Case Comparison, different options for your phone while you run

This was supposed to be post 2 of 3 about running with your smartphone.  But to keep this post from becoming too long, I will separate it into 2 posts.  As I stated last week, odds are that you are already running with your smartphone, but I am hoping to provide you with some information you might not already know about the importance of and ease with which you can run with your phone.

I am focusing on cases this time, comparing 3.  One of the added benefits of the popularity of smartphones is that the ancillary businesses created to protect them give a myriad of choices.  Having a myriad of choices though tends to give me analysis paralysis, and because I am rather picky about this sort of thing, I tend to purchase 3 or 4 cases before deciding I have purchased the “perfect” case.

So, with that knowledge of my obsessive pickiness, let’s dive right in to the comparison of three heavy duty cases.  Before starting, I must mention that all of the cases featured in this comparison have a version for iPod Touch if that is what you prefer to run with.  If you read my previous post though, you will know the importance of running with your phone.

I decided on three features that each case must have to be included in this comparison.  First, they must have a built in screen protector, not because they add any significant strength, but simply to let you avoid the neurosurgical intensity of positioning a sticky screen protector exactly right on the first try.  Second, they must be able to withstand at least a drop from your hand or upper arm while you run.  I shudder to think of that happening, but I have been caught with sweaty hands myself, running in August, and dropped my phone.  Third, they must be able to withstand and protect the phone from a splash of water or gatorade.

Case #1:  The Popular One, Otterbox Defender

(If you can’t see the video above, please refresh the page)

Unless you are just purchasing your first iPhone or Android device you have undoubtedly heard of the Otterbox Defender.  If you haven’t heard of it, you have definitely seen it.  I first purchased the Otterbox Defender when my 5 year old was born in the anticipation that he would one day get a hold of my phone and drop it.

The Otterbox offers 4 distinct levels of protection for your phone.  First, the Defender has an interior layer of protective foam to cradle your phone in cloud-like softness.  Second, a hard polycarbonate shell protects from drops and sudden impacts.  Third, the Defender provides a built in screen protector as I mentioned before as part of the criteria for this comparison.  Fourth, the Defender wraps it all up in a silicone outer shell to provide added cushioning against any impacts.

The Defender also comes with a very sturdy belt clip if you choose to wear your phone without using an arm carrier.

Pros:

1. The Defender is a very heavy duty case and I dropped mine numerous times with no damage to my phone whatsoever.

2. The case was easy to clean with denatured alcohol and the swivel belt clip can also be used as a stand for horizontal viewing.

3. Otterbox offers numerous color combinations plus an option to custom design your case.

Cons:

1. The Defender is a large case that adds a noticeable bulk to the phone when installed.

2. I am not a fan of silicone outer layers because they get stuck inside your pocket and make it rather difficult to answer a call while seated when your phone is in your pocket.

The Defender starts at $49.95.  www.otterbox.com

Case #2:  The Up-and-Comer, Griffin Survivor

survivor-iphone5-group-1_1

When the silicone layer on my Defender began to loosen, I changed my case to the Survivor.  I made my decision after seeing a survivor driven over by a car with no damage being done to the phone.

The Griffin Survivor provides the same types of protection as the Otterbox Defender, but takes the level of protection up a few notches.  The case has a padded layer inside a polycarbonate shell, with an integrated screen protector, all snuggled up in a silicone wrapper.  The Survivor was designed to meet the US Defense Department’s standard 810F.  If like me, you were not familiar with standard 810F.  The tests to meet standard 810F are: to withstand windblown rain for 1 hour, to protect against a 6’ drop onto concrete, to block blown sand for 1 hour, and to withstand vigorous vibration for 18 hours.  Like the Defender it comes with a belt clip that can be used as a stand for viewing, but the clip is nowhere near as sturdy or durable than the Defender.

Pros:

1. The Survivor, with it’s additional silicone in the outer skin feels more durable in hand.

2. It can handle quite a bit more abuse than the Defender can if you are rather rough and tumble on your phone.

3. Griffin offers tons of color combinations and like Otterbox, they provide an option to customize your color combination.

Cons:

1. The Survivor is even bigger than the Defender and thus adds significant bulk to your phone.

2. Like the Defender, the Survivor will get caught in your pocket because of the silicone layer.

3. The belt clip is really quite useless for this case.  The phone can easily become dislodged if you were to bump into another runner while at the water station during a race.

The Survivor costs $49.99.  www.store.griffintechnology.com

Case #3:  The Surprising One, Lifeproof Fre (for iPhone 5)

The Lifeproof Fre is the most expensive of the three cases in this comparison, but you get your money’s worth.  I must disclose that both my wife and I are currently using Lifeproof Fre cases on our iPhone 5s and I have a Lifeproof Nuud case on my iPad 2.

When first purchasing the Fre, you will notice just how light the box feels.  Because I was using a Griffin Survivor when I bought the Lifeproof case for my iPhone 4, I thought the boxes were empty on the shelf for security.  It turns out that the Fre is simply a very light case because it doesn’t need multiple layers to provide beyond adequate protection.  All Lifeproof phone cases seem like they are made of Tupperware, but Lifeproof took their time to bring their cases to the market and they got it right.  Like the Survivor, the Fre meets US Defense Department standard 810F and can withstand a drop from 6.6’.  Lifeproof has gone a step further with all of their cases, not just the Fre, and has made them completely waterproof to a depth of 6.6’.  Because of their ability to block water, they are also impervious to snow, dirt, and mud (for those of you who like a good mud run).

Pros:

1. Because the Fre is waterproof I never worry about having it with me for a run.  I know that if it begins to rain or if I throw water on it by accident, my phone is completely protected.

2. I never have to worry about dropping this case.  It can handle the same drops that the other two cases in this review can take.

3. The Fre has a very slim profile.  It doesn’t have any silicone outer layer and as such doesn’t add significant bulk to the phone while still providing over the top protection

4. Because the Fre is not constructed with any silicone, it can easily be carried in your pocket without getting stuck.

5. After a long run you can take your phone into the shower with you to finish the podcast you might have been in the middle of (not that I’ve ever done this, but its nice to know I can).

6. Lifeproof offers the Fre in multiple colors.

Cons:

1. Because the Fre is waterproof, there must be hatches to cover all ports that would be accessed while using your phone.  As such, Lifeproof provides a headphone extender to screw into the headphone port.  This minor inconvenience allows the Fre to maintain it’s watertight seals even while listening to music.

2. The Fre is expensive.  $79.99 is a lot to pay for a phone case, but considering the level of protection this is not a prohibitive amount considering the cost of replacing your phone while you are still under contract.

The Fre costs $79.99.  www.lifeproof.com

If you can’t tell by now, my personal favorite after using each of the cases above is the Fre by Lifeproof.  Their ability to provide the same protection as the big cases and then take that protection a step further by being waterproof makes this one an easy decision for me.

Do you have any experience with the cases compared in this post?  Do you have a recommendation not covered here?  Please leave a comment letting us know.

Respect the Run!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailJonathan Keeth is a proud father of two and the husband to a beautiful and longsuffering wife who tolerates his obsession with running shoes and gear. Jonathan is the author of odyssey100.com where he blogs about his two great goals, training for his first 100 mile race and losing 100 lbs so he never has to register for a race in the hippo class again.  Follow him on Twitter: @odysy100

Motivational review – or – “I don’t feel like running when its cold, I’d rather stay inside and watch YouTube.”

I’m taking a bit of a break from the gear review this week.  I’ve really been battling motivation this past couple of weeks and I want to share some things I watch that really keep me motivated to run when I don’t want to. The first motivator is a movie about Anton Krupicka, also known as “Running Jesus”.  This guy is a complete badass in the world of ultrarunning.  This particular movie gives a glimpse into Anton’s winter training.  Every time I watch it I want to sell everything and move to Colorado.  (if you can’t see the video, please refresh the page)

Next up is a very shaky video, shot with a GoPro by another ultrarunning badass, Killian Journet.  Killian and Anton Krupicka, friends and competitors, decided they would have a nice leisurely run one morning and ended up making an ascent up Grand Teton.  You know, no big deal.  Notice their aid stations.  I feel like a wimp carrying a bottle with me for a 10 mile run.  This is a great movie to watch to get yourself ready to go run.  Be warned, this is pretty shaky since Killian was running while shooting the movie, but still a great motivator.

Finally, here is a short documentary about the 2013 Hardrock 100 race in Colorado.  This race takes place in some of the most beautiful parts of the Colorado Rockies.  This movie reminds me of the camaraderie shared in the running community.  The main feature of the film, Sebastian Chaingeau, a French runner was participating in the Hardrock for the first time.  His pacer for the race was one of the biggest names in ultrarunning, Scott Jurek.  What other sport would have one of the biggest and most recognized names not only mentor someone else before the race, but also come along side and run with him for the final 50 miles or so?

So my friends, after watching these again, I’m ready to go run.  I hope they have the same effect on you.

What do you watch or read to keep you motivated to run?  Leave a comment and let us know. Respect the Run!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailJonathan Keeth is a proud father of two and the husband to a beautiful and longsuffering wife who tolerates his obsession with running shoes and gear. Jonathan is the author of odyssey100.com where he blogs about his two great goals, training for his first 100 mile race and losing 100 lbs so he never has to register for a race in the hippo class again.  Follow him on Twitter: @odysy100

Columbia Omni-Heat Reflective Baselayer Midweight Tight review – or – “Oh yeah? Well my tights are made from a safety blanket!”

I know what you’re thinking.  ”Jonathan I think you have a bit of an obsession.  You wrote about windproof running tights a couple of weeks ago and you are writing about tights again?  How many pairs of tights do you own?”  A fair question, (4), and while it might seem as though I have an unhealthy desire to wear very tight clothing, I only wear them when I run, and that is only at night.  No children are harmed by having to see me run in tights and then have an uncomfortable conversation with their parents.

I purchased these tights because I went on a trip to Estes Park quite ill prepared for the cool weather in the mountains.  Though I grew up in Denver, I am more accustomed to September in Dallas rather than the Rockies which can be cool, on the verge of being cold.  I bought these tights to wear under shorts so I would be able to finish my hike/run and still feel my lower extremities.

So what made me decide on these tights as a baselayer?  Their name says it all, Omni-Heat Reflective.  Columbia developed this technology after adapting it from a reflective safety blanket.  I’m sorry I don’t have a picture, I could not get a good one to post here, but I highly recommend going to their site to get a good look at these tights inside out.  The Omni-Heat Reflective technology is on the inside of the tights and it literally reflects the heat you generate back toward your skin.  They are incorporating this technology into a full line of cold weather gear, not just the tights.

As with most cold weather running gear I was concerned that these would trap too much heat and I would end up sweating a ton and then develop hypothermia because my clothes were soaked.  Columbia thought of this concern.  They built a wicking gusset and waist band into the tights to absorb any sweat and then let it evaporate.  I was perfectly comfortable while I wore these tights.  Be aware though, these tights are not waterproof, so if you are running in a cold drizzle or rain, these could allow the water through and you will get very cold.  Wearing them on a cold, dry or snowy run though is great.  The warmth reflected back onto you is just right, not too much and not too little.  They fit true to size.  No need to size up or down for a good fit.

Overall, this is a great pair of tights.  If you are going to buy just one pair of tights to wear under your regular running gear during the winter, you should definitely give them a chance.  They seem a bit pricey to me at $55.00, considering they are a pair of tights, but this reflective technology is worth the premium price.  On the Runner’s High Scale of 1-5, I give the Columbia Omni-Heat Reflective Baselayer Midweight Tight a 5.  They did a great job of keeping me warm under a pair of shorts without making me uncomfortably warm.

Do you have any experience with a base layer like this?  What did you think of them?  Leave a comment and let us know. Respect the Run!

headshotJonathan Keeth is a proud father of two and the husband to a beautiful and longsuffering wife who tolerates his obsession with running shoes and gear. Jonathan is the author of odyssey100.com where he blogs about his two great goals, training for his first 100 mile race and losing 100 lbs so he never has to register for a race in the hippo class again.  Follow him on Twitter: @odysy100

SOLE Thin Sport Custom Footbed review – or – “I thought insoles were just for middle aged guys”

I have been humbled dear reader.  I’ve stated before that I am rather big for a runner.  Even though I am big, I have never been injured.  I’m not sure if that is because I am so biomechanically perfect in my stride (not at all), or if I have just been living on borrowed time.  Probably the latter, as I learned over the summer.

I started a 50 mile road race in July.  Notice I said started and not finished.  Due to the craziness of life with two young sons vying for my attention, I was not able to train as much as I wanted to.  The result was that I was cramming too much training into the weeks prior to the race.  As such, I gave myself a wicked case of plantar fasciitis.  I got to mile 12 and had to start hobbling to the next aid station at mile 14.  From there, I hobbled another 6 miles to see if I could walk it off.  Nothing doing.  My plantar was shot and I have been paying a painful price ever since.

Since that fateful night, I have been reading quite a lot about PF and how it can be cured/held at bay.  The most definitive answers out there are to make sure your feet have enough support, particularly with a good arch support and a deep heel cup.

thin-sport-frontIn my search to find a good support that I could wear in my shoes to run in and for work, I came across SOLE custom footbeds.  After comparing them to the Spenco inserts and even the Birkenstock footbed inserts, I decided on the SOLE Thin Sport Custom Footbed.

To my untrained eye, the Sole Thin Sport offers the best arch support and the deepest heel cup of any off the shelf footbed inserts.  I have been wearing them for a while now and switching them between my shoes.  I can gladly say that while wearing these footbeds in my shoes, I have had no PF pain at all.  Not even a hint of what felt like stepping on an ice pick.

The SOLE Thin Sport offers a lightweight, thin insole with a very stiff arch and heel support.  Initially, I thought the stiff arch and heel would be harsh and uncomfortable.  The truth is quite the opposite.  Because the insole provides the needed support, I don’t have to rely on a pillowy soft cushion to relieve my PF pain.  My feet are held in the correct position in my shoes ensuring that I can allow my foot to heal.  I was also concerned that the SOLE Thin Sport would make my shoes feel smaller and fit too tightly.  The Thin Sport was designed for use in minimal shoes and I can attest that with a little bit of adjustment to the laces of my shoes, I have not experienced any crowding of my feet while using these insoles.

What makes a footbed that you buy off the shelf custom?  I’m glad you asked.  SOLE footbeds will conform to your feet in one of two ways.  The first method (my method of choice) is simply to wear them.  Through continued use, they will form to your unique foot shape while still maintaining the much-needed supportive arch and heel cup.  The second method is to follow the provided instructions and heat them up in your oven and then immediately stand on them with light pressure and have them form to your feet that way.  I chose the method of letting them form over time because that will give a more accurate representation of how my feet move through the day and during a run.  If I heated them up and made them conform to my feet before the first wearing I would not have much of an opportunity to let the footbeds conform to my feet.

So what does this mean going forward?  Am I at a point in my running career that I will need to wear these footbeds whenever I run?  Right now I do, but as I am also an avid barefoot/minimalist runner, I am working to strengthen my feet to be able to run without footbeds in the future.  For the time being, these are a valuable training tool to help me improve my running form.

Before this injury, I quite arrogantly, thought insoles were for runners who didn’t know good running form and who couldn’t help but hurt themselves.  I have been eating a lot of crow lately for that thinking, and frankly I’m glad to have this opportunity to use an insole because I discovered an excellent training tool that will allow me to be a better runner for my whole life and not just while I am healing.

I would recommend you investigate using a custom footbed like this one even if you are not battling back from an injury, because you will experience a benefit from the aid to your running form.

On the Runner’s High Scale of 1-5, I give the SOLE Thin Sport Custom Footbed a 4.  I deducted a point because I believe their MSRP of $45 is a bit steep, even for an insole of this quality.  Other than that point, I can think of nothing else I would change about these insoles.

Do you currently, or have you run with an insole before?  What do you think of them, are they a gimmick, or a training aid to help you run more efficiently?  Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Respect the Run!

headshotJonathan Keeth is a proud father of two and the husband to a beautiful and longsuffering wife who tolerates his obsession with running shoes and gear. Jonathan is the author of odyssey100.com where he blogs about his two great goals, training for his first 100 mile race and losing 100 lbs so he never has to register for a race in the hippo class again.  Follow him on Twitter: @odysy100

CW-X Men’s 3/4 Length Insulator Stabilyx Tights Review – or – “Feels like I’m wearin’ nothing at all!”

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you will remember that I am in the middle of reviewing some great cold weather running gear.  So far I’ve talked about windproof gloves and sleeves and a windproof vest.  This week, I’m reviewing a great pair of tights.

First, I just need to say it and get it out of the way.  I like running in tights.  There, I said it.  I really do.  Running in tights frees you from having to worry about any kind of chafing on a hot day, they help me to feel warmer during a cold run (I can’t explain how, it is probably all in my head), and I don’t have to worry about them creeping up on my legs as I run, unlike every pair of shorts I’ve run in.  So yes, I like to wear tights.  As Ned Flanders so eloquently put it…

If you can’t see the video above, please refresh the page.  You’ll be glad you did.

Ok, now that I have that over and done with, I can get on with the review.  In keeping with my hatred of running in wind, I continued my search to find a pair of windproof tights.  Lo and behold I found tights that were originally made for bobsled teams, but that are now marketed to runners.  The CW-X 3/4 Length Insulator Stabilyx Tights were just what I was looking for.

CW-X insulator stabilyx tightsFirst, and most importantly, they are windproof in front.  I didn’t think this would be a good feature at first, but once I started running in them I understood why I only want the windproof fabric to be in the front.  By allowing heat to escape I will not overheat in these tights.  They do offer a completely windproof barrier against the elements, but I was able to run and stay completely comfortable, not too hot, not too cold.

Second, these tights are built with the CW-X Stabilyx SupportWeb.  The SupportWeb offers an area of increased compression for the lower abdominals.  One drawback is that you will need to wear these tights a bit higher than you normally would another pair of shorts/tights for running, but the benefit is that you have a bit of support to help maintain your posture as you run.  Honestly, you won’t notice a ton of compression in your lower abs, but hey, every little bit helps.

Third, the Stabilyx line from CW-X offer graduated and differing compression types throughout the knee and quadriceps to provide the right amount of compression as you run.  After having run in both this pair of tights, the Stabilyx Tri Short, and then a less expensive pair of tights, I completely notice the difference in support provided by the higher quality (read, more expensive) Stabilyx tights.  The support offered to the knee is negligible, but you will notice a big difference in the support provided to your quads in this and any other pair of Stabilyx tights from CW-X.  The extra money you spend for these tights is worth it to have that compression and thus, a reduced recovery time.

Fourth, these tights are 3/4 length.  I don’t mind running in regular shorts or compression shorts in the winter, but I prefer to have a bit more length.  Conversely, I don’t like to run in long tights or pants.  This 3/4 length is just perfect.  I get the coverage and protection I want from the wind, but I still feel light and nimble because I am not tripping over a pair of wind pants.  During my first couple of runs I felt a bit self-conscious because I was the only guy on the trail that I saw wearing this length of tights.  There were plenty of women wearing a 3/4 length tight, but I can assure you though, I didn’t pick up a pair of women’s tights by mistake.  There is however, a women’s version available ladies.  Once you feel the difference running in these tights, any concern about your appearance will go right out the window and you will crave your winter runs.

You will definitely pay more for this pair of tights than you would for most others.  At $99.95 from Amazon, I took a big leap of faith on these when I bought them.  I think this amount of money for a pair of tights is borderline insanity, but I am very glad I waited a bit longer and bought quality.  You will be glad you bought them too.

On the Runner’s High Scale of 1-5, I give the CW-X Insulator Stabilyx 3/4 Length Tights a 4.5.  They are about as close to perfect as you can get for a winter running tight.  I deducted a half point because of the price and because I would like a bit more support for the knee.  Otherwise, these are flawless due to their quad compression support and the windproof fabric.

Do you have any experience with windproof tights?  Do you think I’m a fool for paying $100 for a pair of tights?  Do you have another brand I should consider buying?  Leave a comment and let us know about it.

Respect the Run!

headshotJonathan Keeth is a proud father of two and the husband to a beautiful and longsuffering wife who tolerates his obsession with running shoes and gear. Jonathan is the author of odyssey100.com where he blogs about his two great goals, training for his first 100 mile race and losing 100 lbs so he never has to register for a race in the hippo class again.  Follow him on Twitter: @odysy100

Brooks Nightlife Essential Run Vest II Review – or – “It’s winter, why isn’t that guy running in a jacket?”

Well dear reader, it’s time to celebrate!  We survived another “hotter than hell” summer!  I’m allowed to call it survival because I live in Dallas and made it through 30+ days with temps over 100 degrees.  I am really excited about the fall weather we are experiencing in the Lone Star State.  For the rest of the week, we can expect the highs to only get to a blustery 90 degrees (sarcasm implied).  All joking aside, it is time to start thinking about what you are going to run in this fall/winter.  For the next few weeks, I’m going to review some apparel that you should consider using during the colder, darker months of winter.  Before I go any further, I have to say that while I live in Dallas, I grew up in Colorado so I understand what it means to be properly cold when I’m outside, and hopefully, I can help you make some good wardrobe choices no matter where you are running.

First off, let’s start with the most important part of your fall winter running wardrobe other than your shoes, a waterproof shell.  I remember my first winter as a runner.  I absolutely loved to be outside running in the cold temperatures, but I didn’t buy any cold weather gear.  I froze my butt off, not because the temperature was cold, but because of the gusting wind hitting a sweaty shirt and shorts.  I continued to suffer through the winters gritting my teeth the whole way until last year.  Last year is when I opened my eyes and realized that the same companies that make such fantastic running gear for the summer months can and do make excellent clothing for winter running that will not feel as though I’m running in a ski parka.

Brooks Nightlife Essential Run Vest III did my homework and decided on the very reasonably priced Nightlife Essential Run Vest II by Brooks.  I decided on this vest for two main reasons.  First, I don’t know of a better material for running in low or no light conditions than the Brooks Nightlife line.  They are blindingly bright jackets, hats, and shirts, but they are very reflective and visible.  This trait cannot be emphasized enough during this time of the year, you have to be as visible as possible.  I look like a bit of a fool when I run during the day because all of my running gear is so bright, but come the evening, when I do most of my running, I can be seen from about a half mile away, no joke.  There are some other notable options on the market now here and here, that offer excellent reflectivity, but I decided on the Brooks Nightlife because they were the first to incorporate an almost laughable amount of reflectivity into their gear.  Second, my Brooks running shirts and shorts have been my favorites so far, so I had a good idea of the quality that I could expect.

One important point to consider when thinking about a jacket/vest is whether or not you want incorporated sleeves.  I decided to go with a vest because I am a bigger guy.  It doesn’t take very long for me to heat up once I start running and I want the heat to be able to escape a bit while still giving my core some relief from the rain and wind (I’ll talk about the sleeves I run in next week).  I was concerned that if I had a jacket with sleeves that I would not have enough ventilation and I would want to tear my jacket off after the first mile, and thus freeze my butt off for the rest of the run because my shirt would be sweaty from the heat.

The Essential Run Vest II doesn’t have any updates from the model last year, there was nothing they needed to improve upon.  It is a fitted vest, but quite stretchy where it needs to be so you have complete freedom of movement.  It features two front pockets with an inner pocket large enough to hold your phone.  It has a zipper that can easily be manipulated while wearing gloves and there is a zipper garage at the neck so you won’t pinch yourself, or in my case pull the hair from your beard if you have it zipped all the way up.  The collar is fleece lined so it is nice and cozy against the skin.  It can literally be balled up and stored in your hydration belt or hydration pack shock cord if you decide to just carry it for your run.  The most important features to me on this vest though are:

1. 3M Scotchlight reflectivity strips on both the front and the back on top of the Brooks Nightlife fabric for visibility

2. The Essential Run Vest II is windproof.  This is of vital importance to me.  In Dallas the temperature doesn’t get too low, but the wind in the winter will rip right through you to the bone and I can’t stand to be cold because of the wind.  This vest stops the wind completely.

3. The Essential Run Vest II has a durable water repellent coating so I can also run in a cold rain or even a bit of a snowfall and I will stay nice and dry in my vest.

For those of you who want an actual jacket or coat to run in, Brooks also makes a light and a heavy jacket using the same Nightlife material with the same features.  For me though, the vest is the way to go because I was more interested in the wind and water resistance than I was in retaining heat.

On the Runner’s High scale of 1-5, I give the Brooks Nightlife Essential Run Vest II a 4.5.  I deducted a half point because I would like a better solution to hold my phone in the jacket rather than the pocket on the inside.  I would prefer to have a pocket just above my heart on the outside of the vest to give easy access to my phone.  Other than that very tiny item, this is an excellent option for fall/winter running.

As I said before, next week I will write about the great windproof sleeves and gloves I’ve been using.

Do you have any experience with the vest I reviewed here?  Do you use one that you like better?  Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Respect the Run!

headshotJonathan Keeth is a proud father of two and the husband to a beautiful and longsuffering wife who tolerates his obsession with running shoes and gear. Jonathan is the author of odyssey100.com where he blogs about his two great goals, training for his first 100 mile race and losing 100 lbs so he never has to register for a race in the hippo class again.  Follow him on Twitter: @odysy100

Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport LS Review – or – “I’m so quiet in these, I could be a ninja!”

Before talking about the FiveFingers KMD Sport LS, let me spend a minute or two and talk about minimal running.  I appreciate the fact that for the past 3 years at least, just about everything you have read has extolled the virtues of minimal running.  I won’t present the argument that you must run minimally to be a real runner to you here, but I do want to get a couple of points out there for anyone who may be reading this and thinking that they are ready to take the plunge into minimal running.

First, you will need to ease into minimal running.  What do I mean by that?  You could be a marathoner with 20 years of experience running with flawless biomechanics, but the first time you wear minimal (sometimes called bareform or barefoot) shoes, you should not run farther than a half mile in them.  To hit that point home, let me take the approach I take with my 5 year old sometimes and say the exact same thing again.  You could be a marathoner with 20 years of experience running with flawless biomechanics, but the first time you wear minimal (sometimes called bareform or barefoot) shoes, you should not run farther than a half mile in them.  After that first run with a day or two between runs, you can gradually increase your minimalist mileage.  To increase your mileage too quickly will undoubtedly cause unnecessary soreness and increase your exposure to overuse injury exponentially.  I don’t say that to scare you away from minimal running, but the point of starting slowly with this method needs to be made.

Second, unless you already run with a mid – forefoot strike, you will need to take some time to retrain yourself how to run with minimal shoes.  Because there is little to no cushioning in minimal shoes you cannot land on your heel and go very far.  Minimal shoes are designed to help you run with natural alignment, with the foot landing underneath the body, in line with the hip, to allow the arch, ankle, knee, and hip to perform their evolutionary role as shock absorbers.  So when you start running in minimal shoes take your time, go slow, and just be ready to have things feel different for a while if you are changing your foot strike.

Those two points can sound a bit intimidating and I have friends that heard me make those two points who changed their mind and never tried minimal running.  That is fine.  Minimal running isn’t for everyone.  What I can tell you though is that I have (and love) maximally cushioned shoes, standard cushioned shoes, and minimal shoes and even though I am a heavy runner I always feel better after running in my minimal shoes.  By their very construction and lack of cushion, I am forced to focus on my running form with every step.  Even on a long run, I still have good form because running with bad form in minimal shoes equals immediate pain in my heels.  They are an excellent training tool and I will always have at least one pair of minimal shoes in my running shoe rotation.

Now, on to the review of the Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport LS.komodosportls-m3752-alt3t

The name has so many words, it sounds like I am talking about a supercar rather than a shoe.  KMD is the rebranded name of their Komodo Sport line.  LS is their designation for a model with a speed lacing system.  The speed lacing system replaces the usual velcro strap found on the KMD Sport, but allows runners with a high arch or wide feet to be able to wear and experience the benefits of FiveFingers.

This is my second pair of FiveFingers.  My first pair was the great Bikila LS, a model specifically designed for road running.  I loved these shoes and for quite a while they were my favorite running shoes.  The KMD Sport LS has supplanted the Bikila as my favorite.  The first difference I noticed between the KMD Sport and the Bikila was the tread pattern.  komodosportls-m3752-alt6tThe Bikila was quite obviously a road shoe that was built to endure the continual friction of road running.  The KMD Sport tread pattern puts me in mind of a road/trail hybrid shoe.  The sole is just a bit chunkier than the Bikila sole and I can attest that while running/hiking in the rain, wearing the KMD Sport on trails in Estes Park CO two weeks ago, I never had a moment when my footing felt unsure or slippery.

One of the features of all FiveFingers is the way they allow your foot to spread out in a more natural way.  Altra does something similar with their shoes by building their shoes with a wider toe box.  By allowing the foot to spread out as it would naturally rather than be restricted by a smaller toe box, the foot feels better and more importantly, each stride feels very natural (once you are used to your minimal shoes, that is to say).

The KMD Sport LS also supplanted the Bikila as my favorite because there feels like a bit more of a rigid arch support in this shoe than the others I have tried on.  I don’t have any evidence that Vibram constructed these shoes any differently by adding any sort of arch support, but I can definitely feel the difference.

On the Runner’s High scale of 1-5, I give the KMD Sport LS a 5.  In this shoe, Vibram left in everything I love about the Bikila and turned it up to 11 (I really hope you’ve seen Spinal Tap or that will just sound dumb).  By giving a more rigid arch support, Vibram made this an excellent shoe that will be very difficult for them to improve upon in future versions.

Do you have any experience with minimal running shoes?  Do you like them, hate them, think they’re ugly, etc?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Respect the Run!

headshotJonathan Keeth is a proud father of two and the husband to a beautiful and longsuffering wife who tolerates his obsession with running shoes and gear. Jonathan is the author of odyssey100.com where he blogs about his two great goals, training for his first 100 mile race and losing 100 lbs so he never has to register for a race in the hippo class again.  Follow him on Twitter: @odysy100

Skora Core Trail Review – or – “Sure it’s great on the road, but can it handle the dirt?”

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailAs promised, here is my second Skora Core after I took my pair on a trip to Estes Park, CO and used them to run on some off-road runs (3 days before the horrible flooding).
As I stated in my previous review, I love how Skora made their shoes.  The injection blown rubber ensures they are durable and will remain so for a very long time.  I had the same experience on the trail, I was sure-footed and secure in the Skora.  The lugs in the forefoot gave a secure grip on the rocks and roots I went over.
Skora constructed the insole to be left in or removed.  I left the insole in while running on the road and while I liked the fit, it was still a bit tight across the top of my foot.  I removed the insole for this off-road trial and the fit was no longer an issue across the top of my foot.
The use of leather in this shoe is still a genious move because these shoes still fit like a golf glove.  The goat leather, because it is so very soft and pliable completely formed to my feet and I felt like I wasn’t wearing shoes.  I also didn’t have to worry about scuffing the leather because of the ceramic in each of the leather’s fibers.  Because I am OCD about shoes and their care, this is a big deal for me to have shoes that can not only take a beating, but that will also look good after taking a beating.
My only suggestion for improvement for Skora in fact has to do with their last.  Particularly on the trail, I like a wider toebox so my feet can spread out a bit more while going over rocks, stumps, and uneven ground.  If they would make that just a bit wider, they would be the perfect minimal trail shoes.  I had no problems on the trail, but when comparing the fit with my Fivefingers, I didn’t feel quite as agile and surefooted.
Would this prevent me from using the Skora Core on the trail or road again? Absolutely not, but it is something I would like to see them do in the next version.
In my last review I gave the Skora Core a 5 out of 5 on the Runner’s High scale.  Because I didn’t feel as agile as I would have liked I am giving the Skora Core a 4.5 out of 5 on the Runner’s High scale.  The Core is an excellent shoe and I would recommend it to anyone who has some experience with minimal running and is ready for a shoe that will go the distance.

Do you have any experience with a minimal trail shoe?  Leave a comment and let us know.

Respect the Run!

headshotJonathan Keeth is a proud father of two and the husband to a beautiful and longsuffering wife who tolerates his obsession with running shoes and gear. Jonathan is the author of odyssey100.com where he blogs about his two great goals, training for his first 100 mile race and losing 100 lbs so he never has to register for a race in the hippo class again.  Follow him on Twitter: @odysy100

Skora Core review Part 1 – or – “Hey, are your new running shoes really made of leather?”

I will forever be grateful to Nike for introducing me to minimal running.  The first version of the Nike Free opened my eyes to what running should feel like.  Since then I have always felt better after running in minimal or sometimes, even no shoes.  Apologies to my beloved Hokas, I save those for longer distances.  Since running in the Frees, I’ve run in Newton, Vibram Fivefingers, and New Balance Minimus.  One benefit that comes with using minimalist shoes is that you can usually break the 400 mile rule and use those shoes for longer than you can a traditionally cushioned shoe.

Then came the day last year that I discovered Skora.  By this point though the minimal running shoe market was very crowded with every manufacturer (except Hoka) making a minimal shoe.  Even my beloved online running store had an entire section of their website dedicated to minimalist running.  So, what made Skora think they would have any more impact in a crowded field that didn’t really have any more innovation to make other than helping runners use their feet more naturally when they run?

To my great surprise and delight, Skora innovated greatly by working on their materials.  It seems as though they had the same thoughts that I had.  It was a crowded marketplace full of minimalist running offerings and their opportunity came in building their shoes with better methods and materials.

COREI have been using the Core.  The first thing I noticed about all of their shoes, not just the Core, is their lack of EVA in the outsole.  Instead, they opted for an injection blown rubber which provides all of the abrasion resistance, grip, and compression we have come to expect with an EVA sole, but with greater durability and less weight than traditional rubber outsoles.  By using this dense material, they are able to build a shoe that can last for 1,000+ miles without wearing out.  I haven’t put nearly that many miles on these shoes yet, but I look forward to seeing how long they can last.

The second thing that struck me about their shoes, and quite frankly what almost turned me off to them completely was their use of leather in the upper.  In their Core and Form shoes, the upper is made completely of Pittards leather.  Pittards leather is a specially treated and tanned goat skin.  A few features of Pittards leather stuck out to me.  The leather is treated with microscopic ceramic coating at the fiber level.  This is a feature that I need to spend some time testing as I run with them.  This coating will keep the leather from scuffing as badly as it normally would out on the road or the trail.  The Pittards goatskin and sheepskin on the interior of the shoe is highly resistant to water and sweat.  This allows me to run during a rainstorm or through a muddy trail, or a hot day like I usually run in and then use my shoes again the next day because they will have completely dried out overnight.

Despite these excellent features of the leather, I thought the Core would be too hot to run in.  I live in Dallas and over the past couple of weeks, we have had daytime high temperatures over 100 degrees for the better part of the past month.  I thought the leather upper would just be too hot to handle.  I can gladly report that while my feet were hot they didn’t feel any hotter wearing these shoes than they would have in a mesh shoe.  Well done Skora!

All Skora shoes feature a zero drop footbed and the Core has a stack height of 11mm with the insole, and 8mm without the insole.  To date, I have only worn the Core with the insole, but I plan on running without the insole during a trail run in the next couple of weeks to see what that is like.  I’ll be writing a follow up review of the Skora Core in a couple of weeks after having run on some trails.

Based on a Runner’s High Scale of 1-5, I give the Skora Core a 5.  We’ll see if they maintain that rating after running on trails, but if they continue to perform as well on the trail as they do on the road, Skora will have a perfect shoe for any runner to use.  For minimal running the Skora is an excellent purchase and because they will last so long, you will be more than justified in spending just a little bit more for these shoes.

Respect the Run!

JKeeth Midnight MadnessJonathan Keeth is a proud father of two and the husband to a beautiful and longsuffering wife who tolerates his obsession with running shoes and gear. Jonathan is the author of odyssey100.com where he blogs about his two great goals, training for his first 100 mile race and losing 100 lbs so he never has to register for a race in the hippo class again.  Follow him on Twitter: @odysy100\

I Am Not Crying, Yet – Injury Woes

I spent a good portion of the morning at the doctors office having xrays done of my right knee. Not quite a year after originally writing this post I am once again struggling with a knee injury. Once again I am worried that my fall goal will not happen but once again I am reminded that it isn’t time to cry yet.

Written by Ann Brennan

 

It has been a week and I am cranky.  Actually I am using cranky as a way to keep from crying because crying is the first step to giving up, giving in and admitting that this Ironman is not going to happen and I am not ready to do that.

 

It has been a week since I woke up with a small niggle in my right knee that gradually, over a couple of hours became a full blown, cannot-deny-it injury.  With the Ironman only nine weeks away I went straight to a doctor and received what sounded like great news.  If I rest it for seven to ten days I should be fine.  It should get better quickly and I shouldn’t lose much fitness in that period of time.  Plus, resting meant no running but I could still ride and swim.

 

Except, I couldn’t.  I couldn’t ride because bending and unbending the knee was beyond painful.  On a scale of 1-10 it was a ten and worse yet, the knee just would not unbend enough to move the pedals.  Swimming seemed like an option though.  But after two days of swimming I came to realize that even that was making it worse, not better.

 

I am trying to take comfort in the fact that it IS getting better.  For the past two nights I have actually been able to sleep without waking up every time I move.  The mornings have gotten a little easier and I even made it through the grocery store yesterday.  Any other time these would be great signs.

 

But not when I am in the middle of Ironman training.  Yesterday I had a 17-mile run on the books.  Seventeen miles.  And walking through the grocery store was an accomplishment.  How in the world am I going to go from being happy that I could actually walk through the grocery store to covering the kind of distance I need to cover?

 

So, I am not crying yet.  But I am heartbroken and scared.  My husband told me yesterday that I need to be patient.  It is advice I have offered others dozens of times. But I don’t have time to be patient.  I don’t have time to wait this out.  My Ironman is eight weeks away and I am scared.

 

I have put so much into this Ironman.  I have worked so hard and come so far in my training and now I am waiting, waiting for some sign that the doctor really is right.  That I really will get better.

 

I am one to preach that endurance sport is 90 percent mental.  And I do believe that.  But that scares me as well because this injury, at this time, is taking a mental toll.  This injury is knocking me down a few pegs and leaving me with doubts just when I was beginning to feel like I “had this Ironman thing.”

 

So, I am not crying.  I am waiting.  I am holding back the tears and I am waiting.