Monday, February 22, 2016

Captain Bluetooth's Spring 2016 Best For.. GPS Run Watch and Heart Rate Monitor Picks. My New Competitor Article: "9 Tips and Tricks for Your GPS and Heart Rate Monitor"

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Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run
As Captain Bluetooth (a/k/a Sam) is testing many GPS and heart rate monitors, sometimes several at once, as part of my assignment as Run Wearable Tech columnist for Competitor Magazine. I've learned a bunch so I just wrote a brief tips and tricks article for Competitor. It is HERE.

After many miles of testing here are some fine options for specific activities and needs

Spring 2016 Run GPS and Heart Rate Monitor Picks 

I want a top of the line multi-sport (run, ski, swim, cycle, etc..) GPS watch with all the bells and whistles, reliability and a well executed online app and web site platform. Give me activity and sleep tracking, recovery advice along with phone notifications. 
Polar V800 $530 w/HL7 heart rate sensor and strap, $450 w/no sensor strap.

I can't stand chest heart rate straps, do want to focus on heart rate, and have it all in one GPS watch with wrist rate heart rate.Give me activity and sleep tracking and recovery advice along with phone notifications. 
Garmin Forerunner 235

Oh, and with GPS and wrist heart rate, I also like to listen to music (500 songs worth!) while I workout and want to leave my phone behind 

TomTom Spark Cardio +Music 

I use a phone run app or have a Bluetooth sensor based GPS watch (generally Suunto, Polar, and Epson but not Garmin which uses a different protocol) and want to add wrist based heart rate stats to my data and bonus have a second screen to see my heart rate. I also want free access to heart rate zone run and fitness training plans. I don't need phone notifications or activity tracking.
adidas MiCoach FitSmart 

I have already have a Garmin watch and want to add wrist based heart rate. Give me activity and sleep tracking along with phone notifications. 

Garmin Vivosmart HR

I am all about vertical multi-sports. I run, ski and cycle mountains. I want to share my adventures, pictures, data on an animated terrain map. I want to load others'  routes and follow the vertical profiles. Give me phone notifications and recovery advice. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review-Saucony Kinvara 7: Same Stats. Major Changes.

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run and Peter Stuart

Saucony Kinvara was the first shoe from a major company to incorporate a lower heel toe drop in a light weight trainer racer, a 4mm drop versus the then more conventional 10mm or more drop. The Kinvara continues that heritage with exactly the same stats as the Kinvara 6: 22mm heel/18mm forefoot stack and a weight of 7.7oz/218grams, men's size 9, 6.6 oz/187 grams women's size 8. 

While the stats remain the same, the shoe is significantly updated and changed in ride and fit. Part of Saucony's Natural Series, the Kinvara 7 sheds some of the original "natural" loose and easy upper and soft, flexible ride. Some may dig the update, others may not. Peter Stuart and I both tested the Kinvara 7. We did not agree... 

Saucony Kinvara 7

  • The midsole geometry is new on the lateral side. Same basic foam but with no deep heel grooves on the lateral side, less of a cutaway at midfoot and shallower forefoot grooves. Replacing the grooves is a concave midsole side wall which deflects more evenly than the grooves and is intended to provide a smoother transition to toe off. 
  • The outsole is all new with a Tri-Flex chevron pattern, similar to the Triumph ISO 2, instead of the traditional high pods with outsole rubber. The new outsole sits on top of the shallower midsole grooves and stabilizes the forefoot but it s also a bit stiffer flexing up front. 
  • The PWRGRID heel insert is replaced by a TPU based Everun insert, similar material to adidas Boost.
  • The upper is redesigned with a  snugger more dialed in fit upfront.
Below an email from the Saucony product manager describing part of what they sought to accomplish:

"As for the lateral heel of the shoe: Quite a change for us!
What we found through the development of EVERUN is also a different way to construct our midsoles (and outsole for that matter) to work in harmony with the new technology. By taking out the traditional ‘deep grooves’ in the heel that you are used to seeing we found that we could achieve more ground contact and smoother transitions from heel/midfoot to forefoot for this runner. One question that always comes up, and what I think you are asking as well is: ‘Wait, so how does the shoe decouple and flex as well!?’ – The sculpting, and geometric pattern we have used here (and can be found on our other EVERUN shoes) actually helps with the decoupling effect as the runner lands and rolls through their gait cycle. That paired with the ‘concave’ design allows us to maintain the same amount of flex and fluidity with a new visual design (which we hope you think looks pretty sleek!)"

So so how do they actually run?

First Impressions
Sam: I last ran in the Kinvara 3 leaving it behind for the more stable and responsive adidas Adios Boost for my half racing shoe. I found the older Kinvaras too soft and unstable, particularly upfront with its high midsole pods topped by a bit of rubber. The heel was also soft. Overall ,it was too slipper like for my taste, too "natural". While I did not run in any subsequent Kinvaras, I did carefully examine the 6 at my local running store Runner's Alley and tried them on side by side with the 7 to compare. 
The Kinvara 7 runs and fits quite differently than its predecessors and is much more is to my preferences for a stable ride and snugger upper. The upper is snugger than the K6 or K3, not as unstructured and slipper like, with more of a performance almost race fit all over. It is not overly constraining for me although I did find adjusting the lacing tightness to be tricky, loose tie is better. This said those with wider, higher instep, higher volume feet may not care for this change. The heel and forefoot rides are far more stable. Very smooth transition, I could really feel continuous ground contact with none of the sinking or collapsing feel I had in the 3. The forefoot while a bit stiffer than the K3 or 6 is particularly well cushioned, more comfortable than the adios Boost and reminding me a lot of the Altra Impulse forefoot, my 2015 Shoe of the Year. Both have a long smooth flex that I like but in the case of the Kinvara 7 there is more drop ,and while just as stable, less of a harsh heel landing. The Kinvara has a lively, light directed ride with enough support for a marathon for me.

Peter: I think I’ve run in K1,2, 3 and maybe tried 5. First impression is that I was running in a shoe that had lost touch with the original magic of the Kinvara. K1 was a light and fairly minimal shoe with lots of cushioning and lots of flexibility. While I didn’t mind the K7, it didn’t really feel like a logical next step in the Kinvara series. 

As previously mentioned the major changes to the midsole from the Kinvara 6 are on the lateral side of the shoe. A less segmented heel is replaced by a concave sculpting to provide more ground contact and a smoother transition. Upfront the midsole flex grooves are shallower, especially as you go towards the middle of the shoe. Again more ground contact and stability with the downside a bit less flexibility. 

The Everun TPU heel wedge is nicely responsive a great balance of cushion and rebound. Its claimed longevity will also likely be a key factor in stabilizing the rest of the light EVA in the heel area. The diagram below outlines what Everun is all about. Note the Kinvara only has an Everun heel wedge, no Everun top sole as in the Everun Triumph ISO 2.

The outsoles of the Kinvara 6 and 7 are significantly different in design and feel. especially in the front of the shoe.  
Outsoles: Saucony Kinvara 6 (left) Kinvara 7 (right)

The Kinvara 7 now uses Saucony's Tri-Flex outsole design also seen on the Triumph ISO 2. Note how the orange outsole chevrons on the K7 extend closer to the edge of the medial at the midfoot side than the red patches did in the K8 and the more continuous , less segmented white outsole back of that. All of this we think translates to more ground contact, smoother transition, and more stability but...a bit less flexibility. 
The front of the shoe has a nice long flex which is very similar to the K6 but it is a bit stiffer particularly at the very front of the shoe. This is not a shoe with the distinct toe spring flex point of say the adidas Adios Boost.

The medial side of the midsole remains largely unchanged. 
Saucony Kinvara 7 Medial Midsole

Upper and Fit
Saucony Kinvara 7 
Sam: The upper is an area sure to generate controversy. The Kinvara 7 no longer has a slipper like somewhat unstructured upper. It's not that the materials are heavier it's more that the fit is more dialed in, closer to a race tempo trainer than the previous models  light relaxed fit. There is definitely less volume or less room for the foot to move or in my case in the past slip around in the toe box.They fit me true to size, just. Those with higher volume feet may want to size up half a size.
Toe Box: Saucony Kinvara 7 (left) Kinvara 6 (right)

The front Flex Film overlays running from the lace area are more central over the top of the foot than the K6. The lateral silver logo overlay extends further forward on the K7 but is a lighter material.

Saucony Kinvara 7 toe box detail

Saucony Kinvara 7 toe box detail

Saucony Kinvara 7 toe box detail Medial Side
On the medial side the Flex-Film gently reinforces the often problematic bunion big toe area. Again a very soft flexible overlay. The toe bumper is quite high and is in fact part of a single pattern of black soft Flex-Film running from toe to mid foot where other overlays and the Pro Lock strap come into the picture. This single material density translates to a very consistent feel and hold of the front of the foot, snug dialed in but in no way constricting and with no obvious hot spots

The rear of the heel counter on the Kinvara 7 appears slightly lower than on the Kinvara 6.Note also the shallower rear heel de-couple groove on Kinvara 7. 
Heel View: Saucony Kinvara 6 (left) Kinvara 7 (right)

SideView: Saucony Kinvara 6 (top)  Kinvara 7 (left)

To hold the mid foot to the platform and keep the foot aligned many light weight trainer racers use some form of strap or cord. Nike has their FlyWire, The new Brooks Neuro (review soon) uses a series of cords wrapping all the way around the foot, Skechers has started to use interior bonded straps. The alternative is often a very snug arch for example in the New Balance Zante or substantial overlays, for example adios Boost. Saucony's approach is Pro-Lock. 
Saucony Kinvara 7 Pro-Lock Detail
Sam: Pro Lock are straps and substantial ones, if of soft rubbery material. They are about an inch wide at the laces and even wider as they meet the midsole.. They run on either side from lace holes to the midsole towards the rear of the shoe. In a nice aesthetic touch, the black straps have green patterns painted on them so that looking at shoe the primary green color is not overwhelmed through the light outer mesh. They effectively lock the foot to the platform without constraining or interfering with foot motion as they are not bonded to the upper. We particularly appreciate not having a tight upper at the arch. The material is very much like Saucony's ISO Fit straps but here the single strap is between layers of mesh upper instead of outside the upper. It is lightly covered by the tongue gusset. 

Saucony Kinvara 7 Pro-Lock Detail
The Pro-Lock strap worked OK for me, although some have complained of it cutting the foot. The tongue itself has a fairly thick strip, we call it the "tongue bridge". across and below the gap between the 2 straps. It appeared somewhat thicker than the K6 version. We do wonder about the purpose of the "tongue bridge". We could feel it if we laced too tight and maybe that is its purpose. Ifound that with the wide laces, snug form fitting upper, and Pro-Lock there was no need to over tighten the K7. When we did, we felt the bridge and also lace pressure at the top of the tongue. Saucony might consider making the tongue a bit thicker, eliminating the bridge or making it a larger more padded surface and make the Pro-Lock strap itself out of two materials: the current wide thick strap down low and a softer more fabric like material close to the lace holes to have a more consistent feeling wrap over the top of the foot.

Peter: I have some major issues with the upper. The shoe does indeed seem to be a bit more narrow, and in fact caused my pinky toe to rub against the side of the shoe. First time ever I developed a corn on my toe after a couple of runs in the K7.
The Pro-Lock seems like over-engineering to me. I feel like they’re fixing a a problem that doesn’t really exist. Plain old lacing has held my feet in shoes for years, I’m not sure I needed Pro-Lock to help. I’m not a fan of the wealth of material used to house the pro-lock system, and can feel it on the top of my foot. It was also tough for me to really dial in the fit of the shoe, partly because of the pro-lock system.

Ride & Comparisons
Sam: Kinvara 7 has been an absolutely delightful shoe for me. Well cushioned, stable, and very light. I particularly like the stable heel, smooth transition, and well cushioned if a bit stiff forefoot.  The snug close to race flat fit is what I prefer even in a training shoe when I pick up the pace.
Peter: I’m not a huge fan of the ride. Let me clarify: I don’t mind the ride, but I don’t love it. This shoe is much closer to something like the Triump ISO to me than the older Kinvaras. Gone is the slipper-like feel and gone is the super flexible ride.

Kinvara 7 vs. Altra Impulse
Sam: Both these shoes have a long smooth flex,something I like. The heel in the Kinvara 7 with the Everun and new geometry has less of a harsh landing than Impulse with the Impulse forefoot a bit more cushioned and more flexible.  Nod to Kinvara as a marathon shoe and for training. Despite additional weight nod to Impulse for 10K racing due to its stability at speed. Impulse review here.
Peter: I agree that the K7 is a little less harsh than the Impulse. I do prefer the flexibility of the Impulse, but think the K7 will hold up better over long miles

Kinvara 7 vs. Nike Lunar Tempo 1
Sam:The Lunar Tempo is lighter, more flexible more unstructured, more slipper like. Their cushion is similar but Kinvara is more stable and slightly firmer.  Slight nod to Lunar Tempo for long run upper comfort. Nod to Kinvara for dialed in performance feel. Lunar Tempo review here.
Peter: The Lunar Tempo is a great of example of where I thought the Kinvara line was headed—light, flexible and tons of cushioning. The K7 on the other hand did a U-turn and headed towards less flexible and a firmer feeling cushion.

Kinvara 7 vs. adidas Adios Boost 1
Kinvara's forefoot won't beat you up as the adios does onlonger runs. adios Boost a bit more agile at speed due to its pronounced snappy toe flex. As the Kinvara also has TPU, same material as adidas Boost, they both have well cushioned yet responsive heels. Adios Boost 1 review here.

Kinvara 7 vs. New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v1
Sam: No contest for me here. Certainly a fine shoe but in comparison I found the mid foot upper on the Zante tight under the arch, its ride firm and quite harsh from heel to toe. An outsole like the Kinvara 7 on Zante, less continuous rubber, would likely change my opinion. Zante v1 review here.
Peter: K7 is a little stiffer and clunkier than the Zante. I don’t feel like the transition is as smooth, and feel like there’s a little more shoe there with the K7 than the Zante. If the Zante is too little shoe for you, the K7 might be perfect.

Kinvara 7 vs Skechers GoRun Ride 5:
Peter: These two shoes actually run pretty similarly to me. The Skechers fit is much more dialed in though—more room for toes and no pro-lock weirdness.

Kinvara 7 vs. Hoka One One Tracer (April 2016)
Sam: The Kinvara is softer and more forgiving overall than the Tracer (review) which is a full blown firm racing shoe closer in feel to a New Balance 1600 for example. One could say that the Kinvara 7 is closer to what one expects from a Hoka in terms of cushion than the Tracer.  The Tracer's upper is more comfortable in particular over the mid foot. 

Kinvara 7 vs. Saucony Zealot ISO 1
Sam: The Zealot didn't do much for me. In the particular the thick firm outsole rubber made for harsh landings despite the decent cushion. The feel under the mid foot, well supported by the thick outsole rubber was for me not the best kind of light stability.  While undoubtedly the Zealot will last more miles than Kinvara 7 clear nod for me to Kinvara 7. Saucony Zealot ISO review here.

Kinvara 7 vs. Everun Triumph ISO 2
Sam: These are close cousins in design sharing the Tri-Flex outsole design and an Everun heel wedge. The ISO 2 was my 2015 Trainer of the Year (see here) There are similarities in their stable directed ride. The ISO 2 more substantial outsole rubber will last more miles but at a higher price too, $150 vs.$110. It's upper and ISO Fit strap system should be more comfortable for higher volume wider feet. Quite frankly I get much of the goodness of the ISO 2 at a far lower weight and price in the Kinvara 7.


Peter: In the years since the introduction of the OG Kinvara, several other running shoes have been introduced that deliver on, or improve upon, the promise of that shoe.  There are several terrific shoes out there that feel like heirs to the original Kinvara. The Skechers Go Run 4, 2016, the New Balance 1400 V3 and the Altra The One 2.5 are all terrific, light, flexible shoes that seem like they may have evolved from the Kinvara DNA. The K7 feels like something else. It’s in a sort of no man’s land between light and flexible and stiff and supportive. The Knvara 7 would be a good shoe for people with narrower feet, who don’t want a truly minimal feeling ride. There’s nothing bad about them (well, except that narrow toe box), but they don’t sing for me. I think they’d be a good fit for someone who wanted a little less shoe than a Transcend or Triumph or Kayano but still wants some protection for the long haul. 

Sam: I have raced once in the Kinvara 7, and at least for now it becomes my new favorite shoe for halves (generally around 1:38), marathons, and tempos. For me a very fine and one would say brave update to Saucony's stalwart long running act given the changes in midsole geometry, outsole, and upper fit. Less "natural", less slipper like, more stable, all good improvements for me vs. earlier versions and still, and even more so now, a lot of shoe for 7.7 oz. What more could one want?  Some tuning of the flex in the forefoot and of the Pro-Lock and tongue area the only things I would ask for. For those seeking a light, well cushioned, decently stable ride the Kinvara 7 is a great choice. 

Peter's Score Saucony Kinvara 7: 4.0 out of 5
-0.5 for stiffness
-0.5 for fit and Pro-Lock
Sam's Score Saucony Kinvara 7: 4.75 out of 5
-0.15 for somewhat stiff flex
-0.10 for a bit of discomfort over the top of the foot,  Pro-Lock and tongue bridge.

The Saucony Kinvara 7 will be available March 2016. $110.

The Kinvara 7 was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the authors.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

The Knitty Gritty—Reviews Skechers Performance GoRun 4-2016 and GoMebSpeed 3-2016

Article by Peter Stuart

Editor's Note: Just in time for the Olympic Trials in LA and the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon Sunday, Peter reviews Meb and Kara's race shoe, the GoMeb Speed 3-2016, with special bonus a review of the equally fine GoRun Ride 4-2016. Road Trail Run wishes Meb and Kara, two great champions and inspiration to runners everywhere best of luck in LA!

Update: Meb takes a magnificent 2nd in his GoMeb Speed 3-2016 and Kara Goucher finishes a valiant 4th in her race, also in GoMeb Speed 3.
Meb on the way to a magnificent 2nd in the Olympic Trials in his custom GoMeb Speed 3-2016
Photo Credit: Skechers Performance

Kara Goucher on the way to a valiant 4th in the Olympic Trials in her custom GoMeb Speed 3-2016
Photo Credit: Skechers Performance

Kara Goucher on the way to a valiant 4th in the Olympic Trials in her custom GoMeb Speed 3-2016
Photo Credit: Skechers Performance

Meb's custom GoMeb Speed 3-2016
Photo Credit: Skechers Performance
So just in time Peter Stuart tests and reviews significant updates to two Skechers performance stalwarts: the new 6.8 oz $125 GoMeb Speed 3- 2016 and the 7.7 oz, $105  GoRun 4-2016.

GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

I’ve paired these two shoes together for review because, while there are significant updates to both, the changes are extremely similar for each. The naming of these shoes is a little confusing to me. I’m not sure why they didn’t just go with GoRun 5 and GoMeb 4—I’ve seen shoes get new names with far less comprehensive changes. 

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

Upper and Fit
GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

The biggest story on both of these updates is the upper. Both the GoRun and the GoMeb now have fully knit Go Knit uppers. This upper first appeared in the GoRun Road Ultra last year. I’m a big fan. I had no idea that I’d like a knit upper, but they’re pretty great. The Skechers description of the upper is that it “offers the ultimate in comfort, fit and breathability”. Sock-like is certainly a good way to describe the fit of the shoe. The knit is soft and provides plenty of hold, but also allows the foot to push it out a bit if needed. I went out for 18 rainy, windy miles on my first run in the GoMeb and there were zero problems, hot spots or blisters. The knit stayed light (I was afraid it would retain water) and the shoe was perfectly comfortable. The GoRun also benefits from having this knit upper. In a bonus, I think the knit upper makes the Skechers designs (which I don’t always love) look way better. They’re both really good looking shoes.

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

Fit is great in both shoes. The GoMeb is still a bit narrow, but seems to give a little bit and not feel too constrictive. The GoRun remains slipper-like and super comfortable. Both shoes run true-to-size for me. The GoRun has the Quick fit portal in the back of the shoe—which is neither here nor there to me. The GoMeb does not have the quick fit portal. Lacing and lockdown of foot on both shoes are great.
GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

Midsole and Outsole
The midsole is the other big news on the Go Run 4 and Go Meb Speed 3 updates. They’ve changed the material from Resalyte™ to 5Gen™. Here is how Skechers describes 5Gen™

“Skechers Performance 5Gen™ is a rubber based EVA midsole foam that was developed to offer runners more energy return without sacrificing cushioning protection, traction, and durability.   We went through a rigorous testing process to come up with the ideal compound. 5Gen is 20% more resilient than Resalyte and therefore it's a midsole that feels soft and protective, yet is extremely energetic.”

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
 There’s definitely a difference in the materials that you can feel on the road as well as by just pushing your finger into the bottom of the shoe. The new 5Gen™ soles are a little firmer to the touch and are just a touch snappier on the road. There’s not a huge difference between the 2015 model and the 2016 in terms of ride, but you can certainly tell them apart.

The Go Run 2016 features “Resalyte Power pillars” in the mid foot “strike zone”, and the layout of the exposed EVA outsole and the harder rubber ‘pods’ seems to be the same as previous versions.

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
The Go Meb Speed 3 features a Delrin “speed plate” which adds a healthy dose of firm to these flats. The midsole is the new 5Gen™.
GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

GoRun 4 2016: This shoe continues to be a snappy, super flexible, light, barely there shoe. It weighs in at 7.7 ounces (men’s 9) and rides a lot like the Go Run 4 it is replacing. The transition is a little quicker, the ride a hair firmer (though it still has that “how can something this light have so much cushioning” effect). I’m a big fan of the ride of this shoe. I find my forefoot fatigues  a little when I go long in these, but slightly less so with the new version. If you liked the Go Run 4, this will be a nice subtle update to the ride. The upper is a great change for me.

GoMeb Speed 3 2016:  The ride on these is great, if a tiny bit stiff. The ride feels identical to the Go Meb Speed 3 (2015). I wore one on each foot and couldn’t feel a difference. I find the plate adds a stiffness to the shoe that makes it just a little too stiff for me over longer runs, but I’m sure it would work for many. It’s a nice, snappy ride and there’s plenty of (firm) cushion to get through a marathon. They are not as minimal as some other racing flats—and I think that’s a good thing. These weigh about 6.8 ounces for a men’s 9.

The Go Run 4, 2016 is similar in ride and feel to the following shoes: GoRun 4, Altra The One 2.5 and the Nike Lunar Tempo. They are all very flexible, light and carry more cushioning than you would think is possible for a shoe that light. The Go Run 4, 2016, doesn’t quite have the snap of racing flats such as the NB 1400, Asics Hyperspeed 6 +7, or the Pearl Izumi NO V2. Those shoes all feel a little more race-worthy to me. The Go Run is great for fartleks, tempo work and for long runs.

The Go Meb Speed 3, 2016 is very similar to the Go Meb Speed 3 (duh!). It’s a bit stiffer than any other race flat in my shoe closet, and also feels a little more substantial than many of them. It’s a fast and firm shoe.The ride is reminiscent of the Saucony Fastwitch series, the New Balance Vazee Pace and the Altra Impulse.

Both of these updates are terrific. If you already liked the GoRun 4 or the GoMeb 3 I think you will be really happy with the updates to the upper and to the midsoles and outsoles. If you haven’t tried either of these shoes yet, they’re fast, snappy and a delight to run in.

The GoRun 4 and GoMeb Speed 3 were provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Also please check out our review of the Skechers Forza, a new 2016 light stability shoe we liked a lot here.

Peter Stuart's Running Bio
My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.

GoMeb Speed 3-2016 is available from Running Warehouse
Men's here,  Women's here
GoRun 4-2016 is available from Running Warehouse
Men's here Women's here


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Montrail Caldorado or Montrail Trans Alps? Which to Choose?

Article by Jeff Valliere

Montrail Caldorado Left, Montrail Trans Alps Right
When presented with the opportunity to test some of the newest offerings from Montrail, the Caldorado or the Trans Alps, I initially had trouble deciding which one would be most appropriate for me.  I’ll admit that I had a bit of difficulty deciphering based on the photos and as of yet limited information being released aside from their respective advertised weights.  Ultimately, I was fortunate enough to not have to pick one or the other, as Montrail was kind enough to offer both models for me to test.

Montrail Caldorado review here with comparison to Brooks Cascadia 11
Montrail TransAlps review here

As illustrated in the full reviews linked above, they are both great shoes and are evidence that Montrail is well on it’s way to regaining their reputation as a top tier trail shoe manufacturer.

But which of the two is most appropriate?  It completely depends on your usage and preferences.  

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Reviews & Comparisons: Next Generation Stability Run Shoes-Hoka Infinite, Brooks Transcend 3, Skechers GoRun Forza

Article by Sam Winebaum Editor Road Trail Run

Stability and support run shoes have traditionally relied on a very firm "post" and or plastic elements at the mid and rear foot to "control" pronation. I have never been able to stand this approach at all. Yet, my 2015 Shoe of the Year was the Altra Impulse (review here) a stability shoe without any post, relying on outsole pods and angle of the midsole to provide the stability. Brooks tested me with their new Stride Signature program at Outdoor Retailer (see here) and said that my obvious heel rotation(bottom left quadrant) could benefit from their Transcend 3 stability shoe, a shoe with a conventional single density midsole and no posts but with other stability features.

Brooks Running Stride Signature Analysis

Now I was curious, so I put the Brooks Transcend 3, the Skechers GoRun Forza, and Hoka One One Infinite, all stability shoes of what I am calling a Next Generation of stability shoes to the test. The Forza does have firmer foam on the medial side, a post, but it is only slightly firmer than the rest of its 5 GEN midsole. The Infinite and Transcend 3 both have single density midsoles and provide the stability by other means: the outsole, the width of the platform, the upper, and especially a form of cradle for the foot where midsole and upper meet wrapping up above where the foot sits.
Left to Right: Brooks Transcend 3, Hoka Infinite, Skechers Forza
Comparative Basic Stats

All 3 shoes provide stability features that are far less obtrusive and noticeable than traditional stability shoes. Here is the quick take:
  • The Brooks Transcend 3 is the most flexible overall and smoothest running from heel to toe. It runs the most like a conventional neutral shoe, relying on its Guide Rails where upper and midsole meet, a flared pod (green below) on the outsole, and a substantial heel counter for stability. It is the most expensive by $50 and built of very high quality materials. Likely one will see superb outsole miles and overall durability over time, especially for heavier runners. 
Brooks Transcend 3
  • The Hoka Infinite has the most pronounced feeling of  having mid foot stability elements at the midsole level, particularly at slower speeds, as the platform is very wide under mid foot.  It has the roomiest, highest volume toe box (the widest of any Hoka to date for me and of the three in this test) and is the lightest by almost an ounce. It is stiffer than the other two relying on the effective Meta Rocker geometry to transition from heel to toe off.  It has a 5mm drop while the other two drop in at 8mm.
Hoka One One Infinite
  • The Skechers GoRun Forza has the liveliest forefoot feel with firm and responsive heel cushioning. It is the only one of the 3 with a denser medial mid foot foam  to provide stability but it has by no means a post feel, having a smooth transition in feel from front to back, side to side. It runs lighter than its weight. The toe box is the narrowest but this is deceiving as the soft fabric like toe upper and soft bumper conform and hold my foot just right and it flexes and stretch well.