Tag new balance

Newest Shoes for 2012

I’m excited to see all the different options for natural running shoes that are hitting the market lately. Since the New Balance 790’s were discontinued a few years ago, I’ve been on a search for a replacement shoe. In the 790’s, I could run short, long, fast, slow, trail, road, track, you name it, it could do it. I loved that shoe and have yet to find something that is as versatile.

I am all about asking around and seeing what works for others. Lately I’ve been talking to my brother about Altra running shoes. He’s a huge fan of the Instinct. He’s been using them for over a year now. He mainly does runs between 2-4 miles, so they fit his purposes well. He was looking at getting a pair of Sampson‘s when they come out because they are a bit more minimalist. I’m very intrigued to try those as well. Altra just came out with their first trail shoe, the Lone Peak, but unfortunately they are bit “too much shoe” for my tastes. The sole is a bit thick and they added a rock plate. There is also a “brake” on the rear of the heal. All of this, in my opinion, takes away from the feel of the trail.

There are so many different types of “minimal” shoes out there now – Inov8, VivoBarefoot, Newton, Vibram 5 fingers, just to name a few, that the options are becoming quite plentiful. I wish I could try them all out, but seeing as I’m not made of money, I have to do some research and determine which will work best for what I’m trying to achieve. Good thing I love running, otherwise I might see this research as “work” rather than fun.

Natural running has caught on so well, that is no longer a “niche” group of runners who are concerned with it. There is actually a store that carries only “natural” running shoes. Fittingly it’s call The Natural Running Store. They have a kind of funny video talking about natural running. They talk about “marching band” stance, which is the same thing as the 100 Up idea that I made a quick video about a while ago with elite trail runner John Tribba. Being in Boulder it I can’t go without mentioning Newton and Danny Abshire and all they have done to help boost this movement. Though I may not be the biggest fan of all their shoes (some are too over built), I can truly connect with their philosophies and desire the help runners run better. Don’t get me wrong, I like their shoes (I ran in them for 2 years), but just not all their models.

The most recent shoe that I’ve been testing out (and am really liking thus far) is the New Balance MT110. The two precursors to this shoe (MT100 and 101) missed the mark in my opinion. They tried to take a minimalist trail shoe and add too much to it. I really like the reviews that IRunFar.com produces and I use those as a starting point for much of my research. That is what got me so excited for the MT110. NB decided to let true trail runners design the shoe and the MT110 is the result. In theory it’s what I’ve been looking for since the 790, and thus far it’s living up to my expectations. Light weight, both in build and feel, low heal-to-toe drop, no rock plate, durable yet flexible upper, higher density rubber in the forefoot and heal (not in the mid foot where flection is needed), and moderately sized lugs to give traction but not make you slow off the trails.

This blog is nothing revolutionary or ground breaking, but I am just excited to share my thoughts on the fact that natural running is finally being accepted more prevalently. It’s so great to see this idea getting some momentum and really starting to spread. And if you’re looking for a bit of a laugh check out the video below. My favorite scene is the final one…



Thoughts On The Frees & The Next Shoe

As I mentioned in a previous blog (Just for Kicks), I’m searching for new shoes. The quest is a journey for the right shoe that will allow me to run “naturally,” yet still provide some protection from sharp, ouchy, bad things (like pointy rocks, glass, and the occasional porcupine). The first pair of shoes that I tried was the Nike Free.

I was rather excited to hit the trails in a shoe that was touted to offer the extraordinary feel and natural foot movement associated with barefoot training without sacrificing underfoot protection or multi-surface traction. But once I hit those trails, I was somewhat disappointed. This shoe has some very positive positives, but some typical negatives.

The upper was the first thing I noticed. It is incredibly thin and almost sock like. It fit my foot perfectly, not creating any “hot spots.” If felt very comfortable, allowed good movement and created almost no constriction. Now some might say this is a bad thing. “You’ll roll your ankle”, “It doesn’t support you when your ankle twists sideways”, etc. But I feel that by allowing my foot to move freely, I am LESS likely to turn an ankle. With this freedom of movement, your foot becomes more aware of the surface beneath it and can “go with the flow” so to speak. The upper on this shoe truly gives you the ability to feel the ground under you and react accordingly.

As much as that was a big positive, the rest of the shoe was rather negatives. The heal to toe drop was far to great, the weight was to much, and construction of the out sole was flawed, and overall the shoe felt like a big squishy moon boot.

With the large heal to toe drop, it was hard to land fore foot without stomping my heal down simultaneously. With the large pumped up heel the overall weight of the shoe was noticeable. It was also noticeable that most of the weight was in the back half of the shoe. And finally, though it allowed for somewhat unrestricted movement, the “sliced” outter sole got filled with rocks, sticks, dirt, and other debris as I ran. The foam for the sole is so soft that large debris stick in the cracks and won’t fall out when the shoe goes through normal flexsion. You have to stop and pick things out all the time.

So even though I truly enjoyed the feel of the upper of the Nike Free, I returned the shoe and moved onto my next suggestion from the wonderful staff at Fleet Feet Boulder. The New Balance 101.

I have only done a couple of runs in this shoe, so I still need to do a few more before the jury gives their verdict, but I’ve got a few comments of it so far. I dislike the “rock plate” in the mid/forefoot part of the shoe (its the silver you can see through the tread on the front of the shoe). It is rather stiff and takes away the feel of the ground. Though it is not that “running on a 2×4” feel of most trail shoes, it is still rather stiff.

As much as I was a fan of the minimal, sock like feel of the Nike Free upper, I am only somewhat excited about the upper on this shoe. It is rather lightweight and as you can see from the picture, there isn’t much there. However, it is rather stiff and not that pliable. I guess that’s what you get with a more durable material, but again, I feel that it takes away from the feel of the surface beneath me.

I don’t think this will be the shoe for me (especially with the release of the New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail), but I’m going to give a couple more chances before I return them.  



Just for Kicks

Over the past 4 years, I have run almost exclusively in the New Balance 790 (shoes on the right side of the pic). They are a very minimal, low profile, light weight shoe that I absolutely loved. I loved it so much that I bought several pairs once I heard they were going to discontinue it. But now that those reserve pairs are almost gone, I’m looking at a replacement for it. The first shoe I’m going to try is the Nike Free.

One of the best things about the 790 was that there wasn’t much to it. No rock plates, no support guards, no energy return systems, no nothing. They were an 8oz, low heel to toe drop speed machine that allowed me to feel the ground below me. With this shoe I ran the TransRockies Run 2x, over 50 XTERRA’s,  dozens of 5k’s and 10k’s, and more miles than I can count for training, and all without a single injury.

One of the reasons that I haven’t run in a different shoe than the 790 is that I couldn’t find much that matched it. Even in the Free, there is more cushioning and more of a heel to toe drop (pretty obvious from the picture). I am a little nervous about heel to toe drop difference, but I’m willing to try it out and see if I can really feel the difference. Another big difference between the Free and the 790 is the thickness of the sole. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing because the sole is still very flexible and soft (won’t inhibit proprioception). Another concern arises from the fact that I run almost entirely off road and with the upper of the Free being a bit more light, I hope it is as durable. We’ll find out!

I also plan to try out the Altra Instinct and the Inov-8 F-lite 195. I’ll post more blogs about my findings as they develop.

I hope this serves as a guide for others, that you should try out various types of shoes and models to find what is really best for you. Swing by your local Fleet Feet and ask to try on ALL the shoes that interest you and run around the block in them. You’ll really start to get a feel for what works for you.