Week Peek Back – 12/4/16

December, the last month of 2016, can you believe it! This year has just flown by!!!

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No snow yet, but it is coming and so is the cold weather. That is the one thing as I get older that I enjoy less and less every year – being cold sucks.

Yes, I will be doing a few end of year reflections and looking back at the shoes I have run in this year over the course of the next few weeks. But let’s take a look at what happened this past week.

I got a new pair of running shoes (what else is new), but my left knee has been bugging me when I have been wearing my primary daily trainers, so it was time to see if it was the shoes or my very over-active imagination.

 

Other than that things have been pretty quiet on the running front. Continue reading “Week Peek Back – 12/4/16”

Mizuno Inspire 11 – 200 Mile Review

What happens when you finally find a running shoe that works and works well for you?

Of course the Brand changes it into something else in subsequent versions and the running shoe that I finally found that works well for me has become – yet another one and done.

The story of my life and running shoes.

So while I will say lots of flowery things about the Mizuno Inspire 11’s, but unfortunately, I probably will not be getting another pair – yeah it sucks and can you tell I am just a bit frustrated by it :(.

Oh well let’s talk about all the good things I like about the Inspire 11’s. Continue reading “Mizuno Inspire 11 – 200 Mile Review”

Mizuno Kazan 2 – 50 Mile Review

How do you write a review about a pair of running shoes that have so many “issues” and at the same time you love to run in them?

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That is the question for the ages and as many things as I find wrong with the Mizuno Kazan 2’s, when I start running in them, all the problems/issues or things I do not like disappear. It is the first pair of running shoes in a long, long time that I love to run in, but won’t use them for anything else.

Looking back, this is a model that I had a LOT of questions about when I bought them, but the price was under $50 through Amazon and I needed a pair of winter running shoes with a higher drop. I was very happy with the way the Inspire 11’s were working for me and the Kazan 2’s seemed to be the trail counter-part to that model.

So I took a chance

Continue reading “Mizuno Kazan 2 – 50 Mile Review”

Mezamashii–First Run Mizuno Wave Elixir 7 Was a Brilliant Run

PA050015I got my Mizuno Wave Elixir 7’s as part of the Mezamashii Project this morning!!!

Yes I took the pictures that I do with new shoes and started thinking about doing my usual first initial impressions post.

However, the Elixir’s beckoned to me to take them out for a run.

So I took them out for a run, instead of writing that post. After running, writing my initial impressions post became a secondary consideration, compared to writing about my first run in the Elixir’s.

WOW!!! was the first word out of my mouth after I finished my Notta Road O/B 5.0 Mile Run. This was a 28 second course record IN MY FIRST RUN IN the Elixir’s. I like using this course as a check to see how shoes perform in a variety of conditions, dirt road, tar, rolling hills and a hill at mile 4.5 that usually kicks my butt. It is also far enough to find out the hot spots or problems that a shoe might give me.

I wasn’t pushing hard at any point in the run (well maybe up the hill). I felt comfortable and in control of my run, which hasn’t always been the case this year. My splits were:

  • 1.0 – 8.05
  • 2.0 – 16:05 (7:59)
  • Notta Road Turnaround 19:59 (3:54)
  • 3.0 – 23:34 (3:34)
  • 4.0 – 31:36 (8:02)
  • 5.0 – 40:04 (8:28) Has Steven’s Hill in this split

The Elixir’s just felt right, were extremely comfortable and best of all no hotspots. My stride was smooth and there was no slapping of my forefoot for either foot when I landed. They are a quiet shoe, which means I am running efficiently in them. I think that I am land a little more on my heel, but I am keeping my stride shorter and it doesn’t feel like I am slamming my heel into the ground/pavement.

They just felt fast and I haven’t had too many shoes that have felt this way over the past year.

Before I got the Elixir’s I had been worried about how they would feel as a 12MM drop shoe versus the zero or 4-6 MM drop that I have been running in most of the year. When I started running the Elixir’s, they felt like a lower drop shoe than they are listed as.

Sometimes a shoe is more than just its measurements and you have to actually run in it to see how it feels for your style of running.

All I can say is that I hope that a lot of my runs are like this in the Elixir’s! I know that one run doesn’t make a great shoe, but they made one hell of a first impression!!!

I guess that this is what the Mezamashii Project is all about – having a BRILLIANT RUN!!!

Now to get to back my initial impression of the Mizuno Elixir 7 post – tomorrow Smile.

Disclosure: I volunteered to participate in a FitFluential campaign, which resulted in my being selected for the Mizuno Mezamashii Project. Although I received the Mizuno Elixir shoes as a media sample to review, the opinions of this product are my own and I have not received any other compensation as part of this review.

Narrowed the Choices Down to 5 Running Shoes

I knew this day was going to come, it is the bane of most runners – my current running shoes are wearing out. We know that when we buy running shoes that they have a limited life expectancy. When our primary shoes have 200-300 miles on them, we usually need to start to thinking about what our next shoe is going to be. My Saucony Peregrines reached that mark a few weeks ago and unfortunately I had to start to think about new shoes then.

Here are my earlier posts in this series:

I have researched many shoes over the past few weeks, thought about what I want/need in a shoe – a lot, looked multiple shoe company and running store sites, blogs and reviews about different running shoes. Based on everything that I have learned while doing this research, I have come up with the following list of 5 Running Shoes that seem to meet my requirements for running this spring, summer and hopefully into the fall.

First my Background and Requirements

My requirements for new shoes are:

  • I just went over 30 miles a week and would like to be running 40 – 50+ miles a week consistently by the summer. My goals this summer are to race a sub 20:00 5K and possibly run in a 1/2 marathon (we will see how that goes), which are very different goals, with different training needs.
  • I am still working to change my running form back to being a forefoot runner. I liked the Peregrine’s 4MM drop (no injuries) and would like to stay with a zero to 4 MM drop in my new shoes. This style seems to be working a lot better than other shoes have for me.
  • I do a lot of running on both tar, dirt roads and during the spring, summer and into late fall, I will be running non-technical trails 1-2 times a week.
  • No treadmill running, strictly outdoor running.
  • Cost – Unfortunately, I have a limited budget for running related items and cost is a limiting factor that I have to consider when purchasing a new pair of shoes.
  • The last thing is that I would like them to last longer than a couple of months.

A tall order for a single pair of shoes, everything from roads to trails, to include eventually running 50 miles a week.

I am not asking very much of my new shoes am I {sarcasm}.

Narrowed the Choices Down to 5

I have narrowed the shoes down to which shoes that I am going to learn more about:

1. Altra – Instinct – From everything that I have read and watched they seem to be a shoe that meets my requirements, but looking at the outsole design, I wonder how they will work for me on the non-technical, but hilly, rocky and roots strewn trails that I tend to run on. Other than that question, they are neck and neck to the Newtons in how interested I am in them.

Altra has been very active on the Internet and answered questions for me when I have asked them, when other companies have ignored my inquiries. Also in a Twitter conversation the other day, some people I really respect, without prompting – talked very highly of these shoes in response to my blog post, which to me is a very important consideration. Altra seems to focus on function over being “pretty”, which is pretty much who I am. However, the price tag, while competitive is at the top of my price range.

1A. Newton – Momentum Trail Guidance Trainer – This shoe appears to meet all my needs very well. I really like the idea of a shoe that promotes forefoot striking, which I think either of these shoes would help me improve my efforts in this direction – significantly and still be able to run on trails with them. The reviews that I read were mostly positive and the negatives were more about the person’s running style than the shoe.

However, for a guy on a fixed income and a small budget, they are simply out of my price range, but you never know, there might be a closeout sale that I can scoop a pair of these or another Newton model for less. Unfortunately, the price of the Newton shoes is a real tough piece for me to get by TheWife, who thankfully reigns in my needs versus wants.

3. Brooks – Pure Flow – I am very impressed with the looks and reviews that I have read/watched about the Pure Flow. Some of the people who I talk with on Twitter, really like these shoes and I take a lot of stock in what they have to say. The soles look similar to Saucony’s Propel Plus, which I have used in a variety of running situations, with acceptable results on the trails that I run on. Which means that I could probably use these as a hybrid shoe with good results. The sole looks as though it would last fairly well and I haven’t had heel wear problem with Brooks shoes.  I am slightly concerned about the reported narrowness of the forefoot, so this is one that I would really want to try on. The price is comparable to the Kinvara and Instincts.

4. Saucony – Kinvara – I really, really liked the Peregrine, until the last week or so, which is the sister trail shoe to the Kinvara. If the wear in the left heel hadn’t occurred, I would have been very tempted to just get the Peregrine again. For trail use I have used Saucony road shoes with the triangular lugs which the Kinvara’s do have on my non-technical trails with very good results, so they could be a very good hybrid shoe.

One thing that stops me from looking at the Kinvara differently is that between 200 and 300 miles, I have worn a hole in the left heel of the last 3 Saucony shoes, which eventually leads to blisters on that foot. It is unfortunate, because I was very impressed with the Peregrines until this happened and would have put Kinvara ahead of the Pure Flow except for this issue. I do have some concerns about how long the shoes would last, due to the  reports that have the soles of the Kinvara 2 wearing relatively quickly compared to other similar shoes.

However, when I was looking around yesterday, I could have bought a pair of Kinvara 2 for $59.00 on closeout. With the close-out pricing, they are much more reasonable than the ones ahead of them, but if I waited for the Kinvara 3, they are in the same range as everything, but the Newtons.

5. Mizuno Ronin – This was a lot of a surprise, when I started this research I had never heard of the Ronin, but the more I read about it and the way that some of the reviews talked about the Ronin, the more impressed I became. I have owned one pair of Mizuno shoes and while they were a nice shoe, the WaveRider was a motion control shoe and wasn’t what I wanted from a shoe. I am concerned a little about how the sole will wear, but otherwise the shoe sounds bomb-proof. One of the reviews I read really had good things to say about how it worked on trails, which really got me to thinking about this shoe as a possibility. The Ronin is a shoe I would have to see before I make a decision, but it intrigues me. The pricing is similar to the others, except of course the Newtons.

Honorable Mention: Adidas – Original Blue Marathon Trainer with Dillinger Web – I would love to find a pair of these shoes again, they are after all the shoes that have come the closest for me to being the “perfect shoe”, see my post on “In Search of the Perfect Shoe”. A guy can dream can’t he. 😉

Why Not More Minimal

I am still only months removed from my knee surgery last May and I want to make sure that the shoes that I use have enough padding to protect me from myself – when I get tired and revert to heel striking, which I still do – all too often. I don’t want to have that knee hurt any more than it has too. Therefore shoes like:

  • Merrell – Trail Glove, Road Glove
  • New Balance – MT101 or 110
  • Saucony – Hattori
  • Vibram  – I really want to try the Vibram Five Finger shoes, but am concerned about the amount of time it might take me to get acclimated to the shoe and if I decide to do longer distances, would it have enough support/cushioning for me to be successful in them. To be honest – I am rather scared to pull the trigger on this one and not have other shoes to run in, if they don’t work for me.

These more minimal shoes were taken out of consideration, due to the lack of cushioning this time (I know heresy for a budding minimalist), but I don’t believe that I am ready to move to running in this level of minimal shoe at this time, especially as my primary running shoe (who knows maybe I will win a pair in one of the many contests that I have entered).  I am being conservative and cautious in my approach to moving down the minimalist shoe ladder, but I would prefer to go slowly, than move too quickly and not be able to run for an extended period again.

The reality is that

I am going to try to milk my Peregrines through the end of this month, which gets me out of the worst of the winter running season and gives me time to research these 5 shoes more. I just hope they hold up for another 90 or so miles that I need to get out of them, without blister issues.

A Road Trip

This means at some point after March 1st that I am going to have to go down to the Maine Running Company in Portland (yes I know there is one in Brunswick), try these shoes on, to see what fits me best and what I will end up with for a new shoe to run around Back Cove in (at least one lap).  However, all bets are off as far as the timing, if my Peregrines begin to cause blisters on my foot, then I might have to make an emergency trip south or stay local and get a shoe on special.

Possible Running Shoes – List Narrowed Down

Last week I talked about starting the process to research which running shoes I should get for my next pair – probably sometime in March, but sooner if my Peregrines start to really bother my heel.

The big reason for the research is to narrow down the shoes from everything that is available to about 20 or so, that I would want to look at more closely to see how they match my running needs.

Background and Requirements

My running information and requirements for my new shoes are:

  • I am currently running 25+ miles a week and would like to be running 40+ miles a week by the end of the summer. I do like to run faster (even though I am still pretty slow now) and my goal this summer is to run a sub 20:00 5K and possibly run in a 1/2 marathon (we will see how this goes).
  • During the past two months I have worked hard to change my running form back to being a forefoot runner, to help reduce the impact and stress to my knees. I have had great success with the Peregrine’s 4MM drop (no injuries) and would like to stay with a zero to 4 MM drop in my new shoes. This seems style to be working a lot better than other shoes have for me. I like the lower heel height.
  • I do have shoes that I can wear for racing or track interval workouts, but not an extra pair of shoes that are in good enough shape to wear as an alternate daily trainer. I have some older shoes that I could wear occasionally if my new ones need to dry out or something, but I wouldn’t put them into a regular shoe rotation.
  • I live in the country, so I do a lot of running on both tar and dirt roads.
  • During the spring, summer and into late fall, I will be running non-technical trails 1-2 times a week. Initially I might be able to still use the Peregrines, until they really start to bother my heel.
  • Luckily winter will be mostly over by the time I get these shoes and I won’t have to worry so much about snow and ice during most of this shoe’s running life.
  • No treadmill running, strictly outdoor running.
  • Whatever shoe I buy, probably will be a hybrid running shoe style, to do everything that I will ask of it. Since it will be the shoe that I will wear running 90% of the time.

Narrowed the Choices Down

I have narrowed the shoes down to certain companies and the shoes that I would like to learn more about over the next few weeks:

  • Adidas – Original Blue Marathon Trainer with Dillinger Web – A guy can dream can’t he. 😉
  • Altra – Instinct or Lone Peak – These are still a new shoe company.  However, their presence and engagement on Twitter has been a very good selling point (I have talked with their rep more than a couple of times and they have been very helpful) and many of the reviews I have read have nothing but positives to say about them
  • Brooks – the shoes in their Pure Project series – I have heard a lot of very good reviews about these shoes, but that they are supposedly a little narrow for some people
  • Merrell – Trail Glove, Road Glove
  • Mizuno – Wave Universe, Ronin
  • New Balance – MT101 or 110
  • Newton – Newton Momentum Trail Guidance Trainer – The price scares me on the Newtons, they may be a nice shoe, but very pricey. However, I really like the idea of a shoe that actively promotes forefoot running.
  • Nike – Free – I have run in a lot of Nike shoes and always look at them before I buy something.
  • Saucony – Peregrine, Kinvara, Hattori  – I have had good luck with Saucony, until they get about 200-250 miles on them and then my left heel wears a hole in the back of the shoe, which eventually causes blisters on that foot. Can’t figure out why it happens, but it only seems to be with Saucony shoes? My Peregrines which I love, made it to almost 260 miles before the hole got noticeable, but haven’t started any blister action yet.
  • Vibram  – I really want to try the VFF, but am concerned about the amount of time it might take me to get acclimated to the shoe and if I decide to do longer distances, would it have enough support/cushioning for me to be successful. To be honest – I am rather scared to pull the trigger on this one and not have any other shoes to run in, if they don’t work for me.

Narrowing down the number of shoes that are out there to the ones above wasn’t easy, but I tried to stay with more minimal shoes that will promote a forefoot strike, have a lower heel height and had good reviews from other bloggers.

The Reality is that

I do think that it is important to do your own research on running shoes, because you are going to be spending a lot of money, time and putting many miles on your new running shoes, you need to be fairly knowledgeable about the choices that are out there for you. It is great to go to a specialty running store and have an “expert” help you choose a shoe that meets your needs, but in the end it is you that is going to be running in the shoe, not them.

Your Choice

Like the salesperson will tell you, which shoes you finally chose will be your choice not the salesperson’s. Personally I would prefer to have it be a fairly knowledgeable choice, instead of a momentary whim on which of three shoe models feels best and that were brought out by someone who has known me for 5-10 minutes.

Questions for Readers

  • Are there any shoes that I “have” to look at besides the ones I have listed above? Please let me know which one and why you recommend that shoe.
  • Do you have any first hand experience with these shoes, what was it? If I have talked with you about shoes before, you don’t have to repeat yourself again :-).

Finally

I know to buy some of these shoes it will either be done online (which I am hesitant to do if it is a shoe I haven’t tried on – I like to know how it feels on my feet before I buy it)  or I will have to go down to Portland to the Maine Running Company, which is okay – I like going to their store and then running Back Cove in my new shoes :-). Win-Win.

No I am not looking for a free handout or anything else, I just want some good, no great information on these shoes, that I am researching, hopefully information beyond the marketing hype on the websites and more to the point why I should be running in them and how they fit my running requirements/needs.