I do this column for Runblogger because I love talking and writing about running and the equipment that goes with it. I’m very fortunate to receive lots of cool stuff to review here! Lately I’m feeling really guilty as I’ve been using a number of products that I have not had time to write about yet. I’d like to do a quick “mini-review” of those products here. My hope is that you, the reader, will guide me as to which you would like to see a more in depth review of to help me prioritize.
La Sportiva Helio trail shoes – I’ve been running in a pair of these shoes for several months. They have been one of my solid “go-to” shoes and I really love them. Here is the quick take. They drain well, have incredible traction (as you would expect from one of the worlds premier climbing shoe company’s), fit snug over the forefoot with a moderate sized toe-box. I ordered a full size bigger than normal to get the right fit. I planned on using them for the Massanutten Mountain 100, known for its many rocks, but a stone bruise on my foot resulted from stepping on a sharp rock on the exposed EVA the week before in training. My only complaint is a bit stiff heel counter that starts to irriate my heel on runs over 4 hours. Overall an excellent do everything shoe.
Run Guard Anti-chaffe stick – One of the hardest things about running Ultra’s is chaffing. On my first 100 I started chaffing at mile 9. It was the single hardest thing to deal with for the remaining 91 miles. Like most runners, I have used Bodyglide for years. I have also used Toms Blister Shield, Vasoline, Bagbalm and other products, but have still suffered with chaffing. I get it under my armpits and in my crotch (sorry..) where the seams of my legs meet my man-bits. Its not fun…unless you like the idea of feeling like somebody attacked you with a cheese grater while trying to run for hours and hours. Run Guard is made by the company that makes nip-guards which are special “bandaids” for your nipples. The anti-chaffe stick comes in two types, original and sensitive. I absolutely love the sensitive type. I have had zero problems while using it. It stays on longer than Bodyglide and has a nice smooth feel that doesn’t get sticky. It is now a permanent fixture in my run kit. Give it a try. You can read about it and order it right at their website, www.runguards.com.
Pearl Izumi Trail N1 shoes – I just received a pair the week before MMT. I have run up to 20 miles in them so far. I love the fit and the smooth feel of the transition from midfoot (or heel) to forefoot. I will be putting a lot more miles on this shoe and giving it a proper write up in the weeks to come.
Altra Lone Peak 1.5 trail shoes – As MMT approached and I bruised my foot in the Helios, I obsessed about what shoe to wear for the race. Known for its brutal rocks, I needed something with great protection and traction for the race. I broke out my old Lone Peaks which I didn’t really like so much, hoping that I might reconsider for the race. I looked at the updates, which seem minor, on the recently released 1.5 and decided to buy a pair. I was floored when I found that the minor updates completely transformed the feel of theses shoes for me. The new upper is much more comfy, it seems to fit better, the sole seems to flex better (my first pair was from very early production and the soles were stiffer than later pairs) and the traction was excellent. I loved them so much I bought another pair and wore them at MMT. Unfortunately I ended up with Pneumonia and had to drop from the race, which is another thing that I need to write about. www.altrazerodrop.com
Energy Bits – If you are on Twitter and run, chances are you are seeing posts from Energy Bits and EB users. Energy bits are little pill like tabs of Spirulina algae, a great source of protein. Like many supplements, there are users who swear that they are the second coming of the Messiah. I received a free trial of about 50 “bits” and used them on a long run. Feeling like I actually got a bit of a boost from them, I bought a full bag at a discount that was extended by them. I have used them several times and honestly can’t tell any difference when I use them. There is no doubt in my mind that they are a healthy way to get plant based protein. I just don’t seem to feel any benefit from using them and can’t justify the relatively steep price. Others swear by them. Ask them for a free trial and make your own conclusions. Whether they work, or produce a placebo effect really doesn’t matter if you feel that they make you faster and stronger. That’s a good enough reason to use them for most. www.energybits.com.
Skora Core shoes - When I was contacted by Skora about trying their shoes I asked if they make a trail shoe. I was told that they don’t, but the Form model worked well and they would send me a pair. When I pulled them out of the box I was struck by how beautiful the shoe was. Made of Goatskin with Sheepskin liner they are soft and supple. When I put them on my feet I was amazed at how comfortable they are. I really can’t see wearing them for off road, but I’ll be damned if anybody is going to get these things off my feet. I’ve been wearing them every day and I absolutely love how they feel and look. I think they should go after the high end casual shoe for the minimal runner. They are my magic slippers and I love them. www.Skorarunning.com
Please let me know if you have any specific questions about any of the above products and which ones you would like to see a full review of. Thanks!