Thursday, December 30, 2010

My 2010 Favorite Running Shoes

My 2010 Favorites:

1) Hoka One One Mafate-totally different yet minimal in a way. Clown shoe high, almost 2" off the ground yet in my view oh so cushy and natural. Great on the trails and on the road a feeling like running barefoot on grass  For long, long hauls road or trails and recovery runs.  Effectively zero heel to toe drop??

2) Saucony Kinvara-solid minimalism, light and cushioned, Good for every distance ( I ran my marathon in these) and speed. 4 mm drop

3) adidas Adizero Rockets- very light, fast and responsive yet also cushioned, firmly. The shoe that runs fast!  6 mm drop. Narrow over the instep and at the toes and hard to put on. Not for wide feet.

Runner ups:

Golite Flash Lite- first zero drop "shoe". Solid smooth trail runner. Road runnable. Very comfortable walker.  If you can only take one shoe for multiple purposes this is it.

Ascis Hyperspeed- similar to Rockets but not quite as snappy on the go. 7 mm drop

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Inov-8 New Road Running Shoes- Road X Series

Inov-8's trail running shoes have been in my trail running quiver since 2006. I particularly like them for trail and mountain racing due to their low to the ground light, nimble feel ( the original minimalist trail running shoes) and the wide range of models for different types of terrain and speeds.

I can't wait to try their new range of road shoes out this spring.  Much as with their trail shoes the road models focus on a progression in weight and function.  The 3 Road X models  bring runners closer to near zero drop/barefoot from model to model by using a  three step progression from 9mm, to 6mm to a 3mm heel to toe drop .  I think I will start with the 233 (233 grams) which comes in at 8.3 oz and has a 6mm heel toe drop, quite similar to my Saucony Kinvara. Running Warehouse's blog has a preview article and pictures here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

St George Marathon (UT) 2010-Before the Start

Superb essay by my friend and Utah running buddy Fasteddie Knapp. We trekked to St George together for the race. Eddie completed his 14th St. George and 58th Marathon in fine form 4 months after a partial knee replacement. Smart, brave, a great coach and especially someone who runs for the joy of it and to bring others along.  Read the essay on his blog at RunSkiRide

Monday, December 27, 2010

miCoach Update-Issues with HRM signal on the Zone

An update to my initial review of the miCoach training systems. After replacing the batteries on the miCoach Zone HRM unit I am still unable to get the unit to synch with the watch. I saw a gradual increase in the synch time to see the first heart rate after each workout start then yesterday it never synched, I contacted miCoach support and got them on the first ring over in Europe somewhere. The instructions they sent to reset the unit did not seem to work on my first try. I have written them for further assistance.

The Mobile miCoach on my T-Mobile Blackberry continues to work like a charm monitoring and recording performance based on pace. Unfortunately it does not provide heart rate monitoring for indoor workouts or trails and hilly terrain where pace is less of an indicator of workout effort than heart rate.

Friday, December 24, 2010

110% Play Harder Compression Knee Braces, Calf Sleeves, Shorts-Ice it!

 110% Play Harder shorts, calf sleeves, and knee braces combine compression with pockets to insert included ice/heat packs. While I have not tried these, I think there is some merit for those with chronic problems or during heavy mileage periods. I see 110% Play Harder is available at Running Warehouse. Illustrated here are the knee brace and shorts :

I have used a number of different compression calf sleeves, shorts and socks in racing, training and recovery and have concluded that for me the recovery benefits outweigh any race performance benefits. I do get  a sense that my stride feels more aligned directly down the road or trail, less sloppyin later stages of a race or long run when using compression calf sleeves or socks . My favorite compression socks are the merino blend Swiftwick 12 which I  posted about earlier this year. They provide a "light" compression and are great for fall and winter running, nordic, telemark and alpine skiing.  I used them just about every day on our 100 plus mile trek around the Mont Blanc.

When its warmer out I often use Salomon EXO III Calf that I picked up from the iRunFar Store. Again light compression. The Salomons got me through the 13 miles of downhill in the St. George Marathon this year without the calf cramps I got in 2009.

I use compression shorts in training when my problem hamstring is acting up and they clearly let me run in less pain. Since I have gotten used to more minimal shoes in  the last 4 months the hamstring issues have gone away... I have tried my Zoot and adidas TechFit  compression shorts in racing and find them a bit too restrictive, especially later in races when my stride gets weaker and knee lift starts to escape me.

 I highly recommend compression shorts for telemark and alpine  skiing and find that they clearly keep my legs fresher day in, day out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Craft Zero Extreme Long Sleeve Concept Piece

Pricey but very light, warm and breathable base layer. I have been running with just the Craft Zero Extreme and a windbreaker down into the 20's this winter. Wicks very well to keep off the chill. The shoulder ventilation is functional. Not as warm when stopping and starting as wool. I have even worn it indoors at the gym and not felt over heated.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

For those who Winter Train on the "Dreadmill" Treadmills

Handy conversion chart. Note that a 0% incline which many use is like running downhill. As dreadmills scare me, I usually set the incline to about 5% and take it from there.

Adidas miCoach

For the last month or so in preparation for the 2011 Boston Marathon I have been using adidas miCoach. training program. I am finding micoach to be a fantastically well designed and executed program, once understood-integrating smart phones, web, and optional gadgets. It is a bit complicated from a "marketing" and initial presentation and explanation standpoint. I hope this post helps explain the various elements.

The system can include:
  • a free GPS based pacing program miCoach Mobile for certain Blackberry smartphones and carriers as well as an iPhone app. (more on this later).
  • a free web site to upload the results of your workouts, see them on a map, tabulating elevation gained and even get a score vs. goal.
  • very well designed workouts and calendar schedule for different race distances, abilities, and also for sports other than running.
  • a line of associated gadgets for purchase including 
    • a heart rate monitor, the miCoach Zone ($69.99) , 
    • a stride counter, audible pace, stride, distance HR player with transmitter to PC the miCoach Pacer ($139.99) all associated in a package with the heart rate monitor for situations where GPS based training doesn't make work such as indoors or on trails where heart rate would be more useful than pace. MP3 players can be plugged in to provide music and coaching.
I currently use the free miCoach Mobile GPS app, miCoach web site and the Zone heart rate monitor.

Monday, December 06, 2010

How to Run 2000 Miles in 40 Days-the Secret Sauce Along with One Tough Runner

Karl Meltzer, a NH native and one of the truly amazing ultra endurance athletes out there recently ran the Pony Express Trail- 2000 plus miles in 40 days. His gear, food, and stats list is here . Over 143 cans of Red Bull consumed among other fascinating tidbits. He raves about the Hoka One One trail runners.

I think Hokas are fantastic too. The "Clown Shoe" look will get some stares and snickers but once one runs in these very light ( as light as a performance road shoe at 11 oz. size 9 ) marvels you will secretly be smiling. We hiked the 100 mile Tour du Mont Blanc this summer, on often rough trails, without a single blister or ever any sore legs while carrying a decent size 15 lb plus pack. I have run both roads and trails and found that this most unusual and almost counter intuitive high off the ground design, in a age of "minimalist and barefoot" shoes such as the Vibram Five Fingers, really works and can in fact be considered quite similar in its natural foot barefoot strike to the intent of minimalist shoes.

I have been also using them for my longer road runs and I agree that legs stay fresher. This is a mighty fine road shoe and in my recent St. George Marathon I saw several wearing them. I wish I had too with 13 miles and 2500 vertical feet of downhill. Most interestingly, despite the almost 2 inches of cushion and sole stiffness, the rocker design and low ramp angle appears to really encourage a mid foot strike and short efficient stride. Feels like running on grass... on the road....In strange way I consider this a minimalist shoe as the foot, as it strikes, settles into the foam midsole into a natural position.

On the trail the grip is excellent due to the wide sole, even on leaves, as I found out this week on very steep trails in Hanover NH. The low profile of the lugs prevents mud build up, always an issue with deeply lugged trail runners. They are stable on all terrain except steep side angles where the width of the sole prevents the foot from angling towards the slope. And, as other reviewers have said non technical downhills are a blast. You can run right on top and through smaller rocks and never even feel they were there, a big plus for this timid downhill runner. I was concerned that the stiff sole would impede climbing but this is not the case as the rocker sole allows a very adequate climbing stride particularly when the going gets steep and pace slows.

Rumor has it from Karl Meltzer that a lighter, lower model called the Bondi, more suitable for roads and trail racing, is coming. 

What got me to buy a pair initially? When I heard Karl Metzler was running in Mafates and loving them.