Runblogger http://runblogger.com Running Shoes, Gear Reviews, and Posts on the Science of the Sport Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:41:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 This Week in Runblogging: September 15 to 21 2014 http://runblogger.com/2014/09/this-week-in-runblogging-september-15-to-21-2014.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/this-week-in-runblogging-september-15-to-21-2014.html#respond Sun, 21 Sep 2014 13:00:37 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=9378

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adidas Adios Boost 2 sideThis week I reviewed the adidas Adios Boost 2. Version 1 of the adios Boost was one of my favorite shoes from last year – it provided a smooth, responsive ride that was capable of handling a variety of distances and speeds.

I’m a fan of the Boost midsole material as if provides a soft, yet springy feel under the heel, but remains firm and responsive where it is thinner under the forefoot. The adios Boost 2 provides the same great ride, but the upper and fit have changed a bit so sizing is a bit different. Check out the review for more!

Runblogger Posts from Last Week

Spaulding Rehab in Boston is Looking for Barefoot/Minimalist Runners for a Research Study
September 18, 2014 – If you live in the Boston area, run barefoot/minimal, and want to participate in a research study, check this out!

Salomon 2015 Shoe Previews: S-Lab Sense Ultra 4 and S-Lab X-Series
September 16, 2014 – The X-Series looks like my kind of shoe.

adidas Adios Boost 2 Review: Same Great Ride, Different Fit
September 15, 2014 – One of my favorite shoes this year once I got the sizing sorted out.

Recommended Posts From Around the Web

1. Now that it’s getting darker earlier, I did one of my first night runs in a long time last week. There’s something special about running at night, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it. Andy Jones-Wilkins expands on the topic of night running on iRunFar. He writes: “One thing I have realized on my night runs is that the world around me seems to shrink. I am alone with my thoughts and the beam of my headlamp on these night runs. There are no external distractions to get in the way and therefore I can get into a steady zone of just running that can be at once cathartic and meditative. It may sound odd to some but running in the dark just seems a bit more clear than running during the day.”

2. Two good posts on Runners Connect on the topic of foam rolling. First, a post titled “4 Mistakes You’re Making When Foam Rolling (and How to Fix Them).” Second, a post assessing the science supporting the potentially beneficial effects of foam rolling.

3. DC Rainmaker has a cool post about the BSX Insight, a device that slides into a calf-compression sleeve that can estimate your lactate threshold without the need for drawing blood.

4. Interesting post on Running Physio describing a study that compared a strengthening protocol to a stretching protocol for the treatment of plantar fasciitis. I’ll have a post with some comments on the study later this week.

5. Nice post by John Sheppard of Take It On The Run on what he learned from volunteering at an ultra.

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Spaulding Rehab in Boston is Looking for Barefoot/Minimalist Runners for a Research Study http://runblogger.com/2014/09/spaulding-rehab-in-boston-is-looking-for-barefootminimalist-runners-for-a-research-study.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/spaulding-rehab-in-boston-is-looking-for-barefootminimalist-runners-for-a-research-study.html#respond Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:00:32 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5999

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my-running-gait-analysis-at-spaulding-3Last Fall I traveled down to Boston to visit the Spaulding National Running Center. Spaulding is both a rehab and research center, and while I was there they mentioned that they were trying to recruit barefoot and minimalist runners to participate in some of their research studies. I was recently contacted again by Spaulding and they indicated to me that they were able to get a decent number of recruits from my post. They are still looking for additional study participants and asked if I would be willing to repost my request. Here are the specifics:

What is involved:

-Come for 1 session at the Spaulding National Running Center (1575 Cambridge Street, Cambridge 02138), approximately 2-hours

-Complete multiple walk and run trials over ground and on a treadmill

-The computer system tracks your movement in 3D and the forces you produce

What you Get:

- A free running shirt

- A video of your footstrike pattern with ground reaction forces

You are eligible if:

- You are 18-60 years

- You run at lest 10 miles per week (for the past 3 months, or more)

- You haven’t had any running injuries in the past 6 months.

-You run at least half of your weekly miles in true minimal (no cushion) shoes or barefoot

If you live in the Boston area (or plan to be in Boston at some point), you meet the above criteria, and are interested in possibly participating, please fill out the form below. I will pass the information along to the folks at Spaulding so they can follow up as they add subjects to their studies.

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Salomon 2015 Shoe Previews: S-Lab Sense Ultra 4 and S-Lab X-Series http://runblogger.com/2014/09/salomon-2015-shoe-previews-s-lab-sense-ultra-4-and.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/salomon-2015-shoe-previews-s-lab-sense-ultra-4-and.html#respond Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:00:22 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5765

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Next up in the 2015 running shoe preview series via Runningshoes.com is Salomon. The two shoes we’ll take a look at here are the S-Lab Sense Ultra 4 and the S-Lab X-series.

Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra

I just recently reviewed the Salomon Sense 3 Ultra - one of my favorite shoes of the year so far. Light and fast, like a racing flat for the trails. Looks like the Sense 4 Ultra will have a more breathable mesh on the upper (breathability was one of my few complaints about the 3), and an updated lug design.

Salomon S-Lab X-Series

The X-Series is is basically an adaptation of the Salomon Sense trail shoe line to the road. The X-Series features a stretchier upper in the forefoot and a softer sole than in their trail shoes, both of which sound very appealing to a guy who loved the Sense Pro and Sense 3 Ultra but runs mostly on the road.

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adidas Adios Boost 2 Review: Same Great Ride, Different Fit http://runblogger.com/2014/09/adidas-adios-boost-2-review-same-great-ride-different-fit.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/adidas-adios-boost-2-review-same-great-ride-different-fit.html#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:00:23 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5656

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adidas Adios Boost 2The Adios is adidas’ distance racing flat. It’s a shoe that can be found on the feet of many of the top elite adidas sponsored marathoners, and last year they released a version with a midsole composed of their recently introduced Boost material. I’d heard a lot of positive praise for the shoe from friends, and despite the fact that it had a higher drop than I typically prefer in a speed shoe (10mm), I wound up loving the ride. In fact, along with the New Balance 1400v2 and Newton Energy, the Adios Boost was one of my top 3 road shoes from 2013.

The Adios Boost had a perfect combo of a soft heel and a firm, responsive forefoot. It ran incredibly smooth, and the fit was dialed in on my feet. Pretty much a perfect shoe for my taste, and the 10mm drop did not bother me at all (probably due to the soft heel and the fact that the relatively thin forefoot provides good ground feel; or maybe just that since dialing in my form by going more minimal I now feel I can run in just about anything).

adidas Adios Boost 2 side

adidas Adios Boost 2 (top) and 1 (bottom)

adidas released version 2 of the Adios Boost earlier this year, and I again heard positive responses from other runners. In particular I heard praise for the new upper, which was supposedly a bit softer than the somewhat stiff, scratchy upper on version 1. I bought a pair to give them a try, and have now put about 40-50 or so miles on them, including a long run of 15+ miles and some speedwork on the track. Mainly what I’m going to do for the rest of this review is compare version 2 to version 1, and highlight major differences (there are only a few, one of which is important).

adidas Adios Boost 2 sole

adidas Adios Boost 2 (top) and 1 (bottom)

Sole

The biggest positive about the Adios Boost 2 is that adidas did not mess with the ride. As far as I can tell, the sole appears to be identical, and stack heights are the same (23mm heel, 13mm forefoot). As with version 1, weight is right around 8oz in version 2. Like it’s predecessor, the heel is soft, the forefoot is firm, and I’d describe the ride as responsive when you pick up the pace (they actually feel really good on the track). If you’ve never tried a Boost shoe before, it has a bouncy feel to it, and it retains that feel in the cold, which is a big plus for the material. The bounciness is not noticeable in the forefoot since it’s pretty thin.

adidas Adios Boost Heel

adidas Adios Boost 2 (right) and 1 (left)

Upper

The upper and fit are where the adios Boost 2 departs from the original. The upper has been completely redone, and externally the material does feel a bit softer. However, it is still somewhat scratchy internally and I would not personally attempt running sockless in this shoe. And whereas v1 relied more on welded overlays (including some of the adidas logo stripes), v2 has a more traditional stitched set of overlays. In v2 there is also a prominent faux-suede toe cap, and more traditional style lace rows made of the same faux-suede material. The shoe almost has kind of a throwback/vintage feel toe it – it looks great in a very understated way.

A couple of other upper differences worth mentioning. First, it’s hard to say for sure, but it feels like the heel counter in v2 may be a bit stiffer and rise a bit higher than that in v1. Also, the tab behind the Achilles tendon does not extend up as high in v2 (see photo above).

adidas Adios Boost 2 top

adidas Adios Boost 2 (top) and 1 (bottom)

Fit

Probably the biggest change from v1 to v2 for me is fit. I initially bough v2 in the same size as I had in v1 thinking that it would be similar. Upon initially trying the shoes on I could tell that v2 was a bit tighter up front, but length did not seem to be an issue. I think the toebox is a bit more tapered, leading to a bit more toe squeeze (this is similar to how I felt about the non-Boost Adios 2 fit). After several runs, including a long run that led to some toenail bruising, I was ready to give up on the shoes. Somewhat fortuitously, adidas sent out a pair in size 10.5 for me to try (Disclosure: they were free media samples; I thought they were sending me Energy Boost 2), and after several runs in them I can confirm that fit is much better. So, if you were a fan of v1, I would definitely recommend going a half size up in v2 to accommodate the shape of the toebox.

adidas Adios Boost 2 medial

adidas Adios Boost 2 (top) and 1 (bottom)

Conclusion

With the fit dialed in (half size larger), the adidas Adios Boost 2 provides the same great ride as v1. This is a shoe I could use for speed or distance racing, and I love the cushioned yet responsive feel of the sole. For some this might be a 5K racer, for others it might be a marathon racer depending on how much shoe you are used to. Aside from the tricky fit, my only major issue with the Adios Boost is price – at $140 it’s an expensive shoe for a racer. Adidas might counter that durability of the Boost material justifies the price, but that’s a call you will have to make if you want to try them.

The adidas Adios Boost 2 is available are at Running Warehouse and adidas.com. Outside the US it can be purchased from Wiggle. Purchases made via these links provide a small commission to Runblogger and help to support the production of reviews like this one – thanks!

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This Week in Runblogging: September 8 to 14 2014 http://runblogger.com/2014/09/this-week-in-runblogging-september-8-to-14-2014.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/this-week-in-runblogging-september-8-to-14-2014.html#comments Sun, 14 Sep 2014 13:00:05 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=6120

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I finally wrote up my review of the Hoka Clifton this week, and I have to say that the experience of running in the shoe was an interesting and thought provoking one. Even if the shoe wasn’t the best match for me, it’s one to look at if you want a lightweight shoe with max cush. Fits me much better than other Hokas I’ve tried on, and the rockered sole makes for a unique ride

There’s also been a lot of commentary on my post about the just-announced Apple Sport Watch – the lack of integrated GPS makes the watch less desirable for me as a fitness device, but as a devoted iPhone user I must admit to still being a bit intrigued by it.

Runblogger Posts From the Last Week

Tips on Running Safety For Women
September 11 – Guest post by Austin Bonds from Big Peach Running Company. Some thoughtful discussion/debate in the comments of this post.

Biggest Drawback of the Apple Sport Watch For Runners: No On-Board GPS
September 10 – No on-board GPS, big deal or not?

Saucony Shoe Previews: Breakthru, Zealot, Mirage 5, and Peregrine 5
September 9 – Really curious to hear more about the Saucony Breakthru!

Hoka Clifton Running Shoe Review
September 8 – Really interesting shoe, fun review to put together.

Recommended Posts From Around the Web

1. Nice post from Runner’s Connect on the purpose of various workouts and the importance of making sure your easy days are easy.

2. Review of the Inov-8 Race Ultra 290 from iRunFar. Kristin Zosel writes: “Despite my frustration with the inability for the shoe to truly become one with my foot, I still really like the shoe. It feels light and fast. The rock protection is excellent without sacrificing flexibility. It drains well yet has ample protection around the shoe for run-ins with pointy rocks, long grass seeds, and scrubby brush.”

Newton BoCo Sol3. Believe in the Run reviews the Newton BOCO Sol. Says Thomas: “This is a good pick for those that are not swept up in the max shoe trend. My feet had no blisters and felt great after 120 miles in 6 days, that is success in any shoe. I was relieved by day three that these trail shoes don’t suck. In fact, I loved them. These will work for you you from day hikers to ultra marathons.”

4. Jen over at Running Tangents gives the Mio Link optical heart rate monitor a big thumbs up. I had similar feelings in my own review of the Mio, and have been having a positive experience with the Scosche Rhythm+ lately as well. Expect a review of the latter in a few weeks.

5. From knee surgery to loose rocks in the head. Quite a story from Der Scott!

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Tips on Running Safety For Women http://runblogger.com/2014/09/tips-on-running-safety-for-women.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/tips-on-running-safety-for-women.html#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5803

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Running Pepper Sprayby Austin Bonds

I’ve come to the realization that running safety can be easily neglected in the middle of a great run. The weather feels fantastic, the feet are moving swiftly across the sidewalk, and the beat of a favorite song is pulsing through the ears. We run and we return home – it should be as simple as that. Sadly, this is not always the case.

As a resident of Georgia, I recently read about Tina Waddell, a runner who was brutally beaten on the Silver Comet Trail (which runs from Georgia to Alabama). As of this writing, the suspect has not been located; no motive is known either. This is sickening and saddening to me as a runner and as a human being. Being married to someone who sporadically runs, this post is for my wife and for all female runners and walkers.

The solution to avoid being attacked, or so it would seem, is to not run alone. Unfortunately, finding a running partner each time you step out the door is unlikely – and probably unrealistic for most. In fact, many runners prefer to exercise alone. The decision to go solo, be it made out of of necessity or choice, should not be hindered by fear though; it should instead be bolstered by a sense of awareness.

In light of today’s society where people simply feel less safe than days of yesteryear, along with the fact that summer will be ending in a matter of months and shorter daylight hours will be upon us, I’d like for this post to serve as both a reminder and an encouragement for running safety. Here are a few helpful thoughts to keep in mind when you prepare for the day’s run.

1. Avoid running alone when possible. Take your dog for extra company – provided he or she is large enough to protect you. Call a friend and see if she can join you. If you do run alone, make eye contact with everyone you pass.

2. Seek out group runs. Visit your local specialty running store and find out if they host a weekly group run; if not, ask them to consider starting one. Many cities have running organizations or clubs (e.g. the Atlanta Track Club) that you can join for an annual fee, though some are no charge. Group runs give strength to the truth that there’s safety in numbers.

3. Mix up the music with some meditation. Music is a great way to power through hard workouts or long runs, but avoid letting it become a distraction for what’s going on around you. Keep one earbud in if needed. Be open to leaving the music at home from time to time as well. As an alternative to tunes, listen to how your body is feeling that day and enjoy the scenery. Use this time to gather your thoughts and mentally prepare for the day.

4. Revise your routes. As creatures of habit, we like the familiar, and this is no less true for running. For the sake of running safety though, familiarity should be periodically discarded. In other words, keep changing your runs. Run a familiar route in reverse; go to a local park or school track (where others are present too); run on different days of the week. This approach will lower the likelihood of your paths being picked up by a less than honorable person who might do you harm.

5. Use your phone for more than status updates. Social media based apps are a great way to share the days accomplishment from a particular run (e.g. a new personal record for distance or time). Though this is a fun activity, be sure to check the app settings and the phone settings that can potentially display the exact location of your run for the world to see. Speaking of location, a recent Runner’s World article lists four apps that highlight safety by sending notifications to contacts of your choosing after periods of inactivity.

Needless to say these are but a handful of the many running safety tips I could share. Many, many more exist. In summary, I suppose that the best defense is a good offense. Run smart. Use your eyes to take in the surroundings. Turn the volume down. Let someone know where you are going and how long you plan to be gone. Run in different spots. Run with your phone or with some pepper spray (you local run shop may carry this) – or both. Run with others. Download a running safety app.

Though I’ve written this post with female runners in mind, I believe that men should heed the importance of running safety too. Though they are less likely to be followed and attacked while out for a run, men can be equally vulnerable too. Hard runs and long runs lower the physical strength and tire out the mind for all runners – men and women alike. Stay sharp and stay aware. Here’s to returning home safe and sound.

What are some of the ways you stay safe during a run? What tips would you add to this list?

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Biggest Drawback of the Apple Sport Watch For Runners: No On-Board GPS http://runblogger.com/2014/09/biggest-drawback-of-the-apple-sport-watch-for-runners-no-on-board-gps.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/biggest-drawback-of-the-apple-sport-watch-for-runners-no-on-board-gps.html#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 15:28:50 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=6067

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Apple Sport WatchThe big news yesterday was Apple’s announcement of two new iPhones as well as the Apple Watch. Like most people, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the announcement of the Watch since rumors have consistently hinted at a slew of fitness-related features. Done well, the watch had the potential to be a game changer in the fitness tracking market.

I’ve spent the morning reading through a lot of the press about the Watch release. In many ways Apple did not disappoint – the Watch in general has a ton of interesting features, and on the fitness front it has a built in optical heart rate monitor that allows you to ditch a chest strap (looks similar to that on the Mio Link which worked quite well for me), does fitness tracking, and can do run/workout tracking (see more on this below though). However, I don’t see these fitness features as being that unique compared to other fitness devices already on the market, and I’m left feeling a little underwhelmed.

The video below provides a nice overview of the features of the Sport Watch:

The one feature that is missing that concerns me the most as a runner is the lack of integrated GPS. This means that for the Apple Watch to function as a run tracker, you need to have your phone with you on the run – the GPS chip on the phone does the recording, and the watch pulls the data from the phone. There are other devices on the market that function in a similar manner, including the Magellan Echo, and they can work well, but carrying your phone with you on every run can be a bit of  pain Apple Sport Watch Heart Rate(particularly the larger iPhone 6′s that were announced!). I really like the Magellan Echo for example, but there are times when I really would rather leave my phone home and just head out with a wrist-based GPS device.

I’m not a tech expert so just speculating here, but I wonder if the absence of on-board GPS has to due with battery life issues. Apple has been quiet about expected battery life for the Watch, which could be another drawback for those who plan to use it as a fitness device. If I had to guess, we will at some point see an iteration of the Apple Watch that has built-in GPS, but without it my interest in this one is lessened significantly.

How about you, excited or underwhelmed by the Apple Watch as a fitness device?

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Saucony Shoe Previews: Breakthru, Zealot, Mirage 5, and Peregrine 5 http://runblogger.com/2014/09/saucony-shoe-previews-breakthru-zealot-mirage-5-and-peregrine-5.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/saucony-shoe-previews-breakthru-zealot-mirage-5-and-peregrine-5.html#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:00:58 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5758

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Saucony BreakthruA few weeks ago I posted a preview of some 2015 shoe releases from Asics, this week we’ll take a look at some new shoes on the way from Saucony. All of the videos below were produced by Runningshoes.com at the 2014 Outdoor Retailer Show -you can find their Youtube channel here.

Saucony Breakthru

This video is the first I’ve seen or heard of this shoe. They describe it as their lightest-weight trainer with a responsive sole and 8mm offset. It is priced at $100, which is in line with pricing on shoes like the Kinvara. Based on the description, seems like the Breakthru might be a competitor to a shoe like the Mizuno Sayonara, New Balance 890, or maybe the Brooks Launch. Nice looking shoe!

Saucony Zealot

I wrote about the Sacuony Zealot in a previous post, but since it’s a new shoe thought I’d share the video preview here as well. The Zealot is a replacement for the Cortana, and is a well-cushioned, 4mm drop shoe. It also features Saucony’s new Isofit system in which the laces attach to a cage external to the upper.

Saucony Peregrine 5

Looks like mostly an upper update with a slight drop in weight to the sole due to a change in the rock-plate material.

Saucony Mirage 5

Looks like some small changes to the outsole, not sure how much the midsole has changed. My big problem with the Mirage 4 was that I felt it was way too firm for my taste, but I know others who like it for that reason. It will be interesting to see how this one feels. Saucony also adds a new upper that includes the Prolock addition to the lacing system to wrap the midfoot. I have seen some complaints about the Prolock in the Kinvara 5, but it worked ok for me.

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Hoka Clifton Running Shoe Review http://runblogger.com/2014/09/hoka-clifton-running-shoe-review.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/hoka-clifton-running-shoe-review.html#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:00:39 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5908

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Hoka Clifton HeelOne of the great things about the running shoe market right now is that there is a huge diversity of footwear options available. From minimal to maximal, and everything in between, there is most likely something out there that will meet your personal preferences/needs.

As a more minimally oriented runner, I’ve held off for a long time on trying out a Hoka running shoe. However, I feel it is important to keep an open mind, and I have readers who span the spectrum of footwear preferences. As such, when offered the chance to try out the Hoka Clifton, I decided to give them a go (Disclosure: the shoes reviewed here were media samples provided free of charge by Hoka). The experience of running in them has actually been quite interesting, and has caused me to do a lot of thinking.

Last week I wrote a post sharing 5 observations about running in the Cliftons that spurred quite a bit of discussion in the comments. The experience among commenters seemed to be quite mixed. Many love the shoes, others seemed to feel that they had to work harder when running in them. I want to emphasize this because although I fall into the latter group, there’s a lot to like about this shoe, and if you prefer a soft, cushy ride, they would be a great option to try. It’s important to remember that my reviews only reflect my personal experience with a shoe, and not how they might work for you. I’ll do my best to describe the shoes so that you can make a decision for yourself.

Hoka Clifton Side

Specs

The Hoka Clifton is currently the lightest shoe in the Hoka lineup at 7.8oz in men’s size 9 (per Running Warehouse). It has a stack height of 29mm heel, 23mm forefoot, and the CMEVA midsole is quite soft, particularly under the midfoot and heel. Along with the Skechers GoRun Ultra, the Clifton is probably one of the softest shoes I have run in.

Sole and Ride

I’m going to start by talking about the ride, since this is where most of my personal problems with the Clifton arose. My first run in the Clifton was a seven miler, and my immediate reaction was that I felt I was working much harder than I should have been. Over the next several runs this feeling persisted, particularly when running on a uniform surface (road/sidewalk). For some reason they actually felt better to me on trails, not sure why, maybe the greater variability of the surface underfoot. But on almost every run on the road I finished feeling like I was expending more energy than necessary. I’m puzzled by this as I don’t think the total stack height is my issue - I enjoyed running in the Nike Pegasus 31 which has a fairly similar stack (29mm heel, 19mm forefoot), and last night I went for a first run in the Brooks Ghost 7 (28mm heel, 17mm forefoot) and they felt really good. My suspicion is that the softness of the Clifton sole combined with the stack height is my issue. The combo doesn’t seem to be a good match for my stride, and I’d bet that this has to do with concepts like muscle tuning and leg stiffness adaptations (this probably goes beyond the scope of this review, but if interested you can read more about muscle tuning and leg stiffness here).

I want to again emphasize that this is my experience, and that I know a lot of other people who love running in this shoe and don’t feel the same way. It really seems to be a highly individual response as might be expected for any shoe given to a range of people who vary in anatomy, running form, physiology, etc. So don’t let this turn you off from trying the Clifton if you are intrigued by it – it might just be a great ride on your feet.

Hoka Clifton Sole

One of the interesting things about the Clifton ride is that because of the rockered sole, I felt like it encouraged me to get more up on my midfoot than other shoes do. In fact, if you look at the wear pattern  (see photo below) you will see almost no abrasion on the heel, and quite a bit on the exposed EVA near the midfoot. And when I pick up the pace this effect seems even more pronounced – the ride felt more responsive as I pushed faster than my easy pace.

Hoka Clifton Sole Wear

In terms of outsole coverage, there is rubber under the high-wear areas of the heel and forefoot, but none under the midfoot. As mentioned above, I’m seeing most of my wear on the exposed EVA midsole foam along the outer margin of the sole near the midfoot.

Hoka Clifton Rear

Fit

I’ve tried on a number of Hoka shoes in the past, and the fit for most never felt quite right on me. The Clifton, on the other hand, fits my foot almost perfectly. I did go a half size up, but this may not have been necessary as I have just a bit more than a thumb’s width between the tip of my big toe and the front of the shoe. I find the forefoot to be spacious enough to allow my toes freedom of movement (up and down and side to side), and the midfoot fits snugly.

Hoka Clifton Top

I have heard some complaints about the heel lock-down in the Clifton, but this has not been an issue for me. I have a fairly high-volume foot so that may have something to do with it, and snugging the laces up top seems to keep my heel locked just fine. The insole is quite thin, and I’m wondering if those with heel lock issues might benefit from swapping in a thicker insole. Overall, I’ve found the Clifton to be a very comfortable shoe, nothing negative to say in this area.

Upper Construction

The Clifton has a minimally constructed upper composed of a breathable mesh with welded overlays from midfoot forward. The area around the heel is padded and more structured. The tongue is extremely thin, and on some occasions it tends to fold under while sliding the shoe on, requiring me to use my finger to flatten it back out. Not a big deal though.

Hoka Clifton Forefoot
Hoka Clifton Tongue

One concern I have about the upper is that some of the welded overlays on the inner side of the forefoot seem to be separating from the underlying mesh slightly. Anyone else noticed this? Probably won’t effect function much, I suspect it’s mostly a cosmetic defect.

Hoka Clifton Overlay

 

Conclusions

Despite my comments about the Cliftons making me feel like I have to work harder, I’ve actually enjoyed running in the shoes. I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out why a shoe is not a good match for me, particularly when so many others have had a positive experience with it. The Clifton fits me great, is very comfortable, and is super light for a shoe with this much cushion. But for my stride it’s just a bit too soft (as a side note, I have gotten in one run in the Hoka Huaka and the RMAT midsole is more responsive and I think they’ll be a better match). That being said, if you are interested in trying a Hoka shoe, I’d encourage you to give the Clifton a shot. It’s on the lower end of the Hoka price range ($130 MSRP), and it has the Hoka cush that a lot of people love in an extremely lightweight package. I’m glad I gave them a try!

The Hoka Clifton is available for purchase at Running Warehouse, Zappos, and at the Hoka website. In Europe they can be purchased from www.hokaoneone.eu. Purchases made via these links provide a small comissions to Runblogger and help to support the production of reviews like this one – thanks!

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Two Weeks in Runblogging: August 25 to September 7 2014 http://runblogger.com/2014/09/two-weeks-in-runblogging-august-25-to-september-7-2014.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/two-weeks-in-runblogging-august-25-to-september-7-2014.html#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 13:00:39 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5930

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Salomon-Sense-3-UltraLast weekend was the Labor Day Holiday weekend here in the US so I did not do a weekly roundup. As such, we’ll be covering two weeks worth of posts here.

Runblogger Posts From the Past Two Weeks

Ultra Race Report: Gratitude and Distillation at the Bighorn 100 Trail Run
September 4, 2014- Guest post by David Henry recounting his experience running the Bighorn 100 Trail Run

5 Observations On Running in Hokas From a More Minimal-Leaning Runner
September 2, 2014 – Some thoughts on my first experience running in Hoka shoes. Lots of comments and discussion on this one!

What Moves You?: A Film For Runners by Runners
August 28, 2014 - Kickstarter film project, looks like a good one.

Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra Trail Shoe Review
August 26, 2014- One of my favorite shoes of the year so far!

Asics 2015 Shoe Previews: 33-M, 33-FA, 33-DFA, Fujirunnagade, DS Racer 10
August 25, 2014 - Preview of some new shoes on the way from Asics.

1. A nice post on running and renewal on iRunFar.

2. Coverage of the International Calgary Running Symposium from Blaise Dubois and Craig Payne.

3. Assorted shoe reviews: Sam Winebaum on the Altra Paradigm, a not so positive review of the New Balance MT110v2 on iRunFar, Jason Fitzgerald takes on the New Balance 980 Trail, and the always entertaining Nick Jenkins reviews the Salomon Sense 3 Soft Ground.

4. Interesting post by Craig Payne addressing “How many runners who think they don’t heel strike actually do?” Answer? Most tend to get it wrong. Craig also has an interesting post examining research on the practice of prescribing running shoes based on arch height.

5. Couple of posts on new gadgets. First, Brian Metzler writes about the Gazelle, which is a device that can track gait data in real time. Second, DC Rainmaker covers the soon to arrive Garmin Vivosmart activity tracker. The Vivosmart is an evolution of the Vivofit which I reviewed a few months ago. The Vivosmart adds in a touch display, smartphone notifications, music control, and several other functions.

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Ultra Race Report: Gratitude and Distillation at the Bighorn 100 Trail Run http://runblogger.com/2014/09/ultra-race-report-gratitude-and-distillation-at-the-bighorn-100-trail-run.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/ultra-race-report-gratitude-and-distillation-at-the-bighorn-100-trail-run.html#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:00:11 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=4654

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This is a guest post by Runblogger trail writer David Henry. You can read all of David’s posts here.

My Racing Background

Running a 100 mile race is something that had captivated my imagination ever since I found out they existed.  Something about the adventure and near impossibility of the idea intrigued me.  I fortunately (or unfortunately, however you want to look at it :)) am not scared off by these types of ideas, seeing that if other humans can do it, then I thought surely I can with some patience and time.

Sometime in the fall of 2009, only a few months after I had started running, I came across Anton Krupicka’s blog, Riding the Wind (which has since moved here). I was blown away at the level of mileage and types of runs he was doing.  These included 100 mile trail races, particularly his two wins at the Leadville 100 in 2006 and 2007.  Fast forward a year later and I did my first trail ultra marathon at the Cle Elum Ridge 50k in Washington state.  After that race I was hooked on trail running in general and ultra marathons specifically.

In the next 2 years, among 10-11 different trail races, I completed my first 50 miler at White River and ran the Speedgoat 50k.  As I struggled along trying to figure out the sport in addition to keeping up with my ambitious goals, I had much help from Yassine Diboun who coached me in 2011 and Joe Grant, who was my coach in 2012.  These two guys, while not only leading inspiring lives and racing all over the world, gave and continued to give sage advice on all aspects of mountain and trail running as well as in life.  I had originally planned to run my first 100 miler at the Bear 100 in September of 2013, but with a quickly growing family (2 adopted boys and 1 biological girl of now 5, 3 and 3) I didn’t feel confident enough or rested enough from a busy summer and lower volume training.  My running was still going well, with a 25th place at Pike’s Peak Marathon to show for it, but a little under 5 hours of running at Pike’s Peak did not necessarily indicate adequate fitness for 100 miles.

For 2014, I started things more aggressively than previous years, with longer races on the schedule earlier in the year.  Despite some setbacks in January with our then 2 year old girl being hospitalized for a week, I won my first trail race at the Wilson Creek 20 miler in Jan, ran the Moab Red Hot 55k (which went pretty rough) in Feb, ran a 45 mile winter race in Alaska in early March with a training focused 50k at the end of March,  and Zane grey 50 mile (shortened to 33 mi due to extremely cold and wet weather for that area) in April.  Although I was hoping for a full, tough 50 mile effort at Zane Grey to give me that confidence boost I needed for Bighorn on June 20th, training had gone well and I was healthy so it was time to take the leap.

Bighorn 100

The pre-race process for a 100 mile race is significantly more involved than that required for any other distance I’ve done.  There are medical check-ins, multiple drop bag locations to plan out (unless you have a crew to follow you all day and night, which I did not except for the turnaround aid, mile 48, and Dry Fork aid, miles 12 and 82), more extensive pre-race meetings and Bighorn included an extra 0.75 mile walk to get to the start area from where we could park.  It can be hard to keep yourself from getting too engrossed into the planning and check-in process which can easily rob energy from the limited stores of what you need for the race.

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Pre-Race meeting -  photo credit Aaron Harrell

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Pre-Race Family pic with Dad (Loren) and Mom (Sue) - photo credit Aaron Harrell

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Waiting for start -  photo credit Loren Henry

The forecast called for hot weather during the afternoon hours with potential for cold and thunder showers in the evening.  It felt pretty hot (I think ended up being mid 80′s which for June feels hot) heading up the nearly 4000ft climb out of Tongue River Canyon during the first 7 miles of the race, but I stayed hydrated using a Simple Hydration bottle and Hydrapack 500 ml softflask with inov-8 Race Ultra .25 handheld (that I kept collapsed until I filled it at the second aid station, knowing it was going to be a longer section the next one).  I also started getting my hair and body wet in any streams I could find after the first couple of hours.

About 5-6 miles in I hit my first and really only snafu during the race.  People always advise to expect the unexpected during 100 miles so I was prepared to deal with something during the day, but did not think it would be this early on.  I nearly always train and race without socks and had started the race in inov-8 Trailroc 245s. I’ve done 50 milers sockless in them and yet at mile 5 I started to feel a little bit of friction on the heel when going up steep sections. I tried to readjust a couple of times to get it to resolve with no luck and so made do by keeping the laces very loose until I could get to the mile 12 aid station (Dry Fork) and my first drop bag which had some socks and another pair of shoes.  In retrospect I think the issue was that I tied the shoes intentionally a little too loose to start to prevent them from getting them too tight on the tendons on the top of my foot. The result was too much heel slippage which, combined with the heat, caused some friction.  Anyway, I rolled with it, changed into my Nike Kigers (review here) with some thin socks, put a shirt and hat on (it was already feeling quite hot and I was concerned I might be too exposed in the next 18 miles till the next aid) and resumed down the rolling 4000+ feet of descent required to get to the Footbridge aid station at mile 30.

I vowed to keep things easy and take care of myself with regular water and gel intake and save my downhill legs for the second half of the race.  I ended up passing quite a few folks on this section and eventually caught a train of about 4-5 guys that I could have passed, but decided to just cool it and ride on in with them for the last 3 miles to Footbridge. Despite feeling really good at this point, I knew there were plenty of miles yet to come (this decision likely saved my race!).

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Coming into Dry Fork (shirtless) and heading out geared up for some more heat - photo credit Aaron Harrell

Early Carnage at Footbridge Aid

I wish I could have taken a picture when I rolled into the Footbridge aid station, but it looked like a triage station on a battlefield. Gear was strung everywhere and many runners looked quite awful which surprised me this early in the race. I made another shoe change into inov-8 X-Talon 212s (rightly anticipating more mud and less smooth trails for the next 32 miles) and switched my hydration to the inov-8 Race Ultra vest to simplify my bottle carrying scenario and to be able to carry some extra clothing as we were heading up to 9000ft and by the time I got there it would be dark. In the 8-10 min it took to change my gear I witnessed at least 3 people telling the aid station officials that they would not be continuing due to either heat/dehydration or bad feet and shot legs; quite early to be out of commission in a 100 mile race!

I left the aid station with just the vest on (no shirt) as it was now 6:00 pm or so, yet it was still hot out.  The climb up the Little Bighorn River drainage was spectacular, with beautiful views all the way up.  I took it easy and even listened to music for an hour or so during this section (something I rarely do, but brought on this race since I would be out there for so long).  I was nearly 4 miles from the turn around point (mile 48) at the Jaws Trailhead and it started to rain with lightning.   It went from an idyllic alpine stroll to an, “Oh crap, I’m cold and on an open exposed ridge during a lightning storm at 900o ft!” moment.  I put on all the extra clothes I had with me (essentially just gloves and inov-8 Stormshell 150 waterproof jacket) and ran a little quicker to the aid station where I found my mom and friend, Aaron, who were ready to crew and pace me at 11:00 pm in the dark and stormy night.  It is such a nice feeling to be exposed like that and then come upon an aid station and see those you know waiting to care for you.

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Pic of mom helping me get food while I changed - photo credit Aaron Harrell

Into the Night

Thankfully, I didn’t think much about heading back out into the middle of the night to run back down a 5000ft muddy descent to the Footbridge aid station.  I was just glad to have my pacer, Aaron, with me and we took off.  In a fun way, it felt like I was giving him a tour of the trail I had just come up on the way out, except, since it was dark so I had to describe to him what he would have seen had it been light.  The time passed quickly and we made really good time down this 18 mile section, passing many folks along the way.  I had the Petzl Ultra Rush headlamp and, at least for 100 milers, I feel like it is nearly indispensable despite its very expensive price tag ($400!). It puts out an extremely large and bright light that enabled me to run comfortably downhill in the dark and mud the whole way. We got into Footbridge and changed clothes back into shorts and T-shirts (from my 3/4 tights and long sleeve, which in hindsight, I probably should have not changed into at the turnaround).  I changed out of my X-Talons and into some dry Pearl Izumi Trail N1′s (the only dry pair of shoes I had left at this aid station, otherwise I didn’t feel I needed the PI’s) and headed out after a sausage patty, coffee and some peanut M&M’s at 5:00 am.

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Heading out from Footbridge aid at daybreak - photo credit Aaron Harrell

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Pacer, Aaron, very serious about his job - photo credit Aaron Harrell

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Sunrise climbing out of the Little Bighorn River drainage - photo credit Aaron Harrell

The Grind

The long 18 mile mostly uphill section from Footbridge (mile 66) back to Dry Fork aid (mile 82) was where the race started to feel like something new and different in some ways (I’d never gone further than 54 miles in one go before), but in many ways, it was very much the same.  Move forward, take an energy gel when I felt I could stomach one, drink, repeat.  Slowly, I made it to Cow Camp Aid (mile 76) and sat down for some food (bacon!) and Coke, while also eating another gel (I would eat over 50(!) gels over the course of the race). This process continued till I slowly picked away a the the remaining long extended uphill to Dry Fork where both my parents where waiting to encourage me on the last 18 miles.

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Cow Camp Bacon and Coke for brunch – photo credit Aaron Harrell

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Coming into Dry Fork (mile 82) - photo credit Loren Henry

The Weight of it All

As soon as I came into Dry Fork, I saw my parents and knew, because I wasn’t having any serious physical issues (aside from a small blister on my pinky toe), that I was going to finish the race.  The weight of the remaining 18 miles really came down all at once and I broke down emotionally.  I think for most of the race, I was just thinking of getting to the next aid station and did not really mentally project myself out that far ahead.  I could wrap my mind well around 18 miles and, being that I had already come up 12 of those 18 the day before, I knew exactly what lay ahead and the weight of it fell pretty hard.  My Mom was all geared up to pace me those final 18 miles of the race and I knew there was nothing left to do but get going so I returned mentally to the task of just moving forward to the next aid station, drinking, eating and taking care of myself in the now mid-day heat (again, returning to getting wet in any stream crossings).

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Trying to figure out how socks work ;) and fixing blister issues with one last shoe change - photo credit Loren Henry

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The weight of the remaining 18 miles was hitting me pretty hard but my Mom continued encouraging me - photo credit Loren Henry

The End of the Road

After running down the final 8 mile 4000ft descent (so grateful I was still able to run the flats and downhills at this point) I came out of the Tongue River Canyon Trailhead and onto the final 5 miles of gravel road to the town of Dayton, Wyoming where the finish would be in the park.  While I can’t say the road was easy and it seemingly took forever to cover the 5 miles, I ran most of the way and tried to savor what I could of the final miles of such a long adventure.

I was truly thankful and had so much gratitude that my body was heathy enough and my family (wife and 3 kids were at home) supportive enough to allow me to take on the task of running 100 miles in the Bighorn Mountains.  It was also encouraging to see all the runners who ran the 30k (which started at Dry Fork and ran to the finish, 18 miles down the mountain) on the road, each pushing themselves to the end of a long run.

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Pic #13 Running on the road with the 30k runners; photo credit Loren Henry

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Head down (so I couldn’t see how far the road stretched out ahead of me ;) ) and my Mom encouraging along the way; photo credit Loren Henry

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Finish! photo credit Aaron Harrell

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Cleaning off in the river  photo credit Loren Henry

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Wiped out just over an hour after finishing – photo credit Loren Henty

Take Away Nearly Two Months Later

It was interesting to me that the event felt less substantial to my memory the week or two after, but as time when on, I was able to realize and grasp more of what the effort took from me and understand the magnitude of it better.  The physical recovery process went pretty well with no injuries or issues, but it took at least 4-5 weeks to get back energy levels and feel good running over 2 hours in length again.  Nearly two months out now, I’m already looking forward to planning another 100 for next year.  With Bighorn, I qualified for both the Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 lotteries, so will put in for those.  Both races are notoriously hard to get into, so it is not likely that I will get in to either so the plan is probably to head over to Japan in April (my brother and his family will be living there for this next year for his work so will be a chance to visit them as well) and run the Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji, a 105 mile circumnavigation of Mt. Fuji with everything from road running to technical mountain running and a cumulative elevation gain of around 30,000 ft (!).  All said, I’m incredibly grateful to have had the chance to run a 100 mile trail race and, although the effort and preparation can be daunting, the journey was well worth it.

Finisher Belt Buckle – photo credit Loren Henry

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5 Observations On Running in Hokas From a More Minimal-Leaning Runner http://runblogger.com/2014/09/5-observations-on-running-in-hokas-from-a-more-minimal-leaning-runner.html http://runblogger.com/2014/09/5-observations-on-running-in-hokas-from-a-more-minimal-leaning-runner.html#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5788

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Over the past few weeks I’ve put about 30 miles on a pair of Hoka Clifton shoes, making it the first pair of Hokas that I’ve logged more than a single run in. As a more minimal-oriented runner I was quite curious to see how I’d fare in a shoe at the more maximal end of the spectrum (at least in terms of softness if not total stack height). The experience has been an interesting one so far and has given me a lot to think about. I plan to write up a full review of the Cliftons soon, but wanted to share a few thoughts on my general experience of running in them. I’m also curious to see if others coming from a more minimal background have felt similarly about running in soft, cushy shoes like the Clifton. Here goes!

Hoka Clifton

1. They don’t seem to alter my form much. My cadence seems to have stayed right around it’s typical range. If anything, I actually feel like I may be a bit more up on my forefoot when running in the Cliftons, and this is supported by the fact that most of my sole wear so far extends from the midfoot forward. Not sure if this is because of the rockered sole (the sole is slightly curved so that the forefoot and heel angle up a bit from the midfoot – you can see this in the image above), or that the heel feels so soft that my body wants to avoid landing directly on it. The Clifton is a bit lower profile than some of the other Hoka models (stack height is 29mm heel, 23mm forefoot), but I recall feeling similarly about my one run in an old pair of Mafates (a big, cushy Hoka). My money is on the sole rocker being the major factor here. Anyone else feel this way about Hokas with regard to foot strike?

2. I like them better on trails than on roads. This is counterintuitive to me as I would expect a soft shoe to feel better on a harder surface, but I’ve generally enjoyed running on a trail surface in them more than running on asphalt or concrete

3. Stability has been fine except when I step on an edge. Again, the Cliftons don’t have as much sole thickness as some other Hokas, but they don’t feel like an unstable shoe to me. That being said, there have been a few times when I’ve stepped on the edge of a sidewalk and rolled my ankle a bit – the wide sole base and resulting long lever arm relative to the ankle probably plays a role here. On a trail they pretty much seem to conform to irregular ground debris by squishing over whatever I step on. You don’t feel much underfoot due to the soft, deformable sole.

4. The ankle collar feels a bit high. I’ve heard others say this about some Hoka models, and I think what my be happening is as the foot sinks into the soft midsole it causes a sensation of the ankle collar being higher than in other shoes.

5. Here’s my biggest observation – when I run roads in the Cliftons I feel like I’m working a lot harder than I should be at my easy pace. I think this is where the fact that I tend to be adapted to more minimal footwear comes into play, as I felt the same way about running in the Skechers GoRun Ultra (probably the most comparable shoe to the Clifton that I have used for more than a few runs). The Cliftons feel really soft in the midfoot and heel, and this seems to take some of the pop out of my stride. Conversely, on one run when I picked up the pace a bit they felt better, perhaps because I was more up on the front of the shoe. I’m wondering if this would change if I gave them more time, but my body seems to like firmer, more responsive footwear. The question for me is whether that’s because those are the shoes I’m used to, or if there is something inherent to my stride that makes me prefer a lower profile shoe. I’d love to see a study look at oxygen consumption in runners with various footwear backgrounds in their typical shoes versus in a super soft shoe like the Clifton.

How about you? Would love to hear about your experience running in Hokas – leave a comment!

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