Runblogger» running shoe review http://runblogger.com Running Shoes, Gear Reviews, and Posts on the Science of the Sport Fri, 19 Sep 2014 21:36:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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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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Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra Trail Shoe Review http://runblogger.com/2014/08/salomon-sense-3-ultra-trail-shoe-review.html http://runblogger.com/2014/08/salomon-sense-3-ultra-trail-shoe-review.html#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:00:47 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5570

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Salomon Sense 3 Ultra lugsEarlier this year I wrote a review of the Salomon Sense Pro trail shoe. In that review I said that the Sense Pro “…feels like a racing flat built for the trails.” While I’d still stand by that description, having now run over 50 miles in the Salomon Sense 3 Ultra I’d say that though the two shoes are similar in many ways, the Ultra has an even more racing flat-like feel. And given my preference for fast-riding flats on the road, it’ll probably come as no surprise that I have loved running in the Sense Ultras on dirt roads and trails.

I spent two weeks in late July/early August coaching at the Craftsbury running camps up in northern Vermont. While there, I did almost all of my non-asphalt running in the Sense 3 Ultra (which was the majority of the miles I ran). Terrain included single-track trails and lots of rocky dirt roads, and even a 5K race that was mostly single-track (brutal but fun!). I was able to put the shoes to the test, and aside from developing a wicked stench they performed marvelously. In fact, I may like them even more than their “Pro” cousin (Disclosure: these shoes were a personal purchase during a shoe-sale induced moment of weakness).

The Sense 3 Ultra is in essence a low-profile trail shoe built for running fast off-road. Per Running Warehouse it weighs in at 7.8oz in men’s size 9, and has a stack height of 19mm heel, 14mm forefoot (heads up – a bunch of Salmon shoes, including the Ultra, are currently on sale through 9/1 at Running Warehouse). In contrast, the Sense Pro is about 1.5oz heavier and adds 3mm of stack to the forefoot and heel. So it’s just a bit more shoe than the Ultra. For another comparison, the stack height of the Saucony A6 road racing flat is 17mm heel, 13mm forefoot, so pretty similar to the Ultra.

Salomon Sense 3 Ultra

Upper Construction

The upper of the Sense 3 Ultra, which again is very similar to that of the Sense Pro, is very nicely constructed and has a feeling of quality about it (which it should for an MSRP of $160). The top of the forefoot and small portions along the midfoot are composed of a tight mesh and there are extensive welded overlays covering much of the upper (including a welded rand along the junction between the upper and sole). Given the amount of upper covered by overlays, this is not a terribly breathable shoe (might explain Endofit Tonguemy stench issues). Unfortunately, though I’ve soaked the shoes running in wet grass and rain, I never fully submerged them so cannot comment on drainage. The toe bumper is flexible yet provides good protection.

The “Endofit” tongue of the Ultra (see image at left) wraps around both sides of the foot and attaches to the footbed at the junction of the upper and sole. Same design as in the Sense Pro (did I mention they were similar shoes?), and it helps to keep debris away from the foot (though grit does tend to collect between the upper and tongue). This Endofit design hugs the foot and contributes to the performance feel of the shoe. As with the Sense Pro, the Ultra has speed laces which work well for me, though they are a bit longer than necessary. There is a pouch at the top of the tongue that can be used to tuck away slack – it’s a bit hard to access after cinching the laces tight but you can get them in there with a bit of fiddling around.

Fit

Salomon Sense Pro vs. UltraI’d describe the fit of the Ultra as racing-flat snug. Perhaps a bit snugger than the fit of the Sense Pro, particularly up front (see comparison photo at left). However, for some reason both shoes seem to work well on my feet and I haven’t had any blistering, abrasion, or excessive toe squeezing. I haven’t run ultra distance in these shoes (my max in them is 10 miles) so that would be a better test of fit with extended wear, but I’ve had no issues with comfort so far.

Sole Construction

The sole of the Sense 3 Ultra is low-profile and firm, which contributes to the fast feel. The outsole is thin with small triangular lugs, so weight of the sole is not excessive (an issue I had with the Merrell AllOut Rush that I reviewed last week). This is not going to be a go-to shoe for running in mud, but traction was adequate for the types of terrain I’ve run on in them (single-track, grassy cross country ski trails, dirt roads).

Salomon Sense 3 Ultra sole

In terms of protection, the Profeel-film rock plate (gray areas seen in the forefoot cutouts in the image above) did a good job handling roots and rocks, never had any issues stepping on hard stuff on the trails.

Salomon Sense 3 Ultra Top

Conclusion

The Salomon Sense 3 Ultra is a low-profile, lightweight shoe that feels fast on the trails. I’ve enjoyed nearly every mile I’ve run in them, with my only real complaints being that they are a tad snug and they have developed a hard-to-kill stink. If you have wide feet, look elsewhere, but if you like a performance fit for cruising in the woods, these would be a great option.

The Salomon Sense 3 Ultra (and several other Salomon shoes) are currently on sale through 9/1 at Running Warehouse. In the US it is also available at Zappos (currently on sale) and Amazon. Outside the US it can be purchased from Wiggle (currently on sale there a well). Purchases made via these links help to support the production of reviews like this one – thanks!

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Merrell AllOut Rush Trail Shoe Review http://runblogger.com/2014/08/merrell-allout-rush-trail-shoe-review.html http://runblogger.com/2014/08/merrell-allout-rush-trail-shoe-review.html#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 12:30:06 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=5361

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Merrell AllOut RushI first saw the Merrell AllOut Rush at a meeting with the brand in Spring 2013. They were introducing the new AllOut line, and the emphasis was on added cushion while retaining some of the features that people like about the Merrell Barefoot/M-Connect collections. I was intrigued by the shoes since I’ve always felt that shoes like the Merrell Bare Access we just a bit too firm for my road running taste – add a bit of softer cushion and they’d be a great match for me.

I received the AllOut Rush last winter (Disclosure: these were media samples provided free of charge by Merrell), and it’s taken me a long time to get to this review. The main reason is because my experience with the shoes has been rather mixed. However, I believe in writing honest reviews, so I’m going to lay out my feelings on them here. I’d also be curious to hear about your experience with the Rush if you’ve tried them.

Merrell AllOut Rush side

Most of my initial runs in the AllOut Rush were during last winter, and so were on a mix of packed snow, ice, and intermittent bare asphalt. Though traction was good, the shoes just did not feel right on my feet. My expectation was a cushier ride given the added sole stack relative to other Merrell models I have run in, but the shoes felt surprisingly firm under all conditions, and particularly harsh on the stretches of road that I had to cover (and in fairness tom Merrell, this is not intended as a road shoe). I stopped running in them for a long time as a result. Last month I spent two weeks in northern Vermont and decided to take the shoes with me for a second chance – my feelings remained pretty similar, too firm a running shoe for my taste even on dirt roads and trails. It’s worth noting that Thomas Neuberger over at Believe in the Run had similar feelings about the ride of this shoe. (However, as I’ll get to below, I have found them to be great casual and light hiking shoes.)

While on the subject of cushion, there is some discrepancy between what Merrell reports for stack height (24.5mm heel, 18.5mm forefoot) vs. what Running Warehouse reports (28mm heel, 17mm forefoot). I just measured my pair and got 23mm heel, 16mm forefoot, but they have been broken in so my numbers are likely closer to Merrell’s numbers if it were a fresh shoe.

Merrell AllOut Rush sole

One thing to note about the stack height numbers in this shoe, and I think this influences the ride considerably, is that 8.5mm of the stack height is attributable to the luggy, rubber outsole. Simply stated, there is a lot of rubber on the bottom of this shoe. Much of the outsole is also continuous Merrell AllOut sole inserts– there are no breaks for flex grooves, so it makes it hard to compress the midsole in any given spot. I’m wondering if this helps to contribute to the firm-feeling ride. Merrell did also include firmer midsole plates under the heel and forefoot (see photo at right) and this might further add to the firm feel.

One of the issues that arises with the extensive outsole on this shoe is that it affects the way the shoe is balanced from a weight standpoint. Running Warehouse reports a weight of 9.1oz in men’s size 9 for the Rush, so it’s not a terribly heavy shoe. However, much of this weight is localized in the outsole, so it feels heavy under the foot. If I had to recommend a change for future iterations of the Rush it would be to maybe add some flex grooves to the outsole, or at least break it up in some way to reduce weight and improve the ability to compress the midsole cushion. I’m curious to try the Merrell AllOut Flash since it seems to incorporate many of these wishes (though it is a more road-oriented shoe).

Merrell AllOut Rush PuckeringOne final, minor complaint about the Rush before we get to the good stuff. When my buddy Nate got these shoes he notice that the forefoot upper tends to pucker when you cinch down the laces at the bottom of the lace row. He has narrower feet than me so the puckering was quite apparent. I have noticed this as well but on a much smaller scale and it has not interfered with comfort in my case (you can see the puckering in the photo to the left).

Given what I’ve written so far it might sound like the AllOut Rush was a total disaster for me. For running, yes, I’d say it has not been a good match. However, I have used the Rush extensively as a casual shoe and for light hiking, and for both purposes it has been excellent (and it’s also a great looking shoe from a design standpoint). My sense is really that the Rush should have been marketed more as a light hiker than as a trail running shoe because it excels in this area. I’ve done multiple short hikes in them, and the firmness ceases to be an issue. Furthermore, the extensive outsole becomes a plus for protection and grip on the trail. The weight balance also feels more boot-like than running-shoe like and so the Rush feels more at home in the hiking environment.

Another thing I really like about the Rush is the fit. The shoe fits like a typical Merrell Barefoot shoe (e.g., like the Bare Access or Trail Glove) so it has a nice, snug fit in the heel through forefoot and a great, roomy toebox. I particularly love that the Merrell toebox is accommodating near the big toe – you can see in the photo below how the forefoot does not curve inward abruptly in this area as it does in many other shoes. This allows for solid toe splay, and makes the shoes very comfortable for all-day wear.

Merrell AllOut Rush top

The upper of the Rush is minimally structured but is made of a relatively thick material. It does a good job of keeping the foot warm, and makes this a great all-around casual cool-weather shoe. And in winter the lugs make it great for walks in the snow and over crusty ice.

Conclusions

The Merrell AllOut Rush did not work out well for me as a running shoe – it felt too firm underfoot and I felt like the weight-balance was more boot-like than running shoe-like. However, due to its comfortable fit and performance as a light hiker and winter casual shoe, the Rush will likely remain on my shoe rack for the foreseeable future. If you like a firm feeling, luggy trail shoe with a fair amount of stack height, then the Merrell AllOut Rush might be worth a shot (we all have different preference!).

Purchasing Options

The Merrell AllOut Rush is available for purchase in the US from Running Warehouse, in multiple colorways at Zappos, and at Amazon.com. Outside of the US it can be purchased at Amazon UK or one of the many Merrell country-specific websites (e.g. Merrell UK here, Merrell Canada here). Purchases from these retailers provide a small commission to this site and help me to keep pumping out reviews like this one – your support is much appreciated!

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Skechers GoMeb Speed 2 Review: A Solid Distance Racing Flat http://runblogger.com/2014/07/skechers-gomeb-speed-2-review-a-solid-distance-racing-flat.html http://runblogger.com/2014/07/skechers-gomeb-speed-2-review-a-solid-distance-racing-flat.html#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:30:35 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=4615

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Skechers GoMeb Speed 2

By David Henry

Skechers got a big boost when Meb Keflezighi won the Boston marathon earlier this year. For a brand that has been historically known more for casual shoes and kids shoes, having an elite American marathoner win Boston in their footwear was evidence that the Skechers Performance Division is making legitimate running shoes. They’ve since signed Kara Goucher as well, and are making a push to further develop their performance line.

In this post I’ll be taking a look at the Skechers GoMeb Speed 2, which is the Skechers Performance Division’s racing flat. The shoe has been out for a while now (Meb wore a v3 protoype in Boston this year), but it’s a shoe I’ve really enjoyed running in, and I wanted to share my thoughts.

Shoe Specs

Price: $110 MSRP (they can be found many places for $60-80 currently though)

Colorways: 4 colors (3 standard colors and 1 NY marathon Limited Edition)

Weight:  6.8 oz/193 g in size 9 mens; 8.11 oz/230 g in my size 13 men’s; and 5.6 oz/158 g in size 8 for women (stats via Skechers.com)

Stack Height: 18 mm Heel; 14 mm Forefoot stack height for both men and women

Appearance & Design

The GoMeb Speed 2 is clean shoe with some flair – it looks the part of a racing shoe.  It’s not the best looking shoe out there, but I’m not turned off by it either.  The design of the shoe is simple and somewhat traditional for a racing flat. It has a single layer mesh upper with light overlays that are welded on for a seamless fit.  It does have a heel counter - I have not had any problems with it.

Skechers GoMeb Speed 2

The midsole and outsole are one in the same except for some circular “Go Impulse Sensors” of rubber from the midfoot to forefoot.  It also has a plate in the midfoot to provide some structure and pop to the shoe.

Skechers GoMeb Speed Sole

To hear more about their design philosophy with the GoMeb 2, here is a video featuring Kurt Stockbridge from the Skechers Performance Division:

Materials & Construction

Skechers GoMeb Speed 2 upperThe upper is made of a monofilament mesh that is soft to the touch, but doesn’t stretch much (which I like in a racing shoe).

The midsole is Skechers’ proprietary Resalyte compound and it feels quite resilient (meaning it bounces back well; for example when you push your finger into the side of the midsole it will spring back quickly; some midsoles do not do this. New Balance’s RevLite comes to mind as a foam that is not very resilient). According to Skechers the midsole compound is a 57c firmness. I don’t have enough reference points to compare this to (other than the GoRun 3 is 50c, as are most other Skechers shoes, and the GoRun Ride 3 is 47c – lower numbers indicate softer shoes), but the shoe feels fairly dense and firm underfoot (although I don’t feel like it is a super firm when compared to many racing shoes; more on that below).

Fit

From some discussions on the internet with others who have tried the shoe on or run in it, the relatively narrow fit seems to be the biggest deal breaker. For me, the fit is fairly good for a racing shoe.  It fits snugly throughout and holds the foot well.  At speed, it is very comfortable and I would have no issues running a marathon (or further) in them.  Others have reported that the shoe was too narrow and tight.  I should say that I almost always run without socks and this can make a big difference (especially depending on the thickness of socks you choose) with fit for a shoe like this.

If I were to change anything about the fit, it would be to give it just a little more width in the forefoot. The shoe did fit about a 1/4 size long on me so I would shorten that up and make the shape a little less pointed. I’ve spoken with Kurt from Skechers a bit about the shoe and these two tweaks are something that the team there is strongly considering for future versions of the Speed (Editor’s note from Pete: I have run in prototypes of the GoMeb Speed 3 and the fit is much better on my foot – I was one who found the 2 to be a bit too narrow).

Skechers GoMeb Speed 2 sole

Skechers GoMeb Speed 2 Sole – 80 miles of wear

Ride

This is where the Speed 2 really shines.  While the shoe is firm enough to feel fast and racy, the team at Skechers Performance managed to make it very forgiving and somehow substantial enough to be a very practical marathon shoe (I really see this as a long run racing shoe because of the stack height, not a 5k/10k shoe, though it would be fine for those as well).  I just took them on another 8 mile run and even at an easy pace of 7:30-8:00/mi they feel as smooth as butter. This holds all the way to 5k race pace for me (have yet to take them on the track, but I have no reason to assume they would perform poorly there either). Many racing flats I’ve tried do not feel that great at 8:00 pace (many adidas adizero shoes for example feel fine at 6:30 and under, but somewhat stiff/harsh at slower paces).

I really appreciated the higher stack height (14mm forefoot/18mm heel) for a shoe of this weight. Plus, the foam is dense enough that it feels quite protective. The shoe feels rather level as you would infer from its 4mm offset, but still has a great dynamic feel and it transitions very smoothly and quickly from midfoot to forefoot.  I don’t heel strike much so can’t completely comment on how it would ride for those who do, but given the 18mm stack and density of the midsole, I would guess it would be more than capable of handling a more rear foot strike (Meb himself, after all, seems to land more rear foot from most pics I’ve seen).

Lastly, the addition of the Dupont Hytrel shank in the midfoot really helps this shoe feel more structured for the weight (you can see the shank in the central sole cutout in the photo above). I think without that, as the midsole broke down, the shoe would feel progressively more dead.  As it is, it rides a great line between flexible and substantial for a racing shoe.

Overall Impressions

I will be as bold to say that the Skechers GoMeb Speed 2 is quite possibly the best racing shoe I’ve run in. It is very versatile with its relatively higher stack and level of cushion. It can handle longer runs, but at 6.8 oz it is light enough to feel great (and downright comfy) even at 5k pace. This is not as true for me of other racing shoes I’ve run in like the Adidas Hagio, NB RC1600, and inov-8 Road-X Lite 155. They all are much thinner and very firm – they feel fast, but don’t offer nearly as comfortable a ride as the Speed 2 does.

Skechers GoMeb Speed 2 side

If Skechers can continue to refine the GoMeb Speed, I see it slowly rising to the top of the pack for marathon racing options. Additionally, and very important to me, it is one of very few true marathon racing shoes I know of that comes in at a 4mm offset; the Adios 2/Boost, Nike Streak 5, New Balance 1400v2, etc. all seem to be solidified at a 10mm drop.  I’m very impressed with the Speed 2 and would wholeheartedly recommend it.  I’m also excited to give the Speed 3 (the shoe Meb wore to win Boston this year) a try to see what improvements have been implemented for that shoe.  I believe it is to launch in November 2014.

Purchasing Options

The Skechers GoMeb Speed 2 is available for purchase at 6PM.com for as low as $44.99 right now (6PM is the Zappos clearance site – the shoe has been out for awhile and is being updated in the Fall). It is also available at Shoebuy.com for both men and women (you can take 20% off with code 20July). Purchases from these sites help to support Runblogger and help us to publish detailed reviews like this one – your support is very much appreciated!

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New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Review: Firm, Responsive, and A Bit Pointy http://runblogger.com/2014/07/new-balance-fresh-foam-980-review-firm-responsive-and-a-bit-pointy.html http://runblogger.com/2014/07/new-balance-fresh-foam-980-review-firm-responsive-and-a-bit-pointy.html#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 17:28:26 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=4813

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New Balance Fresh Foam 980 heelThe New Balance Fresh Foam 980 seems to be a shoe experiencing a slight identity crisis – it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as I like shoes that are innovative and buck the traditional mold for a running shoe, but I think the marketing of this shoe has contributed to some of the confusion.

The tagline that New Balance has chosen in marketing the Fresh Foam is “Experience the Science of Soft.” This suggests that the shoe is going to offer a cushy ride, and it has resulted in some people (probably me included) thinking that the shoe is New Balance’s answer to maximalist running. In fairness, New Balance would probably not agree with this positioning, and on their product page for the Fresh Foam they do say “With a lower midsole for a more natural underfoot feel, the Fresh Foam is incredibly soft yet stable…” So is it soft and cushy? Maximal? Natural?

Let’s try and clear the air a little bit.

New Balance Fresh Foam 980

Is It Maximal?

Going solely on specs, the Fresh Foam 980 is clearly not a “maximal” shoe. With a stack height of 25mm heel, 21mm forefoot and a weight of 9.1 oz it’s actually pretty similar to shoes like the Saucony Kinvara, Brooks Pureflow, and Asics Gel Lyte33, all of which could be considered lightweight trainers. And perhaps most perplexingly to me is the fact that the Fresh Foam doesn’t really feel all that soft. To me, the Kinvara 5 is a much softer shoe. This isn’t a bad thing, I just think the Fresh Foam has been poorly marketed.

Construction and Ride

So what does the Fresh Foam feel like? To me it actually feels like a semi-firm, responsive lightweight trainer. I’ve put about 55 miles on my pair (these were a personal purchase at my local running store), including a long run of 16 miles, and have come away quite impressed with nearly everything except for the fit up front (which I’ve managed to make work via an insole swap – see below).

The only time I get any real sensation of softness running in the Fresh Foam is when I force a hard heel strike. The back of the heel does compress nicely, and feels somewhat like a cushy shoe like the Nike Pegasus. But with my mild heel strike the shoe actually feels pretty firm – it runs very smooth and is very stable under the forefoot. I’d almost compare the ride to something like the Pearl Izumi N1, which is an extremely firm shoe.

New Balance Fresh Foam 980 top

The upper of the Fresh Foam is composed of a breathable mesh, and it has plush cushioning around the ankle collar and tongue. There is a plastic heel counter. Nothing really fancy about the upper. Seems durable and well made.

The smooth ride that the shoe provides is likely a combination of the full contact outsole and the geometry of the forefoot. There’s almost a slight rocker sensation under the toe. I think the contour is necessary since the Fresh Foam isn’t very flexible – it still allows for a smooth transition.

New Balance Fresh Foam 980 sole

Fit

As I mentioned in a previous post, my biggest complaint (only major complaint really) about the Fresh Foam is the shape of the tip of the toebox. It’s too pointy, and it forces my big toe inward (compare the Fresh Foam toebox shape to the Salomon Sense Pro below; I even went a half size up in the Fresh Foam to try and improve fit). This led to some abrasion between my toes and significant blistering on a long run. It’s the only shoe that has caused me to experience toe blisters in a few years.

Fresh Foam Pointy Toebox

Since writing that post I have managed to resolve the issue enough to make it comfortable by swapping the stock 4.5mm insole for a 3mm Inov-8 insole. The latter has become a great tool for me when I need to create a bit more space inside a shoe. A 1.5mm difference in thickness doesn’t seem like a lot, but it improved comfort dramatically in this case. The Inov-8 insoles are the only thin, flat insoles I am aware of that can be purchased independently of shoes ($10 at Zappos; if you know of any others, please leave a comment!).

I have heard rumors that New Balance will be addressing toebox fit in the next iteration of the shoe. I hope they do, as it’s the only thing that really prevents me from strongly recommending it. If you have narrow feet, it probably won’t be a big deal. Unfortunately, pointy toeboxes seem to be present on several current New Balance shoes – I returned the MT00v2 due to poor fit, and Nate Sanel was unimpressed by the fit of the new MT110v2 for similar reasons. This is disappointing given how well the New Balance Minimus shoes fit up front.

New Balance Fresh Foam 980 medial

Conclusion

The New Balance Fresh Foam is not a maximal shoe. It’s not a particularly soft shoe. Rather, it’s a 4mm drop lightweight trainer that offers a responsive ride and a smooth transition. If it fit my foot better I’d definitely consider it as an option for marathons, but the pointy toebox creates a bit too much of a toe blistering risk for me over long distance (not too mention I don’t like my toes being scrunched together). Swapping out the insole for a thinner one has helped significantly, and I think New Balance has a winner here if they make a few small tweaks in v2.

If you have a narrowish foot and like a firm and responsive shoe, the New Balance Fresh Foam 980 is definitely worth a try.

Purchasing Options

The New Balance Fresh Foam 980 is available for purchase (MSRP $110) at your local running store, or on-line at Running Warehouse, Zappos, and Amazon.com. Outside of the US they are available at Sport Chek (Canada) and Wiggle.co.uk (UK and Europe). Disclosure: Runblogger.com receives a small commission from purchases made via these retailers – your support is very much appreciated!

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Nike Zoom Pegasus 31 Running Shoe Review http://runblogger.com/2014/06/nike-zoom-pegasus-31-running-shoe-review.html http://runblogger.com/2014/06/nike-zoom-pegasus-31-running-shoe-review.html#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:01:00 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=4612

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Nike Pegasus 31For a long time I would not have considered trying a shoe like the Nike Pegasus. I generally like shoes that are lighter and lower profile, but over the past couple of years I’ve come to realize that a higher drop shoe will work fine for me if it has a relatively soft heel. I think a soft heel alters the functional drop of a shoe for me – compression of the heel under weight makes the drop feel lower than it actually is.

My first experience with the Nike Pegasus came when I bought a pair of the Peg 29 for a consulting project I was working on. I tried them on at a Nike outlet and was surprised by how comfortable they were (I often have trouble with Nike’s being too narrow). They had a very soft feel underfoot, and I couldn’t help but take them for a run. On the run they felt great, but I started to experience some abrasion along the ball behind my right big toe. This is very common for me in shoes that have a soft forefoot – I tend to pronate more on my right side and have a tendency to cave in the inner border of shoes with soft forefoot midsoles. You can see this phenomenon in action in the video below:

When Nike released the Peg 31 I had heard from fellow shoe geeks that they made the shoe a bit firmer, particularly under the forefoot. Given my experience with the Peg 29, I couldn’t resist giving them a try – a similar ride with a more stable forefoot might just do the trick. A few weeks ago I headed over to my local running store to try a pair on. They fit well and felt good underfoot, so I brought them home with me (Disclosure: these shoes were a personal purchase).

Specs

I’ve now run almost 50 miles in the Nike Pegasus 31, and overall I have to say I’m incredibly impressed. By specs, the Peg 31 is very much a conventionally structured running shoe with a lot of cushion. My size 10 pair weighs in at just over 10.5 oz, and Running Warehouse lists the stack at 31mm heel, 18mm forefoot (the 4-5 mm thick insole adds a bit more to that) Note that Nike claims 10mm drop for the Peg – I had a hard time measuring due to the integrated upper liner so could not confirm, but I think it’s higher than 10mm. In any case, the Peg 31 is probably the highest drop shoe that I’ve put this many miles on since 2009-2010.

Nike Pegasus 31 side

Ride

What’s surprised me the most about the Pegasus is that the shoe doesn’t feel like a 12mm+ drop shoe. I can go put on an old pair of Asics Kayanos (probably from 2008) and feel the high drop, but not so much in the Peg. It think the difference is in the softness – my old Kayano feels hard and stiff, more like I’m standing on a wooden ramp. My heel sinks into the sole of the Peg and gives it a cushy, lower drop feel. Similar experiences with shoes like the adidas Adios Boost and New Balance 1400v2 have really changed how I use drop data to choose shoes to try and review. I’ve come to think of static drop as a number that describes unloaded sole dimensions, and it’s thus not always a good descriptor of how a shoe feels on the run.

Nike Pegasus 31 medial

On the run, the Peg 31 feels cushy under the heel (there is a zoom air unit under the heel), and the forefoot stability is much improved over the Peg 29’s in the video above. I haven’t taken any video of myself in the 31’s, but I haven’t had any issues with ball of foot abrasion which suggests that the problem has been fixed. They also just feel firmer and more responsive under the forefoot.

I’ve done two runs of over 10 miles in the Peg 31’s, and they worked very well for the long stuff if you like a cushy ride. It’s still a bit more shoe than I’d choose to race a marathon in, but for easy runs they feel great. The closest comparison I can come up with is the New Balance Fresh Foam 980 (review coming soon!). And between those two I’d take the Peg 31 due to a better fit up front (the Fresh Foam has a very pointy toebox).

Nike Pegasus 31 top

Fit and Upper

Regarding fit, the Peg 31 fits my average width feet snugly but not uncomfortably in my usual size 10. I typically go up a half size in Nikes (e.g., all Nike Frees), but that was not necessary in these. I did find the forefoot a bit constricting in terms of volume while sitting, but once you stand up you compress the sole a bit and it opens things up. I also swapped out the included insole for a thinner one for my first few runs to break the shoe in a bit, then put the original insole back in. This is a practice I often adopt in shoes with a slightly tight fit.

Nike Pegasus 31 forefootOne of the things I like most about the Peg 31 is the upper. It’s a thing of beauty – Nike knows how to make a great-looking shoe, and this one is no exception. Might be one of the best looking shoes I have in my collection right now.

The forefoot is composed of engineered mesh that allows some stretch (see photo at left), which helps to improve the fit. Internally, the upper is lined by a bootie-like layer that is truly seamless from the midfoot forward. It’s incredibly comfortable, and feels great without socks. The only problem I have had is some abrasion at the base of my big toenails on both sides – I think this comes from some reinforcement of the upper over the big toe (I can’t see it internally, but the material is slightly thicker in this area). Interestingly, I have only had this issue with the included insoles – swapping them out for something thinner must create just enough space to reduce any rubbing that is occurring.

Outsole

I’ve already covered sole feel pretty well, but a few comments are warranted about the outsole. There is a lot of rubber under this shoe, and as a result I expect durability shoe be quite good. I’d guess you will see the softish midsole start to break down before you eat through the rubber outsole. One thing I like about the outsole design is that there is a horizontal break that creates a flex groove between the midfoot and forefoot (between the yellow and black areas in the photo below), and another about midway forward on the forefoot. This gives the Peg fairly decent flexibility.

Nike Zoom Pegasus 31 sole

Conclusion

The Nike Pegasus really surprised me – it’s been a long time since I’ve run a decent number of miles in a more traditionally structured running shoe, and the Peg 31 has been working really well. It’s a great looking shoe that offers a cushy heel and responsive forefoot, and that’s a good combo for me. It’s more shoe than I’d use in a race, but for eating up easy miles it’s a fine choice.

Purchasing Options

The Nike Pegasus 31 is available for purchase at Running Warehouse and Nike.com (or your local running specialty store). Outside of the US they are available at Wiggle (UK).

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Asics Gel Lyte33 v3 Running Shoe Review http://runblogger.com/2014/06/asics-gel-lyte33-v3-running-shoe-review.html http://runblogger.com/2014/06/asics-gel-lyte33-v3-running-shoe-review.html#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:30:28 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=4508

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Asics Gel Lyte33I reviewed version 2 of the Asics Gel Lyte33 last year and liked it a lot. It had a roomy fit, softish sole, moderate drop (6mm) and it worked really well for easy and long runs. As such, when offered a chance to try version 3 of the Gel Lyte33 I was happy to do so.

(Disclosure: these shoes were review samples provided free of charge by Asics).

The Lyte33 v3 retains almost everything I liked about v2, and manages to do so while dropping an ounce or two in weight (my pair in size 10 weighs in at only 7.4oz). The sole dimensions are the same (23mm heel, 17mm forefoot), and the weight loss comes from a combo of the new, more minimally structured upper, what appear to be thinner outsole pods, and a change in the compound that composes the midsole (full Solyte rather than a Solyte/SpEVA blend in version 3). It’s a solid shoe, but suffers from a flaw that I’ll detail below.

Fit and Upper

My first impression upon putting on the Gel Lyte33 v3 is that it felt even roomier than the previous model. The forefoot is downright spacious, and offers a ton of room for the toes to wiggle and spread. I love the fit.

Asics Gel Lyte33 top

The new upper is lighter and more breathable, both also big pluses. Asics has done away with the stitched-on overlays from v2 and replaced them with welded overlays, and this makes for a much lighter and more minimally structured upper. The shoe also has no plastic heel counter, so it’s one that I often recommend to people who have insertional Achilles tendon pain (sometimes a hard heel counter can aggravate this).

My only concern with the new upper is that it’s made of the type of synthetic mesh that sometimes seems more prone to tearing at the forefoot flex points. I haven’t had any issues with my pair (a bit over 40 miles on them), but it’s something to keep in mind.

Internally the shoe has a soft, comfortable lining and I have not had any issues with abrasion or blistering.

Sole

Asics Gel Lyte33 sole

The sole of the Lyte33 v3 is where things get a bit problematic for me. I want to love this shoe, and for the most part I’ve really enjoyed running in them. I’ve done up to 14 miles in a single run, and I really like the amount of cushion that this shoe provides in a lightweight package. I’d classify it as a very soft shoe, probably softer than the Saucony Kinvara. Closest comparison might be something like the Altra The One2 (in terms of both fit and feel).

My problem is that the forefoot of this shoe feels lumpy. I can feel a distinct lump on both sides right behind my second toe. I initially thought that maybe I just got a defective pair, but a few weeks ago I was at my local running store and while chatting with one of the employees about the Gel Lyte33 he mentioned the same thing (before I had said anything about it). I’ve since asked others about this and some say they do feel the lumps, others do not. I’m not sure if maybe there was a bad batch or if some people simply are not sensitive to the change in firmness in that region. It is strange to me that it is present in the same spot on both sides.

Asics Gel Lyte33 side

For the most part the lumpy forefoot has not interfered with comfort on runs, and I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it. But, last week I started feeling a bit of an ache in my right foot behind my second toe. It wasn’t until another run in the Lytes that I noticed that the sole lump was directly below the achy spot. The previous week I had done several runs in the shoes, including a long run. I’m not 100% sure that the Lytes were the cause of my foot ache, but it was enough of a concern that I will likely not continue to run in them. It’s a shame because in all other respects this is a really nice shoe, and it’s a relative bargain at an MSRP of $90.

(Note: In a situation like this I will often look at reviews on Amazon and Zappos to see if others have complained about an issue that I noticed. In fairness to Asics I will say that none of the Amazon reviews report issues with a lumpy forefoot. But, I still have concerns given that I know of a few people who independently noticed it.)

IMG_4032One other thing to note – one of the outsole pods under the outer forefoot is beginning to delaminate on one of my shoes (see photo at left). Nothing a bit of glue couldn’t take care of, but does add to my suspicion that something might be off with the sole of my pair.

Conclusion

So would I recommend the Asics Gel Lyte33 v3? I would say yes, but try them on first and feel out the forefoot. If it feels good to you, then the shoe is a great option if you are looking for something with a soft feel, moderate drop, and a very roomy forefoot. If I had a pair that felt right to me, I’d not hesitate to use them in a marathon. But the lumpy forefoot on my pair scares me a bit, so they will likely not see further use.

The Asics Gel Lyte33 v3 is available for purchase at Running Warehouse (currently on sale), Zappos, and Amazon.com. Outside the US they can be purchased at Millet Sports.

How about you – have you tried the Asics Gel Lyte33 v3? Did you notice anything odd about the feel of the forefoot?

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Asics Gel Hyper Speed 6 Racing Shoe Review: Lightweight, Flexible, Roomy, and Low Priced! http://runblogger.com/2014/06/asics-gel-hyper-speed-6-racing-shoe-review-lightweight-flexible-roomy-and-low-priced.html http://runblogger.com/2014/06/asics-gel-hyper-speed-6-racing-shoe-review-lightweight-flexible-roomy-and-low-priced.html#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 16:16:58 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=4478

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Asics Gel Hyperspeed 6Two of my favorite shoes last year were the New Balance 1400v2 and the adidas Adios Boost. I would classify both of those shoes as distance racers – shoes that would be well suited for racing a half marathon, and maybe even a full marathon. They were a bit more cushioned than I typically like for a 5K, with both having a relatively soft heel and a firm, responsive forefoot. Both were right in my wheelhouse as far as my personal preferences go.

I have not run in very many Asics shoes in the past. I reviewed the Gel Lyte33v2 last year, and will have a review of the v3 up soon. But the one Asics shoe that I’ve long had my eye on is the Hyper Speed (Ryan Hall’s marathon racing shoe). I had thought that the Hyper Speed was going away after v5, but in talking with Asics found out that a v6 was indeed on the way. I bought a pair earlier this year (Disclosure: this was a personal purchase, not a media sample), and have now put about 50 miles on them. I’m rather impressed by the shoe, and would rank it right upper there with the NB 1400v2 and Adios Boost mentioned in the intro.

Asics Hyperspeed 6 side

Readers of this blog will know that I’m a fan of simple shoes. I like a basic, minimally structured upper with a bit of give/stretch, and a simple sole without a lot of tech built in. The Asics Hyper Speed 6 fits this bill perfectly. Let’s start with the specs.

Asics Hyper Speed 6 Specs

Weight: 5.6 oz in men’s size 9 (via Running Warehouse)

Stack Height: 21mm heel, 15mm forefoot

Upper Construction

The upper of the Hyper Speed 6 is a double-layed mesh with welded overlays. Very simple, not a lot of extraneous material. The internal lining is soft and seamless through the midfoot region. There is some stitching on either side of the forefoot that can be felt internally, but I have not had any abrasion issues (have not tried running sockless in them yet, but don’t think it would be a problem). The upper has almost a baggy feel to it in the forefoot, which makes for a very roomy fit for a racing shoe. This fit is kind of reminiscent of the Saucony Grid Type A5, which is a very good thing for me!

Asics Hyperspeed 6 top

The HyperSpeed 6 does have a bit of arch support, mostly due to the midsole curling up a bit under the arch, and a hard heel counter (the area colored red behind the heel is hard plastic internally).

The photo below gives a nice view of the upper mesh:

Asics Hyperspeed 6 upper

Sole Construction

Asics Hyperspeed 6 sole

For a 5.6 oz shoe the Asics Hyper Speed 6 offers a surprising amount of cushion. The heel has a soft, springy feel to it (there is a Gel unit in the heel), very similar to the NB 1400v2 or the adidas Adios Boost. The forefoot is firm and responsive. This is my pretty much exactly what I want in a sole for my stride.

Unlike some racing flats, the Hyper Speed 6 is actually quite flexible, I don’t think there is a plate or shank of any type in the sole. This is one of the reasons why I’d not choose it as a 5K shoe – I like a shoe to be firmer and stiffer for running top speed in a short race. But for a half to full marathon it’s just about perfect. I’ve run up to 14 miles in them so far without any issue, though they do feel better at a slightly faster than easy pace.

Asics Hyperspeed Sole Wear

One of the things that has puzzled me about the Hyper Speed so far is that I’m seeing almost no heel wear at all (see photo above). I typically wear soles a bit in front of the back corner of the heel, and I see almost nothing there in this shoe. I am seeing a bit of wear on the triangular black outsole pod behind the forefoot on the right shoe, but that’s about it:

Asics Hyperspeed Sole Compare

This wear pattern is unusual for me and I’ve only recently seen something similar in the Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit. I’m wondering if the flexible sole in both of these shoes is shifting my contact point forward a bit? Kind of a mystery.

Asics-Hyperspeed-6-racing-flat.jpg

Conclusion

I’ve been really impressed by the Asics Hyper Speed 6 so far. It’s a sub 6oz shoe that retains ample cushion and does this in a flexible package with a roomy fit in the forefoot. Pretty much the exact combination of features I look for in a distance racer.

Here’s the best part – the Hyper Speed 6 is a bargain! It has an MSRP of $85, but can be purchased for less than that at various on-line outlets. You could likely buy two pairs of Hyper Speeds (and a couple pairs of socks) for the cost of one adidas Adios Boost. And given my observations on durability of the sole so far (50 miles on them) I’m not worried that they sacrificed quality at the lower cost.

I loved the adios Boost, but I’d find it very hard to recommend it at $140. Even the New Balance 1400v2 has an MSRP $15 higher than the Hyper Speed. If you liked either of those shoes, the Hyper Speed 6 is definitely worth a look. And if you’re looking for a first racing flat that won’t break the bank, this shoe is definitely one to consider.

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Nike Zoom Terra Kiger Trail Shoe Review http://runblogger.com/2014/06/nike-zoom-terra-kiger-trail-shoe-review.html http://runblogger.com/2014/06/nike-zoom-terra-kiger-trail-shoe-review.html#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:38:59 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=4216

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Nike Terra KigerBy David Henry

For a brand without a strong history in the trail market, Nike has created quite the buzz with their latest offerings: the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger and Nike Zoom Wildhorse. Both shoes have a lot of features that will appeal to a wide range of runners, and Nike has even gone so far as to create a brand new Trail Running Team (good info on the team here) that snatched up a lot of young, speedy trail runners to sport the new shoes in races all over the world.

Wildhorse vs. Terra Kiger

Before getting into a review of the Kiger, I wanted to point out some of the few minor differences between the Wildhorse and Kiger, since they are quite similar overall (same platform essentially).

Nike Terra Kiger side

Nike Wildhorse side

The main differences as I see it from trying both on (I have not run in the Wildhorse) are in the design of the upper. The upper on the Wildhorse has a little more volume, doesn’t use the burrito wrap design, doesn’t have Flywire, and uses a different, more supportive mesh. The only change to the midsole from the Wildhorse is that the Kiger has a zoom unit (a piece of Nike technology that is inserted that uses air to cushion rather than EVA foam) in the forefoot and heel where as the Wildhorse only has one in the heel. Lastly, while sharing essentially the same outsole and midsole shape, the tread is slightly different on the two shoes. Normally I wouldn’t bring up so many features of a shoe I wasn’t actually reviewing, but in this case they are similar enough that I thought it was worth mentioning.

Now on to the Terra Kiger review…

Stats

Price: $125 MSRP

Colorways: I’ve seen 4 different colorways that are currently available: Blue/Citron, Grey/Volt, Blue/Volt, Green/Purple; the colorway of the pair shown that I’m reviewing is discontinued.

Weight:  8.3 oz/235 g in size 9 mens; 10.1 oz/285 g in my size 13 men’s; and 7.1 oz/200 g in size 8 for women (stats via Running Warehouse)

Stack Height: 23 mm Heel; 19 mm Forefoot stack height for both men and women (midsole heights of 10-14 mm are actually etched on the side of the shoe)

Appearance & Design

Nike Terra Kiger top

The Kiger is a very nice looking shoe, and looks fast while remaining fairly simple in design. Overall the design should appeal to a wide range of runners. It’s relatively light, well cushioned, and at 4mm drop still meets much of the market for this type of shoe. The design of the upper is great and definitely a highlight for me. It’s the first shoe where I felt the burrito wrap design actually worked.

Nike Terra Kiger HeelMy biggest issue with the Kiger is in the sole design, particularly in the heel. The midsole shape in the heel is very fat for a racier shoe, and because the outsole curves up the side and back of the heel and doesn’t actually make contact with the ground, this adds instability and unnecessary weight to the shoe. As far as I can tell this design serves no purpose. The tread on the heel is also terrible with a shallow pyramid design that neither gives traction, nor stability of any kind.

After two runs in the the shoe (and a few near ankle sprains), I took out the razor blade and grinding wheel and got to work (see comparison pictures below).  After shaving all the excess outsole and thinning the width of the midsole, I can happily say the shoe runs much better. I put about 20 miles on the stock version and 30+ on the modified version and it almost feels like a different shoe on single track trail or uneven ground. Oh, and it dropped nearly 15 grams (0.5 oz) off the shoe which is not insignificant for a shoe in the 8 oz range.

Terra Kiger Cut

Terra Kiger Cut 2

Materials & Construction

This is where Nike really shines in my opinion. Likely because of their size and the breadth of products that they design and offer, Nike has a ton of fabulous materials to deploy on their shoes. They really show this off in the Kiger upper.

The upper material has a Flyknit-like pattern to it (to be clear it is not a Flyknit upper) that they call engineered mesh where the mesh has different weave densities in different locations. This material is awesome as it is super light and simple and, so far, has been very durable. I’ve taken them off-trail, through brush and other abrasive objects, and there is not a sign of wear on it. The interior of the upper is equally impressive with a full liner next to the foot and a super soft heel that does not have a heel counter. It is one of the softest uppers I’ve run in. I’ve run sock-less in this shoe for every mile even in 85+ deg F heat and no issues at all.

Nike Terra Kiger lateral

I’ll comment more on the midsole in the ride section, but the foam is high quality (I’ve seen conflicting pieces of info that it is full length Phylon and other places report that it is a dual density Cushlon ST in forefoot and Cushlon LT in heel…I have not been able to confirm one way or the other prior to review).

The outsole material is fine overall, if not a little too soft of a compound (the lugs are wearing pretty quick). The tread pattern, especially in the heel, is silly in my mind as it adds a lot of weight with no tangible benefit. I also don’t understand why they didn’t just have a complete full outsole without the line of exposed EVA separating the edges from the middle of the outsole. This creates a much softer edge for the shoe which decreases its precision and edging in more technical terrain. Complaints aside, the traction is adequate on dry surfaces. I have not run them in mud, but would expect them to be lacking due to the relatively shallow lug depth.

Nike Terra Kiger sole

Fit

The fit is fantastic in comfort and average in security. It is a pretty low volume fit with a low toebox height and a more sock-like cut to the entire upper.

I’m mixed about the use of Flywire in the upper. While I haven’t had any major problems, the midfoot lockdown and lateral stability on the platform is not as good as what I’m used to with inov-8 or Merrell shoes. I’ve come to terms with this though and just don’t use the shoe on more technical terrain which requires a more secure fit (and a sharper midsole; more on that below). If the upper wasn’t as comfortable as it is, I’d be unhappy with the security of it; as it is, the fit is still very nice and comfortable for even long outings.

Nike Terra Kiger frontRide

I found the Kiger hard to place regarding the ride. On one hand it does feel somewhat responsive and quick and on the other I felt it was somewhat soft compared to what I’m used to. Shaving the heel off did help the stability of the ride in the heel on uneven ground. I’d also say the softness is less noticeable on very hard pack trails, and is almost welcome on pavement. I guess this reaction is probably due to my experience with and bias towards firm and responsive shoes.

In its favor, the Kiger is the first shoe of any appreciable cushion and softness that I’ve actually grown to like for hardpack trails. It seems like every time I run in it I like it more than the run before, so part of it may be just needing to get used to the softer shoe.

Overall Impressions

Nike is off to a great start in the trail running market with the Zoom Terra Kiger. There is room for improvement with the heel shape/fatness, midfoot fit, outsole compound, and tread pattern (including upgrading to a full outsole). However, when taken as a whole the Kiger still gets more right than it gets wrong and I really can’t think of another trail shoe out there that offers the same fit and feel.

Regardless of your preference regarding cushion, I think there is something to be found here for everyone and that may be the Kiger’s biggest selling point. If you prefer more cushion, the Kiger will offer enough to feel comfortable and will likely feel fast and light for you. If you come from a minimalist/natural running perspective the Kiger still is a fairly light, low drop, and flexible shoe that will offer just a little more cushion than you might be used too (but, like me, you might grow to like it). As far as Nike trail running shoes go, this is as good as it gets. For any Nike Free fans looking for a trail option this would be the first shoe I would start with. I’m even considering given the Wildhorse a try to see how it compares on the run.

I’m going to give the Nike Terra Kiger a positive recommendation and look forward to future improvements.

Purchasing Options

The Nike Terra Kiger is available for purchase at Running Warehouse and Amazon.com, and outside the US it can be purchased at Wiggle or direct from Nike.com. Purchases made from these retailers help support this site – thanks!

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Salomon Sense Pro Trail Running Shoe Review http://runblogger.com/2014/06/salomon-sense-pro-trail-running-shoe-review.html http://runblogger.com/2014/06/salomon-sense-pro-trail-running-shoe-review.html#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 19:10:52 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=4280

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Salomon Sense ProIt’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a pair of trail shoes myself. Historically I have mostly been a road runner, with trails making up only a small portion of my total mileage. However, this year I’ve made an effort to get off road a bit more often (signed up to run the VT 50K this Fall), and so far almost all of my trail miles, including a 10 mile race, have been run in the Salomon Sense Pro.

Salomon sent me a pair the Sense Pro several months ago (Disclosure: these were media samples provided free of charge for review purposes), and my first impression upon trying them on was that they were too tight. I came really close to sending them back. But, the shoes looked great, and I desperately wanted to run in them. I’d also never tried a Salomon shoe before, and wanted to see what the brand had offer.

I tried swapping a thinner insole into the Sense Pros and that created enough room to make them wearable. After a few runs they broke in nicely and I was able to put the original insole back in. I’m really glad I kept them since the Sense Pro has quickly become one of my favorite shoes. In fact, it may be the shoe that has been on my feet more than any other so far this year (combined running and casual use). What’s more, probably 3/4 of my 50 or so miles in them have been on trails, so I’ve actually been able to put them to the test on the surfaces they were designed to tackle.

Salomon Sense Pro side

Let’s start with the specs (via Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.2oz in men’s size 9
Stack Height: 22mm heel; 17mm forefoot

Fit and Feel

The simplest way I can describe the Sense Pro is that it feels like a racing flat built for the trails. It’s a low-profile shoe that fits very snugly, but for some reason the fit works for me and does not feel constricting. I think the reason is that Salomon has squared off the toebox just enough so that it doesn’t squeeze my toes together. If you have wide feet these will likely not work for you – closest comparisons I could make for fit would be maybe the Saucony A5, Pearl Izumi N0, or the Adidas Adios Boost. If you like feeling locked into a trail shoe, these might be perfect.

Though the Sense Pro is not ultralight, it’s light enough that it stills feels fast. That may have something to do with the fit being reminiscent of a flat, and I was actually surprised when I weighed my pair in at 9.6 oz. I would have guessed more in the 7-8 oz range.

A note on sizing – Salomon sent me a size 9.5. This might be the first shoe I’ve ever worn in that size as I’m almost always a size 10 or 10.5 in other shoes. However, the fit does seem to be right on me, so I suspect they sent me a half size down since the shoe runs a bit big.

Salomon Sense Pro top

Upper

The upper of the Sense Pro is very similar (though not identical) to that of the Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra (which I recently purchased since I like the Sense Pro so much). It has a flexible toe bumper, and lots of welded overlays for support. I like the fact that the overlays extend along the junction between the sole and the upper forming a rand – for a post on the importance of randing in a trail shoe read this. The upper has a feeling of quality to it – this is a very well-crafted shoe. I have not noticed any delaminating of the overlays or unusual upper wear after 50 miles in them.

The Sense Pro is the first shoe I’ve run in that has speed laces. I’ve come to like them a lot, but they do present some challenges since the laces are a bit long. Salomon has built a little pocket into the top of the tongue into which you can tuck the slack, but I’ve found that a bit challenging to access (rather, I’m lazy and haven’t taken the time to mess with the pocket). I’ve simply tucked the slack under the laces and that seems to have worked well. The speed lacing makes it easy to slip the shoes on and off, and I can keep them loose when I wear the shoes casually.

The tongue of the Sense Pro is attached internally to the footbed both sides to hug the foot and keep debris out – Salomon calls this the Endofit. I did notice that trail grit does tend to accumulate between the Endofit sleeve and the upper of the shoe and must be shaken out on occasion.

Sole

The sole of the Salomon Sense Pro is 5mm drop, and has a firm feel to it (it’s apparently the same sole as found on the Sense Mantra). It feels perfect for running fast on the trails, and I’ve even enjoyed running on roads in them. The latter is a bit of a surprise to me since I don’t generally like firmer shoes on roads unless they are very minimal.

Salomon Sense Pro Sole

The outsole is full coverage rubber, and the lugs are small but grippy. This is not a mud shoe, but I’ve not had issues with traction over other varied trail surfaces. The 10 mile trail race I ran in them was on a wet, cool day and the trail was technical with lots of switchbacks, soggy leaf cover, roots, and wet rocks. Traction was excellent. I ran on the same trails again on Monday, and once again had no issues with traction. I did hit a few patches of wet mud, and the shoes drained fairly quickly after getting submerged.

The Sense Pro has a rock plate that extends back through the midfoot. Protection is excellent, and have had no issues running over roots or pointy granite rocks in them.

Performance

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, I’ve run about 50 miles in the Sense Pros over varied surfaces, including a 10 mile trail race. They have worked remarkably well for everything I have thrown at them (except for mud). I’d say these are probably a strong frontrunner for my shoe choice for the VT 50K this Fall.

2014-06-05 13.09.26I liked the Sense Pro so much that I decided to buy a pair of the Sense 3 Ultras as well, if for no other reason than to figure out how the shoes differ and to see if the Ultras might be another option for VT. I’ve not yet run in the Sense 3 Ultra, only worn them around a bit and did a 4 mile hike in them.

The shoes are pretty similar, differing mainly in weight (Sense 3 Ultra is about 1.5 oz lighter), stack height (Sense Ultra drops 3mm from the heel and forefoot heights), and price (the Ultra costs $30 more). The Sense Ultra also feels just a tad snugger, has a thinner insole, is less padded around the ankle collar, and the lace rows are more widely separated – see photo to the left.

2014-06-05 13.09.46

Salomon Sense Pro (blue) and Sense 3 Ultra (red)

One more thing to note is that though I wear a 9.5 in the Sense Pro, I ordered a 10 in the Sense 3 Ultra. I think this was the right call.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a low profile, snug-fitting trail shoe that will handle most trail conditions, the Salomon Sense Pro is a great choice. It’s a shoe that is going to continue to get a lot of use from me, and may very well be the shoe I race my 50K in this Fall (we’ll see how the Sense 3 Ultra pans out over the next few months). I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of the best trail shoes I have tried, an all-around winner!

The Salomon Sense Pro is available for purchase at Running Warehouse, Zappos (currently on sale), and Amazon. Outside the US it can be purchased direct from Salomon, or at Millett Sports in the UK. Purchases made via these links help to support the production of reviews like this one – thanks!

For another take on the Salomon Sense Pro, check out this video review by Ginger Runner.

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Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit Review: The Best Nike Free Yet? http://runblogger.com/2014/05/nike-free-4-0-flyknit-review-the-best-nike-free-yet.html http://runblogger.com/2014/05/nike-free-4-0-flyknit-review-the-best-nike-free-yet.html#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 16:17:28 +0000 http://runblogger.com/?p=4149

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Nike Free 4.0 FlyknitI’m going to start this review with a bold statement: the Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit is the best Nike Free shoe I have ever worn.

Writing that opening line is a big deal for me because the original Nike Free 3.0 remains one of my favorite shoes of all time. That shoe was lightweight, ultra-flexible, ran silent, and had a sock-like upper that was about as near perfection as a minimal shoe upper can get. My only complaint about the 3.0 v1 was that it was a bit narrow. The new 4.0 Flyknit matches the original 3.0 on all of the positives, and improves on it by having a much wider toebox. It’s an amazingly good shoe.

Interestingly, I almost passed on trying the Free 4.0 Flyknit. Several weeks ago I purchased the new 2014 model of the Nike Free 5.0. I hated it. It had a tight band around the forefoot that dug into my skin, and quite honestly it felt and looked a bit cheaply made. I wasn’t impressed and it went back to the store unworn. However, I’d heard from some fellow shoe geeks that the 4.0 was going to be the big winner among the 2014 Free models, so I spent the $100+ to buy a pair (MSRP is $120). This might be one of the few times where I feel that the relatively high cost might be justifiable – I like the shoe that much.

So what is it that makes the Free 4.0 Flyknit so special? Well, pretty much the entire package. The shoe simply feels like an extension of my foot. It gives me everything I need, and almost nothing that I don’t, and that is exactly what I want in a shoe.

Shoe Stats

Weight: 7.4 oz in men’s size 9; 6.3 oz in women’s size 8 (per Running Warehouse)
Stack Height: 20mm heel, 14mm forefoot (per Running Warehouse)
Sizing: I went a half size up as I typically do in Nike shoes, might have been unnecessary

Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit side

Upper Construction

The Flyknit upper of the Free 4.0 is minimally structured. No overlays, no heel counter, just a stretchy woven mesh with a few Flywire bands on either side of the lace rows to lock the foot down. It feels like a sock, and it hugs my foot in all of the right ways. Not too tight, not too loose. Just perfect. The heel and midfoot are snugged in tightly, and the forefoot opens up so that the tight weave does not constrict or squeeze the toes. The entire upper flexes and moves with the foot in a way I have rarely experienced in a running shoe.

2014-05-08 15.13.09

The upper mesh is open in the midfoot and forefoot to provide for some air flow. Unlike the new Free 3.0 Flyknit, which I have heard fits fairly tightly, the 4.0 has a traditional tongue, and I think this allows for better customization of fit. I’ve run sockless in the shoes a few times and have had a bit of abrasion on one run near the midfoot/arch (maybe from one of the Flywire bands?), but this has been inconsistent. May have just been a hot day with more sweat leading to chafe. No issues at all while wearing socks (side note – these shoes seem to hold a stink when you use them sockless).

Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit sole

Sole Construction

Like the upper, the sole of the Free 4.0 Flyknit is super flexible and moves really well with the foot. The sole is typical of other Nike Free shoes in having individual pods separated by deep grooves to maximize flexibility. The drawback of the grooved sole is that the grooves do tend to collect rocks and pebbles, but this has never really bothered me in any of the Frees and they are easy enough to get out by taking the shoe off and flexing the sole around after a run.

The majority of the sole is exposed midsole cushion, so you can barely hear your footfalls while running in them – I love a silent shoe! The tradeoff to this design is that there is minimal outsole coverage – rubber pods are only present at the back outer heel and under the big toe. As such, sole durability is something to keep an eye on if you tend to be a scuffer. Interestingly, my wear pattern only seems to be from the anteriormost heel pod forward through the midfoot – much more of a midfoot landing wear pattern than I tend to observe in most other shoes that I run in.

You can see that after 40 miles I’ve ground down the protruding portions of the white pods directly above and to the right the 4.0 in the image below:

Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit side sole

I’m wondering if the slightly rounded heel, curved sole, and flexibility of the shoe have something to do with this more anterior wear pattern?

Performance

I’ve honestly found it really hard to not pull these shoes out for most of my recent runs (though the Saucony Kinvara 5 is giving them a run for the money as current favorites). I’ve run just over 40 miles in them so far, with a max long run of 14 miles. I’ve run from easy pace down to 5K pace. They’ve worked well for just about everything. I’d have no hesitation in taking them beyond 14 miles in a single run, I might even consider them for a marathon. They are a bit too flexible for my taste for speed or a 5K, and the sole grooves would probably collect too much debris for off-road use, but they are versatile enough to handle just about anything else I could throw at them.

I’m really hard-pressed to come up with anything negative about this shoe – I think the only issue I’ve had was with the fact that the size tag is stitched to the underside of the insole and I can feel the stitching under my heel. It wasn’t bad with socks, but it was noticeable when I went barefoot in them. It might be possible to cut the tag and remove the stitching, but I was lazy and just swapped the insoles out for an identical one from an older pair of Free 5.0s.

In addition to running in them, I’ve also found the Free 4.0 Flyknit to be a fantastic casual shoe. I bought a pair in black since I like to have a few conservative looking shoes for casual wear, and I’m typically sockless in them while walking around. They are amazingly comfortable.

Conclusion

The Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit is a fantastic shoe, easily one of my favorites so far this year. If you want something with a minimal upper, a flexible sole, and a roomy toebox these should be at the top of your list of options to try.

Purchasing Options

The Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit is available in a variety of colors at Running Warehouse and Road Runner Sports. Outside of the US they can be purchased at Wiggle.co.uk. Purchases made via these retailer links help to support this site – thanks!

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