Showing posts with label running shoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label running shoes. Show all posts

Saturday, April 30, 2022

First Runs with the Asic Novablast 2

Nova Blast-off!
The Asics Novablast 2

  • A well cushioned neutral running shoe that uses resilient Flytefoam Blast midsole foam.
  • Ride is best described as lively, but slightly unstable.
  • Weight for men’s size 11 is approximately 10.5 oz
  • MSRP - $130

Conclusion: Even with more structure and weight than I typically prefer, the Novablast 2 provides an excellent balance of responsiveness and protection.

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Last Sunday I walked into Runners Edge ready to try on some shoes. I had watched and read many running shoe reviews and narrowed it down to three stability models. In my last post I determined that under-pronation was causing major heel wear on my running shoes. I thought stability shoes might be the best way to counteract it, but what did I know? Making the Choice I told the salesperson that I was looking for a responsive stability model and showed him the heel wear pattern on one of my current pairs. He said that type of ablation was due to heel dragging and suggested that I stick with a neutral shoe. I questioned that, but since this was Runners Edge and not Foot Locker, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Plus he said ablation which is a word I like.
Brooks Launch 8

Instead of stability shoes, the salesperson brought out two neutral options: the Brooks Launch 8 and the Asics Novablast 2. I’ve run in Launch 4s for the past three years and thought it was a solid shoe, but not particularly responsive. The Launch 8 felt a little more energetic than the 4, but not exactly compelling. The Novablast 2 was a very different story.


Once I put the shoe on my foot I knew it was the right choice. The Novablast 2 is nowhere as light as my Reebok Fast 3s, but it had a similar feel underfoot. The cushion and rebound were exactly what I was hoping to find, but the thick midsole was intimidating. Unfortunately, taking them out for a spin wasn’t an option, so I took a chance and bought them anyway.

 34mm stack height - yikes!
First Impressions

INSIDE I was so anxious to run in the Novablasts when I got home that I immediately tried them out for a mile on the treadmill. The first moments of the run were confusing. The Novablasts felt energetic but also a bit unstable. I eventually acclimated to the shoes, but couldn't help wishing they were a few ounces lighter and a touch lower. When I checked my data at the end, I was surprised to see that I’d run much faster than my normal treadmill pace. OUTSIDE The next day I took the Novablasts for their first outdoor run. The midsole cushioning was substantial and it minimized harsh ground contact. The soft rebound kept my stride efficient and the hip and leg twinges I’ve felt over the past weeks were barely noticeable. I found the high platform and slight heaviness disconcerting and a few times around corners I wished for more stable footing. With all that, I ended up doing my fastest run in many months.

The handsome couple
Time will tell whether I should have tried on more shoes or waited to look for other models that the store didn't stock. Overall, the cost of the Novablast 2s was reasonable and the bounce and comfort I get from them is indeed compelling. I’m hoping the Novablasts will be the shoe that gets me back into long runs and provides the protection for recovery that I don’t get from the other shoes in my rotation.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Running Shoe Rotation Frustration

The Shoe-pocratic Oath: "First do no harm"
Unless you're Abebe Bikila, the barefoot marathoner who won the Olympic marathon in 1960, shoes are pretty essential gear. Though some runners are indifferent to what shoe they wear and view them as tools, others (like me) look at shoes as something that can greatly enhance or diminish their running experience. I love running shoes but they don't always love me, and I'm dealing with that right now.

The Problem

In my last post, I mentioned some issues I'm having with my lower back. Recently, I've been feeling occasional pain and numbness along my right leg, hip and glute when I run. I suspect it may be a reoccurrence of a 2015 disc problem. Back then, my undisciplined training caused the rupture of my L4 and L5 discs, as well as a torn annular ligament. As a result, my orthopedist strongly recommended that I stop running for almost five weeks. 

High Octane alternative motion contraption
During that time, I was at Consumer Reports and had the opportunity to participate in a panel to test "alternative motion machines." These devices functioned like advanced elliptical machines and provided an excellent daily workout. This "zero impact" training helped my disc problem and I recovered well enough to resume my daily runs.

Fast forward seven years and I'm dealing with similar symptoms. My gait is awkward at the start of my runs but it settles down after a few minutes. Due to that, my first miles have been 30-40 seconds slower than my second. I've been running well and feel ready to add more distance. I'm holding off on that because the symptoms are reappearing once I reach the three mile mark.

The Cause

I believe that some of my running shoes are either causing or exacerbating my leg problem. I under pronate and originally ran in stability shoes like Brooks Adrenalines and ASICS GT 2140s. When I started Runner's Tech Review, companies would send me models of their newest running shoes to test. From that, I developed a preference for lightweight neutral trainers like the Saucony Kinvara and that became my default. I still prefer neutral running shoes, but they may not be a good choice for me.

My under pronation worsened after my disc and ligament problem. I started to notice how quickly I was wearing out the lateral side heel of every pair of shoes I had. I'd get 800 miles on a pair of Adrenalines but less than half of that with non-stability models. When I looked at the three oldest shoes in my rotation, I was surprised to see how much wear they showed. The difference in heel height from side to side was greater than 3mm. This is a recipe for running injury.

Worn to Run
I concluded that 60% of my running shoes were no longer runnable. That left me with two pair, the Saucony Kinvara 11s and the Reebok Floatride Run Fast 3s. Neither of these shoes have much mileage on them yet, but the Kinvaras are already starting to show a similar wear pattern. The Reeboks are still pristine and I want to preserve those peppy and propulsive shoes as long as possible.

Searching for Shoe Love

After looking up every single running shoe on the internet, reading every review and watching every video, I narrowed it down to a few models. Included in this group was the Hoka Rocket X, which is described on the Hoka site as, "...an incredibly lightweight, insanely responsive racer geared for elite athletes."  Check, check and check!  I don't want to brag, but I did take second place in my age group in a 2009 5K.

Despite deep devotion to Hokas by my fellow Runsketeers, I've always resisted the brand. They just seemed too high and bulky for my taste. When I stumbled upon a site called Hoka Outlet and saw the Rocket X for sale for $49.95 in my size (these shoes typically sell for $199) I thought, what do I have to lose? Answer: $49.95 plus tax. Yes, it was a scam.  I did manage to get my money back from PayPal, but I'm embarrassed by my naivety. 

Beware of Hokey Hokas

An Unlikely Solution

After the Hoka con, it was back to square one. I would continue my search for new shoes, but I wanted at least one additional pair right away. I considered my NB 680s that I use on the treadmill but I don't like to use my indoor shoes outside. I was about to grab my keys and head to the nearby DSW store to buy a cheap pair of stability trainers when something green caught my eye. Tucked under some winter clothes in my running gear closet was an 11 year old pair of Karhu Fast 2s that I'd tested and then quickly discarded.

Lapland Lappers
Karhu sent me these light-ish but high riding performance shoes to test during a period when I was wearing ultra minimal zero drop shoes like the Brooks Pure Drifts and Saucony Hattoris (below). The Fast 2's at 9.6 ounces were anything but minimal.

Hattori - 4.4 oz

Pure Drift - 5.6 oz
The Karhus were probably ahead of their time with their high stack height and "fulcrum" technology that facilitated a rolling gait. I found them awkward in 2011, but when I put them on now they feel cushioned and well balanced. Since I used them only to test, the shoes are still in like-new condition. I took them out for a run and appreciated the forward leaning motion and the responsive midsole. My pace almost matched the Reeboks, which are considered a bona fide racing shoe.

With my Finnish flyers added to the mix, I'm only short one pair to round out my rotation. The Kinvara is a light trainer that works well for tempo runs. The Reeboks are speedy and fun, perfect for intervals and when I want to run my fastest. The Karhus sit somewhere between these two. I'm going to focus my search on cushioned but light stability shoes that provide a responsive ride. I may end up paying more than I ever have for a running shoe to get what I want, but it will be worth it. Who knows, maybe I'll stumble upon an outlet that's selling Saucony Guide 15s or ASICS DS Trainer 26s for $60.

Either way, I'll let you know. 🏃

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.

REGULAR ROTATION

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.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

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
Unstoppable
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.

DECOMMISSIONED

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
Perfect
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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

So many running clothes, so little time

Wanna buy some used Karhus?
Today's run (street): 4.7 miles

For the first time since fall, I've had two consecutive runs wearing short sleeves and shorts. Yesterday's temperature was moderate, but the humidity was anything but. Happily, today was cooler and far less humid. In both cases I was comfortable, helped along by overcast skies. I'm not looking forward to running in the summer heat and I hope I'll have the discipline to get out at dawn most of the time.

Today's run or Rorschach test? 
Now that we are transitioning to warmer weather, I've started to pay attention to my lighter gear. Over the past eight years, I've collected a lot of running clothes that I keep in a wooden wardrobe in the guest room.  I have at least three pairs of running tights, three pairs of track pants and a sizable collection of quarter zips, rain jackets and long sleeve running shirts.

My collection of short sleeve running shirts includes the first one I ever bought and every one after that. I also have a bunch of shirts I got from racing. Storage has extended to a dresser in my bedroom. I also have six pairs of running shorts and dozens of socks. Don't get me started on shoes. There are pairs I use and those I just can't throw out.

I swear I'm not a hoarder, but I find it hard to throw out perfectly good running clothes. Perfectly good may mean different things to different people. I don't think rips and tears necessitate disposal. As long as you can wear it, and it doesn't expose areas that need to be covered in public, I think a shirt should be kept in inventory.

In truth, I tend to wear the same gear, cycling through four or five pairs of shorts, the same number of shirts and about half a dozen pairs of socks. That changes a little when the seasons change and I put wool socks to the back of the drawer until fall. I know I should go through all this stuff and keep only those clothes and shoes that I actually use. I really should donate the undamaged shirts and recycle the old trainers. I'll make it a project for next weekend unless I can find anything else to do.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Successful (Brooks) Launch on the treadmill

Special Delivery
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 4.4 miles

There are few things as delightful to a runner as receiving a pair of running shoes in the mail. Better than that is getting them delivered without even knowing they're coming. That's what happened to me a couple of weeks ago, thanks to my daughter, who surprised me with a pair of Brooks Launch 3s for my birthday. I was very touched that she surprised me like that.

The Launch isn't a shoe that I'd ever considered because it's not as minimal as my Zantes and Kinvaras. My daughter did some research and decided that the Launches would work for me. They arrived close to my birthday, but were (unfortunately) a half size too small. Although the Launches felt good on my foot, I've learned that any snugness in the toe box will result in pain on the road.

We reordered them in my size (11) and they arrived last night. I was going to take them out on the road this morning, but conditions were rainy. There was no way I was going to subject brand new running shoes to rain and muck and decided to try them inside. I was also interested to see how they felt on the treadmill compared to my Kinvara 5s that have been my only indoor running shoes for the past two years.

The Launches fit me well but felt very different than the Kinvaras. They reminded me of the Brooks Adrenalines but were much lighter. The forefoot is also far more flexible. I like the relative stiffness of the Zantes on the road and I'm curious to see how the Launches will run on pavement. The 10 mm drop may also help my plantar fasciitis that has minimized, but has not disappeared.

My first steps on the treadmill felt a little awkward compared to the Kinvaras, probably due to the higher stack height. I got used to them after a while, but it was hard to perceive the responsiveness that is the hallmark of this model. I always try to run negative splits on the treadmill and push my speed on the last mile, mostly to get the run done faster. The Launches had good turnover but I think the Zantes might actually have more pep. Hopefully tomorrow's weather will let me determine that.

I ended up having a better run than I'd expected. I got my speed out of my comfort range by the time I finished and decided that the Launches will have a regular place in my rotation. Tomorrow morning's schedule will be very tight so I may not end up going out until late morning. If it's supposed to get as hot on Saturday as it did today, I may end up trying for a 6:00 AM workout.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

First impression: running in the New Balance Zante v2

Better watch out Kinvara!
Today's run (street): 4.9 miles

It's so annoying when business gets in the way of running, but that happened this week. I missed my Friday morning run because I had to go into the office for a meeting. I did run on Monday because I was home for the Labor day holiday. I don't know if that counts as part of last weekend's activities or it it's part of this week's. I'll have to look in the rulebook to get that answer.

One other thing I did on Labor day was order a pair of New Balance Zante v2s through the Shoekicker site. It was just about a year ago that I got my Kinvara 5s the same way. In both cases I got significant discounts. I have no affiliation with Shoekicker, but I recommend it if you are confident enough to buy a shoe without first trying it on.

I picked the cheapest shipping option and didn't expect to get them for at least two weeks. Last night, in the middle of dinner, Mrs. Emerging Runner said, "Oh, I forgot to tell you, your shoes came today." Here's the thing about me and running shoes. I like them a lot. Especially new ones. I couldn't believe I'd just wasted the past hour having dinner when I could have been trying on my new Zantes. I hurried through the rest of my meal and then scoured the den in search of a box from Jackrabbit Sports.

I purchased the Zantes because my beloved Kinvaras were getting deeply worn on the medial side of the heel.This is the curse of the pronator and, due to the type of shoes I favor (blown rubber out-soles) I tend to wear them out after 500-600 miles. It was the exact reason why I'd replaced my Virratas with the Kinvara 5s last year. Years ago, I ran in less minimal shoes like the Brooks Adrenalins that had EVA and carbon rubber in high wear areas. They were heavier, but I could get over 900 miles out of them.

I've had shoes sent to me by manufacturers to review or mention in the blog. Due to a possible conflict of interest with my day job, I no longer do that. I wasn't paying for those shoes, so I didn't particularly care if they fit me well. When I'm paying, I'm very concerned. There's a moment of truth when I first try them on because there's something at stake and a decision to be made whether to keep them.

Once the Zantes were unboxed, I began to gather impressions. Lightweight, but not as light as the Kinvaras. Nice, breathable one piece upper. Slightly higher drop than the Kinvara, but similar stack height. I've always liked New Balance shoes, but did not like their Minimus models that I felt ran too narrow and had a pronounced bump toward the forefoot. The Zante v2 is very new school, similar to Saucony and Asic's newer, less structured models.

I tried on the Zantes and my first impressions were mixed. The toe box is roomy. That's something I like due to the shape of my foot. However, I was concerned that I ordered them in too large a size. I have to be careful about sizing. I normally wear size 11s and run mostly in Saucony models. The size 11 Zante felt a half a size larger than the Saucony size 11. Due to that, I was concerned the Zantes might run a little sloppy. When I cinched the laces, the upper wrapped securely and held my foot well. A few quick steps around the house and on the treadmill confirmed that they were keepers.

I went out early this morning because I needed to finish my run in time to make an appointment. I also wanted to beat the heat, but there was little chance of that. At least the sun was low and mostly hidden by cloud cover. It was humid but still runnable. I paid close attention to the feel of the Zantes as I took my first steps from my house. They felt stable with no issues with the fit. Toe-off was smooth and responsive. The forefoot was supportive but not overly firm. I felt a little more cushioning than I get from the Kinvara. To be fair, the Kinvara has 500 miles on it and the Zante is brand new.

Just shy of 5
I moved along well and my run felt faster than the numbers indicated. The Zante's mid-sole promotes a rolling gait and the overall firmness gave it a fast feel. I wasn't tracking my mileage but in the almost five miles I ran with them, I could tell that this would be a good distance shoe. I picked up the pace on my last mile and got some decent speed despite the increasingly oppressive humidity.

I'm looking forward to my next run in the Zantes. I decided to get them after reading a review in Runblogger that suggested the Zante as a strong competitor to the Kinvara 7. I wanted a change and I was curious to see what New Balance had to offer. So far, it's an offer I can't refuse.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Why we spend $100 for running shoes

Run away!
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles

My new reality is long busy work days. I'm not complaining (well maybe a little) but my work schedule did take a bite out of my running this week. I made it into the city on Thursday for an industry meeting and saw my buddy and fellow Runsketeer, KWL, who ran the NYC marathon last weekend. I probably covered 20K steps that day, so at least I burned some calories.

We had to go out east this morning, which required me to get out early for my first run of the week. Even though it's early November, the temperature felt more like late September and the cloudy skies helped keep things cool. I had no particular route in mind when I took off and ended up circumnavigating the middle school before heading to the north end of my neighborhood. There was a little humidity, but otherwise conditions were fall-perfect.

We spent much of the day in eastern Long Island and we stopped at Target before we headed home. While my wife and kids looked for stuff on their lists, I ambled over to the men's section that has the Champion C9 line of athletic clothes. They had some nice, lightweight vests that would be perfect with a long sleeve running shirt on a 30° morning, but the price was higher than I was prepared to pay.

Out of curiosity, I looked in the shoe section, where they sell C9 running shoes for $29.99. Most of the big running shoe brands have entry level models that Dick's and Sports Authority sell for $50-$60. These shoes may not have the advanced technologies and features of their flagship models, but they generally provide a decent fit and feel. I decided to try on a pair of the C9 Drives to experience the difference between them and the ASICS Kayano 20s I was wearing.

Drive this off a cliff
The C9 shoes did not seem junky and I wondered what they'd feel like on my foot. After realizing they ran a half size bigger than most of the shoes in my collection, I found a smaller pair and tried them on. My first impression of the Drives was that they had almost no cushioning. That isn't a show stopper for me, because I like a minimal shoe. But when I stood up and took a few steps, I realized why I typically spend $100 or more for Sauconys, ASICS or Brooks.

The lack of cushioning and a poorly constructed mid-sole resulted in a lumpy, uncomfortable foot bed. I suddenly understood the difference between quality brands and cheap $29.99 knockoffs. I've been fortunate to either receive shoes for testing from the manufacturers, or find great discounted running shoes at places like SA Elite or Famous Footwear. Believe me, paying $60 for a pair of $100 running shoes is a much better deal than paying $30 for "bargain" trainers.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Holiday run by any name

All clear on the local roads
Today's run (street): 3.6 miles

Happy Columbus Day. Or as some people are calling it, "Indigenous People Day." I know there's controversy around that. What's really important is that I had the day off. Between my working from home Friday, the weekend and then today's run, I was able to string together four consecutive workouts for the first time in weeks.

The good thing about running a lot is that your body gets used to it and it's easy to get into rhythm. I liked the experience of running on a weekday morning without squadrons of parents swarming the roads to drop off their kids at school. No buses either, and even the garbage trucks were silent. The time went by fairly quickly and I ended up covering more ground than I'd planned.

Later in the day we stopped into Trader Joe's at the Gallery at Wesbury Plaza. While there, we walked over to SA Elite. This is basically a running discount store and a great place to find bargains if you time your visit right. Today I looked at ASICS running vests that were on sale for about $20. It was a really good price, but I didn't like the way the collar fit, so I took a pass.

Purple-y purchase
My wife was luckier and found a pair of ASICS Kayano 20's for a great price. Her GT-2160s have at least 700 miles on them and I've been after her to retire them. I have a pair of Kayano 20's that I use for recovery runs and love them. I think she'll appreciate this new pair just as much.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Supinating is how I roll

Virrata out-sole wear courtesy of supination
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 5.1 miles

Fall is almost here and I'm loving the cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, the humidity still thinks it's summertime. That's true, but running conditions have improved over August's dog days. Stepping out to mid-60's temperatures provided a welcomed boost this morning. I had two good runs this weekend, even though my positive performance from Friday wasn't duplicated on either day.

Yesterday I broke out of the boundaries of my neighborhood, venturing into the nearby business park and the neighborhood that connects to it. I'd targeted 5 miles and ran easy. That turned out to be a good idea because the humidity was an oppressive 88%. This morning felt cooler and a moderate breeze from the north provided a nice offset to still-present humidity. I'd considered a trail run but didn't want to deal with mountain bikers at Stillwell. I ended up staying local.

The best thing about today's run was that my energy level was running a few notches above usual. Feeling stronger prompted me to step up my pace and open my stride. It was during my run on Saturday that I noticed how my form has changed since dealing with my herniated disc. I still have slight discomfort in my left thigh, especially when I push my speed.

After yesterday's run, I looked up strides and landing styles and realized for the first time that I am actually not a pronator. That label was given to me seven years ago by the salesperson at Super Runner's in Huntington after she watched me walk across the store. That resulted in my purchase of a pair of Brooks Adrenaline 9's that I loved dearly and wore for 1,000 miles.

Although pronators are supposed to wear stability trainers, I've always felt comfortable running in neutral shoes, especially the minimal variety, That explains my love for the Kinvaras and my appreciation of the Saucony Virratas that I recently replaced with the Kinvara 5s. The article I read showed wear patterns and connected them to different types of strides: pronator, over-pronator, neutral and supinator.

According to the illustrations, I'm a supinator, someone whose foot rolls outward on landing. I looked at my Virratas, the shoes with the most outdoor mileage, and the wear pattern clearly shows that I do this. So now I'm confused. Stability shoes are built with a medial post or some type of multi-density material in the mid-sole to neutralize inward rolling. I get that. What I don't get is when I look up "best shoes for supination" most results point to stability shoes. But since it's the opposite problem, wouldn't stability shoes amplify supination?

While the running world works to figure that out, I'll stick with my minimal neutral models. The only downside to that is my preferred shoes use a fairly soft material on the out-sole that is apt to wear out from all my supinatin'. Still, I'd rather run in shoes that feel right, rather than ones that are made for people who supinate. So far, that seems to be the right approach.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Another Kinvara for the ER

This color was $52, the rest were more expensive
This weekend's runs (street): 8 miles total

This is the last weekend of summer before the kids return to school so we took off for some R&R. Due to that, I was limited in terms of running options. But between today and yesterday, I was able to cover a total of eight miles. The not so good news is that the upper thigh discomfort that I experienced as part of my ruptured disc has come back. It's not actually painful, but I feel it in every step and it's affecting my stride.

I'm doing some massage exercise to help deal with it. Fortunately, this discomfort only happens while I'm running. I ran with my Saucony Triumph ISOs today and it was a little better than with my Virratas that have pronounced heel wear on the lateral sides of both shoes. I've been researching shoes to replace the Virratas (my main shoe right now) and decided to go with the Kinvara 5.

Thanks to ShoeKicker, I was able to find a pair online for $52 with free shipping. I should see them sometime next week. I adored my original Kinvaras and the K3s have served me well for far longer than I'd deserved. I made the mistake of reading lots of user reviews that planted some doubt about the K5s.

The concern was mostly due to the Pro-Lock feature that the Triumphs also have. The K6 Pro-Lock is supposed to be worse, which is why I elected to get the 5s. I figure that everyone's foot is different and some people will always be disappointed. Despite some negative posts, most reviews were overwhelmingly positive, I'm hoping mine will be too.

Friday, August 28, 2015

ShoeKicker finds finds running shoe bargains

http://shoekicker.com/
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

Back to the run today. I've been non-stop all week at work and getting home a little later than I'd like. Due to that, I wasn't able to fit in a workout last night. This morning I kicked off my weekend of running with a few loops around the neighborhood. The humidity was down, my energy was up and I thought I was really hammering my last mile. No such luck, but it was my fastest of the day.

Our plans this weekend may interfere with both my running and blogging so I'm glad I got out today. If I have time, I'll continue my search for my next pair of running shoes. The guy behind a new site and web app called ShoeKicker contacted me recently. That was timely, since I'm in the market for a new trainers.

ShoeKicker is a clever idea. Put in the shoe that you want to buy, plus your size and gender, and it quickly returns the best price on the web. There's a button to take you directly to the lowest offer, along with alternative sites that sell the shoe. The feedback I gave him was to add more capabilities to the site to bring people back more frequently. I also think it would be good for the app to provide some contextual information to help educate the user or provide an opportunity to price alternative models.

I miss the (defunct) Runners World shoe app and ShoeKicker could be a good, modern alternative. It has a clean design, easy to use interface and tells you how much you save in fun non-monitory terms. Dave, the guy behind the site, seems very interested in providing the best possible experience to his users. Check it out. Once I decide on my next shoe, I'll probably use the site to buy them.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hills, heat, humidity and a failure to Triumph


The route
Today's run (Bethpage trail): 5 miles

Yesterday's track workout inspired me to get out for another "destination" run this morning. By that I mean a run outside the confines of my general neighborhood. Since I pushed my efforts on Saturday, I figured today would be best spent running easy on the Bethpage trail.

ISOs: pretty, but not this editor's choice
I decided to try the Saucony Triumph ISOs again to see how they perform now that my stride has begun to normalize. While I was recovering from the disc issue, my left foot would mash up toward the front of my running shoes and the ISOs seemed to do it the most of any of my running shoes. These highly cushioned trainers won the Runner's World Editor's Award and I had high hopes that they would become my primary shoes. I'm concluding that, for my arch type, lower is better. That's why I've reverted back to using my Vitarras even though they have a sizable amount of wear on the out-soles.

The cyclists were out in force this morning with less runners than I usually see on the bike trail. My hope was that I'd feel energized from yesterday's intervals. That wasn't the case, but I said, "What the heck" since I planned for this to be a recovery effort. I cruised along the sparsely populated path and at one point I was passed by a fast moving runner with whom I tried to match strides. No such luck. She quickly disappeared into the distance.

There's usually a lot of fauna on the trail, mostly birds and bunnies. Today I saw an actual jack rabbit crossing the path about 20 feet ahead of me. In silhouette it looked a lot like the eponymous character in the Jackrabbit Sports logo. Although the humidity was supposedly low, it didn't feel that way to me. The temperature was 81° and the sun was baking down. The combination of weather and hills on the north end of the trail did me in and I was ready to throw in the towel once I reached 5 miles.

A towel would have been great to have when I finished. When I looked at the Garmin's stats and saw it report 51% humidity I shook my head. The work week starts again tomorrow, and I hope to get in some type workout before next Friday. I was glad to get away for a couple of non-neighborhood runs this weekend and pleased that I finally worked in a speed workout. As for the Triumphs, I don't think I'll ever be happy with them. That's unfortunate. I could always wear them as weekend casual shoes, but they are a bit too vivid to wear in public unless I'm running.

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.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dog day run

When I Googled Dog Days, all I got was pages of this anime
Today's run 4.2 miles

Well, it looks like a dog to me
This morning's run looked more like a dog than a cheek-shooting bi-athlete. I think that's appropriate because today was definitely a dog day. Predictions of rain got me out the door earlier than yesterday. Overall, I had a slightly better experience than Saturday, because the humidity and pollen levels were a touch lower. Still, the difference in comfort between shaded and unshaded sections of the road was huge.

I first thought about running at Bethpage and taking a route that toggled between the paved trail and the dirt side paths that cut through the woods. It came down to convenience and timing and I decided to stay local to get out faster. I'd put on my aging Virratas that would be a good shoe on both pavement and dirt. After I made the decision to stay in the neighborhood I forgot to switch to either the Kayanos or Triumphs - my current trainers.

I mentally mapped a new route and took off, keeping an eye peeled for my teenage daughter who was out practicing her driving. I immediately noticed how much I preferred the Virratas over the newer pairs of running shoes. Although some people I know love their super-cush sneakers, I'm still a fan of minimal models.

Probably due to pre-hyperthermia delusions, I took a wrong turn around the 2.5 mile point and made an ad hoc change that took me outside the neighborhood. It was fine but it forced me to negotiate some really broken sections of concrete. I watched my steps carefully to avoid a face plant. I cut back into the neighborhood at my first opportunity and completed the run by focusing on the tall glass of water that I would drink the moment I got home.

I ended up running close to 13 miles this week. Low by historical standards, but I only ran three times. I have moved out out of my 3 mile rut and next weekend I want to cover at least 5.5 miles on at least one of my runs. How I do in terms of workout over the next four days will depend on my schedule. I'm determined to get at least one workout in before Friday, even if it's on the elliptical.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The highs and lows of running shoes

Kayano & ISO (L), Virrata & Kinvara (R)
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

I've fallen down on my plan to continue my weekday workouts. Three weeks of testing alternative running machines made it easy to stay on schedule. I did those sessions at the end of my work days and left the office immediately afterwards. I did surprisingly well with those afternoon workouts and they really energized me for my long drive home.

I'd done no workouts since Sunday's Runsketeer run at Bethpage so I went out this morning for a loop around the neighborhood. The weather was surprisingly cool - not even 60° - so I put on a fluorescent orange long sleeve running shirt and shorts. I wore my Saucony Triumphs to compare my last experience with the Kayanos.

I like both pairs, but I'm still preferring the lower, more minimal design of the Kinvaras and Virratas. SIOR, who is switching to ultra cushioned Hokas, pointed out that my flat arches better match low drop running shoes while higher arched runners like her prefer a wider variance between forefoot and heel heights. I feel it's wasteful to invest in new Kinvaras while I have two pair of almost-new high end trainers, but I'm going to run in my well-used Virratas this weekend to see if I do better in them.

My disc issue is almost completely gone, although I still have a slight flexibility issue in my left hamstring. That's causing me to land off-center on that side, resulting in slight mashing of my foot near the front. I'll be curious to see if that condition appears with the low platform Virratas.

My run this morning went fine, although I did feel some aerobic challenge throughout the run. It's hard to believe it was just a year ago that I managed through the Brooklyn Half. I have a long way to go to get to my 10K base.

It's a three day weekend and that will provide time to string together three more runs. I really need to get out of the 3-4 mile rut and start edging closer to five or more. My orthopedist discouraged trail running while recovering from my disc injury, but I may be ready for a return to Stillwell at this point. I'll be happy if this cool weather continues on Saturday. I want to enjoy the spring as long as I can.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New shoes and nowhere to run

ISO excited!
It's a little ironic that my new Saucony Triumph ISOs came today. They look cool and my first impression of them is that they feel great. Unfortunately, all the snow we've had during the past two weeks makes outside running seem too risky. The treadmill has always been my alternative to the road, but that's no longer a viable option. Until we have a thaw or we get a new treadmill, the Sauconys will have to wait.

I'm excited about the Triumphs. They look to be the trainers I've been hoping for. My ASIC Kayanos, a similar type of running shoe, have been a disappointment. I can already tell that the Sauconys will provide a greater balance of energy and comfort than the ASICs and I expect that I will like them a lot.

With temperatures expected to stay around freezing this weekend, it looks like my only opportunity to try the Sauconys will be when I'm using the elliptical.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Shoe de Triomphe

Hopefully I won't be saying "Whoa is me."
Today's run (treadmill): 40 minutes

I love a bargain, especially when it comes to running gear. Unfortunately, not all bargains pay off. Back in November, I was able to purchase a pair of ASICS Kayano 20s for $64. I've subsequently seen these shoes selling for $109 (discounted from $160 MSRP) because the 21s have since replaced them. So saving $45 on these highly rated "top of the market, super cushioned" shoes should have been a win-win. At best it's a win-tie.

I've done my best to appreciate the Kayanos, but they don't provide the fit or the comfort that I'd expected. If I'd paid full price, or even current market price, I'd be upset. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to put the Kayanos aside with no penalty. Saucony has asked me to test a pair of their new Triumph ISOs. This is Saucony's top neutral shoe, with some very promising attributes.

Like the Kayanos, the Triumphs are designed for bigger runners who do a lot of mileage. That describes me not at all. According to CDC.gov, I weigh 13% less than the average adult male in the US (although I'm sure the gap would be smaller compared to the average male runner). In terms of volume, I run 50% of the weekly mileage of the average competitive runner. So this shoe may not be a match made in heaven. My plan at the moment is to love the Triumphs and relegate the ASICS to weekend casual shoe status. We'll see. I should be taking delivery next week,

This week has been awful in terms of running. I worked from home on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and all three days should have provided opportunities for running. Between the big snowstorm on Monday and workdays that tied me up from 7:00 AM to early evening, I could not fit in a workout. I was scrambling to get some documents together before a video conference call yesterday and cracked my toe on one of the slate steps that lead down to the den. My hopes for a lunch hour treadmill run were dashed by what I thought was a broken toe.

This morning my toe was a little better. Still swollen, but the pain wasn't as sharp. I put a little foam padding under the toe joint and wore my Kinvara 3's on the treadmill with decent results. I kept it to 40 minutes just in case. I'm probably going to do the same tomorrow. With more snow coming on Sunday and Monday, it looks like I'll be spending a lot more time running inside.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

New life for some old gear

Aging like fine wine
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles

I was recently in SA Elite looking at their holiday sale items. They had ASICS running vests for 20% off, but the price still seemed high for a jacket without any sleeves. Since then, I read a piece on winter running that mentioned the benefit of keeping your core warm on very cold days. A warm core helps keep your extremities and the rest of your body warm.

I didn't buy a running vest, but with this morning's wind chill, it felt like 28° outside. Rather than put on two long sleeve layers, I put on an acrylic fleece Sports Illustrated promo vest that I had from my Time Inc. days. The vest is lightweight and has a mesh liner inside. After a decade using it to keep warm in my office, it had a new use.

After choosing the vest, I needed to pick the shoes I'd wear on today's run. I'm no longer concerned that the Kayanos are causing my sciatica, but I decided to go back to my Sauconys to see how they felt on a run. The appropriation of the vest as running gear inspired me to pull my ancient Brooks Adrenalin GTS 10s out of the closet and use them instead. The 10s probably have 1,000 miles on them, but they are still viable.

I've always worn my Adrenalins when dealing with minor injuries because they seem to correct whatever problem is plaguing me. My shoe size has increased in recent years and the toe box is too tight for longer distances. If they were a half size bigger I'd put them into the rotation. The soreness in my glutes was there when I started, but it wasn't as pronounced as it was at the beginning of yesterday's run. I was hoping for a further reduction in the pain once I began to warm up.

Some mild discomfort remained throughout the run. Surprisingly enough, I found the pain to be a good distraction from the boredom of my neighborhood roads. I decided to be cautious and keep the run under five miles today. I may go further tomorrow. I'm out of the office until January 5th so I'll have a lot more days to run during the week. I'm really hoping to be free of this soreness by the time me and my buddies do the LIRRC Hangover run on January 1.

Friday, December 5, 2014

First impression of the new Kayanos

So far so good
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

It wasn't until I was ready to put on my running shoes that I remembered I had a brand new pair of ASICS Kayanos sitting in a box in my gear cabinet. I was excited to try them out and experience a very different platform. After years of low, minimal running shoes, I'm returning to a more cushioned trainer. It's a little like going from a sports car to a luxury sedan. Both are great, but for different reasons.

Today was going to be busy and long and I was grateful not to have to do my long commute. I got myself out the door early enough to keep on schedule but (unfortunately) it was just in time to play "dodge the school buses and recycling trucks" in my neighborhood.

Once my Garmin got its signal I was off. The Kayanos definitely felt different from my Virratas. It wasn't the pillowy float that I had expected. Instead, my impression of the shoes was a combination of comfort and purpose. The shape of the mid-sole facilitated a good rolling gait and that meant something today. My legs were not feeling too springy.

I really liked the Kayanos but, as short as it was, I didn't enjoy the run all that much. It may have been due to all the things I needed to do once my workday started, but it was probably more related to how I felt. Despite being far below aerobic threshold, I had some labored breathing during the first half of the run. Warming up corrected that, but I began to feel some leg fatigue near the end. Some days are like that, even on shorter runs.

I ended up pacing decently - still below target, but better than prior weeks. I think the responsive Kayanos actually helped me today. I'm disappointed to read that rain is expected overnight and into the morning. I really don't want to face the roar of the treadmill, so I'll run with my rain jacket if it isn't a downpour. If that's the case, I won't be wearing my new shoes.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kayano say good deal?

My bargain babies
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

Thanksgiving break seemed like it would go on forever but Sunday is finally here. We had morning plans, so I went out for an early run. Although I didn't intend to run with a lot of intensity, I kept my max HR between 81%-91%. This produced a nice speed improvement over yesterday. I'm still outside my target zone for performance, but I've brought my pace down almost a minute over my last four runs.

There were two factors that held me back today: a miscalculation in terms of dress (too many layers for 50°) and an 11 MPH wind that hit head on during a couple of long stretches. In neither case was I particularly uncomfortable, but I did wish for shorter sleeves and a gentler breeze. The smell of burning leaves enveloped the neighborhood and inspired me to push a little harder. In fact one of my splits was my fastest mile this year, not counting track intervals. I'm sure the Garmin was confused to see me running in the eight minute range.

The real news of the day happened after my run, when we did some end of break shopping at the Gallery at Westbury Plaza. After some awesome Thai coconut curry at Noodles & Co., I stumbled upon one of the biggest running related bargains I've ever seen. My daughter was looking for some new running shoes so we stopped into Famous Footwear to see what they had.

I usually view Famous Footwear as an outlet for low end models and slow selling remainders, but they do occasionally surprise me. As I scanned the shelves in the men's section, I noticed a pair of ASICS Kayano 20's with a sign that said $64 | regular price $159.99. I knew that ASICS had introduced the 21s, so I would have expected to see these discounted (at best) to the $110-120 range. $64 seemed way too good to be true.

Note the $95 "price conflict"
I found a pair in my size to try on. I figured that if they fit as well as Kayanos usually do, I could ask the actual price and see if it was still competitive. I was slightly ambivalent when I put them on, but after a few quick steps at the back of the store, I wanted them. I asked the assistant manager for the actual price and she said, "$159.99." I showed her the shelf tag and she said I could have the Kayanos at that price - that it was their error. She was really nice and even let me use their deal of the day (buy one pair and get another at half price) to buy my daughter her shoes.

Needless to say, I'm very excited about this purchase. After five years wearing lighter, more minimal running shoes, I've been thinking lately about the industry's pendulum shift toward more substantial and cushioned models. I'd considered the Hoka Cliftons as well as the Brooks Transcend and the new Adrenalin 15s, among others. The Kayano is THE classic stability trainer and I'm curious to see how I'll do in a shoe that weighs 25% more than my Saucony Virratas. I suspect I won't miss the lightness at all.
 

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