Thursday, December 27, 2018

Michael Ellenberger's 2018 Top-8 in Running

Article by Michael Ellenberger

Running Shoes

Road Trainers

Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit (RTR Review)

One of my go-to daily trainers for basically any distance or pace, the Zoom Fly Flyknit is the shoe that keeps on giving (if you can manage the narrower fit). We lovingly called it the Flyknit 2.5%, and while the performance isn't on par with the Vaporfly 4%, it doesn't need to be - this is a shoe I keep coming back to, time and time again. A terrific hybrid of racer (I won a 1-mile race in them) and distance trainer, the Zoom Fly FK is one I'd buy again.

Enda Sportswear Iten (RTR Review)
This was a surprise pick for me - a lightweight, no-frills trainer that's made in Kenya (a first for me). The Iten is the first shoe from Enda Sportswear and, at $100, is a strong choice for runners looking for something light, easy to wear, and with a story to tell. After 200+ miles, I can confidently recommend the Iten - but beware, the 4mm drop may come as a shock to some runner's achilles (mine included!). In a bright green, red, or more subtle black, the Iten is a terrific trainer for a variety of paces and terrains - even the Great Rift Valley.


Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro (RTR Review)

I imagine we'll see this shoe on a number of 2018 lists because, quite frankly, it's exceptional. While the Vaporfly 4% had the hype (and deservedly so), the Fast Pro had, for me, the results: post-collegiate PRs in 5K, 10K, and half-marathon (67:43) in this 4 ounce rocket. The downside? At $250, racing flats have careened past trainers in price and if you want to pick up both of my 2018 picks, you're dropping half a grand for the shoes alone! For those who can manage the price tag - and primarily race 13.1 and under - should look seriously at the Fast Pro.

Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% (RTR Review)
Another reasonably easy pick here, and the results speak for themselves. I unfortunately didn't get to take the Vaporfly out for a marathon this year, but will (if all goes to plan) gunning for a PR at the Austin Marathon in them. Every reviewer here at RTR who has tried the VF4% has come away a fan, and I can't imagine that's unique - seemingly every road race has become a sea of orange-red. Again, the biggest drawback is the price ($250 retail) but for those who are racing half- to marathon distances, I think it's money well-spent.

Running Gear

Janji Compass Singlet & Bolivia Short Review (RTR Review)

I've described road races as a sea of homogenous orange-red Nikes... but if you show up in this Janji kit, you're sure to stand out from the masses. Light, comfortable, and for a cause (Janji gives a percentage of the proceeds to help develop clean water in the targeted country), this singlet-short combo will help you look good and feel good. You need to look fast to run fast, right?

Nike Swift Pant & Shield Tech Tights (RTR Review)
I confess that I, like many runners I know, hang on to gear for a long, long time. Some of the shorts and tights I own were undoubtedly purchased by my parents for me when I was running in middle- or high-school cross country. Still, just because something works doesn't mean it can't be improved upon - and the Nike Swift Pant (reviewed by Sam, above) and Shield Tights are two absolute winter staples. I'm a fan of the tights - especially here in Chicago, where the lakeside wind can make pants feel like parachutes - but whatever your style, these options should give all-around comfort, performance, and last a hell of a long time.

Apple Watch Series 4 (RTR Review)

I know, I know: Garmin rules the running watch world. And for good reason - I've owned several Fenix, Forerunner, and Vivoactive models in the past few years. The Forerunner 645 Music is, in my opinion, the perfect running watch. So why is the new Apple Watch on this list? I only run an hour or so per day - and the rest of the time, the Series 4 trounces Garmin for utility, convenience, and aesthetics. Having always-on cellular LTE gives me the comfort of emergency service availability (despite the high, perhaps ridiculous cost), and the ability to quickly swap watchbands - quicker, curiously, than the Garmin "quick fit" system - means I can go from sweaty post-run to brunching in no time. There are undoubtedly some quirks, but the Apple Watch has stayed on my wrist for the better part of a few years, and I'm always missing it when I test something else!

RunScribe+ (RTR Review)
Another surprise pick for me, the RunScribe+ footpod system has become an indispensable part of my daily training. Measuring a dozen metrics across two lace-mounted units, there is a learning curve to the RS+ ecosystem, but the outcome is fun, informative, and ultimately actionable data that can't be found elsewhere. The upcoming ShoePrint feature - set to roll out in early 2019 - may just revolutionize the RunScribe platform. But even without that feature, I'm constantly switching these little pods onto whatever shoes I'm testing - it's just addicting to collect and analyze all the data. Let me put it this way: when I spent a few days running barefoot on a beach for vacation, I seriously brainstormed ways to strap these to my bare feet. They're just that fun.

Michael Ellenberger
Michael is a third-year law student at Northwestern University in Chicago, with an interest in patent and intellectual property law. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43, and was the top Illinois finisher in the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:33:03, 82nd overall). Michael is a gadget and running nerd, and has pipe dreams of running the Olympics Trials marathon standard. His pre-race breakfast is, and will always be, Pop-Tarts.

More Best of 2018 Articles

Sam Winebaum  (Editor and Founder) Road, Trail, and Tech 
Peter Stuart Road 
Jeff Valliere Trail
Dave Ames Road and Trail
Hope Wilkes Road
Jeff Beck's Road and Trail
Dominick Layfield Ultras

What were your Running Favorites of 2018?

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