Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Quick Strides 28: Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG, Altra Lone Peak 6, Mach Supersonic, Puma Deviate Nitro Elite, Saucony Endorphin Speed RunShield, Alphafly Next %, Tracksmith Nor’Easter.

Article by Ivan Luca Corda, Nils Scharff, Dominique Layfield, and Sam Winebaum

Quick Strides 28: Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG, Altra Lone Peak 6, Hoka Mach Supersonic, Puma Deviate Nitro Elite, Saucony Endorphin Speed RunShield, Alphafly Next %, Tracksmith Nor’Easter.


Ivan (Denmark)

A bit late to the party, but I’m finally the lucky owner of both the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite and Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Runshield edition. After having done more than 50 km in each shoe, I’m excited that they both fill an important spot in my rather wide collection. 


At first, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of ‘wow factor’ in Puma Deviate Nitro Elite and I  still don’t really find it comparable to other so-called supershoes on the market. The nitrogen infused PEBA midsole is quite soft but not as responsive as I usually prefer and the plate is neither rigid nor aggressive in shape. It feels very low to the ground and my own measurements also have it at just 29mm/26mm, which is a much lower stack and drop than officially announced. That being said, it’s a really versatile shoe that can handle most paces and I find it particularly efficient on hilly courses and especially hill repeats. It’s incredibly light and agile and just a joy on foot and it’s really valuable to have a fast shoe that can handle a variety of paces. When heading out I’m often not sure what kind of run I will end up doing and this Puma handles everything from recovery pace and tempo sections almost equally well. The perfect fartlek-type of shoe.


The only other shoe in my rotation with quite similar properties is probably the Saucony Endorphin Speed. Running in Scandinavia means a lot of running in harsh conditions. I’m usually not a fan of “shield” versions due to increased weight and only few tempo type shoes are available on the market. 

Since the Endorphin Speed has been my go-to shoe of the year – including a 100 km race this summer - I thought it would be worth trying out the Runshield edition. I was happy to discover that it was even lighter than the standard version and the upper feels wider and no longer squeezes my pinky toes. 

Biggest surprise though was the midsole and outsole. I had the impression from other reviewers that this part was unchanged, but the shoe clearly feels softer and more flexible to me. This also translates into my level of pronation in this version, which is higher when measured with the Runscribe pods. Another thing I’ve noticed is that this softer outsole is more sticky than in the normal Endorphin Speed which always left me unimpressed on wet surfaces. Since the upper runs a bit hot, I expect to use this version mainly during the colder months, but with most runs below zero degrees Celsius at the moment, this is exactly what I need. Don’t expect the upper to be waterproof, but as long as water doesn’t enter from the top/tongue, then it’s reasonably water-resistant.

Nils (Germany)

My 12 weeks block heading into the Zurich Marathon is going to start one week from today. That of course turned my thoughts to the task at hand. Crafting the training schedule, booking a hotel, thinking about the race day shoes. Let's start with the latter.

Last year my choice was quite clear when it came to racing shoes . Once I put my feet into the ASICS Metaspeed Sky (RTR Review) I didn’t want to run in anything else. I ran my first two sub3 marathons in the Metaspeeds - both PRs at the time. I also managed to lower my PRs in the half marathon and the 10k in them. My sample pair reached 200 miles of use in the meantime and therefore I thought it would be time to get another pair for the upcoming season. But it turned out that my size is sold out everywhere over here in Germany. Sure I probably could get a pair from overseas, but the price of roughly 300€ including shipping got me thinking. 

Long story short: I got a nice deal on a pair of Nike Alphafly Next %and went for it. I had run the shoe before, so it was kind of a risk. After going back and forth between true-to-size and half size down I finally decided on TTS. The smaller pair would have had the perfect fit for shorter races, but as it is going to be my marathon shoe went with the more spacious TTS pair.

So how are my first impressions after a first run? Fit first: The toe box has a good amount of volume in the TTS pair, with the  midfoot- and heel hold flawless on my first run - a 22k session with some intervals in between. 

Performance wise, I think I won’t regret that I went with the Nike Alphafly Next%. The bounce and energy return are one of a kind. But what the shoe really makes amazing for me is how controlled it feels while being this bouncy. It is also the most stable of all the super shoes I’ve tried so far (in terms of dealing with my overpronation). I think that mostly results from the broad platform together with the stabilising plate. Therefore I’m looking forward to toe the line in a Nike for the first time!

That’s it for the shoe side of my spring marathon. Now a few lines about training: I’m using Pete Pfitzinger's “Advanced Marathoning” book and its plans for over 2 years now, coaching myself on that basis. I had quite some success with it. I was completely injury free, ran a new PB on every Marathon and was able to lower my time during those 2 years from 3:24 to 2:55. But sometimes it is time to mix things up and therefore I was thinking about getting a coach. 

While visiting the local running store in my home town I discovered a notice from somebody who was writing a thesis for his trainer’s license. He was looking for individuals who aim to run a half marathon PB this spring and would be willing to accept some advice regarding their training. As I was already signed up for the Zurich Marathon I reached out to him, introduced myself, described my running background and asked if I could attend even with double the racing distance. 

And now here we are. It turned out that this coach has quite a scientific approach to training, which I really like! I attended a lactate test during which we measured my lactate levels at different pace and HR levels. Now I know my exact training zones, aerobic and anaerobic thresholds and can adapt my training accordingly. I’m still in a low effort base building phase, but training starts in a week and I’m really looking forward to what I can do with the new insights!

Dom Layfield (California)

I had an unexpectedly good day at my last race, the Ray Miller 50-miler, finishing 4th and only 5 minutes out of 3d at the start of December, and was looking forward to 2022 bringing an exciting new year, filled with racing and fresh hope.

So far, my plans look to be unravelling very rapidly.

While on vacation in France over Christmas, I (and my entire family) got Covid, and I was forced to quarantine and to postpone my planned flight back to the US.   Consequently, I was unable race the Bandera 100k in Texas on Jan 8th.   One down.

The next race on my calendar was Rainshadow Running’s Orcas Island 100-mile.   However, that too has just been postponed indefinitely (which I read as canceled) due to the Omicron surge.  Two down.

The good news is that I got offered a waitlist place to race Black Canyon 100km on Feb 12th.  As one door closes, another opens!

When I finally got home to LA, I found a shiny new pair of Altra Lone Peak 6 waiting to be tested.   The headline news is a useful drop in weight due to a streamlined new upper.  Hoorah!   

Other than the weight loss, on-the-foot feel is similar to the outgoing Lone Peak 5.  Perhaps a little stiffer torsionally, which is likely a good thing, as LP5 could feel floppy.   Overall, a nice upgrade.  

Sam (New Hampshire)

Our typical New England winter has arrived with wildly swinging weather: rain one day, snow the next, rain again, hard deep freeze. And repeat!

So it has been a good test of winter run jackets with the Tracksmith Nor’Easter in for review.  RTR Contributor Ryan Eiler and I got together for a run the day after New Year’s in drizzle and just above freezing where we tested the Nor’Easter and Ryan the 2021 NDO Jacket. 

Very similar in weight and construction they both have a Schoeller fabric softshell with excellent water repellency and with an inner merino bonded layer for some warmth and for sure excellent moisture wicking  

I have found both to be “winter armor” from the elements with superb temperature regulation as I have comfortably run them in temperatures from way below freezing to near 50F. No worry about going short sleeves in them as the bonded merino lining the sleeves (and the entire jacket) keep the dreaded stick away completely 

I have been very lucky to receive an early pair of the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG (release date not as of yet announced)  While it is a full size larger than my normal, I am over the moon for this shoe after several runs. Yes, the 2021 non SG Pulsar (RTR Review)  is lighter and impossibly light at just 6.2 oz /176g oz but here, while adding a more substantial outsole and tweaking the upper some weight is added to bring it in at a still incredible just sub 7 oz / 198g  oz in a US9. 

So fa I am finding these changes clearly extend the uses, range, cushion, and comfort of the Pulsar, not to speak of the additional grip from 4.5mm vs. 2.5 

I have A/B tested against the original on hard frozen ground and road, run the SG in snow, and yesterday ran on bumpy very icy trails (with Kahtoola EXO Spikes, amazing RTR Traction Reviews Article). 

Everywhere I have taken them they have been fast, stable and with the additional rubber in the stack more cushioned with less vibration shock on firm ground and pavement.  They have proven exceptionally effective climbing (very flexible up front). On the road and firm trail surfaces the combination of the rock protection from the hardened foam under the ball of the foot and the additional rubber acting in concert with the front flexibility deliver essentially a mini plated propulsive impulse.  And unlike the original, the additional height of heel rubber makes heel striking, while a bit firmer in feel far more stable and with less shock transmitted, same for the forefoot.

The upper has multiple tweaks to increase comfort and durability while in no way compromising the original’s total security. with more overlays, less lace bite due to use of webbing straps and an extension of the knit tongue further forward for a less crinkly upper flex up front.  The main upper material is as before Matryx and appears unchanged. And even at a whole size up I was locked in albeit using heavy hiking type socks. I suspect true to size here will be fine for most with a half size up compromising nothing. 

Review soon but the Pulsar SG is truly an exceptional shoe and one of the most versatile trail shoes I have ever run and not just for soft ground.

Of course shoes. I raced the traditional Hangover Classic 10K on New Year’s Day in drizzle and cool conditions (the grass above is artificial for sure!). As I am testing the Hoka Mach Supersonic for review (releasing March)  and I knew  the pavement was in terrible condition along the coast in Salisbury Beach and for sure I would see nothing through my glasses I decided to race the Mach. It was a great choice. Non plated but semi rigid with a very stable and forgiving platform along with a super secure and low moisture absorbing  (even when soaked) upper it was for sure  not the fastest potential shoe I have but was a smooth comfortable operator given the conditions. 

Due to its light weight (8.13 oz / 231 g US8.5) , pretty decent 29/24 cushion stack, and forgiving stable ride it should be a great choice for those running a marathon or ultra marathon who don’t want to run a plated shoe and are looking for a stable well cushioned ride. It will for sure be a great all around lighter and faster daily trainer with more snap and pop if a bit more rigid than the slightly more easy going Mach 4. The day after my race I had zero soreness.  And by the way Hoka’s stretch woven merino blend short sleeve (shown above) was also ideal for the conditions as were Tracksmith’s Reggie lined short tights and CEP Compression Ultralight calf sleeves. 

I compare the Mach Supersonic to Hoka other Spring 2022 releasing road shoes the carbon plated Carbon X 3 and the more mellow new daily trainer the Kawana  in the article here

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 in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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1 comment:

Bobcat said...

The Pulsar indeed has a Profeel film plate, but it's embedded within the foam (unlike the Sense series). The Ultra glide too.