Reviews Running Gear Training


Best shoes for marathon running

Brian Metzler rounds up the best of the best for your virtual race months.

There still aren’t many races in the U.S., but they’ll be back! However, you can still create your own opportunities to run fast on your own — either through virtual races, personal time trials or simulated race efforts with your running pals.

To run your fastest, you’ll need a lightweight, speedy pair of shoes. Here are five of the best shoes in a variety of price categories that will keep you on pace for fast times and inspiring new goals for 2021.

Hoka Carbon X 2 Review 2021


The HOKA Carbon X returns after the successful first edition won races and set records. It proved itself among the best of the initial crop of long-distance racing shoes built with carbon-fiber plates embedded in thick, cushy midsoles.

The Carbon X 2 is a maximally cushioned neutral-oriented speed shoe. It has a staunchly rocker profile and an energetic vibe that promotes fast-cadence running ready for race day and tempo runs ahead.

Read our full review of the Carbon X 2 here.

Weights: 8.5 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.4 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (39 mm heel, 34 mm forefoot)



A $100 running shoe? For racing a half marathon or marathon? Is that a mistake? Heck no! The Brooks Launch 8 is an energetic and well-cushioned shoe that also comes with an affordable price tag. With a relatively light and snappy demeanor, the Launch is somewhat of a unique ‘tweener. It falls between the category of performance trainers and the wide range of high-mileage trainers that are about a full ounce lighter. But if your race goals are modest or just want to complete a 10K, half marathon or marathon at your own goal pace, this can be an ideal shoe is for you.

Plus, it can also double as an affordable, do-everything trainer shoe that’s versatile enough to endure long runs and also quick enough to run faster, shorter workouts like tempo runs, fartlek runs and track intervals.

Weights: 9.2 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (26mm heel, 16mm forefoot)

HOKA Rincon 2 - Marathon


$115 While Hoka One One’s Carbon X is an exceptional long-distance racing shoe, we’ve chosen to focus on the fast and light Rincon model for this roundup of racing shoes instead.

Why? First, it’s a great shoe for running fast over all distances from 5K to the marathon. It’s also because it’s much more affordable too. The Rincon 2 is unfettered and fast, but it still has a lot of cushioning in every stride thanks to the full-compression EVA midsole.

The Rincon doesn’t feel like a stripped-down racing flat, but the soft, smooth and energetic demeanor allows it to perform like one when you want it to. It’s light and fast enough to be an energetic performance trainer for fast workouts. It also enough cushion and protection to be a long-run shoe or even an everyday trainer.

Weights: 7.7 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 6.8 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (men: 29mm heel, 24mm forefoot; women: 26mm heel, 21mm forefoot)

New Balance 860v8


$120: New Balance has several racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates embedded in their midsoles. But the 890 is the brand’s tried and true featherweight performance-oriented trainer/racer. It has always been known for its light, agile and very energetic vibe.

The New Balance 890 has been overhauled in recent years. It now includes a high-rebound FuelCell midsole, a supportive yet comfortable knit upper and a gusseted tongue for a snug, race-day fit. It has a semi-firm feel and a slightly lower to the ground geometry. This gives it excellent feel-for-the-ground proprioception and a lively feel in every stride. The 890 is fast, light, versatile and capable of taking you race-day goals. Even if your race is a virtual event or your own personal time trial!

Weights: 8.4 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.2 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (25mm heel, 19mm forefoot)

Saucony Endorphin Pro - Men's Style


$200: The Saucony Endorphin Pro is a top-tier long-distance racing shoe. It features a carbon-fiber plate embedded in a soft, very resilient midsole foam. It debuted on the feet of Saucony pros at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in February in Atlanta, including women’s second-place finisher Molly Seidel. It represents the best of Saucony’s engineering and design efforts. It’s built on SpeedRoll technology, a forward-leaning geometry that propels you forward. It has a feeling of continuous momentum, so you can run faster and more efficiently without running harder. It feels light, firm, energetic, efficient and smooth, especially at faster speeds.

Weights: 7.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.3 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (35.5mm heel, 27.5mm forefoot)

Nike Tempo NEXT%


$200: The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% mixes durability with a design that helps push to a personal best. The result is a shoe built like a racer, but made for your everyday training routine.

Nike ZoomX foam in the footbed delivers energy return as you move forward. A visible Zoom Air unit provides responsive cushioning, giving you an additional spring with your stride.

The rubber outsole features a design created using data from hundreds of runners. That information helps place traction where your foot needs it most, giving you grip on multiple surfaces.

Weights: 9.8 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (46mm heel, 36mm forefoot)

maurten sports nutrition


Maurten sports fuel is easier to tolerate for athletes. The pioneering sports-fuel company has found a way to encapsulate high concentrations of carbohydrates in hydrogels.

Anyone who has experienced ‘gastric distress’ due to excess sugar in an endurance event will know nutrition is key to how a race will unfold.

Incidentally, the winners of the last twenty major marathons have all grabbed a Maurten bottle at on-course drinks stations. Think they might be on to something? With the mantra, never try anything new on race day, pick up some Maurten hydrogels and sports drink mix and give them a try during training.





Runner and writer Brian Metzler offer his running guide for 2021 with actionable tips you can adopt now to end off 2020 on a better footing.

By Brian Metzler

Good riddance, 2020! We can’t get rid of you soon enough! While there have been plenty of unsettling aspects of 2020 that we’ll never escape, we can go forward with a new attitude and a new approach to the new normal that is emerging.

No matter if you’re a new runner, a marathoner, a trail runner or a triathlete, here are few ways to stay positive and keep your training heading in the right direction until you have a chance to focus on a race in 2021.       

1. Look forward.

OK, let’s face it, 2020 has been a rough year no matter how you slice it. As a runner, it’s time to get over it and move on. When it comes to your training, it pays to always look forward and never look back.

Whatever new normal presents itself in 2021 won’t impact your ability to re-focus and train for something new. Yes, 2020 threw a wrench into everybody’s plans, but with a forward-thinking approach, we can make 2021 whatever we want it to be!

2. Focus on the Process.

Yes, even though there is a lot of unknown, you need to get back to setting goals — a new marathon PR, your first Ironman, completing a 50K trail race. But you won’t get there thinking about uncertainty of what lies ahead, only the success you wish to realize. To get there, focus more on the process than the goals. Focus on being consistent, going through the daily grind of training and keeping on, keeping on. Your fitness will come and, when the opportunity arises, so will your successful race results.

3. Be realistic.

Shoot for the moon when you make your goals. There’s no reason you shouldn’t go after a new PR. But also be realistic. For example, your marathon PR is 3:35 right now, there’s probably not a realistic scenario that you’ll be able to run 3:15. Aim for 3:25 and give it everything you have. If you’ve completed an Ironman in 14 hours, shoot for sub-13. Or if you’re relatively new, start by shooting for a fast half marathon or 70.3 triathlon first. The more you can focus on a smart, realistic goal, the better the chance you’ll have to achieve it.

Running Guide - train

4. Have fun!

First of all, whatever exercise you do on a regular basis — no matter if it’s running, hiking, biking or swimming — it should be fun! No matter what kind of training you’re doing, you’ve gotta enjoy it. Yes, you’ll have rough days and rough patches, but over the course of every week you should love what you’re doing. Lean into your tenaciousness. Relish in your fitness. Learn to love the feeling fatigued legs. If you don’t like the journey, you won’t like the destination.

5. Make your rituals to become routine.

We all occasionally deal with frustrations that hampered us: fatigue, soreness, wavering motivation, and feeling out of shape after taking a break. The keys to counteracting those down moments are planning the rest of your activities around your running, focusing on your strengths, and reducing or mastering the parts that are constantly a challenge. The transformation from ritual to routine is what makes running really a real pleasure, something that’s really special for people for their entire lives.

6. Rest more.

Remember that the only way you’ll improve as a runner or triathlete is by making sure you get sufficient sleep and rest to match your training intensity and effort. You can train as hard and as long as you want, but if you’re not getting enough sleep, rest and recovery, you’re never going to benefit from the training. Build in rest regular rest days, either with light cross-training or no training at all. And by all means, turn off your devices and screens and go to bed 30 to 60 minutes earlier than you normally do. Your mind and body will reap the benefits, and so will your fitness.

7. Do more alternative training.

If you want to become a better runner, you have to do more than running. Make time for fast workouts, form drills, stretching and even massage. (Either professional massage or self-massage with recovery implements such as a foam roller or Roll Recovery device.) Be diligent about doing strength work three times per week, no matter if it’s yoga, CrossFit, Orange Theory or even just a regular plank routine. Don’t think of it as an additional burden, think of it as a piece of your overall performance puzzle.

8. Be flexible.

As 2020 has taught us, things can go wrong. Unexpectedly wrong. Badly wrong. But the race — and, more importantly, your training —must go on. So if things don’t go as planned or if you suffer an injury or if it rains on race day, take a deep breath, deal with it and move forward. If you can’t run the marathon you planned, use that fitness for an epic long-distance trail run. If your triathlon is canceled, create your own multi-sport endurance adventure from your front door. Endurance sports aren’t about a singular moment, but how consistent and how much passion you sink into them over the arc of a long time — over the arc of your lifetime.

Running Guide - Food for runners

9. Eat better.

You know you can eat better. We all know we can eat better. But instead of forcing yourself into a extremely limiting regime change — such as off of a sudden following a vegan diet — make small, subtle changes. Choose a big, hearty salad over a burger and fries. Snack on fruits, vegetables and low-fast cheese. Avoid deserts except on one or two special occasions per month. You don’t need advice. You just need determined focus tied to your overall fitness goals. And remember, when you finish your goal race, you reward yourself by eating whatever you want!

10. Challenge yourself and be brave.

You won’t get anywhere by softly going through the motions. If you want to run better, you need to train better. If you want to achieve greatness, you have to train that way. Make sure you get out of your comfort zone when you’re training. Your hard workouts should be hard. Long runs should be fatiguing. Strength workouts should leave you sore. But with proper rest and recovery, you’ll start to feel the results of your advanced fitness and that will lead to increase confidence and the ability to push yourself harder.

Once you get to your next starting line, trust your training and repeat the mantra “I am ready” and then go make it happen.

Be brave and challenge yourself with conviction and good results will follow.

Mental health Training


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.


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.”


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