Category Archives: Skirack

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.


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.

Upcoming Events: June

There’s a brand new race in Huntington, VT that features a 1 mile, 5K and 10K option with ice cream sundaes for all runners at the end! Sweet. The race is on June 30th at 9 am and helps support a local organization providing temporary financial support to neighbors in need.

Skirack is hosting a Timex demo event on June 14th from 4 to 7 pm. The Timex rep will be on hand to show off new products and free gifts will be handed out to participants. This also coincides with Skirack’s Thursday night run at 6 pm.

What else is going on in Vermont this month for cool, local, runner based events?

Wordless Wednesday: Pumped Up Kicks

I literally screamed when these were revealed to me yesterday. Way to go Saucony, breaking out the lime green! Exactly what I needed to get back on track post-VCM.

Happy National Running Day!


Why yes, I do have the world’s smallest feet.

Old Route Relay Review

We had a blast on Sunday running across Chittenden County as Team Skirack. No one got lost (on our team), no one cried and we didn’t even have a team fight. And I worked on that whole toughness issue that I’ve struggled with before.

It was a very chilly Sunday morning (and day), but thankfully the rain held off for most of the run. We all piled into my car at CVU just after 8 am on Sunday after cheering Kyle on over the start line. After a coffee run, we drove along the first leg to cheer Kyle on as he climbed 3 miles up and over to Richmond. At the first transition point, Kyle tagged Eric and established our official team tag-off butt slap. Eric barreled towards Cochran’s and Sarah and I both prepped for our upcoming legs. We raced ahead of Sarah (she had a short first leg) to Camel’s Hump Middle School where I attempted to warm up for my leg.

I came into Sunday on dead legs, after running 20 miles on Saturday. I felt good, but knew it would be a grind to get through 13.6 on hilly terrain. Still, I somehow underestimated the hilliness of my route, despite coaching in that district on those roads. The first two miles were hilly, but manageable. It was the screaming uphill in mile 4 that I completely forgot about and where I realized just how tired I was. I was determined to be at or under marathon pace, however, and ground out a first leg at almost 10K PR pace.

The 90 minutes between my legs passed quickly; I rehydrated and fueled as we wound out of Jericho into Essex and like others in the car, felt pretty darn stiff as I warmed up at Catamount for the second leg. The first mile was a breeze; downhill and flat with the wind at my back. I caught a person dressed as a fox. And then things got worse. With the climb over 89 and the long, grinding hill afterward, I was a cranking teammate. I distinctly remember saying to someone “I’m not really having fun anymore.” Somewhere around mile 4 of my second leg, however, I decided that I was going to work on using the mantra I plan to use both for the MCAT on Saturday and during VCM: I am grateful to be here. 

I reminded myself that I was grateful to be running with friends, that I was grateful for healthy legs and lungs and for the opportunity to explore backroads near my home. Whether it was the mantra or the downhill, the last few miles flew by. My only major tactical error was at 7 miles, where I turned into Lake Iroquois, the transition zone. With the downhill and the finish in reach, I dropped the hammer down and started to push. Only to hear my watch beep for 7 miles and realize that I had half a mile left. Instead of backing off, I decided to push through instead and somehow held on for another unexpected half mile. I managed to better my pace on this leg, finishing firmly under marathon pace.

In the end, we finished 2nd overall (and to an all male high school team, SO unfair) and had a blast. It was refreshing to run in a new place so close to home and to compete as a team in an unconventional way. It was also good for me to practice pulling myself together even when my legs felt horrible. I highly recommend this race for first-timers and experienced relay teams alike.

Oh Yeah, I’m Doing This Race Next Weekend

Totally forgot that I agreed to be part of an Old Route Relay team next weekend, running 50 miles on a team of 5 through rural Chittenden County. Since I’m running 20 miles on Saturday, I’ll use Sunday as the perfect time to practice marathon pace on tired legs. The breaks in between each leg will give me time to refuel and the legs are just long enough to be tired!

The best part about relay races, however, are the picture and the inevitable hysteria that results from being in the car with three other teammates for an entire day. I’m looking forward to quality time with friends, music blasting from the speakers and the excuse to eat poptarts for most of a Sunday. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the perfect way to kick off MCAT week.

Special Thursday Fun Run with Brooks (1/26)

SkiRack hosts a run every Thursday at 6 pm that covers 5 to 6 miles and is a great way to connect with other area runners. On Thursday January 26th, it’s an extra special run as Trish from Brooks will be joining to showoff Nightlife clothing. Demos may also be available. After the run, there will be a social gathering at a local restaurant for beverages and food. Mark your calendar and join us for any or all of this fun mid-winter evening.

Gear Geek: Holiday Edition

Justin (RunVermont’s Rookie) and I were talking last week about pulling together a holiday gift guide and he wrote a great post on his holiday running wish list. Joe from SkiRack and I also got together to brainstorm and added a few items to the list. This season is all about the best bang for your buck and outfitting for a comfortable, warm marathon training season. My favorites are highlighted below, but the staff at your local running store will also be able to help you with what’s best for the runner on your list.

Headlamp: It’s dark out there and uneven sidewalks, potholes and cars threaten your healthy training season. The new headlamps are light and bright and often feature both solid and flashing beams, depending on your needs.

Compression Gear: I love my 2XU calf compression sleeves and regularly don them after workouts. Compression can help recovery by improving the rate at which blood “recycles.” Some people are comfortable working out in compression gear as well. Expect some adjustment time; compression is significantly tighter than even spandex and can take some getting used to.

Hydration Belts: I have the Nathan Trail Mix and the Fuel Belt Helium 2. I use the Nathan on longer training runs because it has more storage space and the Fuel Belt on runs where I only need hydration. I also own a handheld, which I use in the summer. If I just had to buy one? The Nathan Trail Mix wins for best fit, least bounce and most storage. Does your runner already have a belt? Consider replacing their bottles and caps because they get nasty fast. Want to make the gift even sweeter? Stuff the pocket with Gu, ClifBloks or another food product.

Reflective Vest: With the plethora of items on the market, there’s no reason not to be seen. Although a reflective jacket is also a great purchase, the reflective vest is more versatile and can be adjusted to fit over whatever the day’s weather calls for in terms of warmth. I have the Amphipod Vest and wear it daily in the winter.

Socks: As Justin will corroborate, there’s nothing like realizing that your old cotton socks just don’t cut it for marathon training. The polyester and wool blends do a better job of cushioning your feet and preventing blisters and feel just like cotton. Darn Tough is my favorite brand, but SmartWool and Balega also have great offerings. Help your runner build their collection by buying a couple new pairs this holiday season. The rule is, though, that for every new pair of socks an old pair has to go!

The Stick and Foam Rollers: Join the rest of us who have discovered just how good it hurts to foam roll or use The Stick. Marathoning comes with sore muscles and these tools can help relieve the pain. I use the Stick every night before bed on my problem calf and a foam roller twice a day to keep my IT band loose and happy.

A Peek Ahead

I’m still cleaning up from VTResponse and trying to wrap up this crazy semester, but I have a long list of blog entries to come that I’m really excited about, both here on and on the RunDown, where I guest blog. Look for a post on what not to wear in the dark, on music that gets me pumped up and a shopping list for all the runners in your life this holiday season here on Under Pressure. On the RunDown, look for video about choosing a running shoe, tips for picking your marathon plan, product testing and a series of “essentials” posts covering everything from long runs to food to questions you were too embarrassed to ask, but wanted to know.

What questions do you want to see me answer here or on the RunDown? What products are you curious about? What about submitting your own guest post here reviewing a product or sharing a favorite workout?


Thirsty Thursdays

In college, Thursday night was the first night of our weekend and we would head to Cagney’s for $3 Long Island Ice Teas. Needless to say, not a lot of running happened on Friday mornings.

Thankfully, college is over, and Thursday nights are now reserved for fun runs at SkiRack. The Thursday night runs are back! Every Thursday night, a group run will depart from SkiRack at 6 pm for a 5 mile or hour run (whichever comes first) at a relaxed pace. It’s a great way to meet other runners, stay motivated in the dark of winter and kick off Friday. I’ll be leading some of the runs, as will other local runners like Joe (SkiRack’s shoe expert), Will (SkiRack’s marketing dude), or Sam (Marathon 201’s coach).

All are welcome. Please wear reflective gear and dress for the elements.