Categories
hoka one one Reviews

HOKA BONDI 7 REVIEW

Brian Metzler reviews the HOKA Bondi 7, the top-selling max-cushioned shoe known for being the best friend of high-mileage runners.

The Buzz:

The Bondi is HOKA’S top-tier maximally cushioned, neutral-oriented road running shoe, and it serves up a luxuriously soft ride for high-mileage training and cushy recovery running.

The Bondi is one of the highest shoes available in 2020, but it’s also relatively light for its size.

The HOKA Bondi has always been a comfy cruiser and this edition excels at that more than previous models. You’ll find there is a lot of shoe under your feet when you lace them up, but that means there’s a lot more to love.

Hoka Bondi 7: What's New?

WHAT’S NEW?

Aside from a smartly redesigned upper, not too much has changed from the previous edition of the Bondi.

The new engineered mesh upper enhances the fit, adds some support around the ankle and also improves the shoe’s breathability in hot weather.

The new upper configuration has slightly more structure around the ankle than the previous version, but it is considerably more vented than last year’s model. Soft TPU overlays add a little bit of structure and support along the sides of the foot to round up the fit.

To keep the Bondi lightweight, HOKA developed a segmented outsole with sections of durable rubber in high-wear areas interspersed with exposed foam.

The rubber provides exceptional grip on wet and dry surfaces, and the foam is durable enough that it won’t wear down significantly after months of high-mileage running.

The men’s version of the Bondi 7 has slightly higher loft specs, about 2mm higher off the ground than it was last year.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The HOKA Bondi 7 fits true to size with a medium-volume interior, but with a slightly wider toe box. The step-in feel is unique and almost astonishing, given that it’s so soft, semi-stiff and very high off the ground. (You’ll be almost 2 inches taller standing in these sneakers!) Any sense of awkwardness quickly disappears when you start running.

Like all Hoka shoes, the Bondi 7 features a Meta-Rocker design geometry and a slightly beveled heel. These create a rolling effect as the foot transitions from touch-down to toe-off instead of the distinctive flexing movement common to most shoes.

The Bondi 7 features a rigid internal heel counter and soft memory foam collar. These keep heel and ankle from moving around in the shoe as it rolls forward through the gait cycle.

The midsole is soft but firm, not marshmallowly soft. It won’t compress as much as other thickly cushioned HOKA shoes like the Clifton or Rincon models.

Once you get used to that, you’ll find the Bondi 7 satisfyingly smooth. 

Hoka Bondi 7 Review 2020

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners who enjoy soft, thickly cushioned shoes will love the Bondi 7, especially for longer runs.

The HOKA Bondi 7 is best at running slow to moderately paced long runs and recovery runs. However, it could be a good choice for mid-pack or first-time marathoners or runners venturing into ultra-distance races.

However, it’s not a shoe that will inspire speed or quick-cadence running for faster workouts.

Hoka Bondi 7: Pros

PROS: HOKA BONDI 7

This shoe isn’t light, but it certainly runs light for its size, thanks to an airy, compression-molded EVA midsole foam that helps the shoe maintain a high cushion-to-weight ratio. One of our wear-testers described it as “a day spa for your feet,” which is good inspiration to lace them up every day. 

The soft midsole chassis and durable rubber outsole are unchanged from the previous edition, but that’s great but they’re the key to the Bondi’s soft, smooth-riding demeanor. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum from the juiced-up racing shoes, but that’s OK too. They feel good, look good and run great.

Hoka Bondi 7 Cons

CONS: HOKA BONDI 7

This might seem obvious, but the Bondi 7 is a high-off-the-ground shoe and not especially nimble.

If you’re a runner who likes feel-for-the-ground proprioception or likes a shoe with agility, this isn’t going to be your jam.

TECH SPECS

Hoka Bondi 7 - Tech Specs

SHOP HOKA BONDI 7

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He 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. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “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.”

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Brian Metzler - Boulder Running Company

Categories
Diversity Trail Running

REPRESENTATION IN RUNNING

AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

This blog is about racial and ethnic representation in running. We feature input from those who have participated in sport at every level, on every surface and are non-white.

From the everyday runner to collegiate to elite and Olympic trial qualifiers, from road to trail. Each take and experience is unique and most importantly, both valid and essential.

Why do people care about representation in running so much? We’re all just here to run and improve, so why does what everyone looks like have to be so important?

We all have the chance to lace up our running shoes and hit the road or trail for a run. Right?

In theory, everyone can just throw on running shoes and walk out the door for some easy miles. In theory, what people look like doesn’t matter and we all have equal opportunity when it comes to sport.

In theory, representation in sport shouldn’t be such an issue.

Victoria Junius - Running as a black woman

VICTORIA JUNIOUS

Victoria Junious recounts her journey as an African American runner. She shares her experiences as the only Black runner on her cross country team.

“I distinctly remember my coach proudly announcing in our post-race briefing that my teammate was the ‘first non-African runner to cross the line’. My teammates all clapped at this feat. He got fifth place, but that didn’t matter. In this moment, he was first. When I asked my teammates why they cheered, they said that it was ‘pretty much like winning.’ They said it was a ‘compliment to the African runners.’

They did not see a problem with it. I let it go. In the weeks following, I found that it happened after every race in which a white person did not win outright. My coach would give the standings, then add on the standings as if every African runner did not finish. Micro-aggression does not feel like a strong enough word to describe it.

I was the only black girl on my team for the first two years of my college cross country career. I felt every bit of that “only-ness.”

I was only person our coach thought could teach her how to dance or know the hip-hop or r&b songs she flipped past in on the van radio. The only person with “interesting” hair. The person expected to translate “what the sprinter girls meant by…”

Even when I stood on the starting line and looked past our team box, I saw very few non-white people. This was true from the athletes to the coaches, to the support staff.

It was frustrating and alienating, especially when the few black people who made it to top of our field were invalidated by my coach. Over and over, I questioned my place. What was my value to my team, and my standing in the sport as a whole?

I had a sense of longing that at the time that I could not put my finger on. Now I know that I longed for belonging. I wanted to train with someone who shared in my experience. I needed someone to tell me that when I heard something offensive, I did not have to let it go. I did not want to be the only one anymore. I wanted to be represented.”

REPRESENTATION IN RUNNING: WHAT IS IT?

People most often participate in activities where similar backgrounds and interests are shared. Without much thought to that space, we can move into it easily. It’s an automatic safe, and familiar space when it’s with people we can identify with.

Being able to find your identity with those who look like you can be essential to one’s participation and longevity in a sport.

Let’s breakdown the identity in the running world, using demographic data from 26.2.org.

  • 78% are college-educated.
  • 73% report a household income of $75k+, 56% reporting a household income of $100k+.
  • The half marathon has the largest year over year increase and is thus, the most popular distance to race.
  • Road-runner participation increases every year

Fun fact, in 2020, over 450 women participated in the marathon Olympic Trials.

When looking at the NYTimes article on the marathon Olympic Trials, there are many things that stand out. Firstly, let’s acknowledge the fact we have are over 450 females to celebrate for breaking barriers down in the sport.

There are many more reports showing higher participation from females as opposed to men in the sport. Female representation is there, so what other kinds of representation are we talking about?

We’re talking race.

Non-white, colored bodies that have vastly different experiences from the white people who come to participate. Take a look at the very bottom of this The New York Times article, you’ll see what I mean.

What follows are some candid comments from the BIPOC running community sharing their journeys and experiences. If we as a running community are going to raise representation in running, we must first understand the experiences of all of those in our sport.

We each come with our own stories. Together we can learn, change and continue to share our running passion with all races, genders, ages and paces.

Candace Gonzalez - Running as a Latina

CANDACE GONZALES

“One of my favorite runners is Des Linden. She’s hardworking, dedicated, keeps showing up, and has a great sense of humor. In 2018 I watched her cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. She was the first American woman in 33 years to win the race. However, for me it was more than that. For me, it was watching a Latina cross that finish line and accomplish an amazing feat. 

As a Latina runner who has been trail running for two years, I have noticed the lack of diversity in the sport. Unlike road running, where we see more BIPOC participate, we do not see that as much in trail running. In fact, when I run trails on my own, it is rare for me to see another BIPOC on the trail.”

Have you ever entered a space and just felt, weird but unsure of why that is? Or maybe you’ve been to a social group where you just haven’t fit in for one reason or another. Not because people are malicious, but just because. Enter Black, Indigenous, and people of color and the wide experiences of coming into running spaces knowing the misplaced feeling will be there and actively preparing for it.

Laura Cortez - Ultra running and the Latino Community

LAURA CORTEZ

“To me, representation means respect. It means I can go to a race that is serving Mexican food and not have to worry about getting looks for eating it. It means I don’t have to listen to people mock the Spanish language or accents.

Representation means seeing my identity on the starting line at every level, not just elite or beginner. In this way, I not only have something to aspire to, but to also it promotes accessibility of the sport at all levels.

Representation gives me a mental break; I don’t have to be perfect every race. Representation in running can provide a mental break that so many other people feel.”

REPRESENTATION IN RUNNING AT EVERY LEVEL

This is what we talk about when we talk about representation.

At a high level, having that automatic safe space comprised of people you can share your identity and experiences with, is the foundation of two thing. It advances participation in sport but also keeps athletes involved. Not only that, but representation at all levels gives people the grace to start wherever they are. It removes the pressure to be the best right out the gate.

On an elite level, representation gives people someone to look up to. Someone who likely shares similar backgrounds and struggles and is relatable beyond just an athletic level.

As Black, Indigenous, people of color and just non-white runners, when we find that space, it becomes manageable and accessible.

At JackRabbit, we know we take up space in a predominately homogenous environment. We aspire to support those who are less seen, and to help promote a space where change can happen.

Rajpaul Pannu - what it means to run

RAJPAUL PANNU

As a first-generation BIPOC growing up, you’re not nurtured to realize what your self-actualization is. Rather, what it takes to be ‘successful’ in the eyes of society. As a result, the outdoors are not prioritized despite the many health benefits that come along with it.

Funding for shoes, running camps, etc. make it difficult for an equitable playing field. Being the mantle for this change starts on the ground level; to take it upon yourself as a BIPOC outdoor enthusiast and bridge the gap. This can be done by simply showing up.

  • Showing up to road, mountain and trail races.
  • Showing up to the podium to claim your prize.
  • Showing up for a group/trail run and encouraging dialogue/hard conversations.

Mother nature is inviting and all you have to do is show up.”

Candace Gonzales further shares her journey into trail running.

“Even when I first started trail running, I felt a bit out of place due to the lack of diversity and representation of LatinX trail runners.  However, recently I started running with a local group called Trailtinos. A group formed to promote and connect BIPOC on the trail.

This group has been very special to me. Every time I run with this group, I feel represented. I am running with people who share similar experiences and a similar cultural background. More than that, I do not feel so alone, or out of place knowing there are others out there on the trail with me.

I’ll never run as fast as Des Linden, nor anyone in Trailtinos. But, knowing these runners exist makes me want to continue to work hard and show up to all my road and trail runs.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Cortez, is a dog mom, intersectional environmentalist and runner living in Denver, Colorado. You can listen to an interview with Laura on ‘The Long Run’, a podcast about what keeps runners running long, running strong and staying motivated.

Categories
Asics Reviews

ASICS GT 2000 9 REVIEW

Brian Metzler reviews the ASICS GT 2000 9, the classic stability shoe from the brand. The 2020 edition has a new look and an easy performance update. The previous version of the GT 2000 was a good shoe, but the new upper and the lighter weight make the ninth edition an exceptional shoe.

THE BUZZ

One of the enduring legacy shoes in the ASICS’s line, the GT-2000 is a reliable stability shoe with an energetic vibe and it showcases a clean new look.

Our wear-testers love the fit, the feel, the easy-striding performance and consider this one of the best updates of the year.

ASICS GT 2000 9 What's new?

WHAT’S NEW?

The ninth edition of this shoe has been redesigned with a one-piece mesh upper to create an improved fit. It also features added support as the foot rolls through the gait cycle.

A lighter, softer and more resilient Flytefoam midsole in the GT 2000 9 pairs well with GEL cushioning packets in the lateral side of the heel and forefoot.

And best of all? It’s a half ounce lighter than last year’s model.

The traction-enhancing, durable rubber outsole sections are broken up and separated by grooves. This allows decoupling at the heel and easy flexing in the forefoot. 

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

With the classic fit ASICS is known for, the GT-2000 9 fits true to size with a medium-volume in the heel and midfoot (with slightly more room under the arch). It has just enough room in the toe box for the toes to wiggle and spread.

A stiff, internal heel counter helps keep the heel locked down throughout the gait cycle. This helps ensure the foot is in the optimal situation.

The step-in feel is moderately soft under the foot with a comfortable but not extravagantly padded tongue and heel collar. Out on the run, the shoe straddles the line between being moderately soft and moderately firm. What’s more important is the subtle stability the GT 2000 9 provides along the medial side of the foot.

The FlyteFoam midsole compound provides exceptional bounce back and responsiveness no matter the distance or pace. It utilizes organic super fibers to help reduce packing out that traditionally happens with softer, low-density foams. These three layers of cushioning help reduce impact shock and create a smooth, rolling sensation as the foot transitions from heel strike to the toe-off phase.

ASICS GT 2000 9 Review 2020

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners who appreciate a comfortable, energetic shoe that provides a little bit of stride-stabilizing structure will love the ASICS GT 2000 9.

It’s workhorse of a training shoe, capable of high-mileage weeks, long weekend runs, moderate tempo runs and fartlek workouts. For runners who need stability in a longer race, it could be a smart choice for a half marathon or marathon.

The ASICS GT 2000 9 also performs as a great shoe for beginner and middle-of-the-pack runners who want a comfortable, reliable, do-everything shoe to wear every day of the week.

Our wear-testers liked it for long runs but appreciated it as a go-to shoe for other workouts and recovery efforts.

ASICS GT 2000 9 Pros

The new, one-piece upper offers a combination of smooth, pliable comfort and reinforcing structure. It holds the foot in place through the saddle but gives plenty of room for the toes to wiggle and splay as the foot flexes.

This shoe is nicely light and nimble for the amount of stability, cushion and comfort it provides, thanks to the lightweight midsole package that helps the shoe maintain a high cushion-to-weight ratio.

The stability and structure the GT 2000 provides comes from the slightly flexible plastic Trusstic frame under the arch and the firmer layer of Dynamic Duomax foam in the heel and along the medial edge of the foot. It’s a system that still allows the foot to flex naturally, but it inhibits the inward rolling motion caused by over-pronation.

ASICS GT 2000 9 Cons

Cons: ASICS GT 2000 9

There aren’t many drawbacks to this shoe, but one thing that was slightly annoying was how tiny pebbles had a tendency to get caught in the grooves of the plastic Trusstic frame under the middle of the shoe.

TECH SPECS

ASICS GT 2000 9 Tech Specs

SHOP ASICS GT 2000 9

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He 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. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “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.”

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - Boulder Running Company
Brian Metzler - trail running
Categories
Mental health Training

TRAINING FOR FALL MARATHON SEASON, (WITH NO MARATHONS!)

Tips to Keep Training Even Though Your Marathon Was Canceled

By Brian Metzler

So this was going to be your big year to run a marathon, wasn’t it?

Well it was for me, too! Last December, I was stoked to make it through the Chicago Marathon lottery and get a spot in this fall’s race.

I circled Oct. 11, 2020 on my calendar. I organized a training plan that would start on June 1, but I actually started my training in earnest on Jan. 1. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and this was going to be my fourth time running it, and I was going to do everything I could to make it my fastest.

Chicago marathon - virtual only in 2020
The Chicago Marathon is all virtual in 2020

And then the coronavirus swept across the globe and wreaked havoc on everything, including marathons. In the spring, the Boston and London marathons had been postponed, setting up the potential for five Marathon Majors in a six-week span this fall — Boston, Berlin, London, Chicago and New York — but by mid-summer all of those races and hundreds of others had been postponed until 2021.

It’s a sad reality, but we all know that the health crisis that is still ravaging the world is much more important than our personal running goals. Still, it’s odd to face the fall without a race on the horizon.

Professional runners have found ways to compete as makeshift events with strict social distancing races have emerged. So like the rest of the running world, I’m forced to create a Plan B and make the best out of it. Instead of running a marathon through the streets of Chicago with 40,000 other runners on Oct. 11, I’ll be running a half-marathon time trial alone that day near my home in Boulder, Colorado.

We all have to keep running, keep training, keep testing ourselves, keep living our lives with passion and purpose.

That’s the advice of Dathan Ritzenhein, coach of the newly formed On Athletics Club in Boulder. He was a three-time Olympian and the fourth-fastest American marathoner in history with a 2:07:47 personal best time before retiring from competitive running this past spring.

“Yeah, it’s been a crazy year and I feel for all of the runners who had been training and gearing up for marathons,” says Ritzenhein, who placed ninth in the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing. “It’s disappointing that so many marathons have been canceled because of all of time, miles and commitment you have to put into preparation. I think all you can do is keep training, stay fit and keeping looking ahead to 2021.”

marathon training - coach advice
Olympian and coach Dathan Ritzenhein advises to keep training, stay fit and keep looking ahead.

TIPS ON KEEPING FIT, KEEPING TRAINING AND LOOKING AHEAD

1. Keep Running.

You can’t stop running because races have been canceled. Keep running as a part of your daily routine, but make sure it’s something you enjoy, Ritzenhein says. Not all of your runs will feel great — especially during the heat of summer or without the carrot of a goal race dangling in front of you — but if you make sure to remind yourself that running is something you love to do, you’ll continue to get a positive boost of energy from ever run, even amid the disappointment of not training for your fall marathon.

Need a inspiration to keep going? Run new routes. Strap on a hydration pack and go trail running. Run with friends (distanced). Try out those new shoe brands you’ve always wanted to. Now is the time to experiment with nutrition brands and fueling strategies.

2. Keep Training.

Don’t give up on yourself! Keep your body in the rhythm of training by sticking to a training plan and going through a variety of training stimuli and workouts, Ritzenhein suggests. Even if it’s not the training plan that would have led to your goal-race marathon, you should still engage in a variety of types of running every week — long runs, recovery runs and some kind of speedier effort like a tempo run or interval workout.

Training — as opposed to just running — will keep you physically, mentally and emotionally fit, Ritzenhein says.

Try some new workouts and reward yourself with your favorite meal if you hit your marks.

3. Run a Time Trial

Even though most races are canceled, you can still stay motivated to run fast. Consider planning for a half-marathon time trial this fall, perhaps on the weekend you had planned to run your marathon. Sure you can try to run a new PR for 13.1 miles, but even if you don’t run faster than you ever have before, the inspiration you’ll derive from training and the thrill of racing will give you something to shoot for.

Plus, it’s a lot easier to recover from a half marathon than a marathon and going through the motions of training and racing (in a simulated fashion) will keep you motivated for what’s next in 2021.

Not ready to race that long? Run a 5K or even a mile time trial once a month for the next few months and see how much you can improve. Need more motivation? Engage your friends to race too. Or enter a virtual race.

“Even if it’s not your goal race, any kind of racing is a good thing to get your competitive juices flowing,” says Lee Troop, a three-time Olympian for Australia who coaches 2021 U.S. Olympic marathoner Jake Riley in Boulder. “You’ve got to keep yourself sharp and time trials are a great way to do that.”

no marathon? try trail running
Try something new, throw on a pack and take to the trail

4. Trust the Process.

The world situation is going to improve and you will be able to run a marathon again soon, and hopefully as soon as next spring. Once the world is a safer place, marathon running will return with an incredible swell of excitement that will help motivate us individually and collectively.

In the meantime, continue doing the things you’ve been doing with consistency — running, training, eating healthy foods and getting plenty of rest — and you’ll be in a good position to excel whenever races return.

5. Think Positively.

This too shall pass! As frustrating as 2020 has been, running can and should remain a part of our lives as we start to see 2021 approaching on the horizon.

While the pandemic has been devastating, life will go on and so will running. There might be a new normal and new protocols for big-city marathons, but we will continue running. Just keep showing up in your daily life and keep running woven into the fabric of your healthy lifestyle and it will help guide you through this crazy time in the world.

“It’s been a crazy year, for sure, but first and foremost it’s important to remember that a lot of people have died, a lot of people have gotten sick and a lot of people are out of work,” Troop says.

“Life always has ups and downs, but it’s the person who rises up with their own strength that will truly persevere. The best thing we can do is keep moving forward, keep running and keep living a healthy lifestyle. Let your desire to race be part of the hunger and positivity that helps you maintain an optimistic mindset.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler is the author of Kicksology: The Science, Hype, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes. (2019, VeloPress)

Brian Metzler - Boulder Running Company
Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - trail running

Categories
On Running Reviews

ON CLOUDFLYER REVIEW 2020

Brian Metzler shares his On Cloudflyer review after putting this stability running shoe through its paces.

THE BUZZ

The On Cloudflyer is lightweight, soft and secure high-mileage stability trainer. It’s built on a chassis of On’s unique Cloud cushioning system.

It feels as good as it looks, with a unique, well-built structure that can move as fast or slow as you need it to.

On Cloudflyer - What's New?

WHAT’S NEW?

The Cloudflyer has been updated with a new resilient foam midsole. Add to that a new outsole system and a new engineered mesh upper has been added. It features a new, forked Cloud outsole configuration that supports a healthy rolling motion and a stronger push-off feeling.

The innovative Cloud cushioning system features 12 uniquely shaped Cloud cushioning pods. These unique pods help protect and guide a runner’s feet, supporting them as they roll through the gait cycle from foot strike to toe off. The Clouds are configured to reduce inward rotation on landing. They also combine with the internal Speedboard allow for stable, natural transitions every stride.

The new On Helion Superfoam is soft but also extremely resilient. It does a great job at damping the impact when a foot touches down to the ground. However, when combined with the extra-stiff Speedboard, it also provides an energetic pop. This crescendos into a noticeable burst of forward propulsion as the foot reaches the toe-off phase of the stride.

The new engineered mesh upper provides exceptional breathability and a better, more accommodating fit that helps support efficient foot movement. Subtly placed reflective details around the shoe offer high visibility for safety running at night.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The On Cloudflyer fits a tad bit shorter than typical true-to-size measurements. Likewise, it has a low- to medium-volume interior with a slightly narrower heel cavity.

It fits snug and feels soft at step-in, creating an energetic and athletic vibe out on the run.

Although the Cloudflyer is not a minimalist shoe, it gives off a low-to-the-ground sensation with an engaging feel-for-the-ground proprioception. All of that results in an agile, performance-oriented and very stable ride making it run lighter than it actually is.

No matter if you’re a heel-striker or a mid-foot runner, the Cloudflyer will give you the appropriate cushioning and stability in every stride.

On Cloudflyer 2020

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners looking for a supremely cushioned and stable shoe that retains a light, agile, performance-oriented feel will enjoy this shoe for the comfort and versatility it provides.

The On Cloudflyer is great for long runs and recovery runs, but it also performs well in some longer faster-paced training, including tempo runs, long intervals and fartlek runs. Our wear-testers suggested it could be a great shoe for racing from 10K to the marathon.

On Cloudflyer 2020 - Pros

Pros: On Cloudflyer 2020

Although the Cloudflyer feels as light and nimble as many neutral-oriented shoes, it’s a modern stability shoe that offers significant medial-side support for runners who need it. Over-pronating runners will appreciate that support throughout a run, but neutral-runners will benefit from it on long runs or races when fatigue starts to result in form breakdown.

Our wear-testers rated the Cloudflyer as a great choice for bigger runners and runners with wider feet. The interior shape of the shoe, a plush, cushioned tongue and the state-of-the-art star-lacing system accommodate for an extensive range of foot widths, effectively dispersing pressure and providing a supportive, wrap-like sensation.

An adaptive V-molded heel cap and memory foam collar combine for a snug and stable heel feel, while a dual-density sockliner provides next-level comfort in every step.

On Cloudflyer 2020 - Cons

Cons: On Cloudflyer 2020

Tiny peddles can get caught int the outsole of the Cloudflyer’s Cloud cushioning pods.

While it generally doesn’t avoid the shoe’s flexibility or performance, it can be an annoying occurrence.

TECH SPECS

On Cloudflyer - Tech Specs

SHOP ON CLOUDFLYER

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler was the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine and formerly the editor of Competitor Magazine. He is the author of Kicksology: The Science, Hype, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes. (2019, VeloPress)

Brian Metzler - trail running
Brian Metzler - Boulder Running Company
Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Categories
Brooks Reviews

BROOKS CASCADIA 15 REVIEW

The new Brooks Cascadia 15 (coming August 2020) features improvements that make it lighter with an improved fit and traction while offering the same protection it has always been known for.

THE BUZZ

One of the best-selling trail shoes of all-time, the Brooks Cascadia is a comfortable, super-stable shoe. It serves up superior traction and protection on a variety of surfaces.

Add to that, the Cascadia is extremely versatile; it’s capable of running all types of trails from smooth dirt paths or rugged, rocky routes.

Brooks Cascadia 15 - What's New?

WHAT’S NEW?

The biggest change to the Cascadia is a new, lightweight upper made from a mono-loop mesh with the Brooks 3D Print system. This gives this version an optimal fit, increased breathability and improved drainage.

Additionally, updates to the lacing eyelets, a thinner, better fitting tongue and updated outsole add to the overall reduction in weight. These also add positive benefits to fit and performance.

The sticky rubber TrailTak outsole and multi-directional lug pattern provides reliable traction on gravel, dirt, wooden steps and wet and dry rocks.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The Cascadia fits true to size but it has a slightly wider heel and a low-volume, snug-fitting toe box. A padded, fully gusseted tongue keep the foot snug and secure and keep it from moving inside the shoe on variable terrain.

The step-in feel of the Cascadia 15 is soft. This comfort remains while out on the trails and through the duration of a run, but the ride is more bulldozer than ballet shoe.

In other words, the Cascadia is built to ramble over rugged trail debris instead of being agile to tip-toe around it.

Our wear-testers rated it as one of the most comfortable, durable and protective shoes available this year.

Brooks Cascadia 15 Review 2020

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners who demand stability and protection while running on a wide range of trail surfaces will love the Cascadia 15.

It’s an ideal trail running shoe for runners new to off-road running. It nicely meets the needs of runners who run on rugged mountain trail and those who need only one trail shoe in their quiver.

Brooks Cascadia 15 - Pros

Pros: Brooks Cascadia 15

Lighter is better! Brooks shaved a half ounce off of this year’s edition. It’s a noticeable change that helps make this shoe a bit more agile.

The flexible, thermoplastic EVA Ballistic Rockshield provides ample defense against sharp rocks, awkward roots and other trail obstacles. A sturdy toe bumper and lightly reinforced sidewalls add to the protective vibe the Cascadia has always been known for.

The Cascadia has always been known for unwavering stability that comes from its Pivot Post System. With four wedges of firmer foam built into the softer full-length midsole foam, it helps keep a runner’s foot balanced on uneven and technical sections of trail.

Brooks Cascadia 15 - Cons

Cons: Brooks Cascadia 15

Although the Cascadia 15 is extremely sturdy and protective, the tradeoff is that it’s not light and fast.

It has a solid, semi-firm feel on the trails, but lacks the some of the nimbleness and softness of a lot of contemporary trail shoes.

TECH SPECS

Brooks Cascadia 15 - Tech Specs

SHOP BROOKS CASCADIA 15

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler was the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine and formerly the editor of Competitor Magazine. He is the author of Kicksology: The Science, Hype, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes. (2019, VeloPress)

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - Boulder Running Company
Brian Metzler - trail running
Categories
Reviews Running Accessories

STUDY UP: SPORTS BAGS

SPORTS BACKPACKS FOR STUDYING, TRAINING AND TRAVELING

If you’re a regular runner, swimmer, gym goer, triathlete, or anyone who has to schlep gear (that would be all of us) at some point, a good sports bag is a must.

Fortunately, sports apparel and accessory designers have taken their mad skillz and created some fun, functional and just plain stylish sports bags.

Keep checking back to se all our sports bags and active packs at JackRabbit; we’re always adding new selections, colors and designs.

Thinking holiday already? Why not, we’re in a time warp of a year in 2020! Gather a few for your favorite active people, and gift them the power to schlep in style.

Sports Bags at JackRabbit

ELEVATING THE SPORTS BAG

Modern bags from brands such as Nike, adidas, Vooray, and Ultimate Direction have everything you might need from:

  • Pockets galore to stash clean vs. dirty clothes
  • Shoe sections for post workout filth diversion
  • Mini pockets so you’re not digging into a black hole, to find your phone/keys/lipbalm/hair tie
  • Water bottle holder. If you don’t see it, you don’t drink it

Long gone are the days of canvas backpacks. Most are now made with as technical materials as running shoes. They wipe clean and have ventilation ports for obvious reasons.

Add to that, sports bags in backpack form usually feature some kind of reflective elements and loops to attach lights if you’re using it as a commuter pack.

SPORTS BAGS AT JACKRABBIT

Adidas Sports Bag

adidas Team Issue II Medium Duffle Bag.

Multiple zip pockets stow your small essentials, and a separate compartment isolates your shoes. A water-resistant base helps keep everything dry. The padded shoulder strap and carry handles offer easy transport.

Ultimate Direction Crew Bag

Ultimate Direction Crew Bag

With all the convenience of a duffel bag, this bag was designed to be worn like a backpack for a more convenient hike to your drop point

Fjallraven Sports Bag

Fjallraven Re-Kanken Backpack

Each Re-Kanken Backpack is made from 11 recycled plastic bottles. Their special spin dye manufacturing process reduces water consumption, minimizes impact and puts the Kanken in a whole new world of functional eco-conscious fashion/function.

SHOP ALL SPORTS PACKS & GYM BAGS
Categories
Brooks Reviews

BROOKS LEVITATE 4 REVIEW

The arrival of the Brooks Levitate 4 is reviewed by shoe guru Brian Metzler.

THE BUZZ

The Brooks Levitate is a neutral-oriented everyday training shoe. It offers copious amounts of cushioning, comfort and springiness in every stride.

The new Levitate 4 has a comfortable interior and a sleek and a modern look that can double as a casual shoe with shorts or jeans.

Brooks Levitate 4 - What's new?

WHAT’S NEW

Like it’s cousin the stability-enhancing Bedlam 3, the Brooks Levitate 4 was overhauled considerably from the previous edition. The result is it’s now lighter and bouncier than ever before.

The big modifications include:

  • A lighter formulation of the super-springy DNA Amp polyurethane foam in the midsole,
  • An improved outsole design for better traction and
  • An updated knit upper for a better fit and improved breathability. 

The new diagonally lugged, arrow-pointed outsole design provides more flexibility and better traction than the previous edition. It’s integrated into the midsole and promotes better transitions to the toe-off phase of your stride. This helps put more spring into every step. While there’s a lot of cushioning under foot, the new Levitate has a low-to-the-ground feel in the forefoot.

Brooks Levitate 4 - New for 2020

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The Levitate 4 fits true to size with a similarly snug fit from heel to toe. Although the tongue isn’t gusseted, the sleek fabric of the upper and its smooth interior lining allow it to snug up around the foot. This gives the upper a sock-like fit with a soft step-in feel.

The Levitate 4 feels semi-firm going through the gait cycle, but there’s loads of cushioning and a boost of energy. Although not especially agile and fast, the ride is reliably consistent and smooth.

The Levitate 4’s DNA AMP midsole is now 20 percent lighter and considerably springier. Combined with the new upper and outsole, it creates an amazing feeling of energy return in every stride.

WHO’S IT BEST FOR?

Runners who appreciate soft, energetic shoes with a twinge of inherent support from a wide footprint will love this edition of the Levitate.

Because the fit and feel have been enhanced and it’s much lighter, it’s a much more versatile shoe than previous editions.

Beginner, novice and advanced runners will love this model as an everyday training shoe for long runs, recovery runs. It can also double duty for select faster workout sessions.

Brooks Levitate 4 - Pros

The Levitate is not a stability shoe, but it does offer a stable ride from its wide outsole/midsole chassis and moderate firm heel counter. For runners who appreciate the style, features and comfort of the Levitate 4 but need more support, check out the Bedlam 3.

While Levitate will never feel like a light, fast and agile performance trainer or race-day shoe, our wear-testers love how light and lively this shoe feels now that it’s almost a full ounce lighter than its predecessor. 

Not only is this year’s edition of the Levitate lighter, softer and springier, but it also fits and feels better. The updated Fit Knit Upper hugs the contours of your feet, creating a near-custom fit that conforms to your specific foot shape and moves with the natural motion of your feet on the run.

Brooks Levitate 4 - Cons

Our wear-testers with narrow feet said it was hard to get this shoe snugged down tight enough without really torquing on the laces.

But those with wider feet seem to love the size and shape.

TECH SPECS

Brooks Levitate 4 - Tech Specs

SHOP BROOKS LEVITATE 4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler was the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine and formerly the editor of Competitor Magazine. He is the author of Kicksology: The Science, Hype, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes. (2019, VeloPress)

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Brian Metzler - trail running
Categories
Brooks Reviews

BROOKS BEDLAM 3 REVIEW

Brian Metzler reviews the Brooks Bedlam 3, the stability partner of the Brooks Levitate 4.

THE BUZZ

The Brooks Bedlam is an energetic stability shoe that offers copious cushioning and a good amount of support for runners who tend to overpronate.

It has a comfortable interior and a sleek and a modern look that could double as a casual shoe with shorts or jeans.

Brooks Bedlam 3 - What's New?

WHAT’S NEW?

The Bedlam was overhauled quite a bit from the previous edition and is lighter and bouncier than ever before.

The big changes in the Brooks Bedlam 3 include:

  • A lighter formulation of the super-springy DNA Amp polyurethane foam in the midsole
  • New GuideRails for improved stability
  • An improved outsole design for better traction
  • An updated knit upper for a more stabilizing fit and more breathability.

The updated GuideRails system will guide your feet forward. They offer subtle stability, as much as you need it without inhibiting the flex and flow for the shoe’s undercarriage.

These GuideRails act as a holistic approach to support. They are aimed at keeping your ankles, legs, knees and hips aligned through the gait cycle while reducing unwanted side-to-side motion. There’s also excellent rear-foot support from the firm, exoskeletal heel counter.

The Bedlam 3 is a near-identical cousin to the neutral-oriented Brooks Levitate 4, only it’s sturdier and not quite as flexible. If you want slightly less support in every stride, give the Levitate 4 a try.

The new diagonally lugged, arrow-pointed outsole on the Brooks Bedlam 3 provides more flexibility and better traction than the previous edition. It’s integrated into the midsole to promote better transitions to the toe-off phase of your stride and help put more spring into every step.

Brooks Bedlam 3 - 2020

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The Bedlam 3 fits true to size with a slightly more narrow forefoot and toe box than some shoes. Although the tongue isn’t gusseted, the sleek fabric of the upper and its smooth interior lining allow it to snug up around the foot with a sock-like fit with a soft step-in feel. (While our narrow-footed wear-testers loved the fit and feel, those with slightly wider feet found it a bit constricting.)

The ride is smooth and semi-firm, but there’s noticeable cushioning and in every foot strike. There’s a nice a boost of energy in the forefoot at the apex of every stride.

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners who appreciate soft, energetic shoes and need or want a bit of stability to compensate for a overpronating stride will love the Bedlam 3.

Because the fit and feel have been enhanced and it’s much lighter, it’s a much more versatile shoe that it was in the past.

Beginner, novice and advanced runners will love this model as an everyday training shoe for long runs, recovery runs and faster workout sessions.

It might be a good shoe to consider for your next half marathon. It could help offset the form breakdown from your fatigued legs over the final miles.

Brooks Bedlam 3 - Pros

The Beldam 3’s DNA AMP midsole is now 20 percent lighter and considerably springier. Combined with the new upper and outsole, it creates an amazing feeling of energy return in every stride.

Runners accustomed to wearing stability shoes with firm medial-side wedges of foam will appreciate the smooth, energetic ride of the Bedlam 3. Not only does the Bedlam have a modern design, it’s lighter and more effortless than most stability shoes available.

Brooks Bedlam 3 - Cons

The Bedlam doesn’t ooze a feeling of agility, but OK that’s expected.

The improvements have made it lighter and faster, but it’s still not to be confused with a performance trainer.

TECH SPECS

Brooks Bedlam 3 - Tech Specs

SHOP BROOKS BEDLAM 3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler was the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine and formerly the editor of Competitor Magazine. He is the author of Kicksology: The Science, Hype, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes. (2019, VeloPress)

Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Brian Metzler - Boulder Running Company
Brian Metzler - trail running
Categories
hoka one one Running Gear Superfeet

SUPERFEET: TAKE A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

RUNNING INSOLES: A PERFECT MATCH

You walk into a running store and look at a wall of insoles. Does that confuse you? What are they, do I need them, what’s with all the rainbow of colors and options? Read on to learn why investing in a running insole could be the answer to longevity, comfort and making your running shoe, the perfect one for you.

Given no foot and no runner are alike, the invention of running insoles was game-changing for runners. Feet, like our minds, change over time. Being able to custom fit an insole to offer your arches, heels the support they need at that given time, is a recipe for a great running season ahead.

Superfeet are the masters of the insole having dedicated their technology, resources and scientific know-how to servicing the soles (and souls?) of runners. Offering running insoles for comfort, arch support and race days, read on to learn which we recommend with this year’s collection from HOKA ONE ONE.

FINDING THE PERFECT RUNNING INSOLE FOR YOU

Partnering with HOKA ONE ONE and Superfeet, we worked with the team for their recommendations on suitable Superfeet insoles for some of their key styles.

HOKA ARAHI 4 + SUPERFEET RUN COMFORT

Run Comfort Women’s: As the mantra goes, ‘women are not small men’, and their feet are no exception. With that firmly at the front of their mind, Superfeet have devised the Run Comfort Women’s running insole. It is specifically adapted to the geometry of the female foot.

This insole features a narrower heel and specific arch length alongside the tried and tested deep heel cup and impact technology. 

HOKA Arahi 4: A classic stability shoe the HOKA Arahi 4 offers structured support for pronators and those needing arch support. Pair with the Run Comfort insole and you get the best of both worlds, support and comfort to keep on running.

Superfeet Insole + Hoka Gaviota 2

HOKA GAVIOTA 2 + SUPERFEET RUN THIN

Superfeet Run Comfort Thin: The Superfeet Run Comfort Thin insole is 20% thinner than other Superfeet styles for the runner who needs a slim fit in their shoes, but also need the support of an insole. The thin profile works with your race shoes and offers no extra bulk for a dialed in fit.  

HOKA Gaviota 2: Another stability shoe, the HOKA Gaviota 2 already comes with HOKA’s classic cushioning as well as support. So use a slim fit insole to dial in the fit without compromising the cushion that is already there.

Superfeet insole + Hoka Speedgoat

HOKA SPEEDGOAT 4 _ SUPERFEET RUN COMFORT

Superfeet Run Comfort Max:  This heel-cradling insole, the best-selling running insole from Superfeet is specifically designed with the runner in mind.

Slipped into your running shoe, the insole disperses impact for a more comfortable run allowing you to run longer with more efficiency. Remember, the Run Comfort Max is the ‘green insole’ when you’re shopping and are male, and the ‘pink insole’ if you’re shopping and you’re female.

HOKA Speedgoat 4: The classic of classic trail running shoes from HOKA, the Speedgoat is designed to take to the trail and go long. When it comes to an insole for long distance, technical trails, pop in a Run Comfort Max so your feet can run as long as you will can take you.

Superfeet Insole + HOKA Stinson ATR 6

HOKA STINSON ATR 6 + SUPERFEET RUN COMFORT

Superfeet Run Comfort Max:This insole is built for comfort and durability, and like all Superfeet insoles, they are guaranteed to provide reliable support and comfort of up to 12 months or 500 miles – whichever comes sooner.

HOKA Stinson ATR 6: An all-terrain shoe, the HOKA Stinson ATR 6 is ready for action. It’s durable and can go long from trail to road when you’re mixing up the best of both worlds. If you’re going to run long, get yourself the Run Comfort Max. You’re feet will thank you.