Category Archives: shoes

Week in Review 1.9.17 to 1.15.17

Monday: One of my favorite runs ever. 8 miles around Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. We did the White Rock Loop then added on and ran up to La Madre Springs. The terrain was incredible and varied but 100% runnable and the weather was perfection at 45 degrees. I was super grateful for trail shoes as it was muddy and rocky at times. Ended the run completely gassed.

We started at the White Rock Road Trailhead and ran in the direction of the highpoint. The descent was fun, the return to the parking lot was not.

Cameras can’t capture the vastness of this area but we tried anyway.

Tuesday: 20 minutes on the elliptical in Salt Lake plus arms and core.

Wednesday: 30 minutes on the elliptical plus legs.

Thursday: Planned to run in Maine but the gym didn’t open til 6 am so I did an in-room bodyweight workout instead. I loved the Elbow Plank with Leg Lift and Negative Pushups.

Friday: 2 mile run plus arms. “College” core routine at night.

Saturday: Hilly progression run on treadmill in Cleveland. 6 miles total. Legs afterward.

Sunday: Traveled home, rest day.

Total Miles: 16

This week was INSANE in terms of travel. On Monday, I was in Las Vegas. On Tuesday, we flew to Salt Lake City. On Wednesday I flew all the way to Portland, Maine. On Thursday night, I flew to Greenville, SC. On Friday night, I flew to Cleveland, OH and finally on Sunday, I flew home to Burlington. For 36 hours. I leave tomorrow for Virginia, although I’ll be back Wednesday night. With all this travel, I’m thankful I got any exercise in at all!

What I am super excited about is that I’m getting back into a routine of getting daily strength work in and it is making a big difference. I feel stronger and my back is much less achy than it usually is. Will and I both agree that going forward, it is more critical for me to be consistent about strength and core than get 5 or 10 extra miles per week in.

This week, I’m back to running at about 35 miles a week with a long run and two workouts. I’m trying out a new watch (Soleus Pulse) and excited to pick up my GoMeb Razors later in the week. This shoe is EPIC. It is a lightweight neutral trainer and I suspect it’s going to supplant all the other shoes in my arsenal.

Product Review: GoMebSpeed 3 2016

This shoe was given to me for free by Skechers Performance as part of my 2016 racing kit. The opinions below are my own. 

From the moment I put on these shoes, I loved them. No stranger to minimalist shoes, I like shoes that feel fast and have a smooth, efficient ride and the GoMebs are all of the above. My “purple Mebs” are actually my second pair of Mebs; the first pair is a treadmill only pair from 2015 that I like, but don’t love. Between last year and this year, they made enormous improvements to all Skechers uppers and the difference is incredible.

The GoMebSpeed 3 is intended to be a racing flat and I use them for workouts and races. From right out of the box, this shoe is comfortable and nimble. My first real workout in these was a short hill speed run in 40 degree temperatures and pouring rain and between whining about the weather, I remarked to Will over and over “oh my god, I love these shoes. These are the best. They are so COMFORTABLE.” The sole is firm and has good push-off from the roads or the track but the ride isn’t rigid, which is a complaint I’ve had with past racing flats. The upper is knit and moves well with your foot without feeling unstable and at 5.3 ounces for the women’s sizing, feels barely there once you’re in motion.

GOMeb

The best part about this shoe is that the 4 mm drop and M-Strike technology makes efficient, midfoot running almost automatic. M-Strike technology makes the most cushioned part of the shoe fall right under the ball of your foot so after a few strides, you naturally adjust to land here rather than on your heels or toes. The 4 mm drop is close to what is neutral for most people so you get great push-off without over or under taxing your achilles and calf muscles. That being said, if you are coming from a more traditional drop shoe (8 to 12 mm), you should expect to take time to transition to a 4 mm drop. Too fast and you will be uncomfortable and sore at best and injured at worst.

For most people, this should be a good shoe for speed work or road racing. Efficient runners can expect to be able to comfortable racing up to the marathon; for others, it might be best limited to half marathon or less. Because there isn’t a ton of extra support in the post (middle inside area of the foot), it is a shoe that could work against you in later miles of a marathon as form breaks down. I haven’t raced a marathon since getting these shoes but I would be likely to use them for the whole enchilada.

My only complaint is that they seem to wear faster than regular running shoes, which is somewhat expected with racing flats. I have about 100 miles on mine now and the soles look well-worn. I haven’t noticed any issues with loss of support or comfort but I do think I’ll need to replace them before my usual 300 mile mark.

Have I convinced you to give Skechers a try yet? What’s your go to racing flat? Do you race marathons in flats or in regular trainers?

Product Review: Skechers GoTrail Ultra 3

Disclaimer: I’m a Skechers Performance Ambassador, which means that I receive an annual stipend with which to purchase Skechers gear as well as free gear and shoes to try throughout the year. I used my annual stipend to purchase these shoes. The review below represents my opinion as well as technical specifications provided to me by Skechers. 

Dave had been bragging for a while that the GoTrail Ultra 3 was an incredible shoe so with my quiver full of road training and racing shoes, I added this shoe in anticipation of my upcoming New England Trail Championships and Loon Mountain Race in July. Despite coaching cross country, I am generally NOT a big trail runner. However, between the combination of finding my zen on trails recently and this shoe, I’m starting to think I might like to be.

GoTrail Ultra 3

From a technical perspective, the GoTrail Ultra 3 is the heaviest, most cushioned shoe that Skechers offers but has moderate structure so it still moves well with your foot, which is a must on technical trails. It has an aggressive sole with lug rubber knobs and a wide footprint for stability with the incredible bonus of a drainable outsole. Basically, there are holes in the sole that drain water after stream crossings or intentional puddle jumps. Finally, it features the same seamless upper that all Skechers shoes have, making it extremely comfortable despite being a technical juggernaut. It weighs in at 8.8 ounces, which Will informs me is not heavy for a shoe at all. I’m a princess about such things, however, after years of running in 4 to 6 ounce trainers.

What I like most about the shoe is that it is cushioned enough to really let you rip on technical trails that are littered with roots and rocks. I’m not a tender foot but I HATE when you step down on a root on your arch and get that singe of pain/stretch. Except for the gnarlyest roots, I didn’t feel anything sharp in these shoes but still had enough maneuverability and feedback to move confidently over trails. They do feel extremely cushioned when you’re on pavement but as long as most of your run or race is on dirt/rough terrain, it shouldn’t bother you.

The other thing I really like is the grip offered by the sole. It has big, rubber lugs with tiny rubber nubbins in the middle of each lug that operate like suction cups.  Like I said above, I don’t consider myself a proficient trail runner but have been working really hard to improve my skills, especially on downhills. As I’ve gotten more used to running on trails, I’ve been able to rely on the soles of the GoTrail Ultra 3 to really grab on, regardless of whether the trail is wet, frozen or somewhere in between. Because the shoe boasts a comfortable, flexible upper, it bends with your foot, no matter how awkward your landing. Because of this, I think this shoe is a great introductory trail shoe for people like me who are still learning how to navigate trails without coming to a complete stop when things get technical.

Virtually rookie proof...

Virtually rookie proof…

All in all (and with the caveat that I’ve only owned a couple of pairs of trail shoes), this shoe is a great addition to your collection if you’re looking for a hard working trail shoe that can accommodate and boost even a trail rookie.

Product Review: Shoekicker.com

The opportunity to try out Shoekicker.com before it launches for everyone in September came through my real life friend Katie, who runs the incredible foodie blog 24 Carrot Life. Dave from Shoekicker reached out to her for a review and although she runs most days, she thought I would be a better person to try the site and I was psyched for the opportunity.**

Basically, Shoekicker is the “Kayak” of running shoes and is intended to comb the web for the best price on particular shoe models. Founders Imran Khoja and Dave Jordan (sorry Dave, but you have to take credit for great things!) have an impressive algorithm that scans the web constantly, looking for the desired model and size of shoe. Although we all have the ability to do this (I regularly use 6pm.com), the upside of Shoekicker is the ease of finding your shoe model WITH the size you need still in stock.

When I tried it, I looked for one of my go-to shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5. When you input your size and shoe model, you get the following results:

Shoekicker Example

$56 dollars for a pair of Kinvara 5 is an excellent deal and I didn’t have to spend time searching all the various bargain sites on the web to figure out where my best deal was. The fact that I didn’t know Amazon had running shoes is another issue entirely…

The only negative feedback that I gave to Dave was that some shoe brands (Skechers and Salomon, for example) and shoe models (Saucony Fasttwitch) aren’t currently available on the site. However, as Shoekicker gets up and running, these brands will eventually be added. Overall, the big names of Brooks, Asics, Saucony, and Nike as well as up and coming brands like Hoka and Altra are all available so most people should be able to find their favorite shoes.

Who is Shoekicker good for? Runners who already know what shoe models and sizes work for them and who aren’t picky about particular colors. If you are new to running, looking to make a shoe change or coming back from an injury, it is still best to hit up your local running store for their expertise.

Try Shoekicker.com out and let me know what you think!

Thanks to Dave for sending me the Beta site.

**I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

Product Review: Skechers GoRun 4

**These were given to me by our local Skechers Rep for product review. Opinions below are my own.**

A pile of Go Runs!

A pile of Go Runs!

Cutting my self-imposed shackles with Saucony is so freeing! While I was at the Craft Brew 5K, I spent some time with the Skechers rep who gave me a pair of GoRuns to try out given my love of the Kinvara. As I told Dave in Stowe, I like to spend a couple of weeks in a shoe before I write a review and I won’t lie if I don’t like the shoe. Luckily, there was no need to lie. Joe and I have both been trying these out over the past two weeks and we agree: it’s an awesome shoe. I took a different approach to reviewing these shoes and put them through their paces in 5 discrete settings: long run, track work, tempo run, day at work and regular run.

Boasting as much color as I usually like!

Boasting as much color as I usually like!

Long Run: Right out of the box, I tried these babies on a 10 mile run and loved them. They are soft underfoot but have plenty of room in the toebox and were comfortable for all 10 miles. I like to leave my shoes a little loose for long runs to allow for foot swelling and the laces were plenty long to do so.

Track Work: I did 400s, 300s and 200s hard for this test workout. Although I found them comfortable, I thought they were a little soft for track work and felt like I was working hard to turn my legs over with the malleable sole.

Tempo Run: This is where these really excel. The nimble fit and light weight (around 5 ounces for my size) were absolutely perfect for a tempo workout. I felt light and efficient for the entire workout.

Day At Work: Not only do these look great with scrubs (well, as good as anything looks with scrubs) but they were comfortable for a day of standing in the OR, which is no small feat. There was enough room for my feet to swell through the day and I never slipped or stuck to…whatever was on the floor.

Regular Run: Totally serviceable for a regular run too. I tried them on both trail and road and found them comfortable enough for both with enough underfoot to protect from rocks and roots on trails.

Overall, I think this is an impressive shoe from a company that is trying to overcome the reputation for making ShapeUps and walking shoes and break into the mainstream running market. The GoRun 4 maintains the excellent road feel and minimal fit of the Kinvara with the cushioning of the Hoka. It would be an excellent racing shoe for 10K to marathon for almost anyone and will definitely be my all-purpose trainer of choice for everything but fast track work where you really need a spike or waffle to move effectively. It’s also extremely durable. I’ve put 60 miles on this shoe in ten days and they look brand new with zero wear on the tread and no stress at the seams. Finally, the fit is really unique and worth trying. I’m not sure if they are intended to be a sockless shoe, but they are virtually seamless and the upper is almost neoprene in quality, which makes you want to run barefoot in them. They even included a hole in the heel area for easy on/easy off. As noted above, the toe box is roomy so narrow-footed runners will definitely want to keep the second insole in (another great way to ensure everyone has a perfect fit).

The other thing I really like about this shoe is the retail price. In a time when shoes keep trending upwards, the GoRun 4 is priced at $100, which makes it an affordable choice. Some of the other offerings (Strada and RunMeb) are a bit more, but the priciest sneaker that they currently make is $130. The apparel is surprisingly nice looking too; I’m looking forward to trying a pair of blue and black boyshorts with a back zipper and wide waistband. I’m also looking forward to trying the GoRun Ride 4 and the Ultra 2 in the coming months.

Enormous thanks to Dave at Skechers for sharing the GoRuns with me!

Product Review: HOKA ONE ONE Clifton

I’ve been a devoted Saucony runner for a long time, but since I found out I didn’t get picked up to be on the Hurricane team this year at about the same time I won a pair of HOKA’s at the RunVermont New Year’s 5K, it was a great opportunity to branch out and try a new shoe.

Bringing new shoes home!

Bringing new shoes home!

HOKA has been around for about five years and is best known for the “fat shoes” that started as an ultramarathon niche and have slowly made their way into the mainstream. Most notably, they sponsor Leo Manzano and recently the entire Northern Arizona Elite team. The idea is that the shoes have more foam and better rebounding than a “skinnier” shoe and admittedly, that thickness was part of what deterred me from trying them earlier. Last Spring, however, my friend Annie started running in them (she is also a Kinvara girl) and absolutely loved them.

I chose the Clifton because at 6.6 ounces and a 5 mm drop, it was the closest to my Kinvara. The weight and drop is where the similarities end, however. Whereas Kinvara is fitted and flexible, the Clifton is spacious and somehow simultaneously firm and foamy. I highly recommend trying the shoe on in store and going a half size down from normal for you. Protip from Skirack: they do come with two inserts, so if you have a size issue, you can try putting both insoles in at the same time.

My first run in the Clifton was very, very awkward. Because of the padding, I found myself sort of bounding along and overstriding and found it very difficult to land on my midfoot. As I got used to them over the next few runs, however, the shoes worked their way into my heart. They are extremely comfortable and when you stop running like an idiot in them and just run like normal, they behave like any other shoe. I especially like them on rough terrain; because of the thickness of foam, no sharp rocks can poke through and bruise your footbed.

I’ve done long runs, workouts and races in them and it wasn’t until I wore a new pair of Kinvara 5 recently that I realized I preferred the Saucony to the HOKA for speed work. The HOKA is fine, but it’s not particularly maneuverable and I do find that I heel strike more in the Clifton than in other shoes. As I got more used to the shoe, the aesthetics of running 6 inches in the air bothered me less and I found myself reaching for them on long runs or recovery runs when I just wanted a comfortable, cushy shoe.

About 150 miles in

About 150 miles in

All in all, I’m very impressed with my first pair of Cliftons and when these are retired, I’ll probably pick another pair up. They are relatively expensive ($130) but not that out of line with the other top of the line shoes currently on the market and hold up much, much better than my Kinvaras that almost invariably have a hole in the fabric by 100 miles in.

Best For: Neutral footed runners looking for a shoe for long runs, recovery runs or runs on terrain with roots and/or rocks. Totally sufficient for mid to long races (actually bet they’d be great for the marathon, just haven’t run one) or longer tempo efforts.

Not Great For: Interval or Full Speed work.

 

Week in Review 3.23.15 to 3.29.15

This week in one picture:

3rd Year in a nutshell.

3rd Year in a nutshell.

Monday: 4.75 easy plus arms after in crazy wind.

Tuesday: 2 by (400, 300, 200) at R pace for a total of 7.5 miles. Legs after. Felt a little awkward on these but saw 4:41 pace on the watch!

Wednesday: 4.76 mile recovery run with Will. Less than impressed with the sideways rain but neither of us cared because WE PASSED OUR BOARDS! Most anxiety inducing email, maybe ever, followed by a lot of screaming and jumping around our house.

Thursday: 4.5 miles in the pouring rain. Finally gave up and started stomping through puddles which must have made me look insane.

Friday: Not the best workout given that the track still has snow on one corner so I had to jump over the rail and more shitty wind but 5 by 1K at 3:42, 3:44, 3:43, 3:43, 3:43 for a total of 8.5 miles.

Saturday: Last long run (or any run) in Burlington; 11.5 windy cold miles with Annie.

Sunday: First run in Lewiston. A little sketchy, even for me. Definitely going to be rocking the pepper spray and cell phone on any outdoor runs here. Made some friends on my run, though, so I won’t be totally friendless for the next 5 weeks. Wore my new Hokas on the run and it felt like I was running on a pillow. No breaking in needed though!

wpid-20150329_165322.jpg

Total Miles: 47

Besides the total and utter panic that gripped me and the rest of my classmates as we all realized we’d been shoved out of a plane with only a parachute, a pretty good week of running. I anticipate that this coming week will be tricky for running, both because I need to figure out where I can run safely and figure out when running fits into my schedule. Optimally, I’d like to run in the morning but since it’s still dark then and I’ve made myself a rule to never be out after dark here, it’ll take a little trial and error.

Week in Review 2.2.15 to 2.8.15

This was a week of accepting that the Boards are coming, whether I acknowledge it or not. Just over three weeks to go!

Monday: 5.2 miles in the middle of the storm, dressed like the kid in the Christmas Story. Just couldn’t fathom one more day inside.

Tuesday: 6 miles in day-after conditions.

Wednesday: 6 mile progression run on the treadmill. Legs after. Foot a little aggravated from sliding around in the snow.

Thursday: 5.75 mile bike path run with Will. Absolutely freezing. Rocking brand new Kinvaras and I am IN LOVE with the 5. It’s like the Mirage and Kinvara had a baby.

All of the new things! Also flavor testing almost every Nuun flavor for a full-service product review.

All of the new things! Also flavor testing almost every Nuun flavor for a full-service product review.

Friday: Previewed Saturday course with kids at Sleepy. Lots and lots of climbing, some of the best skiing of the season.

Saturday: 7.5 mile run with Amy, in the snow and slush again. Arms after.

Lots of powder up in these woods. This was before our most recent storm!

Lots of powder up in these woods. This was before our most recent storm!

Sunday: Nothing (well, full practice test but no running). Core routine.

Total Miles: 30.5

1 arm, 1 leg and lots of core between practice blocks.

Since the Groundhog saw his shadow so we only have a little over 5 weeks to go with winter!!! Unfortunately, I’m not convinced Phil has ever been to Vermont where winters can drag on well into April. My big hope is that when studying ends, these big snowstorms will also be behind us so running isn’t quite the slip and slide experience that it’s been.

For this coming week, my pipe dream is to get in at least a 90 minute run and one tempo workout to try to stay in my holding pattern.

How’s the snow where you are? Anyone reading from Boston or Mass with great snowbank photos to share?!

It’s All About the Science. And Beer.

Admittedly, I didn’t do much outside reading this week. Neural Science is easily the hardest class in medical school thus far (at least for me, I have trouble imagining structures) and keeping up with school and mileage shrunk my average sleep by over an hour this week. Ooops. Regardless, what I did read seems to have centered on some great writing on the things we accept as “truth” in running. I’ve been a competitive runner since I was 14 and even I have seen quite a few trends come and go. I won’t touch the 5 Fingers news from the week because almost everyone else has and I didn’t need longitudinal data to tell me that those weren’t a good idea.

First, a fantastic post by Chris McClung on the Myth of Over-Pronation. I’ve run enough and coached enough to see lots of different kinds of form be successful. I’ve watched enough races to realize that there is no perfect. Why should we expect anything less from our feet and foot strike? I don’t totally agree with McClung that we should throw out everything but our neutral shoes but I do agree that maybe we should focus less on finding a shoe that makes us hit the ground perfectly and more on building a strong kinetic chain.

Second, an interesting culmination to a week-long conversation on training pace from Peter Larson and Caleb Masland. In the series, Larson, Masland and other athletes explore the idea of training pace. All three line up on the idea that faster is not always better for training. I couldn’t agree more. One of the biggest struggles I face as a coach is convincing athletes to slow down. When you are getting back in shape, it’s tempting to push the pace to try to accelerate fitness acquisition. When you are a hair’s length away from a PR, it’s tempting to push the pace to get there. By and large, the only place you’ll get in these scenarios is injured. Last year, Greg McMillan wrote an article on longevity that really resonated with me. For a long time, I wondered if my religiosity towards slow long runs and easy runs was holding me back. Although I’ve had two surgeries due to anatomical freakshow-ness, I’ve never struggled with injuries. I’ve never had a stress fracture. I haven’t had shin splints since 1998. I attribute much of this to the fact that I have no problem running 90 to 120 seconds slower on long runs and even slower on recovery runs. The paces that matter are race paces and workout paces.

As I’m coming back from surgery and dealing with the aches and pains associated from reminding my body that it can run, I’ve been careful to make sure the foundations matches the architect’s plans. This article is a simple but excellent summary of what systems need to be in place before real workouts can begin.

Moving on from science, the Kara Goucher sponsorship train keeps on rolling, this time with Nuun. I’ve never tried Nuun, mostly because I don’t worry about my electrolytes but I am interested in their new energy product. I find myself slumping in the afternoon but work hard not to have another cup of coffee. Adding a little zip to the water that I need to be drinking anyway appeals to me.

Finally, I’m really anxious to find out the date of the Beer Mile World Championships. I’m running a marathon on October 12th but if the Championships are later, I’m giving full thought to going for it. I’m a serviceable miler but I was an excellent beer drinker in college and feel strongly that this might be my event.

What did you read this week? Have you tried Nuun? Anyone done a beer mile and have advice?

Ice Storm 2013 and A Rave Review for Icebugs

I had a grand plan of running 100 miles before surgery starting last Friday. Unfortunately, we’ve had an ice storm since then which has turned our sidewalks, roads and bike paths into veritable skating rinks. So much for that goal. I did manage to get out to run on both Saturday and Sunday and stayed upright (easily) thanks to my Icebugs. With 1 week to go before surgery, however, my 100 miles is looking more like 50.

I bought Icebugs last winter because I planned to train through for VCM and needed to be able to run outside almost every day. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wear them very often and when I did, it was for snow and not ice. Needless to say, I didn’t fully appreciate the shoes until yesterday. On Saturday, Will and I headed out on glazed sidewalks. I was in Icebugs, he was in regular shoes. Throughout the run, I kept going “are you sure it’s icy?” My run felt like normal, despite treacherous conditions. Yesterday, Joe and I headed out for 10 miles. It took us a while, but we were both rocking Icebugs, moving fine and were the only people out.

I have last year’s model but wear the Anima version, which is lightweight. They aren’t the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn; I find the heel cup a little stiff and the lacing system is odd (but was fixed this year). For this reason, I wouldn’t do more than about 90 minutes of running in them. Still, since our world turned icy, I’ve been running and walking the dogs with no issues. When I am back on my feet in a few weeks and can’t risk a fall, I’ll be wearing them to coach.

My issue with other winter running shoes and shoe coverings is what happens when you hit occasional pavement. In past winters, I’ve used Yak Trax and running screws, both of which were fine on snow but absolutely dangerous when you hit pavement. Unlike those, where you skid along on dry ground, the Icebugs boast both studs that recede when you hit the pavement and rubber lugs that come out flush with the studs to help out.

If you are someone who runs outside during the winter and find yourself frustrated with the other winter options (Yak Trax, Stabilicers etc), I highly recommend investing in Icebugs. They are more expensive but well-built and will last for a few winters for most users.

Merry Christmas and stay upright, New England.