Tuesday, February 08, 2022

QS 29: Joost in the Boston Elite field! 500 mile Nike Invincible Run Update, Topo Magnifly 4 117 mile update. AKU boots, Altra Rivera 2, Hoka Tecton X, Salomon Nordic, Training Peaks Pace app, ON Weather Vest

Article by Joost de Raeymaeker, Cheng Chen, Johannes Klein, Jeremy Marie and Sam Winebaum

Joost in the Boston Elite field! 500 mile Nike Invincible Run Update, Topo Magnifly 4 117 mile update. AKU boots, Altra Rivera 2, Hoka Tecton X, Salomon Nordic, Training Peaks Pace app, ON Weather Vest

Joost (Angola, Africa)

I haven’t chimed in for a while now. 2021 was definitely not my year in running and otherwise, but 2022 seems to be off to a rather nice start. I’m still trying to tame some stubborn upper hamstring pain, but a couple of visits to a great osteopath and my crazy neural therapy and biopuncture doctor while on a family visit to Belgium (the first in 2 years) during the Christmas holidays made clear that there’s nothing inherently wrong at this point. Some tendon calcification there and some mobility issues in my left foot. The nights after hard workouts are definitely not pain free, but an easy run and some gentle exercise and (an attempt at) yoga has kept me going so far without major incidents. Let’s hope it stays that way as I ramp up the miles for my upcoming marathon.

And that’s what I actually wanted to talk about. I’ve made it to the very tail end of the Pro men’s field at Boston this year! Slowest of the bunch, but I did a little research and I’m also by far the eldest. The only man in his 50s. 

I’ll be 54 and on the starting line with the likes of Bekele and Kamworor. There’s a ton of work ahead of me, since 2021 wasn’t friendly for my general running condition, but with this added motivation, I hope to not disappoint.

Cheng (Michigan)

Nike Zoom X Invincible Run 500 miles durability update

Nowadays, I rarely take a shoe past 300 miles. For most traditionally foamed shoes, my view is that they break in after 30-50 miles, with 100-200 being the sweet spot for ride quality.

In that range, the insoles have fully formed to your feet and the midsole collapsed just enough, and not too much, to produce the smoothest of landings.

All this changes with the latest PEBA based super foams.

When first announced, the hype in the running shoe geeks community around the ZoomX Invincible Run approached the hype often found among sneaker heads (the non-running type). Mixed reviews soon followed with some focusing on the perceived instability of the platform while others praising the shoe for its durability and comfort. I was partial to both narratives and have ultimately concluded on the superiority of this shoe. 

To be clear, I have backup pairs of Invincible Run with varying mileage and still prefer to take my first versions up to 500 miles. Something must be working!

Ride Quality & Midsole

The durability of ZoomX is nearly ineffable. Most EVA-based shoes that “feel good” after 500 miles typically owe such distinctions to the midsole having fully formed to the contours of the feet. This provides a sensation of just-the-right support across the entire platform, no different than the effects of a cork-based dress shoe midsole. Think Allen Edmonds.

ZoomX, however, does no such thing. Instead of significantly pancaking along the contours of the sole, the main block of foam merely became a little less springy. If I had to put a number, I’d say that 20% of the sensation of energy return was lost, which turned the Invincible from a joyfully fun and wild ride to a just a joyfully fun one. The platform is now less bouncy and thus more controllably smooth. In more ways than not, these might be better after 500 miles than when brand new!

Upper & Outsole

I’ve taken the Invincible across nearly all environments, except for technical trails. It’s had time to do both shopping trips as well as marinating outside in the harsh Michigan winter. As such, while certain areas do show age, the entire platform is still fully intact and functional. The knit upper did pill slightly, especially in the front areas where there is the most opportunity for contacting debris. However, there is no tearing nor significant structural collapse. Aside from such aesthetic ‘upgrades’ the upper actually performs better than it did on day one, given that the forefoot area fully formed to my wide feet.

Form wise, I’ve been striking mostly on the lateral rear side. Though not quite a heel strike, I learned to run this way with the Invincible as a way to transition with as much rolling sensation and stability as possible. As many reviewers have noted, these shoes CAN be unstable. Across these 500 miles, I’ve learned that much of the instability comes from attempting to run in these like many would with other neutral shoes: midfoot to forefoot striking, which is also how I typically run.

However, I’ve learned that the best stability comes from relaxing and letting these shoes do most of the work for you, leading to a more relaxed rear-foot strike with a smooth and stable roll across the entire platform. And after 500 miles, this sensation has not diminished.

Here, it is very impressive that the outsole only displayed significant abrasion in the striking and toe-off areas. The remaining areas show very little abrasion, reminiscent of ASICS’ High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR). It felt like it too in that there is not as much the tight gripping sensation of natural rubber, but more the plasticy/slippery/smooth sensation of synthetic rubber. Note: these shoes do not grip the icy snowy sidewalks of winter well, but do ok on a light packed trail.


Once again, I’m impressed. I’m truly astonished at how the Nike ZoomX Invincible held up across 500 miles. The upper is intact and fully formed to my feet, the midsole is not buttery smooth without significant pancaking, and the outsole still works. While I have a second new pair that I’ve used to compare the ride quality against, I find myself constantly reaching for these over the new ones. These are smoother and more familiar, an easy choice when all you’re looking for is some mileage. Five thumbs up!

Cheng is a CrossFitter turned runner. He lifts and base builds in the winter while racing in the summer with personal bests of 5:29 (Mile), 1:20 (Half), and 17:53 (5K). He passionately brings an engineering stance to analyzing running, shoes, and tech. Follow him on Instagram (@MrChengChen) for more.

Johannes (Germany) 

PACE Mobile App (by TrainingPeaks)

The new PACE App from TrainingPeaks was designed to give runners access to some of the world’s top running coaches (such as Kara Goucher and Matt Fitzgerald) for a subscription fee of $4.99 per month. Powered by adaptive technology, PACE offers several approaches created by leading coaches, to reassure runners that they’re training optimally.

My initial impression of the app was very positive. In terms of user experience, the app is designed in a very straightforward way and sports easy navigation, as well as engaging content. The training plans are multifaceted (running, strength training, yoga) and very descriptive.

The app pulls the runner’s fitness and workout data from Garmin and / or Strava, which has worked fine for me so far. Since I’ll get back to running in the next days after being sidelined with a cold, there will be some more testing before I report back with a full review.

Mike Postaski (Boise, Idaho)

Topo Magnifly 117 miles + Update

I continue to use the Topo Magnifly 4's as my primary daily road trainer. Over 4 months, I've put 117 miles in them, which for me is a lot considering the fact that a) I've been reviewing a lot of other shoes, and b) I'm primarily trail running. Basically any road running outside of speedwork, I reach for the Magnifly 4. 

The uppers are still in near perfect condition. Over the 117 miles, the midsole has bedded in to match my foot, but the level of cushioning still feels the same to me. The ride still feels great, same as I found in the initial review period - smooth and comfortable (RTR Review). 

The outsole has worn a bit, mainly in my landing area - at the lateral midfoot. 

I'd say about half of the thickness of the outsole rubber is embedded in the foam. So I would expect outsole wear to taper off a bit going forward as the outsole is now worn to match my landing pattern.

One thing I did notice though - at the end of some of my longer runs in them (around 1:15+) I started to notice some irritation at the very inside edges of the balls of my feet. The insole starts to contour a bit towards the arch area, and there's a bit of a sharp transition point there. It seems like after some bedding of my foot into the shoe, that edge was just catching my foot at the end of longer runs. 

I fixed the issue with a couple ENGO patches - always handy to keep around. 

Also would like to note that the recycled Ortholite insole is holding up very well. I notice no compression at all, so much better durability than cheaper foam insoles. 

Sam (Utah)

We have been in Park City for 2 weeks now with perfect running conditions day in day out. Hard packed groomed snow and moderate temperatures with plenty of sun. 

As the nordic skiing has been so fine I have been doing a lot of classic style skiing on my first pair of performance no wax skin type skis, the Salomon S/Max Skin. I love to wax and especially in the cold dry conditions we have had but the convenience and strong performance of the Skin has me lazy..

Classic Nordic is, I think,  by far the best cross training for running as it is zero impact, high cardio for hours, and a great core and upper body workout.

I completed my review of the dual carbon plates supercritical foam Hoka Tecton X after some snow runs, a good climb run on dirt in Salt Lake City, and several really fine road runs. This marvel coming in May ($200) handles every surface and distance with a lively fast ride up to the most technical where the Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review) joins the fun as the training and more technical Hoka alternative. It is a superb road and door to trail shoe as well.

Stay tuned for an A/B test of Speedgoat 5 vs. Tecton X. I just received the Speedgoat.  Both are the same stack height and close to the same weight 

I have also been testing the Altra Rivera 2, a fine upper update with a super soft minimal mesh yet with great hold, if a bit on the short side in length. No changes to the lively EGO midsole that I can feel and still 26mm and zero drop. 

We have been doing a lot of hiking as well on snow and dirt as we test 3 AKU hiking boots. AKU Outdoor from Italy builds superb quality boots and is the choice of the Swiss Alpine troops as well as the UK and Danish armies. RTR contributor Canice Harte is their North America VP of Sales and Marketing and a local here in Park City

I have the Selvatica Mid GTX and the Rocket DFS GTX above while Dominique is testing the Ultra Light Original GTX  below which is made in Italy.

The Selvatica has a highly armored upper and a very solid rear hold. 

It’s ride is low slung, agile, fast and well cushioned if firm and there is no mistaking that this is a boot and not a trail runner with a high flimsy upper. 

The fit is precise with a quite high over the toes volume and is on the narrow fitting upfront at the bunions I think in part due to the overlays which are now breaking in.

The Rocket combines a higher feeling and yet more stable midsole with a touch more of a rocker feel. I think this due to its somewhat lighter (than Selvatica)  yet still highly armored upper allowing more flex. .

It has a similar fit to the Selvatica upfront with a bit more relaxed heel hold. I am not sure the DFS dual lacing system (pull lace plus regular laces)  is really needed with the idea that lacing is for the hike approach and the pull lace for scrambling. 

Both have AKU’s ELICA tech where outsole, midsole, lasting board, and sockliner are anatomically shaped, as the foot is. The effect in terms of heel strike roll, stability, and toe off is clearly felt in both with the Rocket having a more pronounced rocker effect. 

Both have incredibly grippy Vibram outsoles with the Rocket featuring Vibram’s new Traction Lug tech where small side of lug molded protrusions increase grip surfaces and consequently traction by up to 25%.

AKU Outdoor Boots are available at REI HERE

Jeremy (France)

As winter finally arrived in France, I decided to add a vest to my running wardrobe.

It seems to me that running vests are a bit less fashionable these days, and as a consequence the choice was vastly reduced from what I expected. 

Nevertheless, after reading so much rave about ON-Running clothing, I pulled the trigger on the ON-Running Weather Vest.

Weighing a feathery 89g (3.1 oz) for size M, the vest is windproof and has a DWR treatment on the front panels. As usual nowadays, the back is way more breathable, being made of a perforated fabric.

A waterproof zipped back pocket allows secure storage, as does the chest pocket which doubles as a self-stowing pocket. A piece of fabric allows you to securely hand-hold the vest once stowed.

What I love most with this vest is how every little detail makes sense when you run with it. Elegant reflective details on the On branding gives some visibility.

The slightly rigid zip cover is a striking example: you can half-open the zipper, and thanks to the rigid cover, the vest won’t open more due to the wind (remember, you’re running!). Both parts of the zip stay close to each other, allowing a slight airflow without the vest flying in the wind.

Or the tighter lower part, with two elastic loops to tighten the vest even more - but I don’t think it’s really needed, at least with my body shape.

The zippers are generously sized and can be easily manipulated with gloves.

On the run, I find it to perform remarkably well. At around 5°C (41F), it’s perfect with a base layer such as a Craft Active Extreme. It can feel a bit cold at the start, but once on the run, it adds that bit of protection you need, without overheating.

And the breathable aspect is also top notch: even when upping the pace, thanks to the generously perforated back and the ability to open the front zipper as much as you want without morphing into a parachute, temperature regulation is made easy.

The only drawback I can see is for people who like longer vests: this one ends just above the hips.

Beware the sizing: I choose a size M in order to have a tight fit (104cm chest - 41inches) despite the size guide pointing to a size L, and it fits perfectly - very tight without being constricting.

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:

French Phil said...


when do you plan to issue multi tester review of Altra Mont Blanc ?