Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Product Review: Saucony Guide 7


Saucony Guide 7  Size 9.5 or 43.5

So as I’m writing this, it looks like this sneaker isn’t even released yet! Cool. I like to demo stuff, new or old. But there is something special about demo-ing a product not even on the shelves yet. Although maybe by the time I post this, these will be out….
I raced in Saucony waaayyy  back in the late 80’s\early 90’s when I was trying Tri. I was very new to running but I  remember wearing nothing but Saucony for years. I’m hoping these end up performing up to my past experiences.
I take them out of the box. Flash! They are pretty flashy. I like that, not just because Im a show-boater, but if people can see my running shoe, they can see me running! 

Top View, Slick looking eh?

I put them on my feet. They’re a bit snug. Just a bit. Not a huge worry because I know my feet swell and shrink though out the day, and I know I’ll stretch them a bit. The problem is they feel like I’m walking on 2x4s. I clunk as I walk across my apartment floor.  Again not a huge worry, the woman downstairs blatantly refuses my requests to turn down her music (she’s getting evicted soon!! Haha jokes on her), so I’ll clunk around a bit…

I wear them around the house a bit here and there, but they’re still a bit snug and clunky.

This morning however, I wore them to the gym (just to lift). They are definitely starting to break in. They are feeling more comfortable and actually feel good on the gym floor.

I hope to take them for a spin on the road tomorrow.

A quick 2miler on a stereotypical dirt road in New Hampshire and they feel pretty good. That 2x4 feeling is slowly disappearing and the shoe gets more comfortable every day. These really do feel secure on my feet. As mentioned they’re a bit snug (9.5), but not painfully so. I think I’m looking at these as a 10k or less shoe at the moment just due to the size.

I am a Heel Striker. I do run in some barefoots and minimals sometimes. But take those off, and I heel strike. No big. These shoes feel great on my landing and push off. I tried to mid-foot, but it felt very bizarre, uncomfortable even. So I'll continue heel striking. At an 8mil offset this feels fine.
This shoe is specifially designed for nuetral and mild pronater runners. I supinate. But the secure feeling of this shoe didnt bother my ankles in the least. (You should probably check with a qualified running coach or even a doctor if you severely supinate before running in these though I would think)

Here's a link to what Saucony says:

I'm taking these out for a Hash on Saturday and really putting them through the ringer, so expect a follow up in the next few days.

Not sure what a Hash is? Click it, find out, and try it.

These shoes could not have performed better than they did yesterday. Although not plyo's, the way I run at a Hash is very similar to old school Suicides (remember those?). I make a lot of sudden turns, I'm off and on the sidewalk, sprinting, walking, it's not your standard run. These felt great. No slipping inside the shoe, no slipping on the pavement at my sudden stops. These are my new Urban shoe. (I managed to avoid getting called out for New Shoes somehow)

I also wore these for Leg Day at the gym this same morning. Lots of lifters (myself included) prefer to Squat in flat shoes. So I was a bit apprehensive getting into the Squat Rack with these.
Well, they worked. You can absolutely feel the cushion. You can absolutely feel the 8m drop. But more importantly for me, you can absolutely feel the stability. No one wants a squirrelly shoe squatting, and these were solid.

Conclusion: I'd buy this shoe. But definately check the sizing. If you know your Saucony size, then you're golden. If you're not sure though, get to your local running store and check them out.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reebok Outdoor Wild OCR Shoe Review

I’ve never felt a pair of shoes that fit both form design and function more perfectly than these. I mean, right out of the box I knew I wanted to race in these.

One of the unwritten but oft spoken rules of running is NOT to race in brand new shoes. Ya….well I did. And there was much rejoicing.

The particular race was the Spartan Charity Sprint held at Killington VT on September 23rd 2013. (More details\review of that in another post, or hell, read Relentless Forward Commotion's deets ) 

If you’re not familiar with Killington or Vermont as a whole, there are some things you should know: It’s hilly and it’s wet. And this shoe dominated on this terrain. I’ve never felt a pair of shoes that fit both form design and function more perfectly than these. I mean, right out of the box I knew I wanted to race in these.

Photo courtesy of Relentless Forward Commotion.

I’ve trained and raced in a few different shoes. Vibrams, Brooks and InoV8s to name a few. And I like them all for different reasons. But this shoe is perfect for OCR. 
There’s cushion. These are NOT barefoot or minimal or zero drop. This shoe is comfortable without being overbearing. It doesn’t feel like I’m running in pudding, but I definitely get enough protection from the shoe. I don’t feel like I’m 3 inches off the surface either. I supinate quite a bit (big toe rolls up and out) and these shoes felt great on my compromised ankles.

Hey, it fits! I asked for a 9.5, and they fit. I used to wear the big ol’ white Reebok High Tops back in high school so I was familiar with Reeboks sizing (even if they’re VERY different shoes). The fit even stayed true when soaked thru. You’re not going to do a Spartan Race and have dry shoes….

Look at the bottom of these things! That’s some grip, some really good grip actually. The traction was fantastic on the steep slopes, and look at the heels. I was able to jam my foot into the mountain side when descending the steep stuff. I had slid all over the place in my other shoes the day before, not this time. And check out the sides, there is traction there to help on a rope climb if you do need to use your feet.

The laces never slipped during a double knot, the colors are kind of cool and they have pull tabs that you can hang the shoes from.

So there’s the Pros. Cons?? Well, this is tough one. I haven’t found one yet. For a shoe that MSRPs for 85 bones, you can’t really go wrong here. If you’re not a minimalist or a barefooter, this is great off road shoe. I’d love to run in them on Peavine and do a high desert review......
Update 10/25/14
I've since put these through a Rugged Maniac, a few Hashes and many trail runs. They are still holding up excellently. There has been no stretching or misforming of the shoe. Nothing is falling apart. I've pretty much beat the hell out of these.
I'll try to remember to post a Snow update, but I think they'll be excellent. 

Update 9-21-15 

I still have a pair of these. I ran a loop at Infinitus in them and still regularly train in them.

Update 5/816

I still have them. They're pretty much packed out now. My feet have grown or the shoe shrunk, or something. The tread is almost shot and I've run countless trails in them.
I still really dig this shoe and keep putting a new insole into it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Merrell shoe reviews

I don’t like clunky shoes, and none of these Merrells were clunky. Score!

They all, however, do fit quite differently and not just based on their purpose.

So, maybe my feet are shrinking in my forties, or maybe the sizes of shoes have changed and I missed the memo….but regardless, please note that although I was trying out size Tens, they all felt a good half size larger.

It’s also that lovely time of year in Vermont where going outside to train is highly dependent on our weather. So, lots of indoor experiences here.

Four different shoes, four different fits and experiences:

Proterra Hiker, Mix Master, Run Barefoot, Vapor Glove.

The Proterra Hiker: As stated earlier, felt a half size to big for me, but more importantly, they actually felt a full size too deep.  My toes swim in these shoes. They also felt as if they were pushing me into a more pronated position than my normal stride. I laterally rolled my right ankle a few months ago, so this was actually a welcome feature. I added another insole into these and now my feet feel quite comfortable, and I still get that small bit of pronation.

I’ve worn these to work and the gym many times. I stand for my nine hour shifts and these shoes feel pretty good. They feel good on the gym floor as well. I’ve squatted and dead lifted in them. They do have a bit of ankle on them, but they work just fine.

In my training I don’t need a low drop, low weight hiker. When I hike, I want a big, heavy, mud kicking, trail building boot. Whether in Vermont or Nevada, I need more foot protection for my hiking than this shoe offers. I do like the shoe for day to day use, however.

My shoe was spec’d at a 21mm stack height with a 0mm drop over 8mm of cushion. A unique color green on this shoe earned me quite a few complements.

Mix Master: Same general fit as the Proterra on me, big and deep. So I added a second insole to them and the fit is much better. These shoes do not pronate my stride at all. They have a nice neutral striding feel to them.

I wear these to work, to the gym and run in them. They are nice and light and offer just enough cushion for about anything. Although not specifically designed for trail, if I could have gotten them tighter on my foot, I would have loved to take them off road. They feel good on the treadmill and work well for box jumps.

This is definitely an athletic shoe. When I happen to wear them with a pair of jeans, everyone knows I’m a runner. Not a bad thing, but worth noting as there is nothing casual looking with this shoe. No pull tab on the back makes lashing these to my bag a bit more of a project than shoes with a pull tab.

My treads are spec’d with a 19mm stack height, 4mm drop over 8mm cushion. The bright red color on my model stands out like a fire truck.

Run Barefoot: These fit differently than the two previous. Still at a size ten, my second toe actually hits the front of the shoe a bit. However, they are not deep like the others, no need at all for me to add an insole. This shoe has a very neutral stride to it, but has a large arch in it. In fact I can only wear these for a few hours at a time as my feet start to hurt. These are very lightweight and make an excellent gym shoe. Because my toes hit, I don’t run in them, but I have done squats, jumps and olympic lifts in them. They meld with my gym floor nicely.

The Run Barefoot is spec’d at a 9.5 stack height and 0mm drop. A very nice looking shoe, it’s easy to wear this model going out when I don’t feel like being over the top flashy.

Vapor Glove: Zero everything, or close enough to it. This is a minimal shoe in almost every sense. If this shoe had been my size, it would never leave my foot.

I’ve been running in Vibrams for years and love the barefoot running concept and this shoe captures it, only without the potential of ripping a toe off in the deep woods. I have not run in this shoe, much to my chagrin, as they’re not sized right for me. I have worn them to work and the gym and they are excellent minimal shoes. Walking on concrete for long periods of time is uncomfortable, but they are excellent gym shoes. They feel great around the house and wearing them out is fine. It’s a shame its winter in Vermont, because I would wear these twenty four seven.

The color of mine though….Peach? Orange? Porange? I’m not sure what it is, but it is unique, and rather ugly.

Summary of my Merrell shoe samples: Credit where Credit is due, but also criticism where criticism is due. I provided the wrong shoe size to Merrell and it’s winter time in VT. So this makes a true fitting impossible, and also makes trying all shoes for their designed purpose challenging.

With that said though, all four shoes fit differently. The Vapor should obviously feel different, but the sizes and fits of the other three shoes, all tens, should feel the same I think. The arch in the Run Barefoot is too pronounced for my liking, but I appreciate the pronation in the Proterra. Every shoe on the market these days seems to come with a huge toe box, and these do too. I’ve never thought I had shrinking narrow feet…..but there it is.

The Proterra will definitely be a solid work shoe for me. I look forward to doing long road miles in my Mix Masters. The Run Barefoot is my gym shoe, hands down. And I hope to get a nine and a half pair of Vapors for summertime trail running. A few different purposes than what Merrell had in mind, but still functional. 

9/4/2015 Update.
 The Mix Masters lasted about 6months before they were too shot to run in. 
I had to unload the Proterra as the forced pronation was getting too uncomfortable. 
The Run Barefoots are still in good shape, I never run in them.
The Vapors are finally starting to show signs of wear. This shoe has been fantastic. It's great for wearing on road trips due to its very minimal design, it packs nice and small, it makes a decent water shoe.