's

Float like a bee?
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

Yesterday I posted about two pairs of mystery shoes and last night I got to try on the first pair. They are lightweight running shoes from a company called Spira, based in El Paso, TX. Spira shoes contain something called "Wavespring Technology" where specially designed springs are embedded within the mid-sole to enable better energy return to runners and walkers.

The shoes I received are Spira's performance model, called Stinger XLT. I think they are called Stingers because (with their bright yellow and black highlights) the shoes resemble a bumble bee. I don't judge shoes on the way they look, but people who like their running shoes to be noticeable will not be disappointed.

I took the XLT's out of the box and had two reactions. First was, "That looks like a lot of shoe, I'll bet they're heavy." After picking them up I thought, "How can a shoe containing metal springs be this light?" I put one on my foot and was pleased with the comfortable foot bed. It's a well cushioned shoe and while I usually prefer the other end of the spectrum (Saucony Hattori's), I appreciated the comfortable fit.

I'd asked for size 11's, 1/2 size up from what I usually wear, because lately I've had issues with tight toe-boxes. The XLT's fit me well and the toe-box was fine. A quick run around the house reinforced that, lots of room, but no slippage. I checked the morning's weather and it said rain, so I decided to try my first run on the treadmill.

After two relatively long runs over the weekend, my feet were a little sore and the XLT's provided a nice cushioned base. The Wavesprings do not create a "moon-bounce" effect. In fact, it would not be obvious to someone that this shoe contained any special technology. The XLT's do provide a decent response though, not unlike my Brooks GTS 10's in their early days.

The shoes performed very well on the treadmill. They moved naturally with my foot, felt stable and returned good energy. I couldn't test the predicted 15 sec/mile improvement communicated to me by Andrew B. Krafsur, Spira's founder, but I found it surprisingly easy to maintain a sub 9:00/mile pace once I got going.

I'm planning to try the shoes on the road tomorrow morning. If they perform well I'll use them for at least one of my long runs this weekend. My most popular post is titled "Tubes, zig-zags, bounces, shocks and resistors" which is about gimmicky running shoes that fall short of expectations. So far (and surprisingly), the Stinger XLT's appear to be the real deal.

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