Monday, July 29, 2013

Outdoor Retailer Summer 2013 Preview: Run Shoes and Gear, a few of many finds to come this week.

I will be at Outdoor Retailer checking out all the new stuff. This is a preview based on pre show press releases.

Magellan Echo- Smart Phone fitness data on your wrist.
Echo Watch Magellan

The Echo watch coming fall 2013 much like the Pebble is designed to communicate with your smart phone fitness apps via Bluetooth Smart and a Wahoo (sensors) open API. I am particularly excited as it is planned to communicate with Strava. I typically start Strava and store it away in my nifty Ultraspire Quantum belt (review here) and never look until I am done. In a race I run the Nike+ watch in parallel. With the Echo I will have a run data feed to my wrist. Not sure that is such a good thing but... MSRP $149, $199 with heart rate monitor.

New Balance Fresh Foam
New Balance joins the low drop, highly cushioned runner trend with Fresh Foam based shoes. I really like my Altra Torins, adidas Energy Boost (cushioned but not low drop), and Hoka One One Rapa Nui. I will have more info after their launch event at OR
New Balance Fresh Foam
Saucony sent me the following information about changes for Spring 2014. Mostly upgrades to PowerGrid and new uppers.

         The all new Guide 7, with its award-winning heritage, represents the longest development initiative in the brand’s history. We’ve sweated every detail and refined every element to complement the runner for the long run.  

·         The Hurricane 16 offers Guide-like stability with even more plush cushioning underfoot and the Triumph 11 features a midsole made entirely of PowerGrid™ for a supremely cushioned yet lightweight ride.

·         The Saucony Natural Motion Collection includes the Virrata 2 with a reconfigured upper and added heel support as well as the Mirage 4 with upgraded PowerGrid™ technology in the heel and a FlexFilm™ redesigned upper for a seamless fit and feel.

·         The Peregrine 4, new for the Run AnyWhere Collection, features an upgraded nylon fiber mesh rock plate for reduced weight and added flexibility.  PowerGrid™ replaces ProGrid™ in the heel for more optimal cushioning."


This cool Aussie company, Scrubba, sent me an email and I will be checking out their "pocket sized" washing machine. Put your clothes and a bit of water and soap inside, seal, scrub using the built in washboard on the inside of the bag. Very cool for travel and to clean a few running clothes overnight. Bag doubles as water tight storage on the trail.

Inov-8 will be launching a tri specific line called Tri-X-Treme. Most of their recent road runners have gotten pretty minimal and this return to a bit more cushion is welcome. The 275  seems to a close cousin of the Road-X 255 one of my favorite running shoes in recent years with yet a bit more cushion.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sneak Peak: 2014 Hoka One One Conquest Road Runner Updated.

I was at the SpeedGoat 50K all up and around Snowbird UT last week. A fabulous race which I spectated actively running all over the mountain in my Hoka One One Rapa Nui, review here.

Hoka was the race sponsor and legendary ultra runner Karl Meltzer is the Race Director and a long time Hoka athlete. Here he is awarding Tony Krupicka his second place beer glass and medal in his Rapa Nui. The third place finisher Jason Schlarb ran in Rapa Nui. Hokas were very popular in the field at SpeedGoat and increasingly at Ultras and on the roads. 

Hoka Conquest
Hoka One One 2014 Conquest
Hoka had a single Conquest on display at Speedgoat although I saw a few other prototypes around. I also spent time with Hoka at Outdoor Retailer. The Conquest won one of the very prized Outside magazine Gear of Show awards and there are literally thousands of exhibitors.

Hoka One One Conquest

The Conquest is an approximately 11 oz road shoe (although as with the Bondi many will run it on trails as well). In addition to a seamless upper of very fine see through mesh with an inner lining, the real story with Conquest is that the midsole is made of 2 compounds. Previous Hokas were made of a single layer of EVA. The second layer (the R-Mat) will not be traditional EVA but a compound designed to provide energy return a firmer more responsive ride, in my opinion a key improvement. While both layers are the same firmness the materials have different characteristics. While one  can go forever in Hokas, the cushy softness does seem to take a bit away from speed and responsiveness on the road and has some forefoot instability on very rough trails. These last two comments have been my only hang ups with the Rapa Nui which is a more minimal and flexible Hoka similar to the Conquest.

The following diagram from Hoka illustrates the construction. While the photos above would seem to have the foot way off the ground you actually sit far down into the foot frame.  Stack height is approximately 29mm heel and 25mm forefoot without insole, a 4 mm drop shoe so equivalent in stack heights to the Hoka Bondi and a bit higher than the more flexible Rapa Nui which is at 26/21.

The suspension frame yellow blades when combined with the top midsole allows water drainage. While hard to see in my photo above, the notches go all the way through the shoe, daylight seen through. I don't think this suspension stability frame is a gimmick.  The idea is that blades provide lateral stability, to bring the foot forward to push off. As they are not rigid they are adaptive to different stride types. One thing I have learned in talking to Hoka folks is that they take the geometry of their unusual midsoles very, very seriously basing it on a deep understanding of lateral, horizontal, and vertical forces coming from ski design.

Hoka One One 2014 Conquest

Hoka One One 2014 Conquest
I can't wait to try the Conquest!

2014 Hoka One One Bondi with new seamless upper. 

2013 Speedgoat 50K Snowbird, UT-Photos and Video

Another incredible Speedgoat on a cool day with occasional sprinkles. Sage Canaday (Scott Sports) takes the win, broke Kilian Jornet's  course "record"  taking the win by less 2 minutes over Anton Krupicka (New Balance) who closed fast in the long downhills.  Anton also broke Jornet's record. Third, Jason Schlarb (Hoka One One) wearing the incredible Rapa Nui I reviewed here. Max King (Montrail) , a World Mountain Running champion faded a bit from 3d to 4th but was in the  hunt for the podium through 22 miles.  Unfortunately I was ahead of the top women most of the way, so did not catch Stephanie Howe winning, also in a record time. Results at IRunFar.

At the first pass over Hidden Peak (top of tram) at about 8.3 miles the first two places were set. Sage was the only one of the leaders, along with Schlarb to run the top steep stretch and his uphill skills (US record holder at Mt Washington NH Road Race and a sub 2:20 marathoner) would give him the edge in the end despite a hard charge by Anton Krupicka who closed an 8 minute gap at Sugarloaf Pass down to less than 2 minutes at the finish.
Sage Canaday was one of the few leaders who ran the entire final slope to Hidden Peak- He won the $1000 prime. 2013 Speedgoat 50K 

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K 
Max King-2013 Speedgoat 50K 

Max King- 2013 Speedgoat 50K 

Anton Krupicka- 2013 SpeedGoat 50K

 Jason Schlarb comes over Hidden Peak in 4th place, running strong

After Hidden Peak I went over to Sugarloaf Pass, the connector between Alta and Snowbird, and caught the leaders coming out of the first part of the long climb out of Mineral Basin. After a short downhill just after where these pictures were taken they would scramble the top of Baldy at 11,000 feet. 

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass. Coming through the meadow

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass. Canaday was the only one of the leaders to run this very steep short stretch

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Tony Krupicka-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Tony Krupicka-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Tony Krupicka-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Tony Krupicka-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Max King- 2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Max King- 2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Canaday and his Dad. Sage kindly offered me a beer and I gave him my two cents worth on Sierre-Zinal his next race in Switzerland.

Race Director and ultra legend Karl Meltzer awards Tony Krupicka his beer glass and medal

Canaday congratulates Krupicka. Bryon Powell of iRunFar to the left providing incredible live coverage, as always.

Tired runners!

iRunFar's great race coverage and more photos here
My photos and post from 2012 Speedgoat here

Monday, July 01, 2013

Wool for Summer Running? Finally Yes! Ashmei Race Vest and Socks

Since the advent of light merino wool running shirts several years ago I have been looking for  true "summer weight" wool. When the weather cools and in winter I almost always run in wool from Ibex and Icebreaker. Come summer and above 60 F I have gone back to synthetics.
Wool has great thermo regulating properties and is practically stink proof so I have been on the lookout for lighter cooler wool.

This year I discovered wool apparel from Ashmei that recognizes that when it's really hot,  pure wool needs some "technology" help to keep us cool.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Great Cases for Protecting Your Phone on the Run: Tech21 Impactology featured in New York Times

The New York Times Gadgetwise Blog has an article " The Science of Protecting your Phone" on my favorite iPhone case company Tech2. Tech21, some models available at the Apple Store,  uses a layer of magic polymer D30 which hardens on impact and redirects shock. Models also available for Android, Nokia, etc...The article talks about their bumpers and bumper and back cases. The author has no fear dropping his phone to the floor or rapping it on his desk.
I prefer a case that completely covers the screen and have Tech21's Impact Snap with Cover for iPhone 5. As I clock my runs with Strava I always have the phone with me.

Very slim, not much thicker than the phone itself, very classy, and super protective.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: Ultraspire Quantum Run Belt-Simple, Effective, Bounce Free Carry Anything Marvel

As more and more of us run with a smartphone, gels, water, keys, etc.. simple ways of toting our gear while running in whatever clothes we chose are needed. I happen to always run with my iPhone to log my miles and performance via Strava. I never look at the phone while I run so I just need a place to tuck it away.  The Patagonia Strider Pro shorts have 2 very effective pockets for that purpose, no bounce. See my review here. Other shorts have either bouncing drop in front pockets, small back pockets, or no pockets at all especially ladies' shorts. I have tried all kinds of belts with mixed results. Most often they loosen on the go, are to big for just the basics, or are overly complex for the purpose.

Ultraspire Quantum Belt-Front: iPhone 5, 2 Salomon SoftFlasks
The folks at Ultraspire have come up with a brilliant way to carry a few things. The Quantum Run Belt. The key innovation is that there is no buckle around the waist.  You just slip them over your feet and up to your waist. Small, Medium and Large sizes available. The belt fits snuggly and comfortably with no bounce possible. You can even tuck an 8 oz or even 16 oz SoftFlask or two between the belt and your body and not notice them at all. That is until you drink something and the flask tends to flop over. I say finish it or hold it in your hand but you can certainly tuck them back into the belt.

Rear: 4 gels, Better than Naked Jacket under compression strap

Ultraspire Quantum-Top View: No clip, iPhone 5, 4 gels, NorthFace Better than Naked Jacket on board

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

New Research: Running is good for your knees! -Outside Magazine

Very interesting Outside Magazine article reviewing a very large scale study, almost 90,000 runners and walkers over 7 years. The runners had half the risk of osteoarthritis and half the hip replacements when compared to walkers, regardless of mileage.
While risk of osteoarthritis increases with age the cause in runners is usually from other sports (tennis, skiing, soccer, basketball and even from deep knee bends at the gym) really any other sport than running. Running promotes cartilage thickening. Runners also tend to be leaner which obviously helps.

"While all physical activity should theoretically provide some protection for your joints, Williams says he was surprised to find that forms of exercise other than running and walking actually boost your risk of osteoarthritis. In fact, people who were most active in activities other than running were at a 21 percent greater risk for osteoarthritis and 99 percent increased risk for hip replacement compared to those who exercised the least."

So, as my high school track coach used to say: "Don't play games, you'll get hurt. Just run."

First Review: Hoka One One Rapa Nui Trail Runner, Road Too!

Hoka One One (Europe site showing Rapa Nui Comp trail and Kailua Comp road models) is well know for launching maximalist, super cushioned running shoes while most other shoe companies veered towards minimalist barely there shoes. I have run in Hoka's original Mafate, the Bondi, and most recently the Evo Tarmac. All of these shoes feature a minimum of 30-36mm of cushioning and an approximate 6mm heel to toe drop. Stiff, fabulously cushy, and surprisingly light  I have found them to be a great shoe for recovery, long runs, and any kind of downhill. I just couldn't seem to take full advantage of the rocker sole profile when tired tending to get back on the heels.

Enter  more "minimal" Hoka, the Rapa Nui Trail and Tarmac
Hoka One Rapa Nui Trail

Update: Boulder Running Company has an early US release of the Rapa Nui Trail (model I have) and Rapa Nui Tarmac (road version) both $129.95 available today November 20th, 2013.
Update 1/20/14: the Rapa Nui is now the Rapa Nui 2 and more broadly available in the US. Biggest change a new upper that does away with the burrito toe area shown below replacing it with a seamless toe box area. Midsole and outsole construction and thus the ride appear the same as described below. A fine review of the Rapa Nui 2 by fellow NH blogger Nate Sanel over at Runblogger. Rapa Nui Trail

Basic Info:

Height: 20mm forefoot height/26mm heel height: 6mm drop. About the same as other Hokas.

Weight: exactly 10oz for my size US 8.5 so likely about 10.3oz for standard 9. At least an ounce less than the comparatively svelte (for Hokas) Tarmacs.

Upper: Mesh with welded overlays. Unlike many 2013 shoes there is still stitching particularly in the toe box area. This likely adds to weight. The tongue is a thin suede like material with a bit of mesh cushion on the inside. Similar to the Tarmac's tongue but thinner and softer. The tongue (white in picture) extends almost all the way to the toe, unusual construction as part of the toe box is actually the soft tongue.
Toe Construction:  Hoka One Rapa Nui Comp

The sides wrap around the foot and over the tongue like a burrito up to the stitches by the toe. I believe this helps with overall flexibility but means several seams over the toes. These seams have not been an issue at all so far. Fit is comfortable with decent forefoot volume if a bit narrower than Tarmacs. True to size with my high arch, narrower feet wearing thin socks.

Update: The new version of the Rapa Nui now coming on sale in the US has a new toe area construction. The somewhat complex "burrito" construction with many seams is replaced by a open toe box.
Photo Boulder Running Company: Hoka Rapa Nui Trail Toe Box

Midsole:  EVA as other Hokas but at 1.5x volume vs. 2x volume for older models. The Rapa Nui has injection molded EVA (IMEVA) vs. the compressed EVA in all other models for what is claimed to be a more responsive feel and more rebound. I think this is true, if subtly and may also contribute to the fact they also have more forefoot flex by far than other Hokas I have run in.

The midsole extends up and around the upper to create a "bucket seat" for the foot, a signature of all Hokas and what also creates the illusion they are far off the ground and somehow not stable, not true.

Outsole: Decent lugs for most trail terrain. Lugs are are not noticeable on the road. Harder rubber (black) in heel and toe areas. I am seeing some accelerated wear in a few of the heel lugs as I have run many miles on the road. Par for the course for Hokas. The Shoe Goo may come out in a month or so...Carved out areas in the midsole for increased flexibility, and these Hokas flex in the forefoot as well as any trail shoe, a first for Hokas.
Outsole: Hoka One One Rapa Nui Comp

Overall geometry: overall width of outsole is narrower at heel and forefoot than Tarmacs. This is positioned as a racing Hoka. Far more flexible than other Hokas. The rocker effect is less pronounced.

Laces: One pull speed laces as on Tarmacs. I have found them effective

The Ride:
I have run 190 miles so far [Update: 300 plus miles] in the Rapa Nui, about 150 road miles. Still very much the cushioned  like running on grass while on the road Hoka feel. A bit surprised that they felt almost as cushioned particularly in the heel as Tarmacs which have about 10mm more of foam cushioning front and back.Of course super cushioned even more so than the adidas Energy Boost I reviewed earlier but responsive and smooth in a way similar to the new Pearl Izumi E:Motion Trail N1, also reviewed here yet without nearly as much of what is almost a too firm road trail feel.

At the forefoot they generally feel as flexible as a "normal" running shoe and the characteristic rocker effect of other Hokas is far less noticeable.  I have not had the occasional metatarsal pain at my big toe that I have on occasion experienced with the Hoka Mafate and Tarmac.  The soft forefoot cushioning and flexiblity seems to lack a bit of stability on the very technical rocky, rooty NH trails of my first trail run. A band of denser rubber outsole on the outside of the forefoot to the midfoot such as on the New Balance 1210 Leadville or or an embedded rock plate, web or frame of plastic such as in the Inov-8  or my adidas Energy Boost could help make them a bit more stable.

I have run and hiked about 90 miles on the smoother less technical trails in UT and the RapaNui climb far better for me than other Hokas. Much more trail feel with no rock push throughs despite no rock plate. Not quite the bomb proof downhill performance of "traditional" Hokas but nonetheless very smooth over obstacles.

At speed on the road they felt great. I did a test 3 days apart on essentially the same 6 mile course running at a moderate easy pace for 5 miles then clocking a fast last mile on a Strava segment. First run was in Nike Lunar Fly racing flats from several years ago. Second run in the Rapa Nui. I was overall 50 seconds per mile faster , I did push a little harder on the easy miles the second time, but more significantly my last fast mile was to the second identical to the prior run and a segment record for me, with less perceived road shock and effort.

I think the Rapa Nui will,  given their lighter weight, lower profile, and flexibility be a faster shoe than prior Hoka models and a good candidate for my mostly downhill fall St. George Marathon as well as Park City's Jupiter Peak Steeplechase with its 3000 feet of climbing and then fast downhills. I believe as with all Hokas this is a great shoe for folks struggling with injuries such as PF or worn out joints.

Given the flexibility I believe Rapa Nui's is a more responsive uphill trail running shoes than the bigger Hokas. As slope increases and the rocker angle of traditional Hokas is exceeded (about 10 degrees) I have found you need to have plenty of knee lift to drive up and forward.  Last year I ran most of my trails in Tecnica X-Lite, a lower profile close technological cousin to the Hokas, a great shoe but quite heavy and with a somewhat loose upper. As far as downhills Rapa Nui  have the great confidence building Hoka cushion on a somewhat narrower less stable platform but also  have greater responsiveness and terrain feel than its beefier cousins: Mafate, Stinson, and Tarmac.

A little less of the Hoka "cloud", more flexibility, less weight. What I have been waiting for from Hoka in a longer run trail and also road runner. A true hybrid good for anything you can throw at them except maybe a 5K-10K road race with no compromises for road, trail, and hiking.

Another great review of the Rapa Nui over at Runblogger

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston: Interfaith Healing Service, President Obama's Beautiful, Uplifting Running Metaphors

“This doesn’t stop us. And that’s what you’ve taught us, Boston. That’s what you’ve reminded us — to push, to not grow weary, to not get faint, even when it hurts. We finish the race. And we do that because of who we are and we do that because we know that somewhere around the bend, a stranger has a cup of water. Around the bend, somebody’s there to boost our spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick up.”

“Our prayers are with the injured -- so many wounded, some gravely. From their beds, some are surely watching us gather here today. And if you are, know this: As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city is with you. Your commonwealth is with you. Your country is with you. We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again. Of that I have no doubt. You will run again,” he said as applause rained down. “You will run again.”

“When the Sox, the Celtics, the Patriots, the Bruins are champions again – to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans – the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street. And this time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the one hundred and eighteenth Boston marathon. Bet on it!’’ 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston was All In to Save Lives: The Finish Line and the Hospitals.

"The bombs at the Boston Marathon were designed to maim and kill, and they did. Three people died within the first moments of the blast. More than a hundred and seventy people were injured. They had their limbs blown off, vital arteries severed, bones fractured, flesh torn open by shrapnel or scorched by the blasts’ heat. Yet it now appears that every one of the wounded alive when rescuers reached them will survive." 

The tragic events at the Marathon occurred within yards of the medical tent and hundreds of the best caregivers in the world. I have not run another big city marathon in many years but have run St. George 3 times with 7000 competitors. St. George puts a very active medical presence on the course to intersept those in trouble and has a relatively light medical presence at the finish line. You finish, go under a mister, are handed a bottle of water and directed into a grass corral with hundreds of others to fend for yourself, often in tremendous heat. Not that EMT's aren't around but you are pretty much on your own.

Boston, for those who haven't run it makes finishers walk a couple hundred yard (at least it feels that way), very friendly gauntlet of medical people and volunteers. No stopping for any length of time beyond picking up a water bottle, mylar, medal, food. If you can't walk and need help they are there in an instant with wheelchair and helping arm.

The fact that hundreds of some of the best medical people in the world, EMT's, police, race volunteers, finishing runners with training, and passerby were there at the site of the bombings and went into action in seconds going from tending a few blisters and dehydration to setting up a battlefield triage and tending to gravely injured is truly amazing. Within 5-10 minutes all the injured were being treated and sent to hospitals.

The heroic care continued of course at the hospitals. And here the story is equally amazing. Please read the full NewYorker article here. The hospitals had drilled for such a mass event but it was so large, so sudden, and so devastating that no direction was really possible. Everyone knew what to do:  hundreds showed up immediately, nurses watching the news decided how to stock multiple operating rooms based on anticipated injuries, teams formed with multiple specialists for each patient.

All the injured who were alive when reached by rescuers are still alive and we pray it stays that way.

From the article written Atul Gwande, a doctor at one of the hospitals, reflecting on the post 9/11, Newtown, Aurora, Iraq and Afghan wars world:

"We’ve learned, and we’ve absorbed. This is not cause for either celebration or satisfaction. That we have come to this state of existence is a great sadness. But it is our great fortune.
Last year, after the Aurora shooting, Ron Walls, the chief of emergency medicine at my hospital, gave a lecture titled “Are We Ready?”
In Boston, it turns out we all were."

Boston Marathon: Please donate to help victims, Interviewed by Park Record(UT).

The City of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts along with other business and civic leaders have established a charity, The One Fund, to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Sadly, I believe we will find out that several of the maimed were runners, especially by that second bomb.

Please consider a donation. I just donated.
Link to donation site:
Link to press release:

I was interviewed by the Park Record in Park City, UT about my experiences at the Boston Marathon along with several others from Park City. Link to the article here:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon: I did not sleep well last night

I ran Boston yesterday. A magnificent day on the roads ending in tragedy.

I did not sleep well. Not the usual after marathon sleeplessness. Yesterday's events were such a contrast of beauty, effort, and joy followed by fear and tragedy. 

Grateful that we and friends are safe but deeply saddened and angry about the injuries, deaths, and terror on this particular, highly symbolic day: The Boston Marathon, Patriots Day commemorating Lexington and Concord, and of Boston itself. All symbols of the best of our region,country, and humanity and the day when somewhat still parochial Boston opens its arms to the whole world. Much lost. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those and their families struggling with loss and injuries. I saw the blasts go off from the bag pick up area. 

Yet, amid the chaos all of Boston, the BAA, the people of Boston, the first responders, doctors and nurses, and authorities responded instantly and magnificently. Many many more might have died if it wasn't for the best doctors and nurses in the world tending blisters and such and race running doctors who ran to the scene and who instantly turned the medical tent into a battlefield triage tent. The police within a few minutes stopped the race away from the scene. The residents and businesses opened their arms to cold exhausted runners stopped on the course or unable to get to their hotels. 

The Marathon and Patriots Day will come back bigger and with even more emotion and meaning as this was an attack on our freedoms, peaceful assembly, history, and the good noble endeavor of running a marathon. 

The theme for the Boston Marathon, on billboards and posters everywhere is : All in for Boston. Right now in this difficult time we should all be All in With Boston.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Boston Monday: It's going to cool fun! Gear list

Really looking forward to my 5 or 6th Boston. Had a 25 year gap in there. The weather should be cool, good for me. Not much of a fan of the course but will try for once not to go out to fast!  Love the crowds, the organization, the tradition. Had the goose bumps at the expo yesterday seeing so many fit and fast runners of all ages from all over the world. The Marathon and I am lucky and grateful to be still able to qualify and run in such an amazing event. Best wishes to everyone running Boston Monday!

Shoes: Adidas Energy Boost.  My go to shoe all spring
Socks: Falke. Anatomical fit, lightly cushioned
Shorts: Patagonia Strider Pro. Love the 2 big no bounce pockets. Just the right 5" length.
Shirt:  Mountain Hardwear Way 2 Cool Tank. Not sure I will need the magic Q cooling disks,  who knows this is New England and it was 33 and raining Friday. Fits just right and has good shoulder coverage.
Belt: Salomon S-Lab 2 belt. 6 pockets (2 zip on a no bounce soft belt. iPhone on board Strava but I won't be looking at it. Gels, Bloks in other pockets.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Spring Running Favorites: Patagonia Strider PRO Shorts, NorthFace Better than Naked Jacket

With spring trying to arrive I have been enjoying 2 very well designed running items from Patagonia and the NorthFace.

Patagonia Strider PRO Shorts
I like the Strider PRO alot because for the first time I have found a short with decent sized pockets which actually work, no bounce and secure. The Strider has 2 decent size hip pockets: the yellow stretch fabric covers the pockets and is tied into the waistband.  There is also a zip pocket on the rear.  I run with an iPhone 5 in a baggie for Strava... and for pictures along the way. By placing decent size pockets on the hips and making them snug and secure Patagonia is the first to really solve the "pocket problem".
Patagonia Strider PRO shorts 

I have even been able to stick a full Salomon 8oz Soft Flask in the other pocket or you can put at least 4 gels in either pocket. Note with the Salomon Soft Flasks once you have had a decent drink, no matter the pocket, they tend to flop around so I hold them in my hand after starting one.

The waist band is snug and substantial  but unfortunately has a continuous pull cord so no way to synch a bit tighter and keep it that way when pockets are really full: phone and Flask.

The material is a combination of very soft, smooth polyester fabric on the front and back and mesh on the sides. The inseam is 5", a great compromise length. A very functional, breathable and comfortable short indeed. $55 retail.

NorthFace Better than Naked Jacket

The $130 Better than Naked is one fabulous running jacket. Very light at 6.35 oz. Made of a non plasticky, smooth yet textured and stretchy fabric it not only blocks wind but its breathability is outstanding The FlashDry treatment really seems to work as I have never sweated through the jacket. I tend to run hot and this jacket really bridges the gap between wind protection and a sauna, wet feeling in variable conditions.
North Face Better than Naked Jacket

Hard to see in the picture but the sleeves running from just in front of the elbows, up under the arms and then down the back in a strip are a more mesh like version of the rest of the fabric. The wrists are also made of the mesh material and can be rolled up a ways. There is laser perforation venting at the top of the back.  I have not yet run with it in rainy conditions but expect it will provide decent protection but really should be considered a wind shell.

I wear a medium and have put a heavy weight mid layer underneath without feeling constricted due to the stretch nature of the fabric. The pocket is decent sized and accommodates an iPhone 5 without bouncing even when the jacket is partially unzipped.

Disclosure: I purchased both items.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Sign of the Times: Vibram Five Fingers Jump the Shark

Vibram Five Fingers-75% off they're giving them away

Vibram Five Fingers on deep discount at the local outdoor and running store. The barefoot, near barefoot, very minimal running shoe has jumped the shark. For many if not most, more than occasional light use is an invitation to injuries. See this NYTimes article on a recent study clearly showing the risks and real injuries from overdoing it in Five Fingers. Sure, in a 5K race I get out the super light racing flats but for training other than intervals minimal is not for me and I might say not for most.

Low or zero drop running shoes with roomy forefoot and seamless light uppers are the future  for most runs and runners. These shoes will have decent cushioning as I think, and the studies are starting to show, that super minimal shoes are really only for a very few. Running form can be adjusted for many but probably not changed, especially  during later stages of a long workout or race.

Some examples of lower drop, cushioned shoes I am running in these days:

  • The Altra Torin is a fantastic shoe. My first zero drop shoe and have had no issues with sore calves. Review soon
  • Altra Superior: zero drop pretty light cushion brief overview here ; 
  • adidas Boost (10mm drop)   review here. I will run Boston in these.
  • Hoka Tarmacs: (6 mm drop)  super cushioned, for recovery runs review here
For the trails this summer I am going to run:
  • Pearl Izumi N1 Trail (low drop about 4.5mm)  review here 
  • Tecnica X-Lites or this year's version the Demon X-Lite, a low drop wide outsole cousin of the Hokas with more flexibility, a little less cushion, and lighter  (review here)