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Interviews

INTERVIEW WITH HOKA ATHLETE SAMANTHA CHAN

SAMANTHA CHAN: RUNNER, ADVOCATE, CHAMPION

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | FEBRUARY 2020

MEET SAMANTHA CHAN: PUSHING BOUNDARIES FOR ASIAN WOMEN

HOKA ONE ONE athlete Samantha Chan is both an impressive role model and talented athlete in the Asian ultra running scene.  She made the switch from track to trail and since has dominated 100km races in China and has placed 13th at the epic
UTMB, a 145km race through the Alps starting in Chamonix.

Talking of her childhood growing up in Hong Kong, “They think that girls should be quiet. That they shouldn't do any sports. That they should stay home and do
the housework. Ever since I started running, my parents yelled at me — but I just ignored them!” 

Samantha continues to blaze a trail for female Asian athletes whenever she races.  With every step, she empowers more and
more women in her tribe.  She speaks loudly in support and her tenacious spirit in her races needs no voice to be heard.

MEET SAMANTHA CHAN

Growing up in Hong Kong you defied expectations usually applied to women. Tell us how you broke down barriers and first found your way to the track and the start of your running career.

When I was young, my mother
often told me that sports were not for girls, and the family doesn't have extra resources to support me in developing any hobbies, but I found that running was cheap, I just need a pair of shoes and I could do it everywhere. Then I
found it the open space in the track and the park brought me unlimited freedom, thus I ignored my mum's suggestion, instead of staying home, I went out and run.

You started as a track runner then graduated to trail running. What was your motivation to change the environment in which you run?

First of all, I think I am not graduated. I am still learning about myself through running. I tried to discover more about my body and my mental side through different training and races. but that's true, I started with track
running, and training in track was intensive by then, there was not much fun. I know suffering made me better, and the self achievement motivated me a lot. Plus the freedom in the opened track made myself happy, that's why I kept training
in track when I was young.

When I started trail running, I found that the nature is wonderful, I feel so happy and relaxed staying in the mountain. It is very peaceful. I don't mind staying there long and have a nice chat
with my buddies, or have a nice chat with myself. Every time I go to trail and have a run, I often go back home with a smile. 

You’ve commented, “ultra races are very painful. Every time I sign up, I ask myself why I do it. Why I’m suffering on a cold mountain in the middle of the night, but I keep signing up.” What drives you to be an ultra athlete and how do you prepare mentally for training and racing?

It's very lucky to be an ultra runner. Life is all about experience, and being an ultra runner, we have different valuable experience by training and racing. We often push ourselves up to a point that reach the limit in races.
Every time when I feel tough but still carry on in races, I understand myself better, and happy to push myself beyond the limit, it's another self achievement.

I especially like to sign up overseas races. Doing a 100 miles
somewhere in the world is like a trip on my feet, those races bring me to see different parts of the world. I tell myself it's gonna be a fun trip when I sign up an ultra every time, and forgot how I swore and cried in the last ultra race

Where has been your favorite place to run? Why?

My favorite place to run is definitely Hong Kong. The mountains in Hong Kong are not very high but they are all spectacular. It is my home,
and that's so cool that I can enjoy the trails nearby my home. I enjoy the trails, but then go back to the civilization and enjoy all the convenience in the city in 15 minutes. How wonderful it is!

Samantha Chan Runner  - Running in Hong Kong

EMPOWERING WOMEN RUNNERS

You’ve often spoken about the camaraderie and support from other female athletes in the ultra-running community. How have you been inspired by others, and how are you looking to empower your fellow female runners? 

Inspiration by buddies are very important. They set the examples to show me how to break the boundaries. We encourage each other and exchange information. It's very joyful. We are from different backgrounds and have totally different
personalities. I really like the fact the ultra running brought us together.

I didn't really plan to empower my fellow runners, I don't think I am that powerful, but I always think that if I am focused, serious, always
try my best to achieve something and being cheerful, people can feel the positive energy, and they will stay positive too.

Do you have a favorite pre/post race meal and/or ritual you like to follow?

I especially like rice as my pre race meal, it's very easy to digest and give me good energy. For post race meal, I go naughty, I like fries and ice cream. I like them all the time, but to make sure that my stomach is good for race,
I stop eating them in some serious training/ racing periods. They are my reward for myself when I finish an ultra.

Tell us about your partnership with HOKA ONE ONE

HOKA have supported my running gear
since 2017. I love the wonderful cushioning and grips in their running shoes. I admire the brand not only because of its great gears, but also because they appreciate the effort of every runner, regardless whether they are elite level
or not. That's awesome! Their encouragement means a lot to so many of us.

What are your favorite go-to shoes for training and for racing? 

I especially like HOKA Speedgoat series for my trail running, both training and racing. I like the new Carbon X for road racing.

What are your big racing goals for 2020?

I want to train hard on road in early 2020, I am going back to train on the track most of the time now and hopefully I will be back to the trail in the second half of the year, stronger and with better cardio and running ability.
UTA will be one of my 'A' races.

SHOP SAMANTHA'S FAVORITE SHOES

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Categories
Interviews

INTERVIEW WITH HOKA ONE ONE ATHLETE JOSEPH GRAY

 

JOSEPH GRAY: RUNNER, ADVOCATE, CHAMPION

by LAURA CORTEZ  | FEBRUARY 2020

 

MEET JOSEPH GRAY: RUNNING CHAMPION AND MORE

Joseph Gray is the name, and if you don’t know it by now, you should. He has won 17 U.S. national championships, trail raced internationally for the U.S. 30 times, is a world mountain running champion and so much more. His trail accomplishments are unfathomable and seemingly endless, but his off-trail work is also second-to-none.

In addition to being an unstoppable force on the trails as a HOKA ONE ONE trail runner, he also has another near-and-dear initiative – helping to create space in the trail running community to promote racial diversity through working with his sponsors and getting in touch with various schools and communities. Joe is a role model to so many in the running community through his sheer perseverance on the trail and also due to his down-to-earth personality and altruistic goals and ambitions.

We had the chance to learn more about Joe and how he approaches his running, his life and his ambition all while wearing his favorite HOKA running shoes. 

 

JACKRABBIT INTERVIEW WITH JOE GRAY

Do you have a favorite pre/post-race ritual? And what is your preferred pre/post race meal?

I pray before and after every race. Not asking for anything but thanking for the opportunity and the gifts that allow me to chase my dreams.

Usually with every breakfast I like to have Fuel 100 Electrobites to help boost my electrolytes pre race. Post race i typically will eat something local if i can. If not, I try to find whatever I'm craving at that moment.

You're not known for being hurt – how do you keep yourself so healthy for so long?

I try to make sure I take my breaks throughout the year and time off. I've always avoided streak running as it doesnt equate to longevity from a competitive standpoint in the sport

Where has been your favorite place to run? Why?

I think Switzerland and Austria have been 2 very special places for me to run, train and race. On top of having the best selection of gummies and some of my favorite foods I've come across through my travels, I've also built strong relationships with the people in these countries. I find many pieces of their mountain running culture intriguing which keeps me coming back.

Is there a particular race you ran that has stood out?

Not really. To be honest, many races are great, many have amazing views and many have great competition. Few trips/races end with you leaving with new friends who become almost like family. I find that the connection socially at races really draw me to them. Since beginning my career I've come across many of these which til this day I still like to return to.

What is your favorite workout?

I really like progressive tempos!

Jospeh Gray Runner  - Talking diversity in trail running

TALKING DIVERSITY AND DISTANCE RUNNING

You play a large role in working to safely diversify the trail running community and creating accessibility. What steps do you take to do so? What made you decide to take on the responsibility?

I first like to ask the public if they know of a minority athlete who could use support. I do my research on a few prospects then I set up a meeting once I have the athlete picked. Thankfully, my sponsors have backed me on this and to aid the movement, they provide product to help support the athlete. This fills my heart knowing that I can help an athlete pursue their goals in the sport.

I look back on my journey with the sport and realize that I was given free gear by someone years ago and remember the impact of that experience. It motivated me. I want to provide that same gift to help motivate the next generation of minority kids who are involved in distance running.

You've won 17 U.S. national championships, numerous awards and have done so much for the unseen community over the years. What is your ultimate goal with the work you've put into your own training, as well as the community?

The work I put into my competitions is part of the goal to spark interest in other young minorities to give distance running a try. I hope that I can continue my success in the sport to give hope that anything is possible to athletes who maybe don’t have confidence or feel they aren’t talented.

Do you have any advice for younger athletes who may be experiencing what you have and do?

Keep doing what you love. If you truly love what you do, don't let racism hold you back from putting in the work necessary to conquer your goals.

How do you utilize your brands like HOKA  to support your mission?

HOKA ONE ONE is a brand that understand the importance of diversity in the sport. I try to utilize the brand to help promote the need for diversity not only with media but also I've been blessed to have HOKA assist my project diversity by providing shoes to athletes in need.

What was your worst running habit you had to break? What is the best running habit you've developed?

My worst running habit was being too obsessive. Allowing running to take over every aspect of my life. Finding balance allowed me to grow in ways I hadn't imagined.

The best running habit I've developed is making sure to enjoy the opportunities I'm given in the sport. Making sure I reflect on the fact that nothing is promised and that running is truly a gift.

 

SHOP JOSEPH GRAY'S FAVORITE SHOE

 

 

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Categories
Running Gear

A DECADE OF CHANGE: THE EVOLUTION OF RUNNING SHOES

 

THE EVOLUTION OF RUNNING SHOES

by BRIAN METZLER  | JANUARY 2020

 

A DECADE OF CHANGE: THE EVOLUTION OF RUNNING SHOES

Brian Metzler, author of Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes, takes a retrospecitve look at the ten grand and subtle changes in the world of running shoes that led to the amazing new styles of 2020.

As we enter the dawn of this new decade, running shoes have never been better. They’re generally lighter, more comfortable and allow you to run more efficiently and faster than ever before. But it didn’t happen overnight, so how’d we get here?

Here’s a look back and 10 ways running shoes have evolved in the past 10 years

A Decade of Running Shoes - Vibram Five Fingers

TEN YEARS AND TEN WAYS RUNNING SHOES HAVE CHANGED

1. The Minimalist Movement
Ten years ago, the running world was immersed in the minimalist revolution. Thanks to “Born to Run,” the New York Times best-seller by Chris McDougall, and those crazy “toe” shoes Five Fingers, running in footwear that was minimally designed became all the rage. Suddenly, every brand was making low-to-the-ground shoes with very little cushioning, allowing a runner’s feet to flex and move naturally without any inhibition. (And, um, very little protection or cushioning.)

2. A Renewed Focus on Running Form
For years, it seemed as if running form was taken for granted. But the advent of minimalism put more focus on how a runner’s feet interact with the ground and dictate how the rest of their body moves. Ultimately, it brought about a renewed focus —and heated debates — on running form to prevent injuries and improve efficiency. 

3. The Launch of HOKA ONE ONE
At the height of the minimalist revolution, Frenchman Jean-Luc Diard and Nico Mermoud unveiled a new shoe brand based on shoes with copious amounts of foam in the midsole. HOKA ONE ONE spawned maximalist movement and reminded us that almost every runner appreciates and enjoys some amount of soft cushioning in their shoes. At first, HOKA's super-cushy shoes seemed one-dimensional in their approach, merely offering a softer, more protective ride. But in the ensuing years, materials, shoe designs and the brand itself evolved into every aspect of running.

4. What Minimalism Left Behind 
About as fast as the minimalist movement sprung up, it was gone. While featherweight, low-to-the-ground shoes still exist, the trend has flipped back to shoes with cushioning. But all is not forgotten. The best aspects of the minimalist movement — that shoes were light, agile and allowed a runner’s feet to move naturally — started to appear in more cushioned models 

5. More New Brands
HOKA wasn’t the only footwear brand to rise out of the minimalist movement; others included Newton, On, Altra, Vivo Barefoot, Topo, Skechers Performance and Oofos. Each offered a new approach to shoe design, running form and footwear functionality. Their innovations gave runners more choices and forced the major existing brands to evolve and innovate. 

Nike Next % - The Evolution of Running Shoes

DATA AND TERMINOLOGY IN INDOOR ROWING

6. Adidas Boost Foam
When Adidas unveiled Boost foam in 2013, it proved to runners that a shoe’s midsole could both dampen cushion and return a high rate of energy. Boost, made from TPU pellets thermally welded together, was the first midsole foam to serve up high levels of both shock-absorbing cushiness and bounce-back responsiveness. It also set off a foam war among brands with every company scrambling to develop new, dual-purpose compounds. HOKA ONE ONE (RMAT), Saucony (Everun), Brooks (DNA AMP), Puma (Ignite), Altra (EGO), Nike (React) debuted multi-compound materials that combined traditional EVA foam with rubber, polyurethane and air.

7. Reinvention of Uppers
While a lot of attention has been given to the midsole foam of running shoes in the past 10 years, the reinvention of the uppers of a shoe — the mesh material that covers the top of your foot — has also been a huge catalyst in the evolution of running shoes. As materials have gotten lighter, stronger, more flexible and more dynamic with fewer thick, heavy overlays and less stitching. No-sew designs with heat-welded support straps and fully knitted uppers offer more dynamic flexibility and support. They allow shoes to be much lighter and they look much cleaner.

8. The Quest for the Sub-2-Hour Marathon
As world-class runners continued to run faster, the once impossible dream of a sub-2-hour marathon suddenly didn’t seem so impossible. Wearing Adidas with Boost foam midsoles, Wilson Kipsang (2:03:23 in 2013) and Dennis Kimmeto (2:02:57) helped stoke the fire in the running community and in the research and development of big shoe brands. Nike and Adidas both launched sub-2 shoe development programs, reinvigorating their decades-old rivalry and fueling a innovation fervor throughout the industry.

9. Carbon-fiber plates
Using carbon-fiber in shoes isn’t a new concept; Reebok first incorporated a lightweight carbon-fiber support bridge under the arch of its Graphite Road shoes in the mid-1990s. In the early 2000s, Adidas built a carbon-fiber propulsion plate in its ProPlate racing flat, while Zoot Sports used one into its Ultra Race triathlon racing shoes in 2007. Still Nike made a huge splash in 2017 with a carbon-fiber plate  in its first Vaporfly as Eliud Kipchoge came up short in his first contrived attempt to break the 2-hour marathon barrier (2:00:25). But when it unveiled the Vaporfly 4% in 2018 (and Kipchoge wore it to set a new official world record of 2:10:39) and the Zoom X Vaporfly Next% in 2019 (and Brigid Kosgei wore it to set the new women’s record of 2:14:04), it launched a new paradigm of super shoes that featured firm, almost inflexible carbon-fiber plates embedded in thickly cushioned midsoles. HOKA was next with its Carbon Rocket and Carbon X models in 2019, followed by New Balance and its Fuel Cell 5280 middle-distance racing flat and ASICS GlideRide shoes late last year. 

10. 2020 and Beyond
The future is here! In 2020, Nike has already released its dynamic React Infinty Run shoes aimed to reduce injuries. Saucony, Brooks, ASICS, Adidas, New Balance and 361 Degrees USA will launch innovative long-distance racing models with some sort of rigid plates that elite runners will wear in the U.S. Olympic Trial and the Tokyo Olympics and recreational runners will use to chase new PRs.

NURVV Run has just debuted removable footbeds with 16 electronic sensors to track a wide range of data that can help a runner improve technique, run faster and reduce injury risk. Reebok plans to unveil shoe made primarily from plant-based materials.

Whether or not Nike will release its controversial Alphafly shoe in 2020 — that’s the one that Kipchoge use to run a still-unfathomable 1:59:40 in an experimental marathon time trial in Vienna last fall — expect more innovations and developments to continue into 2021 and beyond.

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN METZLER

 

Brian Metzler is the author of “Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes” (2019, VeloPress). He has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado. 

He's the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He's the author of “Running Colorado's Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian's Approach for Every Runner.”

 

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WINTER TRAINING FOR RUNNERS: TREADMILL TRAINING

 

WINTER TRAINING FOR RUNNERS: TREADMILL TRAINING

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | JANUARY 2020

 

WINTER TRAINING SERIES: TREADMILL RUNNING

Running on a treadmill for many is the only running option during the winter months.  While it might be seen as a necessary evil, the treadmill is a time-efficient way for building strength and stamina through interval sessions and for controlled tempo runs. It can keep the faster-twitched fibers alive, but not over-challenged during the off season. 

For a runner approaching the treadmill as a training tool rather than just a moving sidewalk, it can be a smart tool alongside other winter cross training to emerge a stronger runner in the next season. 

TREADMILL WORKOUTS FOR RUNNERS

One advantage of a treadmill training is being able to train in a completely controlled environment making it very time efficient.

Being able to accurately control the pace and incline can allow a runner to feel different running paces without having to constantly check your watch and allow the body to learn what a pace feels like for when you head outdoors. 

Fast Intense Efforts:  Once a week add in a structured interval session to your run workouts with some fast intense efforts. Aim to change up the rhythm/speed/incline every two minutes to stay mentally focused and not bored! 

Simulating hills: There is no denying it, hills make you a strong runner. And sometimes hills can be hard to find! Using a treadmill for ‘hill repeats’ is a very efficient way to emerge a stronger runner in the spring.  Take advantage of the winter season to slow the pace and add the incline to the treadmill. Treadmill ‘hills’ are much less impact on the joints but great for strength and keeping the cardio engine running strong. 

Treadmill +:  If you’re ‘treading’ in a gym with access to multiple cardio machines, mix it up. There’s nothing to stop you creating your own HIIT workout using more of the equipment available.  Do a quick turnover, moving from treadmill, to ’erg’ rower to stairmaster every 10-15 minutes and you’ll find the indoor training time go quicker while also spreading the physical load.  Using the winter off-season as a time to challenge your body in different ways is a smart way to spread the training load and body fatigue.

For a quick-fix treadmill session, download our JackRabbit 50 minute tempo session to get the belt humming.

TREADMILL GAMING:  THE NEW SMART TREADMILL

Technology is taking the treadmill experience to a whole new level.  Zwift is a pioneer when it comes to indoor training in cycling and in 2018 they launched Zwift Run which has been gaining traction ever since. 

From what is usually a solitary pursuit, Zwift Run transforms the treadmill into a communal activity, so you can run with your BFF from Alaska to your arch nemesis in London if they’re online with you.

For the entry price of a small footpod for your running shoe and a subscription to the Zwift app you can transform yourself into a running avatar and train and race virtually with other runners all over the world. 

Where is this technology going? ‘Smart’ treadmills are beginning to appear on the market that connect with the Zwift app removing the need for the footpod.  While they’re expensive the price will continue to fall as more and more people adopt the technology. For now, grab a foot pod and add some gaming to your treading. 

Sports tech guru DC Rainmaker has a complete round up of how to get started using Zwift Run.

 


 

 

BEST SHOES FOR TREADMILL WORKOUTS

When it comes to the best running shoes for treadmill workouts, you can afford to go light and fast given the treadmill is more forgiving than the road surface.  If you're reserving the treadmill for tempo, speed and hill workouts, you're going to need a shoe that will respond to the type of training session over a shorter period of time than your 'long run Sunday'.

The On Cloudflow is a low profile, light running shoe that will serve any treadmill runner. The Altra Escalante is a lower drop shoe with optimal cushion to allow for quick turnover on tempo workouts.  Finally, it's worth trying out the Nike React Infinity Run as a new kid on the block for runners with high arches needing light support on the treadmill running game.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MELANIE MITCHELL

Melanie Mitchell is a triathlete with a gear problem. Having raced for more years than she cares to mention, she’s run in most shoe types at some point or another.  Originally from England, she started running in the rain and now runs in the Colorado sun. 

As JackRabbit’s resident tri-geek, her goal is to keep racing long enough to qualify for Ironman World Championships in her 70s through sheer determination over talent. As a freckled ginger, she’s also holding out for sponsorship from a sunscreen brand at any moment.

 

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HOKA ONE ONE ARAHI 4 REVIEW

 

HOKA ONE ONE ARAHI 4 – SHOE REVIEW

by BRIAN METZLER | JANUARY 2020

The Arahi is the classic stability shoe from HOKA ONE ONE. It's been the go-to shoe for runners who appreciate the HOKA style and cushioning but need the dialed in support that a true stability shoe can offer. 

Reviewer Brian Metzler takes the latest version of the Arahi – the #4 for some test runs and reports back on the new edition.

THE BUZZ

If you think a maximally cushioned shoe can’t be lightweight and also offer supreme stability, think again. HOKA has been perfecting the concept for several years and the latest edition of the Arahi is the without peers.

HOKA's patent-pending EVA J-Frame stability technology the surrounds the heel offers support and agility and a smooth, uninhibited ride. It allows your feet to move through its natural gait cycle without the use of rigid and unforgiving materials.

 

WHAT'S NEW: HOKA ARAHI 4

The HOKA Arahi 4 has the same midsole and outsole as the previous edition, but it has a new upper that increases its breathability, fit and overall feel.

The 2020 edition of the Arahi has a simpler, stripped back design compared to the previous model, offering a lighter and more refined feel with a tad more structural support. The J-Frame is slightly more firm but also lighter this time around, so it offers more stability with none of the drawbacks.

The bottom of the HOKA Arahi 4 features strategically placed lightweight high-abrasion rubber for increased traction and durability. It helps keep the weight of the shoe down below tolerable levels without putting the exposed-foam sections of the outsole in harm’s way.  

To suit as many people as possible, the Arahi 4 is also available in regular and wider versions for men (EE) and women (D).

FIT-FEEL-RIDE

With a padded tongue and cushy moldy sockliner, the new Arahi provides a soft, snug, wrap-like fit with just a little bit of wiggle room in the toe box.

The fourth reiteration of the Arahi has a better true-to-size fit than its predecessor. Stepping into the shoes and lacing ‘em up serves up a plush, lightweight sensation. Once you start running, you’ll be amazed at the sublime combination of cushioning, smoothness and support. HOKA's signature Meta-Rocker design creates a rolling sensation that feels like it’s boosting your forward propulsion.

The HOKA Arahi 4 does not feel boxy or clumsy like most traditional stability shoes, but they do a great job at keeping your feet stable as they roll through the gait cycle from touch-down to toe-off.

It’s not a super-light shoe, but it is light enough so it doesn’t feel cumbersome on longer runs.

WHO'S IT BEST FOR?

When it comes to what type of runner will benefit from the set up of the HOKA Arahi 4, moderate to severe overpronators will appreciate the shoe as a reliable everyday workhorse, no matter how many miles you’re running.

This style is an ideal long-run shoe and could work great for your next half marathon or marathon if your primary goal is to finish in style and comfort.

PROS AND CONS: HOKA ARAHI 4

Hoka One One Arahi 4 - Pros

Pros: HOKA Arahi 4

This is a very lightweight shoe for a model that provides so much stability. At times our wear-testers found it similar to a footloose-and-fancy-free neutral model, even though we definitely appreciated the subtle but reliable guidance in every stride. 

The midsole of the Arahi is built on a dual-density platform that combines both soft and firm layers of EVA. That allows it to dampen impacts, provide stability and also provide a touch of responsiveness.

The molded Ortholite sockliner of the Arahi 4 helps with odor management while providing additional underfoot cushioning. This shoe won’t become a stinky pair of shoes that you have to stash in your garage or the trunk of your car! 

Hoka Arahi 4 - Cons

Cons: HOKA Arahi 4

Although this is one of the lightest maximally cushioned stability shoes on the market, it's not quite agile enough for short and fast running.  

Although it can handle faster long runs and tempo runs with aplomb, the HOKA Arahi doesn’t have the quickness or the giddy-up for fartlek runs, short races or track repeats.

HOKA ARAHI 4 SPECS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN METZLER

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado. 

He's the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He's the author of “Running Colorado's Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian's Approach for Every Runner.”

 

 
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Reviews

NIKE REACT INFINITY RUN: TESTER REVIEW

 

NIKE – REACT INFINITY RUN 

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | JANUARY 2020

Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit - JackRabbit Staff Review
 

 

NIKE REACT INFINITY RUN

NEW SHOES, NEW FEEDBACK

The launch of the Nike React Infinity Run introduced a new sleek, stylish and practical running shoe for everyday runs and base mileage. With a rocker shape and great step-in feel, the diverse JackRabbit running crew took the shoe for test runs and reports back.

What stood out to the run testers with regards to fit was the arch support and the wider toe box, a bonus for many testers. Performance? It was the rocker shape and the cushion that made this a perferred shoe for base miles and weekday training for our testing crew.  Read on to learn what the JackRabbit team reports back.

Want to know more about the technical aspects of the new Nike React Infinity Run?  Read our full tech review of the Nike React Infinity Run on the JackRabbit blog.

 
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit - JackRabbit Staff Review

JACKRABBIT WOMEN RUNNERS ‘REACT’ TO THE NIKE INFINITY

Jess: Keep the Miles Comin'
This shoe has been a new “go-to” in my training shoe lineup. The wider base on the shoe allows for my wider foot to feel super comfortable. The flyknit always makes for a smooth step-in. I've logged over 50 miles in this shoe in only 2 weeks; it’s been that good for marathon training. The colors are attractive and the cushioning is top dollar. Great for neutral runners as well as those needing some stability. 

Melanie: Arch Support For The Win
I'm not used to so much arch support in a running shoe, and laced up for my test runs with a smidgen of skepticism.  A few runs in, I am a convert to the stability the arch support actually gives me.  Add to that the wider toe box fits in with my swimmer foot shape that has denied me so many Nike styles in the past.  Score.  

Destini: Fast Shoe that keeps you stable
In the past, I’ve run in the Epic Reacts I loved that they were lightweight and springy. This new shoe is all that and more; I like the extra support so I can run farther.

Alison: Thumbs up Nike
Wonderful open toe box! Light! Cushioned! And that arch support is out of this world!

Jen: Love the Infinity
The Nike Infinity React is very lightweight and comfortable. Being a more novice runner, this shoe feels supportive and secure with a cushioned heel that makes me feel like I can add more miles.

Emily: Great for High Arches
New Nike React Infinity Run is perfect if you have high arches and a wider toe box. I'm a neutral runner who needs a little extra stability for my high arches and this shoe is perfect for that. I would recommend getting the same size you normally wear as I went up a 1/2 size and my heel slips out a bit, but my normal size 9 fits great! The midsole foam also breaks in nicely getting softer the more you wear them. 

Kaitlyn: Light & Supportive
These shoes are great for high arches–plenty of support yet still super lightweight. They are true to size and form to your foot over time. I love the color for the first season and the overall look is very vibrant! Perfect for both running and casual wear.

Lauren: Nike React Infinity Run
I am loving the cushioning of the shoe! It is a great blend of soft cushion but feels very durable. I love that it is a little wider but still feels very secure. The upper is very comfortable and stretchy!

Kyndal: Great for Race Training
The new Nike Infinity React has been my go-to shoe for training runs during the week. It's soft and comfortable, but offers great arch support and the cushioning I typically look for in a midsole. This shoe looks great too, making it my new go-to for everyday needs.

Kenzi: More Room & More Cushioning
I love that the toe-box of the Infinity is a little wider compared to the Epic React. Another new update is the additional midsole cushioning that is responsive and easy on my joints. In my opinion, this is one of the best color line that Nike has done in running shoes!

JACKRABBIT MALE RUNNERS WEIGH IN ON THE NIKE INFINITY

Collin: The Nike Shoes I've Been Waiting For
This is by far my favorite Nike running shoe. The wider toe box gives me more comfort in the forefoot and the FlyKnit upper keeps my foot firmly in place. What really sold me though is how I feel after running in these. The specially designed features allow me to run without the usual knee and ankle pains. I feel like these were specifically designed for me. 

Sean H: Soft and Springy
I love these shoes! They have a larger stack height then I'm used to but that PLUS the rocker shape really propels you forward! the Foam is very comfortable and helps me run longer and with less strain.

IT: Stylish & Comfortable
I finally found a shoe that is both stylist and comfortable. Not only does it provide great comfort during my runs and workouts, with minimal impact, but when I need to dress down or throw on a pair of shoes with jeans… these are perfect!

Eric: A Gamechanger
A great shoe! I've run many miles and my feet are comfortable and secure in the great upper. The shoe is also very springy and fast, but doesn't sacrifice on great cushion at all.

Dan: Plenty of Responsive Cushion
Highly cushioned, without being mushy soft. Feels very responsive in transition with a comfy amount of firmness. The stability was definitely there, I felt totally supported and stable in every step, without being overcorrected. My only challenge is the flyknit is very stretchy and expansive, designed to accommodate a range of foot shapes, but for me that meant feeling pretty loosey goosey, unless I got the lacing just right. I recommend trying on a couple of sizes to make sure you get the right fit.

Chase: Speed meet style! (and stability)
I need a lot of support and stability when I run, so for a shoe as springy and light as the Infinity to deliver on that front was a pleasant surprise. They hold up well going from road runs to my Orangetheory classes, and the fun design & color choice on the white pair is super cute. I'm a big fan.

SHOP NIKE REACT INFINITY RUN

 
 

 

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Categories
Reviews

HOKA ONE ONE ELEVON 2 REVIEW

 

HOKA ONE ONE ELEVON 2- SHOE REVIEW

by BRIAN METZLER | JAN, 2020

HOKA ONE ONE launches the Elevon 2 to complete the second round of it's successful Hoka FLY Collection (also featuring the Mach 2 and the Cavu 2) spring 2020. 

JackRabbit guest reviewer Brian Metzler reports on the second reiteration of the Elevon, a style that supports and cushions, a rare combo to find. 

THE BUZZ

The Hoka One One Elevon 2 is a durable, lightweight, smooth-riding running shoe that delivers ample cushioning and comfort for a wide range of runners.

Although it’s a neutral shoe, the sturdy exo-skeleton undercarriage frame cradles the foot and offers a noticeable amount of inherent stability and springy cushion.

 
Hoka One One Elevon 2 - What's New

WHAT'S NEW: HOKA ELEVON 2

The biggest update to this year’s model is a new, engineered mesh upper reinforced with 3D printed overlays that provide for additional midfoot support and lockdown for a more secure feel that the previous models.

An updated foam package on the Hoka Elevon 2 adds additional springiness to every step.   

The components of the bottom of the shoe are key to its performance. That includes the beveled, extended heel that provides additional cushioning and smooth transitions, the transparent crystal rubber for added grip and a clean aesthetic and smartly placed flex grooves in the forefoot for the natural, dynamic movements of your feet.

Hoka One One Elevon 2  - TIme to Fly

FIT-FEEL-RIDE

The fit of the Hoka Elevon 2 is snug in the heel but has a slightly roomier volume in the saddle and forefoot. The updated second version feels much like previous editions when you lace it up, with a thickly cushioned midsole that feels like you’re running on foamy mattresses under your feet.

Although there are many other maximally cushioned shoes to chose, the ride of the Hoka Elevon 2 feels especially stable because of the plastic reinforced frame under the rear of the shoe. 

The maximally cushioned undercarriage and the rockered outsole design (Hoka calls it “Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry”) combine to create a smooth, rolling sensation from the moment your foot touches the ground to the moment it lifts off to begin a new stride. 

The Hoka Elevon 2's dual-layered midsole stands out visually and offers a unique approach to cushioning and stability. The Profly topsole is softer in the heel for extra cushioning and firmer in the forefoot for added propulsion.

WHO'S IT BEST FOR?

Runners who appreciate the combination of a soft, smooth ride but also need a bit of inherent stability in the latter miles of a run will really like the Hoka Elevon 2.  

Usually more stable shoes that are as cushioned as they are stable are hard to come by.  The Hoka Elevon 2 checks that box. 

PROS AND CONS OF THE HOKA ELEVON 2

Hoka One One Elevon 2 Pros

Pros:Hoka Elevon 2

The Hoka Elevon 2 is a fairly lightweight shoe, especially for its considerable girth. The men’s version tips the scales at just over 10 ounces (size 9), but it feels light the moment you lace it up and even lighter when you start running. 

There are a handful of small, well-designed features that really make this shoe exceptional. That includes a gusseted, asymmetrical tongue with strategic cutouts for breathability, lacing eye-rows with a small winged feature to ensure an optimal fit and a mildly reinforced toe cap that protects toes from debris and stubbed toes.

Our wear-testers consider this an ideal shoe for long runs, moderately paced runs and recovery runs. However, it doesn’t have a of giddy up for faster workouts and shorter races, but it’s proficient for tempo runs and progression runs.

Hoka One One Elevon 2 - Cons

Cons: Hoka Elevon 2

The only moderate drawback to the HOKA Elevon 2 is that the high cushioning underfoot tends to reduce the proprioceptive feel for the ground.

If you don’t mind not “feeling” the road as much, you’ll love this shoe. If you want an intimate connection to the ground, you might not feel quite as comfortable in this model.

HOKA ONE ONE ELEVON 2

Hoka One One Elevon - Specs

SHOP HOKA ONE ONE ELEVON 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN METZLER

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado. 

He's the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He's the author of “Running Colorado's Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian's Approach for Every Runner.”

 

 
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Uncategorized

14 WEEK HALF MARATHON TRAINING PLAN

 

HALF MARATHON TRAINING PLAN BY NIKE

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | JANUARY 2020

14 Week Half Marathon Training Plan from NIke
 

14 WEEK HALF MARATHON TRAINING PLAN

There are many reasons the half marathon distance is just right when it comes to running.  Racing and training 13.1 miles is not easy, it takes time, determination and a level of commitment to consistent training, but load doesn’t seem like a part-time side gig! 

A half marathon preparation is a great way to keep structure in your activity levels with the benefit of a bold end 13.1 mile goal.

For runners with the ultimate goal of a marathon, a half marathon is a natural step up in distance to start to build core endurance and speed, alongside leg strength and the chance practice fueling for the next step on the path to a full marathon.

Half Marathon Training Plan - Train Smart

TRAIN SMART FOR A HALF MARATHON

A good half marathon training plan will combine three essential elements: speed, endurance and recovery to get you ready.  Knowing how to distribute these three types over a seven-day week for the optimal benefit from each, is the key to maximizing your performance on race day. 

When it comes to approaching a training plan for a half marathon, it takes so much more than just running to become a better runner. A smarter runner will be a better runner and a good half marathon training plan will not only improve your running, it should also make you a smarter athlete which will stand you in good stead for the running decades ahead. 

NIKE’S 14 WEEK HALF MARATHON TRAINING PLAN

Nike has created a comprehensive 14 week half marathon training plan covering the three types of workouts above, plus the all-important rest days, which together will get the fittest, strongest and fastest version of you to the finish line.

This comprehensive half marathon plan breaks down each of the 14 weeks into a structured schedule. Whle this is not uncommon amongst training plas, where this half marathon plan stands out amongst others is it appreciates and takes into consideration that everyone’s training journey is different. 

It poses (and importantly answers) the questions, what if your schedule does not match the training schedule, what if you don’t know how to figure out your pace? What if you’re tired? And importantly, what if one week you find yourself lacking in motivation? 

The coaches at Nike also advise how to adjust the program if you need to and what you should do if you’re hurt. 

HALF MARATHON TRAINING STARTS WHEN YOU START

Already passed the 14 week deadline to start training? Oops. We've all been there.

The training plan is built to be inherently flexible to an athlete's needs and you can jump in at any week whenever it suits you. However, it is recommended that you plan on training for at least 6 weeks before race day and can comfortably complete the programmed workouts for the week you chose to start. 

HALF MARATHON TRAINING: ACTIVITY TYPES

The four types of activity levels in the half marathon training run are speed runs, long runs, recovery runs and importantly rest days.  Never dismiss a rest day, those are the days you absorb the hard work from the rest of the week.

SPEED RUNS: Building strength through speed training is important as you prepare. Throughout this plan you’ll be introduced to a variety of speed workouts and drills that will make you faster. You’ll get to do short and long intervals, fartlek, hill workouts and tempo runs 

LONG RUNS: You need endurance training to help prepare your body and mind to go the distance on race day. You will work on endurance and pacing with weekly Long Runs. It also helps you get familiar with the physical and mental challenges that you might face during a race. This run should be run at a comfortable pace, and as a Progression Run 

RECOVERY RUNS: Recovering from your workout days is just as important as the workouts themselves. Use these days to run easy and based on how you feel to help you recover at the highest quality possible after intense training. Each week of training includes two recovery runs. Remember, these are just as important as your hard workouts!

REST DAYS: Great running is dependent on respecting rest and recovery. These days are meant for you to recharge and recover. 

HALF MARATHON TRAINING: PACING

Over the course of the three activity types, you will have to maintain different paces and efforts during the training program. 

The Nike coaches have divided run paces into 6 speeds that are referenced throughout the training program. 

BEST PACE (?? OUT OF 10 EFFORT) 
This is the pace that makes you feel like you are at your best. Sometimes this may mean your fastest and sometimes this will mean running easier. The pace and effort you run will be your choice. 

MILE PACE (9 OUT OF 10 EFFORT) 
This is the pace you could race or run hard for one mile. 

5K PACE (7-8 OUT OF 10 EFFORT) 
This is the pace you could race or run hard for about 3 miles. 

10K PACE (6-7 OUT OF 10 EFFORT) 
This is the pace you could race or run hard for about 6 miles. 

TEMPO PACE (6 OUT OF 10 EFFORT) 
Teaching your body to be comfortable being uncomfortable by maintaining a hard pace and effort that is close to 30-35 seconds slower than your 5K pace. 

VERY PACE (4-5 OUT OF 10 EFFORT) 
A pace easy enough that you can talk, laugh or argue freely while running. 

Are you ready to get started?  Download the 14 week half marathon training plan and lace up. 

 

Download - Half Marathon Training Plan

BEST SHOES FOR HALF MARATHON TRAINING

When it comes to the best running shoes for a fourteen week training journey, some of our favorites are the Nike React Infinity Run for those needing a little support for the road ahead, the On Cloudswift with just enough cushioning to keep everyone happy and the Hoka Rincon, as a super-light weight shoe for those who want to feel as fast as the athlete they aspire to be on race day.

 
 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MELANIE MITCHELL

Melanie Mitchell is a triathlete with a gear problem. Having raced for more years than she cares to mention, she’s run in most shoe types at some point or another.  Originally from England, she started running in the rain and now runs in the Colorado sun. 

As JackRabbit’s resident tri-geek, her goal is to keep racing long enough to qualify for Ironman World Championships in her 70s through sheer determination over talent. As a freckled ginger, she’s also holding out for sponsorship from a sunscreen brand at any moment.

 

FOLLOW JACKRABBIT AND OUR RUNNING CREW

Follow JackRabbit and our running lives on Facebook where we share training tips, interviews and gear guides for every runner's lifestyle.  
Comment below how many pairs of running shoes you have in your collection?  There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!  

 

 
 

 
Categories
Training

WINTER TRAINING FOR RUNNERS: INDOOR ROWING

WINTER TRAINING FOR RUNNERS: INDOOR ROWING

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | JANUARY 2020

WINTER TRAINING SERIES: INDOOR ROWING

Rowing is a full-body workout and a great winter off-season training option for runners looking to maintain core, hip and leg strength. Rowing also is an easy to access indoor training option with equipment easily accessible in most gyms.  

Should rowing replace running in the winter?  Not entirely, but it is a great complement while you dial back outdoor running and don’t want to lose cardio fitness and body strength. Winter aside, rowing as a low-impact sport is
excellent for injured runners.

With all this in mind, it would benefit any runner to hone some rowing techniques to keep in your back pocket for when you might need it. 

WHAT DO ROWING ‘ERG’ WORKOUTS LOOK LIKE

Just like most people don’t want to run mindlessly on a treadmill, the same goes for rowing.  To get the most benefit from a rowing session, structured sessions are the way to go.  

We interviewed Anna Rynders, General Manager of
City Row – a new rowing studio group that expects to open over 50 locations nationwide in the next year. At each of their locations they take the guessing out of the equation with one-hour structured
training on ergometers combined with strength/stretch workouts.  

“Rowing is a full body workout,’ comments Anna. ‘It’s a strong off-season training option for runners since it is leg dominant and great for hip flexors and core.
Overall, rowing is a hard-to-beat, non-impact, cardio workout.’ 

Each session at City Row lasts one hour including time to warm up and cool down.  The instructors focus on technique in the classes where training is interval
based with no more than 7 minutes on the rowing machine at any one time.  The intervals are mixed up with off-the-rower free weights, core and stretching to keep the body open. 

If you’re not lucky enough to have a formal rowing
studio opening near you, it’s easy to knock out a rowing session at your local gym or office gym setup from many of the rowing workouts found online to keep it both interesting and challenging. 

Below we talk about the metrics
and techniques of indoor rowing to make sure you get the optimal position on the rower for the most efficient use of your time. 

DATA AND TERMINOLOGY IN INDOOR ROWING

Because you need to know the right lingo for a new sport, we consulted high-school competitive rower Sarah Golding. The correct term for an indoor rower is an ‘erg’ (ergometer) and you ‘go erging’ as a verb. So cast aside indoor rowing and
get your ‘erg’ on if you want to hang with the cool kids. Shamed, this writer almost hit ‘find and replace’ on all the mentions of ‘indoor rowing’ in the previous paragraphs.

Runners used to interval training on the treadmill
will find the concepts of ‘erg’ metrics familiar yet different. There are two key metrics to take into account: the split and stroke rate, and a third metric, watts for measuring progress over time. 

Split:
This is the average time it takes to row 500m and will usually be the largest portion of the screen.  Use this time to gage effort and progress as your strength and cardio increase. 

Stroke Rate: You’ll probably
max out about a stroke rate 30. According to the Concept2 website, for rowing, a stroke rate between 24 and 30 strokes per minute is typical for most workouts. After that you will lose form. If you can go over 30 consistently and efficiently,
then kudos to you and we recommend quickly finding yourself a rowing team!

Watts: Should you care about watts? Yes, but mostly no!  Watts are the last metric to consider after split and stroke rate.  Where watts
come into play is an occasional maximum watts test; the optimal way to measure improvements over a longer time period.  The test is to measure the average max power you can output per 10 strokes.

If you’re starting off ‘erging’
this winter season, gage the max power (watts) you can output for ten strokes at the beginning of the winter. Then, if you’re consistently rowing, measure every few weeks to gage improvements.

WHAT METRICS TO WATCH FOR WHEN INDOOR ROWING

For those eager to measure effort the key metrics you are looking for is the split time at different stroke rates.  When your stroke rate goes up, your split should go down if you’re keeping consistent.

As you become stronger and
more efficient, your max stroke rate will probably stay consistent but the split time will decrease.

BENEFITS OF INDOOR ROWING FOR RUNNERS

Running is an impact sport and joints and bones can benefit from an off-season. However, some runners fear the off-season for reasons of losing cardio fitness by dialing back the running miles and losing leg strength. This is where indoor
rowing comes into its own as a key winter cross-training option for runners.  

The cardio engine required to power a rowing machine is high and it’s a full body winter workout to maintain and/or improve cardio fitness high coupled
with a very low impact on the joints.  

Runners will rejoice that 60% of power in rowing comes from the legs, making it an optimal option for maintaining leg strength without the pounding of running. 

INDOOR ROWING TECHNIQUE

Rowing is quite an intuitive technique when you first get on a rowing machine. Anna Rynders from Row City advises you to consciously engage your glutes and legs and be mindful of completing the stroke for maximum range.

Anna demonstrates
the correct position above at the completion of a full rowing stroke. Think of this final position as the torso being in an ‘11 o’clock’ position.  The goal is not to stop at a 12 o’ clock position but to lean back further to engage the
core.  Not completing the stroke is a common mistake for beginners. 

Once there, release the arms and slide back to the starting position ready to engage the legs and back for the start of the next stroke. 

THE 101 OF INDOOR ROWING

Average Cost
The cost of entry to your local gym! Most gyms will have at least one rower in their exercise equipment selection. When it comes to row-specific environments like Row City the cost of monthly class dues are
comparable to most stand-alone gyms of the moment and many offer drop in rates which might suit those wanting winter-only access.

Optimal Training for Runners
The number of times per week for a runner to
benefit from indoor rowing is based on how much running you still want to do over the winter season. Rowing is a great alternative to tempo workouts and for someone with good strength and fitness three to four times a week is an option.
Less so if you are also incorporating other winter training options.

Intimidation Factor on a Scale of 1-10
The barrier to entry for indoor rowing for runners is like most new activities, learning the technique
first.   While in a class setting, you have your ego to contend with rowing next to someone who might have a) been a collegiate rower or b) have their own ego in full force.  However, the indoor rowing machine is a great leveler and while
your distance per 500m might be different, you’re on a stationary rower so no-one will ever know! Unless the classes display the stats on a screen, of course.

PERSONAL OPINION ON INDOOR ROWING

After a solid nine months of training limited to the three sports of triathlon, taking up with a new aerobic and strength-based challenge was a welcome change for my mind, as well as my body.

There is always the fear if you leave
behind your chosen sport – or sports in my case – you will lose fitness and functional strength related to them. However, a few erg sessions proved to me that I can still have a powerful cardio workout and feel the strength benefits. Having
googled a few rowing workouts, I have a repository to take to the gym for some direction. Like City Row classes, I do no longer than 7 minutes at a time on the erg and have a mat and weights beside me to transform the session into interval
type training.

BEST SHOES FOR INDOOR ROWING

When it comes to the best athletic shoes for indoor rowing, what you choose depends on whether you're limiting yourself to rowing only or taking an interval training approach.  

With the former, grab your nearest pair (okay,
maybe not your racing flats, you want to keep them fresh for race day) and head to the ergonometer.

For interval training incorporating rowing, the most appropriate shoe would be one specific to cross training that offers a
solid base upon which to anchor your stance off the erg.  Bestsellers at JackRabbit.com are the Altra Solstice XT, Reebok Nano and the On Cloud X

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MELANIE MITCHELL

Melanie Mitchell is a triathlete with a gear problem. Having raced for more years than she cares to mention, she’s run in most shoe types at some point or another.  Originally from England, she started running in the rain and now runs
in the Colorado sun. 

As JackRabbit’s resident tri-geek, her goal is to keep racing long enough to qualify for Ironman World Championships in her 70s through sheer determination over talent. As a freckled ginger, she’s
also holding out for sponsorship from a sunscreen brand at any moment.

FOLLOW JACKRABBIT AND OUR RUNNING CREW

Follow JackRabbit and our running lives on Facebook where we share training tips, interviews and gear guides for every runner's lifestyle.  
Comment below how many
pairs of running shoes you have in your collection?  There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!  

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THE STATE OF ULTRA RUNNING 2020

 

THE STATE OF ULTRA RUNNING 2020

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | JANUARY 2020

 

ULTRA RUNNING 2020

Any person with a peripheral interest in the running world will appreciate the growth of ultra running over the past couple of decades. What was once a niche sport has changed into a category and lifestyle.  Books like Born to Run published in 2011 took ultra running to the populous and we saw magazine publications, groups and ultra-running super stars start to shine.

To discover how much ultra-running has changed since the early days was a tasty opportunity for the data gurus at RunRepeat, the iconic shoe review site. In a collaboration with the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU), RunRepeat took the data from 85% of ultra running events worldwide and started to crunch the numbers from the last twenty three years in the sport analyzing 5,010,730 results from 15,451 ultra running events. 

ULTRA RUNNING: GROWING AND THRIVING

There is no denying, ultra running is growing. Participation in the sport has increased by 345% over the last decade alone. Last year topped out at over 600,000 ultra runners participating in events showing the sport is well and truly on a upward trajectory.  

The data revealed the steepest growth has been over the last ten years which interestingly coincides with the leveling off in the participation in marathons. Could it be the most dedicated of runners are aspiring to bigger challenges of the mind as well as the body and to push themselves to extremes? 

50K or 50+ miles?  Both these ‘ultra’ distances are showing growth pattern, but the ‘entry’ distance to ultra running is where the majority of growth has logically occurred.  But those athletes are not content in staying there and the growth suggests athletes continue to move up the distances.  

ULTRA RUNNING: THE GENDER SPLIT

 

Who’s running ultra races? 

When is comes to nationality, it is not surprising that France tops the list of the top 20 ultra running nations.  With the historic UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc) being the pinnacle of the ultra running calendar and trail running shoe brands have literally been born in the Alps, it’s hardly a surprise. The US of A is close behind with the biggest number of racers, followed by South Africa.  However, if you look at ultra runners as a percentage of the population, France still comes out on top, but Japan and Switzerland follow in close pursuit. 

We are all about more gender balance in all sports, and the data shows ultra running is attracting more and more women. More later on how women are performing at the ultra level, but over the last 23 years female athletes in the sport have increased 64% compared to 9% for their male counterparts.  Female participation is now at 23% for races under 50 miles which, while still far from equal, is a step in the right direction given it was only 14% in 1996.

ULTRA RUNNING: PACING

A trend that has been seen in all running distances, as participation increases, runners also get slower. This has been talked about in RunRepeat’s State of Running analysis.

On average the pace of an ultra runner in races over 50 miles has increased from 11:31 min/mile to a 13.09 min/mile.  For distances under 50 miles the pace has changed from 16:02 to 16:47.  The paces for shorter distances are markedly slower than the longer distances. This makes sense given the shorter distance is the entry point to the sport as runners learn trail and fueling techniques alongside the endurance needed for the type of race. 

However, breaking the mold amongst all the most common ultra distances (50k, 50miles, 100k and 100miles) the outlier is the 100k and 100 mile runners where paces have not slowed at all.  Additionally, those runners are quicker than the other distances despite being much longer races. Quite surprising, but shows these races are attracting the athletes with the same level of fitness as those twenty years ago.  Incredibly, runners of 100ks are running 9:59 min/mile and 100 milers a 9:46 min/mile. 

When it comes to female athletes, what is most amazing in ultra running is the data clearly shows the longer the distance, the smaller the difference between female and male paces. In 100k races and above the pace difference is only half a percent and impressively women become faster than men at the extreme distances over 195 miles. 

British ultra runner Jasmin Paris becoming the first woman to win the 268 mile Montane Spine Race in the UK in 2019 was an amazing testament to the data research that women are better at pacing than men

The lesson to us women is to lace up, dig deep and run long.

ULTRA RUNNING: WHAT'S NEXT?

As an endurance athlete working in the running industry, it’s exciting to see the hard data analysis behind the growth in ultra running. It further proves the fact as humans we are explorers, always looking for ways to challenge ourselves.

It serves to remind us that pushing yourself beyond a comfort zone brings rewards that are intangible and keep athletes coming back for more, encouraging others to join them.

We should celebrate that females are taking to the trails and, with a more empowered landscape, are joining the ultra ranks even while they are the ones bearing and – let’s face it – majority raising children during their prime athletic years.

In short, we should all rejoice that runners are running and celebrate everyone’s journey to the start and the finish line.

To read the full ultra running report, head over to RunRepeat.com.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MELANIE MITCHELL

Melanie Mitchell is a triathlete with a gear problem. Having raced for more years than she cares to mention, she’s run in most shoe types at some point or another.  Originally from England, she started running in the rain and now runs in the Colorado sun. 

As JackRabbit’s resident tri-geek, her goal is to keep racing long enough to qualify for Ironman World Championships in her 70s through sheer determination over talent. As a freckled ginger, she’s also holding out for sponsorship from a sunscreen brand at any moment.

 

FOLLOW JACKRABBIT AND OUR RUNNING CREW

Follow JackRabbit and our running lives on Facebook where we share training tips, interviews and gear guides for every runner's lifestyle.  
Comment below how many pairs of running shoes you have in your collection?  There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!