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WHICH RACING SHOES ARE BEST FOR ME?

What Racing Shoes Are Best for Me?

10 SHOES TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR NEXT RACE

By Brian Metzler

After what seems like an eternity, fall race season is back. But it’s also prime time for running a half marathon. Or a 5K. Or a trail running race. Or even a triathlon.

But you know that because signed up for a fall race, trained hard for the past several months and are almost ready to get after it. But what shoes should you lace up on race day? Here are 10 great models to consider as you count down the days until you’re toeing the starting line again.

Adidas Adios Pro 2

Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2, $220

Best for: Half Marathon / Marathon

Weights: 8.0 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.8 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 8.5 mm (39mm heel, 30.5mm forefoot)

The Buzz: One of the elite super shoes unveiled in the past year, the Adios Pro 2 has is one of the most prevalent shoes on the podium at top marathons around the world. It’s a thickly cushioned shoe with carbon-fiber energy rods embedded in the lively LIghtstrike Pro midsole. Finished off with a featherweight, breathable upper and Continental carbon rubber segments on the outsole, this is best-in-class long-distance racing shoe

Is it the shoe for you? The Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2 is like a smooth-riding sports car that’s built to go fast. It feels high off the ground (because it is), so there’s a trade-off for the relative lack of proprioceptive connection with the roads. But when you’re running as fast as they shoes will take you, it will feel like your feet don’t touch the ground.

SHOP ADIDAS ADIOS PRO 2

ASICS Noosa Tri

ASICS Noosa Tri 13, $130

Best For: Triathlon / 5K to Half Marathon

Weights: 8.0 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (34mm heel, 29mm forefoot)

The Buzz: This brightly colored speedster is as loud as it is versatile. It’s a fast and light shoe that can be used for fast training workouts or racing on the roads or in a triathlon. It doesn’t have a carbon-fiber plate, but it does have a rocker shape and a firm feeling underfoot that creates forward propulsion. 

Is it the shoe for you? The Noosa Tri has been re-tooled a bit and is comfortable, fast and reliable. Plus, at $130 it’s very affordable compared to a lot of other super shoes. It has triathlon-specific features, including drainage holes and an interior feeling that makes it feel great without wearing socks. But let’s face it, it’s still the wild colorful patterns that draw everyone to this shoe as a race-day burner.

SHOP ASICS NOOSA TRI

Nike Vaporfly Next% 2

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2, $250

Best For: 10K to Marathon

Weights: 6.9 oz. (men’s size 9.0); xx oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (40mm heel, 32mm forefoot)

The Buzz: The undisputed fastest marathon shoe on the planet, the neutral-oriented ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 it features Nike’s hyper-responsive ZoomX cushioning foam and a curvy, full-length carbon-fiber plate to increase forward propulsion. It’s been updated with a more breathable mesh and a little bit more structure to hold the foot in place, but the basic premise is the same: lace ‘em up and run fast!

Is it the shoe for you? Runners think about two things when they consider buying a pair of ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2: their current PRs and if they want to pay $250 to lower them. The answer is often yes, because the shoe is the closest thing to a short cut a marathoner can get. There are no short cuts in running. You still have to do the work, but this shoe definitely gives you a huge advantage over most others.

SHOP NIKE VAPORFLY NEXT% 2

Nike Alphafly Next%

Nike Zoom Alphafly Next% Flyknit, $275

Best For: Half-Marathon to Marathon

Weights: 7.4 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.3 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 4mm (40mm heel, 36mm forefoot)

The Buzz: The evolution of Nike’s paradigm-changing carbon-fiber plated-shoe technology has led to this, a maximally cushioned shoe that induces efficient forward propulsion with the aid of a curvy plate and dual Air Zoom units in the forefoot. It has considerably more foam but a lower heel-toe offset than the original Vaporfly 4% and Vaporfly Next% shoes.

Is it the shoe for you? Although it is slightly heavier and higher off the ground than the original two Vaporfly models, this shoe serves up noticeably more energy return, stability and impact protection with a much smoother ride.

SHOP NIKE ALPHAFLY NEXT%

Womens Hoka Rincon 3 Review

HOKA Rincon 3, $115

Best For: 5K/10K/Half Marathon/Marathon

Weights: 7.4 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.2 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (33mm heel, 28mm forefoot)

The Buzz: Light, cushy and fast, the Rincon 3 is a lively and versatile neutral-oriented shoe at a budget-friendly price. It has an exceptional cushion-to-weight ratio and serves up an easy-rolling ride, which allow it to be a great shoe for long runs, speedier workouts and recovery jogs.

Is it the shoe for you? The midsole is squishy soft, but the ride is very lively and agile. It doesn’t produce a bouncy sensation, but more of a fluid, rolling motion that comes from the rocker (or concave) geometry of the outsole-midsole undercarriage. It’s a heck of a deal at $115, both because it’s fast and versatile enough to be an everyday trainer or speed workout shoe during the week.

SHOP HOKA RINCON 3

Hoka Carbon X 2 - Women's

HOKA Carbon X, $180

Best For: 5K to Marathon

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

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (35mm heel, 30 mm forefoot)

The Buzz: A lightweight racing flat built on a stable midsole platform embedded with a carbon-fiber plate, the Rocket X combines responsive agility with soft, forgiving landings. Unlike the bouncy sensation of many super shoes, the Rocket X feels firm, smooth and resilient and more engaged with the ground.

Is it the shoe for you? Compared to other racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates, the Rocket X’s plate is far straighter. As such, it feels like it lifts you onto your toes more than it rolls off the toes. That produces a powerful lever to propels you forward, but requires a strong stride up on your toes and forward-balanced, driving with calves and posterior chain.

SHOP HOKA CARBON X

Saucony Endorphin Pro + Review

Saucony Endorphin Pro+, $250

Best For: 5K/10K/Half Marathon/Marathon

Weights: 6.9 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 5.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

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

The Buzz: The Saucony Endorphin Pro+ is a featherweight, top-tier racing shoe built on an energetic foam midsole embedded with a curvy carbon-fiber plate that enhances forward propulsion. Designed for all-out racing from 5K to the marathon, it carries a higher price tag than the Endorphin Pro 2 ($200) but it’s lighter, more lively and faster than its predecessor because it has a slightly leaner foam midsole.

Is it the shoe for you? The Endorphin Pro+ is an all-out speed merchant, capable of a wide range of running distances and it’s not as bouncy as some of the other models in the super shoe category. The midsole foam is made from the same energetic PWRRUN PB compound as the previous versions of the Endorphin Pro 2, but this edition has a slightly leaner shape and a new flyweight upper and, as a result, it’s quite a bit lighter and more agile.

SHOP ENDORPHIN COLLECTION

Altra Lone Peak 5

Altra Lone Peak 5, $130

Best For: Trail Running 5K to Marathon

Weights: 10.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 9.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 0mm (26mm heel, 26mm forefoot)

The Buzz: A reliable trail running shoe built on a level or zero-drop platform, the Lone Peak 5 is offers good cushioning, great traction and exceptional agility. The new AltraEGO midsole foam is absorbent and extremely responsive, putting a bit of a resilient spring in every stride. Like every Altra shoe, it features a slightly roomier foot-shaped toe box, which is especially appreciated on downhill sections and on hot days when feet tend to swell.

Is it the shoe for you? This is one of the best-selling trail running shoes in the U.S., but the key is whether or not you can adapt to a zero-drop platform. If you’re a fit runner or someone who has been running in low-drop shoes for a while, you’re going to love this shoe for its proprioceptive feel for the ground and the traction its outsole provides.

SHOP ALTRA LONE PEAK 5

Saucony Peregrine 11 - women's

Saucony Peregrine 11, $120

Best For: Trail Running 5K to Marathon

Weights: 10.8 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 9.7 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 4mm (28mm heel, 24mm forefoot)

The Buzz: The Peregrine is a versatile, neutral-oriented trail running shoe that has the comfort and smoothness of a road running shoe with a low-to-the-ground feel and a nice blend of cushioning, traction and protection. It’s a classic, do-everything off-road runner, ideal for smooth, rolling dirt paths, moderately technical routes with some rocks, roots, gravel and other obstacles, as well as sloppy trails with a lot of mud and moisture.

Is it the shoe for you? The Peregrine 11 has a new upper that’s more durable and protective than the previous edition. The moderate midsole cushioning is accompanied by a flexible rock plate that allows for a cushy, flexible and protective ride doesn’t inhibit the natural movement of your feet on variable terrain. The Peregrine isn’t exceptionally energetic, but it feels and runs lighter than its spec weight and serves up an agile, go-get-it sensation on most types of terrain.

SHOP SAUCONY PEREGRINE 11

On Cloudflyer 2020 - Men's

On Cloudflyer 2.0, $160

Best For: 5K to Half Marathon

Weights: 9.8 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 8.8 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 7mm (36mm heel, 29mm forefoot)

The Buzz: The Cloudflyer is lightweight, soft and secure high-mileage stability shoe built on a chassis of On’s unique Cloud cushioning system. Made from a new Helion Superfoam, the midsole is soft but also extremely resilient and it a great job at damping the impact with the ground, and  combined with the extra-stiff Speedboard, it also provides an energetic pop that crescendos into a noticeable burst of forward propulsion as the foot reaches the toe-off phase of the stride.

Is it the shoe for you? 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. Overpronating runners will appreciate that support throughout a run, but neutral-oriented runners will benefit from it on long runs or races when fatigue starts to result in form breakdown.

SHOP ON CLOUDFLYER

 

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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