Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My 2011 Running Favorites-Shoes, Apparel, Gear, and Trails

2011 was the year shoe heel to toe ratios dropped all over the place.  From road to trail I mostly ran in 4-9mm heel to toe drop shoes. While not a great competitive year, my legs felt great, no more hamstring soreness and rapid recovery from run to run.

Favorite Shoe
Brooks PureFlow

Reviewed here. I found racing and race recovery in the PureFlow to be a pleasure.
This second generation low drop road runner is light, has a 4 mm heel to toe drop and despite the weight plenty of cushioning due to its 19mm forefoot 23 mm heel stack. First shoe where I feel it is easy to keep off the heels for more than a few miles and I have tried them all Newton, Kinvaras, Ecco, Hoka One One, and various racing flats from Nike, Adidas, and Asics.

Road Runner Ups
Inov-8 Road X 255: Unlike Inov-8's trail models which have in my opinion a narrow snug upper the Road X 255 combines a roomy toe box with a snug mid foot. Great road feel if a bit firmer than the Brooks PureFlow due to its 13mm forefoot height, 6mm less than the PureFlow.
Inov-8 Road X 255

Inov-8 Road X 255

Trail Runner Ups
Three very different shoes for very different trails.

Saucony Peregrine: Great snow and mud shoe. Light and fast and with a bit narrow toe box. Not a long haul shoe for me.

Salomon Synapse:This 2012 model which I previewed has a wide toe box, plenty of cushioning, and great grip on most surfaces. Used to break the Appalachian Trail record Synapse is a great all day "Run your Hike" shoe.

Inov-8 Road X 255: Yes, this road shoe is also a very able trail runner.  For me a better trail runner than road runner. The full surface sticky rubber outer sole is great on all but loose gravel, snow, and mud. Agile and flexible with plenty of protection this is a great go fast shoe for hard pack trails. Can't wait for Inov-8's new trail models with the wider forefoot of the Road X series.

Inov-8 Road X 255

Running Apparel Favorites
I run hot so I am always looking for light moisture wicking fabrics. Anti-odor treatment also always a good thing to have.

Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight  long sleeve and t-shirts. Not the Stretch Silkweight which is also light but noticeably warmer. I wear either of  these just about every day in heat or cold. The long sleeves are loose enough to easily roll up. Rolled down they serve as a good sun barrier. Has Gladiodor odor control which I think is effective.
Patagonia Silkweight Long Sleeve

Saucony ViziPRO Vest: Really like the very breathable, soft, and totally windproof fabric. 3 pockets. The chest MP3 pocket is just a bit to snug for a smartphone. With the way people are driving these days, head glued to the phone, the ViziPRO color is essential, night or day. The vest has reflective fabric patches and includes a clip on USB rechargeable LED blinker.
Saucony ViziPRO Vest

Running Hat Favorites
Summer: Pearl Izumi Fly In-R-Cool Cap
Very light fabric with In-R-Cool technology which I think really does cool a bit when wet.  

Winter: Cannondale Wool Hat. 
Not running specific gear but this light wool hat with Coolmax type lining has been great for all temperatures from 40's down to below zero. Rides high on the head, sort of low profile when ear flaps are folded up so not overly warm when it doesn't need to be and as warm as can be when its freezing cold. Easily fold the ear flaps up or down as needed. The vizor cuts glare.
Cannondale Wool Hat
And anything wool from SmartWool, Ibex, and Icebreaker.

Favorite Gear
Nike+ SportsWatch GPS. After a rough start with many missing features such as average pace Nike came through with useful upgrades. The Sports Watch is small with a quite easy to see screen in sunlight. Decent web site for stats although it is about time to get rid of the slow Flash running the show. The Nike+ foot pod used when GPS is not available still seems inaccurate with no way to calibrate. I also use the Nike+GPS app on my iPhone when I don't have the watch handy.
Nike+ SportsWatch (left)  Garmin 205 (right)
Favorite Hydration Gear
Hands down winner the incredibly well designed Salomon XT S-Lab Advanced Skin pack. Truly a second skin.

Favorite Trail

Chamonix to Zermatt on the Walkers Haute Route. Not a run but a wonderful multi day hike across the Alps with my wife Dominique.
Mont Blanc (15,800 feet)  in the background
Favorite Trek Gear
Bomb proof, totally foldable, super lightweight Black Diamond Distance FL Trekking Poles.  The Z Poles. Useful for running too!

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Favorite Race
Boston Marathon! I had a terrible race but enjoyed my first trip back to the Big Show in 24 years immensely.

What were your Running Favorites in 2011?

Happy New Year and Happy Trails in 2012!

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