Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Quick Strides 18-Race Shoe Decisions: Endorphin Pro+, Metaspeed Sky, Adios Pro 2, Adios 6, Phantasm. A Big 5K PR. Adventure Racing. Endorphin Speed RunShield. Stryd Findings.

Article by Jeremy Marie, Nils Scharff, Derek Li, Alex Tilsley and Sally Reiley

Race Shoe Decisions: Endorphin Pro+, Metaspeed Sky, Adios Pro 2, Adios 6, S/Lab Phantasm A Big 5K PR. Adventure Racing. Endorphin Speed RunShield, Stryd Findings.

Jeremy (France)

Race week!

It’s now been more than two years that I haven’t been able to say so. And this is a special one, as it’ll be my first Ironman Half  triathlon ( second triathlon TBH!). I’m really looking forward to seeing how it’ll go. I’m always excited to try new race formats, or new “running-centric” sports. Just as in a couple, you have to surprise your other one to keep the flame alive :)

Choosing shoes

A big part of the fun in preparing for a race, at least for a shoe geek like me, is choosing the shoes. Some weeks ago I narrowed down the choice between the Adios 5 (yeeees, blast from the past), Craft CTM Ultra, SLab Phantasm and Adios 6. 

The Adios 5 was quickly out of the game, especially after trying an all-out 1km effort on the track, ending just shy over 3’. 

Shoes design and materials have gone a long way since the original Adios concept, and I find the 5th way too firm and harsh, without any concrete benefit in speed over more recent shoes. It gives a snappy, even speedy feeling due to the firmness, but there is not enough shoe and comfort for me to run 21kms after a 90kms bike ride.

The Craft CTM Ultra (RTR Review) is maybe too much of a shoe for what I intend to do during the half-IM, and moreover, the lack of outsole grip for a race on the shoreline with a high rain risk ruled it out.

Enter the Adios 6 (RTR Review), which I kind of raved about in my french review, just as much as my fellow Adam in his review. The day after the 1km test, I took them for what is probably one of my best (track?) workouts: 8x1k @ 3’20/km, 2’ jog rest. And despite the intensity (I’ve ended flat on the grass), the Adios 6 felt comfortable during the 4kms back to work. Comfort, grip, cushion without mushiness, snappy without being harsh, and “tolerant” to fatigued ticks many boxes for the ending leg of the race. They just confirmed what I’ve experienced and liked during long tempo runs in them. 

The Slab Phantasm (RTR Review) might be a tad too firm for me, considering that my running form will not be really nice after pedalling for ~3h on a hilly course…Despite how good I feel running in them with fresh legs. And their laces are just too capricious and I can easily see them coming untied during the race...

So, Adios 6 it will be!

Using Stryd

And for the first time since I acquired a Stryd running pod, I think I’ll try to effectively use it to pace me during the running leg.

By doing some long brick training (bike or turbo trainer with a quick transition to running) including race-pace efforts, I think I’m beginning to get some useful insights on power numbers I can sustain for different kinds of effort.

For instance, during the 8x1k track workout, I’ve ended up with each interval between 360-365W ( as comparison, the 1k all-out gave 395W) 

For tempo workouts, it appears that 320-330W is a good value, as I can compare two similar workouts, the first wearing the Craft CTM Ultra, and the second with the SLab Phantasm, on the same course.

2x25’ tempo run, with CTM Ultra

A 30’, 2x5’ tempo run, with similar wattage values, using the Phantasm

We can see that the paces are close, and HR values are somewhat consistent for the same perceived effort (albeit a bit harder for the second one which came just a day off after the all-out 1k and 8x1k WO... )

Sorry for all the geekery here, but all in all, this means that I’ll probably aim at around 310W, taking into account the fatigue accumulated from the swim and the bike ride...and considering this a flattish course, It should end just a shy faster than 4’/km...Well that’s the plan, if any, as I do not race by pace….never! 

Anyway it will be interesting to see how things turn out during the race and compare those values!

The truth is...I can’t wait to have good fun racing again!

Nils (Germany)

Race week! Yes, I’m copying Jeremy here. But I’m “only” running a marathon and not doing crazy other stuff beforehand. But I’m pretty excited, because it’s my first World Marathon Major - Berlin! 

Like Jeremy I of course had a hard shoe choice to make. To be honest, I was pretty much settled on the ASICS Metaspeed Sky as my racing shoe the last few weeks. I ran my first Sub3 in those during my spring marathon and they feel just like a notch above the Endorphin Pro 2 - the only other super shoe I have had at hand. But then adidas entered the stage and sent me the Adios Pro 2 in the gorgeous looking Berlin Marathon special edition. I don’t have to say that I was intrigued! Therefore some serious back and forth shoe testing took place the last few days:

First of all - both shoes have amazing uppers. I don’t think they can get any lighter or more breathable and both provide a very safe lockdown to my feet. While the adidas is a little more roomy and on the comfier side, the ASICS feels even more dialed in and race ready.

In terms of outsole both shoes have stellar performance there as well. I’ve run more or less exactly 100 miles in my pair of Metaspeed Skys and put them through any scenario you could think of. This outsole performed well in all of those! And in terms of wear and tear I can’t find any negative words. The rubber doesn’t show any sign of wear so far and the bit of scrubbed down expozed foam in the heel area doesn’t impact the ride at all. I can’t judge the longevity of the Adios Pro 2 as I’ve run 40k in those. But so far they have provided nothing but good traction and confidence as well, which I suppose won’t change going forward (given my experience with other adidas / Continental outsoles).

So you guessed it: The only differentiating factor is going to be the shoe’s ride. My first run in the Adios Pro 2 was a track session made of 1200m reps at 5k pace (3:25min/km). I also did my warm-up in adidas, which left me a bit uncertain what to expect. The Adios Pro 2 felt quite wobbly and unstable at those slower paces (~5min/km). It’s quite obvious that’s not what they are made for. But once accelerating into my first repetition the doubts were blown away. Wow - what a propulsion! The shoe keeps pushing, pushing, pushing in a way that I haven’t experienced with any other shoe so far. Really promising! I hit all my paces during this workout and had a lot of fun.

The next day I had a very short 6k recovery run with an additional 10x100m stride set scheduled. I took out the ASICS Metaspeed Sky, warmed up for a few minutes and went for just 2k at marathon pace (4:05min/km). And what to say? I forgot how well the shoe and my stride fit together and how effortless those 2k felt. I pulled out the data from my spring marathon (the first 2k should be comparable, right?) and was amazed to find out that my heart rate was now 8 bpm lower than in April.

A day later I repeated the exact same exercise (1k warmup, 2k MP) on the exact same course at the beginning of my long run in the Adios Pro 2. And while I could feel the propulsion again, it wasn’t as decisive at marathon pace as it was during the faster track workout. The effort also felt higher compared to the same run in the Metaspeed Sky. The heart rate measurements confirmed that - it was 5.5 bpm higher than a day before in the ASICS.

So the decision is made - or reinstated. I’m going to trust what I know and run the Berlin marathon in the ASICS Metaspeed Sky. It just feels more effortless and “natural” for me and with my stride. Most of my all time favorites have lower drops of 4-5mm and it seems like it’s no different for my marathon racing shoe. But I’m not giving up on the Adios Pro 2! It looks amazing and feels very fast and like a lot of fun at faster paces. I’m probably going to choose it for my next half marathon - 4 weeks from now.

I know that’s not the most scientific approach. And I also had the thought that a Stryde Footpod would be a nice investment during the process. Jeremy is obviously a step ahead of me in that regard. Maybe I can report with more data the next time I make a shoe choice for a peak race.

Derek (Singapore)

This past weekend, I finally got to run first  proper bona fide race since mid-2019. It’s been a really long time. It was a masters track 5000m race. Just to provide a bit of context, I don’t do many track races. This one was only my third ever track race, having never run in school. My 5000m PR dates back to Sept 2018, set at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain. Shoe of choice then: Reebok Run Fast Pro, clocking 17:23. 

Earlier this year, I had won the Singapore Masters track 3000m race in the Vaporfly 4% Ice Blue OG in 10:13 (sounds slow but it was a whopping 35degC that day at 5pm in the afternoon, and i was very proud of that time leading wire-to-wire). 

(Photo credit: Pictureart Gallery - athlete)

Fast forward to this weekend, and training has been going well, I’ve got almost every carbon plated racer known to man, and even had the Nike Dragonfly spike (but i decided not to use it and sold it to my friend Melvin Wong, who would go on to win the 5000m this weekend in those same shoes in 16:30. His lifetime PB is under 15:30 but he seemed happy enough with 16:30 on this day). 

So anyway, I’m vacillating all week about what to use, and eventually fell back on my trusty Ice Blue Nike Vaporfly 4% OG’s. These shoes are magic for me. I won that 3000m track race in them, and also ran a PB 1:17 half marathon on a very hilly course in Hong Kong in the VF. That said, I really took care of these shoes. I washed them down after every race, and even though they are a couple of years old now, they have less than 200km on them.  

On race day, everything is going well, I'm feeling spritely, the weather’s bloody warm but c'est la vie. The gun goes off and I'm trying to settle into 80-82s per lap. 

Things are going well, my breathing is hard but under control, but  I start to clear clapping from my shoes at around the 2000m mark. I realize something has come loose in the shoes, but I figure the pace is still holding so I can try to nurse the shoes to the finish. By 2600m, things are not looking good and I'm really having to work the knee drives to land correctly in the shoes. By 2780m I had to stop. I look down and both shoes had separated at the seam where the carbon plate was sitting.

I was incredibly frustrated, as I felt that I had a good shot at going under 17 minutes. I’ve since ordered some barge cement at Jeff Dengate’s recommendation, and will try to salvage the shoes as workout trainers. 

That night, my trigger happy, grouchy self went ahead and pulled the trigger on a pair of Adidas Avanti TYO spikes from Prodirectrunning. They are scheduled to arrive by FedEx by the end of the week.

In the same fit of impulse, I decided to organize my own track time trial at the same venue where the race was held on the weekend 3 days later.  I roped in a couple of friends to come along and pace me. The night before, I'd gone to bed and set in my mind that I would run the ASICS Metaspeed Edge (RTR Review). Lower to the ground, better cornering confidence. NB RC Elite 1 was also a consideration with the excellent outsole but the foam feels a little too spongy for my taste and the plate effect isn’t as prominent as in the ASICS or Nike racers. 

In the morning, I’d decided to use the Metaspeed Sky (RTR Review) instead. No idea why, but I figured I’d get a bit more float from that massive springy forefoot and I was confident of staying enough on the forefoot for a 5000m effort. 

Track conditions were good, clear skies, 27degC with only a bit of head wind in the home straight. The goal was 81-82s for 16:59 as a sort of B goal. 16:54 was the A goal. 

The pacing job was superb. And we really never went slower than 82 the whole way with lots of laps in the 80-81s range and I still felt somewhat controlled. 3400-3800 meters was covered in 82-mid and I started to panic a bit. 

At this point I had no idea where I stood in relation to my finishing goal. In my mind, I was still on the bubble of 17:00. So at 3800m, I beckoned for us to pick it up. “Faster! Faster!” I clicked off manual laps for the last 3 but I didn't look at my watch to see the splits. It was just a long hard drive at this point. By the bell lap, my more talented pacer had started to separate as he began to wind it up and I just did my best not to fall back too much. I was well and truly heel striking and over striding for this last lap and I could feel my form sagging a little as I clawed my way to the line. 

As I stopped my watch at the line, I was shocked to have gone so much under 17 minutes. Final time 16:42. 

Scrolling through the laps, I had clocked the last 3 laps in 79, 79 and 74 seconds. I am absolutely stoked with this PB, being my first time under 17 minutes. I’m sure the shoes played a huge part in it. So that’s my bit of excitement for the week. 

Not much in terms of testing lately, but I've got the Scott Speed Carbon RC and the Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel coming so plenty to keep psyched up about!

Alex Tilsley (Washington, DC)

Race-week shoe decisions seem to be a theme this week! 

This past Saturday I raced a 12-hour adventure race. Adventure racing is sort of like a grown-up treasure hunt. You spend the day trying to find checkpoints in the woods, using only a map and compass to locate the points. (If you happened to watch Eco-Challenge, you have a taste for what adventure racing is.) The typical adventure race involves some combination of trekking, mountain biking, and paddling. There is no marked course; instead, you get your maps and rules of travel an hour or two before the race, plot your strategy given the outlined rules, and then you try to find as many points as you can in the time allotted.

Adventure racing is a great sport. But it also makes shoe decisions difficult. You don’t know until race day what terrain you’ll be on or how far you’ll be trekking. You want a shoe with enough protection that you feel comfortable running off-trail, but also a shoe that’s going to drain well after you inevitably stand knee-deep in a lake trying to get your canoe onto shore. A good adventure racing shoe needs to feel secure as you slide down leaf-covered hills whose steepness you underestimated, but also comfortable enough to be on your feet for 12 hours.

My current trail shoe line-up includes the Hoka Torrent, Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, La Sportiva Jackal (links are to RTR Reviews), and a very old pair of Merrell Antoras. For a very long time, I was very loyal to the Saucony Peregrine, but on a recent week-long backpacking trip in the Peregrine 10s caused some of the worst blisters I’ve ever had, so the Peregrines and I are on a break. The Merrells were out simply because I’ve worn them enough to wear holes in the upper. The Speed Ultra, while maybe my favorite shoe to run trails in right now, is too performance-oriented for a 12-hour race; I knew it would feel tight and uncomfortable by hour 3. And the Torrents, while also really fun to run in, don’t have confidence-inspiring traction. So in the end, the Jackals were sort of the surprising answer, with the added bonus that the shoe’s stiff sole would allow for better power transfer on the bike. 

I’ll admit, I left the Antoras in the transition area in case I was really hating the Jackals when we came through around hour 9. And though the thought of changing shoes definitely crossed my mind, I was pleasantly surprised I was able to wear the Jackals for 11 hours (we cleared the course with an hour to spare) without any damage to my feet. Some RTR testers (RTR Review) highlighted that the Jackal has an uncomfortable heel collar, and I was definitely feeling that in the second half of the day, but it didn’t cause blisters or other issues and was worth it for the secure fit and foot protection. The Jackal is not a shoe I would wear if I wanted to run fast (definitely Speed Ultra for that!), and in some ways I think of them as more of a hiking shoe that I can also run in than a pure running shoe. But for long days or off-trail adventures, they’ll probably stay on my list. I’m planning to use them for another adventure race this weekend, but maybe with a little duct tape on my heels just in case. 

Sally Reiley (Massachusetts)

I have been on a roll (yes, SPEEDROLL!) lately with Saucony shoes, and am loving them. Last week we finished testing the new Endorphin Speed 2 Runshield (RTR review), for sure  an exciting shoe for New England runners such as me with our weather. 

FIrst of all, SWEET looking running shoe, right?!

I am an unequivocal fan of the Endorphin Speed 1 (RTR review), and basically crowned the first version as top trainer of the year 2020. I found the Endo Speed 2 to be even better  (RTR Review) so I was excited to test a more weatherproof version. Think damp fall runs, snowy and chilly New England winter runs, wet spring runs… those of us who shun treadmills need a running shoe that can stand up to the elements. 

The Endo Speed 2 RunShield does not disappoint. The shoe is somehow even lighter (by 13g/0.5 oz in my W8) than the Speed 2, thanks to a soft and light water resistant upper. The fit is delightfully true to size, and even more accommodating for a wider foot due to the soft upper. And that speed-inducing SPEEDROLL is there in full force, ensuring a quick but effortless tempo to your run. Our review’s only hesitation was the not so outstanding traction of the outsole on wet surfaces - shouldn’t that be a key characteristic of an all-weather shoe? It is still a wonderful quick trainer and has a spot in my rotation.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have received the amazing Saucony Endorphin Pro + (Sam’s Initial Video Review) last week. WOW! What a shoe! This beauty is ready to race. Weighing only 6.1 oz (174g) in my W8, it is lightweight with a big stack height, a carbon plate, PWRRUN PB, SPEEDROLL technology, and a classy white/black barely there mesh upper, all in a attractive minimalist package.

Great looking shoe, right? 

I am reaching the end of my training cycle for the upcoming Boston Marathon (rescheduled) on Oct. 11, just three weeks away, so last weekend I had a 21 mile final long run on my schedule. I received these shoes Thursday night, and Friday was “supposed to be” a rest day (I had a 55 mile week) before the long run Saturday.  

After trying the Endo Pro+ around the house, I couldn't resist and took them for a 6 mile run. 

To say I was impressed is an understatement; I decided to go out on a limb and wear these new shoes on my 21 miler the next day.

I drove into Boston early Saturday morning and ran the course with the Heartbreakers Run Club (Coach Dan Fitzgerald rocks!). After much solo training throughout the pandemic, it was very inspiring and reaffirming for me to see the Carriage Road along Comm. Ave packed with runners, all doing the same thing. I am not alone!

Saucony has a winner here with the Endo Pro+. It fits like a glove TTS, but not overly constrictive like some “race fit” shoes. The hold is solid and secure. The ride is smooth and forward rolling, thanks to a noticeable but not too aggressive SPEEDROLL geometry. It is energetic and responsive, but still somewhat firm and not as bouncy as a Nike Next%. It is cushioned enough for the long run, and my legs felt surprisingly refreshed after the run (I rushed home and went sailboat racing that afternoon and felt great!). I had intended to run an “easy pace” long run with some Marathon pace miles thrown in, but ended up clocking the 21 miles at an 8:12 average pace, fast for me (my most recent maraton was NYC Marathon 2019 with a finish time of 3:28 or 7:56 pace, but that was then, this is now: 2 years older, hamstring rehab ongoing but improved, no racing during pandemic, full time job). I basically ran a training run at race pace, big no no per coaches - but let’s just say the shoes made the pace feel effortless. And I felt great and went for a 6 mile run the next day.

My only negative of the Pro+ has been a bit of irritation on one foot where I have a bunion at the inside of my big toe joint. I have basically forgotten about this bunion because it hasn’t been an issue in any of the shoes I have run in of late, so this was an unfortunate reminder that my foot isn’t perfect. It was troubling to have the big toe on my foot go numb after 12 or so miles, but I assume the fit can be worked out to accommodate the bump because the mesh is so soft. Rest assured, I will be tweaking it.

So will I wear the Saucony Endo Pro+ on Boston Marathon race day? Tempting for sure! The other contenders are my trusty Nike VF Next %, now ancient in the bright green colorway from fall 2019, and the lightweight and speedy ASICS Metaspeed Sky (RTR Review). 

The Next % has been proven successful for me (albeit the shoes have been gathering dust, perhaps losing pizzazz on the shelf?) but the ASICS have not been tested on runs over 14 miles and I am concerned about front of shoe pressure (should one actually size up to wear these in a marathon?). So many questions… but so many great shoe options! 

 Some tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes others were personal purchases. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content

The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Anonymous said...

To Derek: If you have had time to use the Adidas Avanti spikes, it would be really interesting to have your impressions of them.

Derek Li said...

Sorry I haven’t got round to using them on the track yet. Tracks are not easy for me to access, but I’ll be testing it for sure within these 2 weeks as I have another track race coming up. It feels more cushioned than the Drangonfly especially at the heel, but it’s still clearly less cushioned than a regular super shoe.

rms said...

Congrats Derek Li!