Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review Nike Zoom All Out Flyknit: Perplexingly Efficient and Fast.

The Nike Zoom All Out Flyknit ($170), 10 oz/283 g in my US 8.5 size, is the most unusual and intriguing shoe I have run this year, and for that matter in a long time.  It is stiff with a hard to bend single flex point but one that has an extremely dynamic, snappy almost violent spring back. It is on the heavier side at approximately 10.4 oz at US size 9 for what is clearly a performance trainer.  It is quite firm but largely shock free with pace for perceived effort always faster than expected and heart rate lower, translating for me to good running economy. It is expensive at $170 and I suspect a concept shoe for more to come in this approachA low height version appears to be on the way.

The details according to Nike

  • Flyknit upper construction fits like a second skin
  • Mid-cut collar provides a locked-down fit
  • 3/4-length, visible Zoom Air unit for the ultimate response
  • Asymmetrical Flywire cables integrate with the laces for dynamic midfoot support
  • Translucent Waffle rubber outsole offers durable, multi-surface traction
  • Segmented rubber crash rail gives you extra cushioning and flexibility


  • Cushlon foam forefoot delivers support and a springy, responsive ride
  • Flex grooves provide natural range of motion
  • Weight: 10.8 ounces (men’s size 10)
  • Offset: 8mm

  • Per Running Warehouse the stack is 31mm heel/21 mm forefoot

    Air Zoom Unit Midsole

    The Bottom Line to all the Benefits and Product Details is the 3/4 visible Zoom Air unit. It provides a consistent underfoot feel from heel to toe.  The ride is definitely on the firm side but strangely shock and vibration free. The stability is impeccable from heel to toe on the road. I am a heel striker. I personally would not take them on trails as the disconnect between soft relatively unstructured upper and firm stiff under carriage could lead to ankle and especially front of the foot twisting as the upper foot rotates with no give below.
    At first I thought no way a shoe this stiff will be possible to comfortably run. Out I went and no issues at all with the stiffness beyond a bit of toe soreness in the first miles. Then I discovered something...The All Out has a single flex point near the last lace hole. I only discovered it after flexing the shoe hard, very hard and low and behold there was a distinct spring like snap to the flex. I assume under load it is flexing and then returning energy at toe off but in a way that is not disconnected from an overall sense of a continuous smooth transition so it must happen fast very fast in the gait cycle. Over about 40 miles the flex has gotten easier so patience and some miles is advised.

    Looking more closely at the transparent Zoom unit one can see vertical supports. Within each vertical support are 2 through channels. When the shoe is compressed the vertical supports deflect and fold. The visual effect is that the supports become rounded and with the air or gas in the unit I suspect they not only deflect independently of each other but along each's length, cushioning, storing and then releasing energy in a very precise way. I think this is the reason the feel and stability is so consistent under foot and the energy return definitely present but not bouncy or with any noticeable shock on landing either.

    The Zoom Air unit is topped by the cushion foam under the entire foot then replacing the Air Zoom at  very front of the shoe, the blue layer. Contributing to the distinct flex point is a flex groove felt in the cushion foam under the sock liner.

    Most of the outsole, from heel to near the toe, is a translucent material reminding me of the Saucony Crystal rubber in the Freedom ISO but firmer. Up at the very front are some more conventional rubber lugs and the only exterior flex grooves into the midsole. To date about 40 miles durability has been excellent, no perceptible wear beyond my usual rear of the heel scuff area


    The upper is Nike's Flyknit with Flywire cables integrated to the laces. They fit true to size with decent width but have relatively low volume over the toes requiring a lighter sock.  The "mid cut collar" is aesthetically interesting but I could do with out it.

    Nike has improved the joining of the 2 sides of the Flyknit at the heel, largely eliminating the sometimes irritation causing seam of the Lunar Epic by making the joining fabric overlay softer and thinner . It is still there, required to hold the 2 sides together particularly when slipping the foot in the narrow opening but now less noticeable.

    Unlike the the similar Lunar Epic's mid height upper, below the high collar is a relatively conventional heel collar padding ( the darker blue), more substantial heel overlays and counter but it still less structured than a normal heel counter construction although it has a better held more stable heel area than the updated minimally structured Epic.
    LEFT Nike Zoom All Out Flyknit  RIGHT: Nike Lunar Epic

    Getting rid of the high collar and using a conventional heel collar and achilles hold would improve the heel hold which, if adequate for me, is a bit to voluminous and wide towards the sock liner and a bit loose higher up where a normal heel collar would be. Rumor has it such a version is on the way soon as happened with the Lunar Epic.


    The All Out is an unusual ride that is for sure.  There is plenty of firm road feel with minimal shock transmitted. Pace is always faster than expected and heart rate lower for the perceived effort. Part of this perception may come from the efficiency of the platform: its firm effective cushion and rapid snappy energy return and part from the fact the Zoom Air dampens vibration and shock so completely without creating a pillow effect. The All Out ride is a big contrast to the Lunar Epic Flyknit's soft pillowy feel and easier flex. The stiffness upfront with the exception of some occasional mild toe sorenessreally isn't noticeable at any pace and likely under load they do flex with a resounding if not sensed due to muting of the Zoom unit gas and structure with a "snap" of energy. I am curious to race them at some point despite the weight. Most of my runs in them having been moderate tempo or slow, both equally handled. I am always surprised as the pace feels slower than actual in the All Out.

    Conclusion and Recommendations
    I have been very pleasantly surprised by the All Out,very. Of all the incredible midsole tech innovations of the last few years, including Boost, the Zoom Air unit here is right up there, maybe the best in terms of actual run economy results for me despite its weight and stiffness.  They run faster than their weight and for me I believe with greater economy. A bit ponderous, a bit heavy, a bit stiff they none the less move right along very well indeed with fantastic unique energy return that is not of the flashy Boost kind but more the high pressure mountain bike piston shock kind, tuned to firm.  I just plow along, happy as can be when I glance at my pace and heart rate. So, they are an acquired taste you have to believe in, and I believe.
    Those requiring a stiff shoe due to toe and foot problems might find them a good solution. Durability should be excellent and should be for the price. I could take or leave the Flyknit upper preferring in general engineered mesh but for sure would keep the Flywire mid foot hold. It is effective and also importantly not noticeable as a mid foot saddle.
    I am using them as a daily trainer for all paces and despite the weight intend to race them, starting with a 10K or a half.  If only they were an ounce or two lighter, and a touch more flexible, they would be an incredible all around performance trainer and racer.

    Lunar Epic Flyknit
    The Lunar EpicFlyknit is 2 ounces lighter and has soft easy ride. While they share a mid height upper, Flyknit and Flywire they couldn't be more different. I distinctly prefer the firm, more stable shock free high energy return All Out to the mighty fine pillowy light as can be Epic's, and this despite its big weight penalty.
    On Cloudsurfer
    Both share technologies that through the structure of the midsole beyond the usual solid foam provide cushion and some energy return. Both are stiff but the Cloudsurfer and its Speedboard is stiff and in the way for me. The All Out is stiff and gives me something back with every stride. Prefer the All Out.

    Score 9.65 to of 10
    -0.1 for stiffness
    -0.1 for weight
    -0.05 for  mid height upper not holding heel area as well as a normal heel counter could
    -0.05 for fairly shallow toe box
    -0.05 for price..

    The Zoom All Out Flyknit was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run by Nike and Running Warehouse. The opinions herein are entirely our own.

    The Nike Zoom All Out is available from Running Warehouse. 
    Men's here
    Women's here

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    Sunday, November 27, 2016

    First Impressions Review: Skechers Performance GORun 5

    Article by Derek Li

    Editor's Note: I finally had the pleasure to meet Derek in person after several years of online correspondence after he ran the New York City Marathon in a stellar 2:57, and this despite a recent injury. 
    Left: Sam Winebaum Right: Derek Li
    Derek came all the way from Singapore to complete another leg in his quest to run all the World Marathon Majors having previously completed Boston in a PB 2:42 and  Tokyo and Berlin both in 2:44 . Derek has been a contributor to Road Trail Run and is one of the most knowledgeable running shoe, gear, and training experts out there, widely know in Singapore as "The Running Doctor."

    First Impressions:  Skechers GoRun 5 NYC Edition
    Out of all the NYC Marathon edition shoes slated for sale the at marathon expo, the Skechers GoRun 5 was the one I was most intrigued by. Based on feedback from early wear testers, it was slated to be a very different shoe from the existing GoRun 4, sporting their 5Gen midsole foam as a single density full length midsole. At the “expo price” of US$80, I now regret not getting more of them.
    GORun 5
    The first thing to note is that this shoe shares a lot of similarities to the GoMeb Speed Elite that came out earlier in the year, sporting the same 5Gen midsole with Speed Elite adding the M strike wedge in the midfoot and a carbon propulsion plate saddled above the midsole. The outsole patterns for both shoes are eerily similar.

    My GoRun 5 in a US9.5 came in at a svelte 218g (7.69oz), which is pretty much identical to the weight of my 2015 GoRun 4 in the same size.
    The official stats (without sock liner) are
    • Offset: 4mm 
    • Forefoot 14mm, heel 18mm midsole thickness
    • Weight: 7.5 oz. per shoe in a men's size 9
         General release: approximately January 2017

    GORun 5
    I’ve had about a week of running in these shoes, and managed to get in some medium distance runs, some slow runs, and a long runs for a total mileage of ~75km (47mi) and here are my initial thoughts:

    GORun 5
    The upper appears to be similar to that found on the 2016 GoRun 4 and 2016 GoMeb Speed, essentially an inelastic knitted upper with fairly few overlays. The shoe volume is fairly generous and almost on par with that of the GoRun Ride 5.

    GORun 5
    Those who like a roomier toe box will rejoice for I found toe box width and vertical volume to be better than that of the 2015 GoRun 4 (unfortunately I never tried the 2016 knit version). In my usual size of US9.5, I had about a thumb’s breadth of spacing at the front. I probably cought have sized down a half size, but then I prefer a looser front end for training socks. For reference, I wear, a US9.0 for the GoRun Ride 5.
    GORun 5
    The heel counter is fairly soft, and complements the widely spaced lacing eyelets to create a fairly unstructured overall feel to the upper.

    GORun 5
    Nevertheless, I never felt like the upper was sloppy in this shoe. The upper is very thin and breathable, and noticeably better than say a Kinvara 7.
    GORun 5

    You will notice the insole is quite flat and there is hardly any arch structure to the shoe.

    This is one of those “WOW” shoes for me. These moments have been far and few between in the past couple of years. My first run in these shoes was right up there with the HOKA Clifton v1, NB Zante v1, and the Nike Zoom Streak 6. I estimate the durometer of 5Gen to be in the low 40s, but somehow it has enough bounce in it to not bottom out. It is probably the softest shoe to not bottom out for me yet; the GoRun Ride 4, and the Brooks Pureflow 3 came close. Make no mistake; this is a neutral shoe through and through. The last is fairly wide through the heel and midfoot but the soft midsole and bare EVA at the medial midfoot would likely make an overpronator feel very unstable in this shoe. 
    The shoe transitions very smoothly and you get a nice consistent ride regardless of foot-strike pattern from heel to forefoot. I definitely did not miss the firm M-strike wedge that the GoRun 4 had. It has been incredibly versatible for me, working well at anything from 8:00mi pace down to the low 6:00mi pace, which I put down to a combination of the bouncy feel of the 5Gen, and the fairly high flexibility of the shoe. If I had to make a comparison to an existing shoe, I would say it has the heel of an Adidas Adios Boost (albeit significantly softer but equally bouncy) and the forefoot cushioning and spring of a Nike Zoom Streak 6 or maybe a New Balance Zante. It is what I hoped the Zante would evolve into, basically having a softer heel, but didn’t.
    The flexibility of the shoe is likely a combination of the soft midsole and the fairly thin and widely spaces ridges of outsole rubber.
    GORun 5 Outsoles-New
    GORun 5 Outsoles at 47 miles
    That brings me to the next point about grip. After seeing Meb Keflezighi slip on the concrete at Rio in a shoe with a near identical outsole, I was curious to see how it would hold up on wet roads. The result was that it holds up fairly well on wet bitumen surfaces and even rough concrete, but grip dipped significantly when I had to run through puddles. There were a few instances where I felt the shoe slide sideways at footstrike, akin to stepping on algae-covered wet rock, which was disconcerting to say the least.
    GORun 5
    We have seen quite a few uptempo shoes move towards softer blown rubber compounds in the forefoot outsole thread this year, e.g. Adidas Adios and Boston Boost, Nike Zoom Streak 6, Salming D3/4, and we have seen how “sticky” these compounds are and how much grip they provide on the roads, but don’t expect that same kind of grip from this shoe. The thickness of the outsole rubber is quite minimal in this shoe; it barely protrudes beyond the thickness of the midsole. Durability of the outsole appears to be excellent, which is surprising considering how thin the outsole coverage is.
    Overall, I am pretty darned impressed with this shoe. It is amazing that they can get this much vibration dampening at this weight. I hope they do something about the outsole grip, but in dry weather it is a dream to run in.

    Score  9.5/10
    -0.50 for poor wet weather grip

    Adios Boost 3
    The GoRun 5 is softer all round and gives much less ground feel on the forefoot in particular, without taking too much away from toe off responsiveness. If you like the heel cushioning of the Adios but find the forefoot cushioning a little lacking, this is a must try shoe for you. The Adios Boost 3 had one of the best upper updates of the year for me, but the GoRun 5 upper is pretty darn close. Oh, and the GoRun 5 is lighter too.
    Nike Zoom Streak 6
    I make this comparison because both the Streak 6 and the GoRun 5 have similar forefoot ground feel. The GoRun 5 has noticeably less ground feel overall, and a more stable landing platform by virtue of its wider last from heel to toe. If you like the Streak 6, but find the heel platform a little unstable, or feel that the Streak 6 is too little shoe for the longer stuff, then this shoe should be on your must-try list.
    Nike LunarTempo
    A US10 Lunartempo and a US9.5 GoRun 5 have more or less the same forefoot volume for me. The uppers are similar in volume too, though the GoRun 5 upper is noticeably thinner and more ventilated. The GoRun 5 feels softer overall; there is significantly less ground feel from heel to forefoot. The ride is also more uniform throughout, while you can feel the blocky Lunarlon core in the heel of the Lunar shoes at times. The GoRun 5 also feels more stable at the heel (likely because the phylon carrier-lunarlon core give the edges an uneven overall durometer), so if you feel unstable heel-striking in the LunarTempo or Racer, this is a shoe to consider.
    Skechers GoRun 4
    Both shoes have use similar lasts though the GoRun 5 has noticeably more shoe volume, and feels a bit longer in the same size. GR4 is firmer with less give than the GORun 5.They have completely different ride with the GR 4 riding similarly to the Saucony Kinvara 7 and the the GR 5 more like the softer earlier Kinvaras. I felt the podded outsole of the GR4 provided slightly better grip overall than the new GR5, but earlier GR4 also has that noticeably firmer ride.

    Photo Credit: Derek Li
    Derek Li's Run Bio
    Derek Li is a family physician by profession, and has been running marathons for the past three years. He started running for triathlon training in 2003, and now focuses purely on running in a bid to run all the Marathon Majors. In his free time, he likes to review running shoes and related products at his blog Running Commentary.

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    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    Review Saucony Razor Ice+ - Lightweight Winter Speedster

    Article by Jeff Valliere

    Saucony Razor Ice+
    10.6 oz. (US Men's Size 9)
    25mm heel/21mm forefoot = 4mm drop
    $180. Available now.

    I have been a big fan of the Saucony Razor, particularly the 2.0 which I have been using reliably over the past 4+ years as my go to winter trail running shoe.  It was a reasonable weight, waterproof, had a built in gaiter, was comfortable, cushioned, had great traction and ran well.  Not only that, the 2.0 was extremely durable and held up to whatever I could put it through.  When I learned of the Razor Ice+, I knew this was a shoe that I had to test.  Here in Boulder, our trails can be a bit challenging in the winter with the varied conditions that range from knee deep snow (or more), to packed snow, to icy packed snow, to steep bulletproof water ice, slush and intermittent patches of dry ground and rock.  It is possible to encounter all of these conditions on one single 4 or 5 mile run, so selecting a shoe that will handle it all can be a challenge.  With claims that the revolutionary new compounds that comprise the Razor Ice+, Artic Grip and Vibram Ice Trek, actually getting grip on ice, I was eager to see how these claims would hold up in varied, real life winter running conditions.  Do they really work?

    2016 Run Tech Holiday Gift Guide & Mini Reviews-GPS, Garmin, Polar, Fitbit, Lumo, Whoop, Bose, Epson, AppleWatch Nike+

    2016 had me testing dozens of gadgets: GPS watches, activity bands, innovative run form coaching sensors and apps, and music earphones as part of assignments as the wearable tech and music columnist for Competitor Magazine.  Many fine and innovative products came to market. My picks below represent a variety of price points and highlights. You can shop for many of these products at the ads and links at the end of the article.
    Top Row Left to Right: Polar M600, AppleWatch Nike+, Fitbit Charge 2
    Bottom Row Left to Right: Epson SF-110, Polar M200, Garmin Forerunner 35, Garmin Fenix 3 HR

    Activity Band

    Fitbit Charge 2 ($149.95; $179.95 Special Edition) Now on Sale See Pricing Below!
    The Charge 1 was the #1 selling activity band and the Charge 2 is sure to keep that title! With a 4X bigger screen and the same price the device and platform adds a host of cardiac, sleep, and activity features all super easy to understand as well as far more complete phone notifications. It now has automatic activity detection, VO2 Max estimate, breathing exercises, and a basic (very basic) phone GPS connected run mode.
    As a run watch, most runners will likely supplement with a GPS watch or another app as it needs to be phone connected and there is currently no pause or auto pause function. As a cardiac and activity companion backed by the excellent Fitbit app it is second to none. I keep mine on 24/7 on my other wrist to keep track of my resting heart rate, sleep patterns, and VO2 Max. Oh, and it can be styled with numerous replaceable fashion bands and even comes in a Special Edition, including a lavender band gold accent version.

    Value GPS Watch

    Epson Runsense SF-110 $79.99-$89.99

    Don't let its low price fool you that the SF-110 is a toy or low quality. The SF-110 is a solid, rugged, small form factor watch. Its bigger sibling, the SF-810, is Meb K's training tool of choice. It includes a full compliment of advanced features including pace alerts, auto laps and auto pause, pairs to an Epson chest HR strap, highly configurable screens, bluetooth synching and configuring with its app, step counting, along with transfer to Strava and other run apps. It is easily configurable via its app, but is almost impossibly difficult to configure directly on the watch. It only lacks an interval mode and phone notifications. It's screen is decent but at this price don't expect high resolution.  The GPS is highly accurate and battery life is 10 hours with GPS and 7 days in activity tracking mode. Epson is a leading manufacturer of energy efficient GPS chips for mobile phones and health sensors and uses its own sensors in its watches leading to a well integrated, accurate, and efficient product. Epson has the top selling GPS run watch line in Japan.

    Basic GPS Watch with Wrist HR

    Polar M200 $149.95
    The new waterproof M200 breaks a new price barrier for a GPS watch with wrist heart rate, 24/7 activity and sleep tracking, and phone notifications and is one of the lightest, full featured watches on the market. The only catch is that while the innards are rock solid, the watch materials are not the most polished and substantial (durability concerns?) and the screen while visible in sunlight is not as bright as higher end watches. Use any of over a hundred different sports profiles.You also get Polar's excellent Polar Flow app and website which includes training plans, motivational Training Benefit analysis and a complete dashboard for sleep, activity, and training. Polar was the original fitness heart rate monitoring company and their experience shows. Battery life is 6 days including an hour a day of training.

    Mid Range Run Watch with Wrist HR

    Garmin Forerunner 35 $199.95
    Photo: Garmin.com

    The small, thin, light (37g), button operated Forerunner 35 has big bold digits and the despite its small size the most legible screen in any light of any GPS watch I tested this year. It is a great choice for small wrists. The Elevate wrist HR is now rock solid as on all Garmin watches. A run focused "smarter watch" it includes interval training modes, auto laps and pauses, time distance alerts and Virtual Pacer. Smart watch features include 24/7 sleep and activity tracking,  music control, find my phone, and smart notifications from your phone. It comes in a wide array of bold colors.

    High End All Sports All Activities Watch
    Garmin Fenix 3 HR (Originally $599 and up)  Now On Sale see below!

    This big rugged do everything watch with its sapphire crystal is my favorite GPS watch of 2016. No touch screens here just sold buttons and largely monochrome high visible screens with appropriate color highlighting. With its barometric altimeter the Fenix is great for any sport or mountain activity from tri and cycling (many different kinds external sensors connect) a full swim strokes and distance mode, through its barometric altimeter more accurate trail running and biking vertical, tracking ski runs and vertical descent and even golf hole and shot metrics for tens of thousands of courses. Compass and altimeter views along with route navigation features are included. Connect IQ apps can be loaded for more specialized data views and new watch faces. It has the largely accurate Elevate wrist heart rate sensing of other 2016 Garmin.  The GPS module is similar to other Garmin but has a more substantial antenna.
    With the Fenix you get additional Running Dynamics, VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold estimates, and Recovery features not found in the Forerunner 35.
    Battery life is outstanding according to Garmin: up to 40 hours in UltraTrac mode; up to 16 hours in GPS training mode; up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode (with 24/7 HR monitoring). My only knock this is one heavy watch at 86 g, more than double the weight of the Forerunner 35  and it is not always the most comfortable on the wrist given the big, somewhat sharp buttons. 

    Really Smart Watches with GPS on Board

    Apple Watch Nike+  (iPhone only) $369 (38mm), $399 (42mm)
    iPhone only

    The new Apple Watch Series 2 now includes GPS so it can track runs without a phone. See the overview about the Apple Watch Nike+  I wrote for Competitor here. As a smartwatch in everyday use the Apple Watch is outstanding and far faster and more capable than version one. Answer and make calls from your wrist with phone tucked away, crystal clear colorful screen, rich notifications dictate texts to Siri, with thousands of neat apps available. The look is all Nike with special watch faces and bands but any Apple Watch app can be loaded on the Nike edition, including other soon to come GPS run apps.
    Truly it is a fabulous useful wrist top companion as much as it is currently an only OK run watch with the existing Nike+ app. The Nike+ watch run app is still pretty basic with only Pace, Time, Distance, and heart rate displayed.  It does call out your average pace over its built in!  speaker every mile. So, there is no average pace currently displayed and current heart rate is the only available metric which can't be rotated into view as the center super visible in any light metric. The Nike+ watch app, Nike+ Run Club, provides plenty of motivation and coaching and even clues you in to future weather when you schedule a run time. With time, Nike and others will improve their run apps for the watch.
    The Watch OS provides many ways for the user and app developers to customize watch faces and functionality. Other run GPS apps for the Apple Watch can be expected. The dedicated watch operating systems such as those for Garmin and Suunto will have increasing difficulty competing with Apple and Android based watches.
    One place those other watch OS can compete with is battery life. I get between 5-6 hours of running time in GPS plus HR mode vs the double digits for the Garmins and Suunto. All day use has been better than Apple's spec of 18 hours as I have gotten more than 26 hours of battery life including over 2 hours of running on a single charge.
    It's incredibly easy to swap bands. I got a black Nomad band for more "formal" wear.

    Polar M600 $330 
    Android and iPhone(limited)

    The M600 is Polar's first wrist heart rate GPS watch and first color touch screen watch as well. It is fairly priced. It is based on Android Wear and as such is a great all day companion with thousands of available apps and, thanks to Polar's app and many sports modes, it also a fine training companion. There are few if any compromises beyond battery life when compared to a dedicated Polar run watch. If you have an iPhone, it provides smart notifications and features analogous to a "smarter" watch such as the Garmins but no access to the thousands of Android Wear apps, and strangely also no access to the phone free built in music player. The M600 benefits fully from Polar's excellent Polar Flow training platform app and web site.  While not the super bright screen of the Apple Watch the Polar's is adequate and its current GPS app is superior to the Nike+ watch app in its greater variety of available data fields on multiple screens. The Polar beats the Apple Watch in GPS plus HR run time with a spec 8 hours of battery and in all day Android phone connected battery life at 48 hours but comes in behind the Apple Watch in battery life when connected to an iPhone.


    Bose SoundSport  $149.95 and SoundSport Pulse $199.95
    Bose SoundSport Pulse Photo: Bose.com
    Of the couple dozen or more earphones I have tested the SoundSport's have the richest, fullest sound and are the most comfortable in ear. As I wear glasses, over the ear phones are often not comfortable. I prefer the in ear style of the SoundSport. They stay in on the run with only very occasional slippage and adjustment. The Bose sound is truly more like a set of fine speakers than earphones, quite unique in that respect. The in ear heart rate of the Pulse version is as accurate as any ear, decent with occasional spikes.

    Complete Performance Physiology Monitoring System
    Whoop Strap 2.0 $500

    Whoop is the most ingenious, useful and deeply scientifically grounded performance wearable I have tested this year. A very slim heart rate and sleep sensing band monitors your heart rate at an amazing 100 times per seconds detecting at your deepest sleep moment your Heart Rate Variability (HRV), scientifically proven to be one of the best measures of true recovery from training and stress and strains of daily life. Until now HRV has been very difficult to measure without sophisticated equipment or time consuming daily tests.
    Extensively used and tested in the lab and by pro and college teams over the last few years, it is now available to the public. Whoop combines HRV and resting heart data with your prior day's activities' heart rate, sleep time and quality to give you a recovery score at wake up, cluing you in to how ready or not you are to follow, for example, a "planned" workout.
    During the day the band measures heart rate data from workouts and other stresses of life. No phone is required to record and there is no screen on the device. As data accumulates during the day, the band reports data back to the app generating an evolving Strain score influencing how much sleep you should shoot for to: Peak, Perform, or Just Get By that night. At sleep wake up and after workouts ( there is a phone based GPS run tracker built into the app)  you can also optionally answer more subjective questions such as did you have screen time, caffeine and alcohol consumption, did you sleep alone or not! are you rested or not, how sore you are, were you able to complete a workout without stopping, etc...All of this data helps fine tune the algorithms for recovery status and sleep goals. Not just for sport,  Whoop can help those in high stress occupations surgeons, traders, etc... come to mind be more aware and improve on daily status for "performance".

    The hardware is equally ingenious. The band has a 4 day battery life on its own. The USB charger is actually also a battery pack and can be slipped over the unit to charge on the go. Essentially never a worry about the battery dying or having to take Whoop off.
    What I have I found to date? I tend to recover very well and get adequate sleep but am, due to soreness and inefficiencies from form issues, likely not running hard or far enough day to day. Clearly on those sore but well recovered otherwise some hard cross training is in order!
    The Whoop Strap 2.0 is a great but pricey gift idea for the high performance athlete and those who train hard and work hard but need better grounding and advice on recovery and sleep. That would pretty much be any athlete!

    Run Form Sensing System
    Lumo Run $99.99

    I have had extensive "quality time" with the effective Lumo Run sensor and app. See my full review here.  It is a small sensor that clips to the back of your shorts recording and live audio coaching (optional) the runner on mid body form, a key area for running efficiency and injury prevention.
    Lumo captures data for and helps you work on
    • Cadence-steps per minute
    • Braking-change in forward velocity
    • Bounce-vertical oscillation
    • Pelvic Rotation
    • Pelvic Drop
    It is simple and easy to use with actionable in run tips based on your live data and a run goal for a single chosen or system recommended metric followed up by post run exercises focused on problem areas. You can also chose to have it give you feedback on any or all metrics at chosen intervals or just use without a phone with you and see the data after.

    The app is beautifully designed and includes videos of the pre run tips you will hear on the run to hit reasonable goals and for after, exercises to help you further improve on those goals.

    Shop for these Gifts below. Sales through these links help support Road Trail Run.

    Save $150 on Fenix 3 HR.  Other Garmins including 235 on Sale Too!
      Running Warehouse here
      Backcountry.com here 
      REI  here

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Road Trail Run 2016 Holiday Gift Guide and Mini Reviews-Running Apparel

    We scoured the world for classy, highly technical, super functional running apparel. We focused on emerging brands from Switzerland Compressport and ON Running along with Oiselle and Altra Running from the US. 
    We think these gift ideas truly represent the state of the art in protective, high performance run apparel. 

    1. ON Running Weather Jacket (Switzerland) $240
    2. Compressport 3D Thermal Seamless Hoodie (Switzerland) $115
    3. Oiselle Classic Lesley Tights $92 (Washington, USA)
    4. Altra Running Lone Peak 3.0 (Utah, USA)
    1. Compressport 3D Thermo Ultralight (Switzerland) $94
    2. Compressport Hurricane Vest (Switzerland) $145
    3. ON Running Pants (Switzerland) $170
    4. ON Running Cloudflow (Switzerland) $140
    5. Altra Running Tokala (Utah, USA) $90

    The Details...

    Saturday, November 19, 2016

    Review New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3: 3Peat?

    New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3
    New Balance Zante V3
    The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3 is a 8.7 oz/  247g ( men's US 9), 6mm drop neutral running shoe. Available February 1st, 2017. $100. The v3 is not a major overhaul from the v2, but has some tweaks that are worth noting.

    Upper and Fit:
    New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3
     LEFT New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3, RIGHT v2 
    The upper on the Zante V3 is where the most notable changes have occurred. The engineered mesh upper has varying densities of weave—more dense in the midfoot and more open over the toe. Overall I find the Z3 to be a more breathable and better looking shoe than the V2.
    Zante v3  has more breathable mesh over the toes
    There are some paisley looking designs on the sides of the shoe which look nice and the various design elements coalesce to provide a nice, fast looking shoe.
    New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3

    They’ve taken the little rubber piece off of the tongue--which I  believe was there to protect the top of the foot from lace pressure--I don’t really miss it. The tongue is sewn in on either side, so there’s no slippage. The ankle collar is nicely padded without going overboard. One of very few complaints I had with the V2 was that the upper felt a little claustrophobic (felt a tiny bit narrow and the mesh was really dense over the toes). New Balance have taken the best things about the upper of the 1400 and brought them over to the Zante. The fit took me a couple of runs to dial in—which is unusual for me. It’s fine, perhaps just feels a bit roomier in the toe-box due to the looser weave in that area.

    Midsole and Outsole:
    New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3

    We’re still working with Fresh Foam here, so it’s not a wildly different ride. They’ve changed the layout of the hexagonal pattern on the outsole. This is actually more effective than I would have guessed. The shoe transitions just a tiny bit quicker, and I would guess it’s because it flexes a little better due to this new layout.  Editor's Note: New Balance also told us a Outdoor Retailer here that larger hexagons under the first metatarsal head were informed by runner data captured by sensors in test shoes and are there to provide a bit more stable push off.
    LEFT  Fresh Foam Zante v2  RIGHT Fresh Foam Zante v3

    Editor's Note: The computer runner data generated side wall hexagon patterns of convex and concave shapes tune the firmness of the sidewalls and thus the shoe feel under load. Convex deflect less increasing firmness, concave deflect more increasing cushion feel. Not a gimmick at all.  
    New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3

    The midsole hexagons(which were formerly a mix of concave and convex are all convex in v3. Previously the v2 had a mix of convex and concave hexagons on the lateral side.
    New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v2

    The shape of the hexagons has also changed from heel to toe.
    TOP Zante v2   BOTTOM Zante v3

    These two changes, the outsole pattern and changes to the sidewall hexagons, make for a very subtle change of ride from the v2. We’re still in a Zante, but it’s just a little more dialed in.

    Ahh, the Zante. The original Zante was such a revelation for me. I finally knew what all those people who loved the original Kinvara felt like. I ran around with a smile on my face because the Zante was just a delight to run in. They were light, comfortable, cushioned enough for long runs and snappy when you needed them to be. V2 built on this a bit, but didn’t have the same WOW! Factor for me.

    With the Z3, the WOW is back, but with a little bit of a caveat.  Generally, they are a joy to run in, but they're more fun as the pace gets faster. The ride is on the firm side, and has some give, but at slower speeds they feel a little too firm for me--almost stiff. They are super comfortable out of the box and have broken in really nicely over about 60 miles so far. They’ve gained a little weight over the years, but are still a light and lively shoe. What I like best about the Zante v3 is that I can go do an easy 15 in them one day and they remind me of the Nike Pegasus 33, and the next day I can do a tough interval workout and they remind me of a New Balance 1400 (though with more spring). When I pick up the pace in these they return a really good amount of energy from the road. They’re a great swiss army knife of a shoe.  

    Conclusions and comparisons:
    It’s hard to beat the Zante in my book. They’re fairly light, affordable and really terrific to run in at all speeds. They are a little firm overall, so if you're looking for cush they may not be the shoe for you. That said, they're efficient and I don't feel beat up over longer runs. There are two shoes I’d consider at this point if I could only keep one pair of shoes, and the Zante V3 is one of them.  
    New Balance Zante v3
    Zante V2
    The Z3 gains .1 oz, feels light and snappy and has a much improved upper. I’d go for the V3 over the V2 all day long.  
    New Balance Vazee Pace
    I prefer the Zante V3 over the Pace. Pace is a little too firm for me.
    New Balance RC 1400
    The Zante is a heavier, more protective shoe than the 1400. The uppers are now much more similar. I want to love the 1400 more than I do. I’ve run marathons in both and I’ve felt much better in the late miles wearing the Zante.  
    Nike Pegasus 33
    These are, by far, my two favorite trainers right now. They’re both versatile, comfortable and affordable. The Pegasus is a bit heavier, and is a bit more of a recovery day shoe for me. The Zante is terrific. Can’t go wrong either way.

    Score 9 out 10
    -0.5 for firm ride and a stiff feeling mid-foot.
    -0.5 for work to dial the fit in.
    The Fresh Foam Zante is available February 2017. $100
    The Zante v3 was provided at no charge to RTR. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
    Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

    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.

    Click Here for RTR's other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: New Balance, Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, Hoka and More!
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    Over 50 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

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    The current New Balance Zante v2 is now available at great prices !