Monday, April 13, 2015

Review: La Sportiva Mutant: Very Supportive Upper, Great Cushion, Deep Lugs, and an Agile Forefoot. All for Less than 11 oz.

The La Sportiva Mutant is a highly supportive, deeply lugged trail shoe for rough mountain terrain: loose rock, snow, mud, etc.. Yet it is also perfectly fine on smoother terrain and has been more than decent for shorter road stretches due to its soft yet stabilized cushioning. It manages to pack a ski boot bootie type mid foot wrap tongue, debris proof sturdy upper, deep 6mm lugs, and road comfortable and not overly firm cushioning into a package weighing less than 11oz -10.9 oz 309 grams size Men's 9 EU 42, Women's 9.6 oz. To accomplish all of this must not have been easy! The shoe is aptly named as it really is a "mutant" combining features of ski boots and lightweight running shoe design in neat new ways.

La Sportiva Mutant

The Upper is the Star
The upper is one the most evolved and carefully considered for purpose, rough terrain, I have seen in a trail runner or for that matter any running shoe. The Mutant features two innovative upper technologies which to date work as intended.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Guest Review: LaSportiva Helios SR- A Strikingly Light, All Terrain Capable, Very Refined Trail Runner with One Flaw.

Editor’s Note: I am tickled to offer this review of the Helios SR authored by Dominick Layfield. Dominick is one of the speediest trail and ultra distance runners in Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah. Often on the podium, and with many long trail races under his belt, he prefers agile light trail runners such as Nike Terra Kiger and Montrail Rogue Fly.
Dominick won the 2015 New Year's Day 5 Hour Run at the Utah Olympic Oval, running 39 miles!

Reviewer Bio
Dominick Layfield lives in Park City, UT, and is an avid trail runner who likes to race.  He runs 10-15 races each year, mostly in the 50-100 km range.  He holds a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT, and has worked as a researcher in orthopedic biomechanics. So he knows the difference between a ligament and tendon :-).

La Sportiva Helios SR Review by Dominick Layfield
La Sportiva Helios SR
La Sportiva Helios SR

First Impressions:
Putting the shoes on indoors, my first impression was how elasticated and snug the shoe feels.  Due to the sock-like fully-gusseted shoe liner/tongue construction, the laces felt almost superfluous. I could run in the shoe with the laces untied.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Review Nike LunarTempo: Fabulous Racer Trainer with Very High Cushion to Weight Ratio and Comfortable Any Speed Ride

Nike Lunar Tempo

The Nike LunarTempo is versatile trainer and long race shoe which provides a tremendous amount of decently stable cushioning and upper at an impossibly light weight:  6.8 oz 192 grams Men 9, 5.9 oz Women 8. Retail Price $110.  It has a 8mm drop with a 26mm heel, 18mm forefoot stack. These are similar overall stacks to the Brooks Ghost and Launch, Mizuno Wave Rider, adidas Energy Boost but... at a weight 2-3.5 oz lighter!  Of course cushion to weight  ratio is not the only factor to consider yet Nike has carefully crafted a lightweight blend that hits many checkmarks for me:

  • Very high cushion to weight ratio but also not mushy cushioning, particularly in the heel. It is the best such ratio (add heel and forefoot stack and divide by weight) of any shoe in my collection except the Hoka Clifton (review) whose heel I found too soft and angled. Lunar Tempo has enough cushion, as I generally like at least 18mm in the forefoot and 26mm in the heel in a training shoe or for marathon racing.
  • Very firm, responsive but not overly extensive outsole rubber over the soft cushion. I know outsole is there but can't "feel" a hardish landing I do in, for example, the Saucony ISO Zealot (review), ISO Triumph(review) and  New Balance Fresh Foam Zante (review) heel's or the somewhat stiff toe spring push off of these shoes and the Adios Boost (review).
  • A minimal and light upper yet one adequately supportive with Flywire cable support around light mesh "fabric". Part of the price to pay for such a light overall shoe. I'm OK with this tradeoff
  • Smooth running, not too stiff. I like toe spring for shorter races but find shoes such as the Adios Boost and Zante tire and sometimes cramp my forefoot after longer miles. No such issues during my 20 mile run in the Lunar Tempo.
I have run 40 miles to date in the LunarTempo. These runs included a 20 mile run with middle 9 miles at marathon pace (8:30/mile) on a flat route. I did not experience my usual hip weakness and lack of drive and the run left me with no soreness anywhere, unusual and this after several weeks of back and hip issues. Lunar Tempo will be my Boston Marathon shoe this year replacing my trusty 10oz Energy Boost. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Run Tech News: Strava has a New and Far Better Add Pictures to Runs or Cycle Approach. Apple Watch to Learn Speed and Stride?

Just saw the latest Strava update allows you to upload pictures from your phone camera after the run or cycle instead of relying on the clunky Instagram interface used before. Tried it today and it works great, even locates the photos on the route map!

Strava Add Photos
Photos are located on the map based on comparing photo time stamps to Strava time stamps

Apple Watch

Many runners have said that they would not consider the Apple Watch because it did not have GPS on board, as it relied on the iPhone for GPS. I usually run with my phone... for pictures but for sure in races, indoors, or treadmills and many days would like to leave it behind. I also figured that Apple would have a trick up its sleeve in tuning the iPone built in pedometer function based on accelerometers to actual stride and speed, automatically, by combing GPS run data with pedometer data.  iSmoothRun my current favorite run app makes use of the iPhone pedometer but does not appear to have an auto tuning function. It is not bad but not as accurate as GPS in my experience.

Well it appears Apple has a way to auto tune the Apple Watch learning runners' stride and speed and lessening its dependence on the iPhone for accurate run data, according to this MacRumors article  thus "becoming more independent from the the iPhone.  Can't wait to test and see. I am also guessing Apple Watch apps such as Strava and iSmoothrun will be able to also use this approach.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Trail Shoe Roundup- Pre-Review First Runs: Montrail FluidFlex ST, adidas adizero XT Boost, adidas Adistar Raven Boost, LaSportiva Mutant, Hoka One One Challenger ATR

Yesterday, I ran 16 miles on smoother trails at Antelope Island, UT in the Montrail FluidFlex ST, 9.2 oz/266 grams, a good value at $95 including from Running Warehouse here .  Really enjoyed the stable ride due to the  Fluid Foam which mixes different densities of the same material into a single midsole layer the Fluid Frame, the firm but decent cushioning, and a very supportive upper with decent toe room.  A shoe with mild pronation support,and I usually cannot stand support or stability shoes, I did not notice the firmer mid sole mid foot and welcomed a bit of extra support there on the trail. Very flexible at one deep groove towards the mid foot. Front of that, towards the toes, less flexible, stiffer due to firmer EVA in the mold serving as a rock plate, a bit awkward feeling on moderate climbs but felt great on steeper climbs, downhills, and flats.

Pardon my trail dust!
Montrail FluidFlex ST

Montrail Fluid Flex ST

Did some shoe testing/comparing this morning on the indoor track. 40 easy minutes, 20 in the adidas adizero XT Boost, coming 8/1 and then 20 minutes in the LaSportiva Mutant. I like to get a feel for shoes on a consistent surface before taking them out on the roads and trails. Update: since I have raced in the adizero XT Boost and done 2 trail runs in the Mutant.
LaSportiva Mutant (yellow left) adidas XT Boost (right)