Monthly Archives: October 2013

Epilogue – Is the The Reebok ONE Cushion for You ?


For those of you who have read my blogs I don’t do short ones ūüėČ The problem with that is that sometimes the reader misses out on some important parts.

My concluding post on the Reebok ONE Cushion too was long (read it here – https://runindiarun.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/review-of-the-reebok-one-cushion-33-wrap-up-shoe-physics-and-recommendations/)¬†and I think that¬†some may miss the answer to the question – “Will this Shoe work for me?” So I am doing this post to clarify just that.

Here are the profiles of runners (male) who should seriously evaluate the Reebok ONE Cushion:

First, only a very small percentage of runners run barefoot or in minimalist footwear (Vibrams, etc) or in very low heel to toe drop shoes (Saucony Kinvara, Nike Free, etc with 6mm or less drop). For these runners the Reebok ONE Cushion (or for that matter any similar shoe) would not make sense.

The vast majority of runners though fall into one or more of the following runner types. If you are one or more of these types then you should seriously consider the Reebok ONE Cushion for your next shoe purchase.

Runner Type 1 (used to Cushioned Comfort): You are a runner who is already running in a cushioned shoe with an 8mm or more heel to toe drop. In this case your natural running mechanics are well adapted to this type of shoe and you will find the Reebok ONE Cushion Рstylish, comfortable, stable, roomy and with a great construction quality.

Runner Type¬†2 (Heel to Toe Foot striker):¬†This¬†shoe is designed for people who strike heel first, then move to mid-foot and then toe off and push back. With all the barefoot buzz (and “Born to Run”) most people think that this is the wrong way to run (that’s a load of BS) and therefore most people convince themselves that they are mid-foot or forefoot strikers. Get a gait analysis done (or just ask someone to shoot a video of you running on a treadmill) and you will be surprised. You will also find the Reebok ONE Cushion to be just right for you.

Runner Type 3 (Newbie): You are a newer runner; are looking at a comfortable running shoe; are going to do most of your running on hard surfaces (tar or cement roads and sidewalks) without a lot of consideration at the moment for speed, form, gait, etc. Your running style is still evolving and you are apprehensive about the impact running may have on your legs or you may already have some issues.

Runner Type 4 (Body Weight is 80 kg+): This shoe is already superbly cushioned which is great for protecting your legs especially if you are a heavier runner. The responsiveness of such shoes would increase dramatically as the impact forces increase. I suspect that the body weight sweet spot for this shoe is 80 kg or more for men. Above or around this weight the cushioning should also start giving you great response instead of just pure impact protection.

Runner Type 5 (You are also fast): If you are already on low profile shoes or racing flats then this shoe is not for you. However if you are a lighter runner but run faster (thus generating more impact forces) the shoe will once again start giving you great response instead of cushioning alone. I suspect you will start seeing this if you usually run at a 5.30min/km (8.5min/mile) speed or faster.

Runner Type 6 (High Mileage Road Runner): High mileage on road means a lot of wear and tear of the lower half of the body. Such runners would definitely like the comfort that a shoe like the Reebok ONE Cushion would give.

So that’s it folks. My absolute final¬†comment on these shoes – unless of course there are questions¬†ūüôā

…RunIndiaRun

Sandeep

Review of the Reebok ONE Cushion (3/3) – Wrap-up, Shoe Physics and Recommendations


If you are here I hope you have read the previous parts of my review, especially the detailed “first run impressions” written after my¬†first¬†13km run in¬†the Reebok ONE Cushion.¬† While I was writing that review I had already done two more runs in the Reebok ONE – an 18km medium long run (on a Sunday morning)¬†and a 7km recovery run (on a cooler Saturday noon). I decided to sneak in¬†one more¬†run in the shoes just to refresh my thoughts before writing this down, that was a 6km recovery on last Wednesday evening. So with 44km of running in the Reebok ONE Cushion I am ready to wrap things up. In the preface to this review¬†I had¬†written about a testing protocol which had also included a long (24k +), tempo/LT and some speed work (VO2 Max)¬†runs. I have given those a miss and you will see why further below.

I also have a confession to make – I promised a lesson in “Shoe Physics”, sorry,¬†that’s not going to happen in this review. The simple reason for this is that as I have been writing on that topic it¬†has been¬†taking on a life of its own and growing and growing and growing. So I will do that piece but only as a separate post. In this review I will¬†only use some of the end observations.

But first let’s review those other runs !

18km medium long run:

Started early on Sunday morning with the usual warm-up routine (5 lunges and a partial Myrtl), again the body is very stable as I do this in these shoes. This time I made sure that I had¬†the lacing tightness right and that I didn’t feel pressure on top of my foot. In hind sight, I am not sure why I laced up so tight on the first run – over this year I have moved away from very tight lacing which has allowed my foot some¬†more flexibility¬†inside the shoe and¬†surprisingly¬†&¬†contrary to what one would expect this has worked much better for my black toenails condition than a tightly¬†bound foot. This also solved another problem which I had perceived with this shoe – the humongously long lace – as soon as I got the tension right the lace became very manageable.

As I start the run it is definitely cooler. Wanted to take the socks out of the equation to test the heat build-up in the shoe, so I am wearing my five-toe-socks which are much thinner and feel nice on long runs since my toes can splay out a bit.

To cut a long story short, here are my¬† long run impressions of the Reebok ONE Cushion –

  • Shoe was still running fairly hot (although not as hot as on the first run)
  • Still¬†feeling heavy (although not initially a¬†problem) from the beginning of the run. However in the last 6 odd kilometres this definitely started bothering me and creating foot drag
  • The cushioning was nice to begin with but the drag was a dampener
  • Usually on a longish run I am able to accelerate, from time to time, quite easily (to break the monotony) but somehow I was unable to do so on this run, in these shoes
  • Today I just don’t feel the “promised” kick
  • My heel still wants to go further down on each step which it’s not able to
  • I somehow feel disconnected to the road and my run (part of the problem is the over analysis going on in the brain)

In short the run was not very pleasant and the weather which worsened later did not help either.

7km and 6km recovery runs:

The purpose of a recovery run is to help prepare the body for the next key workout (by getting¬†the blood moving through muscles and loosening up tight muscles, tendons & ligaments¬†which are still a little stiff from the last¬† tough run). I usually do these about 30-45 secs/km slower than an aerobic or long run. The recommendation for these runs is to do it on soft ground, to give the legs some relief from “concrete pounding”. Since I usually¬†don’t have “soft ground” around I just do this on the road. In the Reebok ONE, with its excellent¬†cushioning, I was quite sure that the feet would get that relief, and I wasn’t disappointed.

However the heat issues still remained (less so because of the slower speed) and the heaviness still bothered me.

Some Shoe Physics (the detailed one will happen in another post and will also involve some discussion on the Physics of Running):

This is going to be a bit over-simplistic (or not depending on where¬†you’re coming from)¬†for the time being, and I might also¬†clean it up a bit later.

When we run the muscles, ligaments and tendons in the body (specially waist downwards) act like a spring¬†which stores and then releases energy¬†on each stride – essentially¬†converting potential energy into kinetic energy.¬†This “spring” mechanism also helps protect our bones and joints from collapsing/breaking/getting overly damaged¬†with each stride by dampening some of the energy which eventually gets released as heat (principle of “conservation of energy”).

Every person has a different “springiness” (or running mechanics)¬†due to differing physical composition (muscle fibre, flexibility, stiffness, muscle & bone strength, range of motion, etc).¬†An interesting thing is that everyone also¬†seems to have¬†a band within which they can adjust their springiness¬†between applying/releasing force¬†and dampening impact forces – as an example when we run barefoot on a tar road we adjust our running mechanics to more cushioning from impact whereas when we run on sand we adjust it to create more force since the sand provides the cushioning from the impact. We naturally balance the cushioning and¬†force release¬†to run the best and safest we can when we run barefoot.

Theoretically if the mechanism of cushioning is externalised then our running mechanics should be able to create more force per stride and therefore help us run faster. This is exactly what shoes are trying to achieve Рprovide impact CUSHIONING so that one can then use their own running mechanics purely to generate force.

Every shoe would have a CUSHIONING but also need to be¬†RESPONSIVE (some of you may already be familiar with these terms so pardon the long discourse to explain this). The RESPONSIVENESS is the ability of the shoe to linearly respond to the application of force with forward motion or a change in direction. If you have ever run on sand you would realise that due to the “yielding” nature of sand or what I would like to call “over dampening” the force required to move forward is very large, also¬†increasing the¬†force does not yield the linear¬†RESPONSE we expect, which is to move forward faster.

So CUSHIONING is good but if it results in over-dampening this would mean that some of the force that I actually need to propel myself forward would get lost resulting in low RESPONSIVENESS. These two characteristics are natural behaviours of any elastic material (of what the soles of most shoes are made of ).

Shoe RESPONSE¬†and CUSHION are not absolute numbers –¬†for the same shoe they could¬†vary significantly from person to person depending on¬†–

  • The¬†running surface.¬†Running on concrete versus trail versus sand for example.
  • The forces acting on the shoe from running mechanics; body weight; speed; etc

Finally every shoe is made with some design parameters which would include some assumptions on variables like running surface, weight, running mechanics, foot strike, speed, etc, etc. I call this the “design sweet spot” for that shoe.

If your running variables (most of the time) match the “design sweet spot”,¬†the shoe will work great for you out of the box. However if they don’t, you will have¬†to significantly adapt your running style overtime¬†or you will suffer!

The holy grail for a shoe manufacturer is to find a sole material which would deliver perfect CUSHIONING and RESPONSIVENESS across a wide range of runner types. As of now all shoes are a compromise between the two unless you fall in the design sweet spot.

Which very nicely now leads me to the conclusion of my review.

Final Verdict and Recommendations:

By now you must have inferred that the REEBOK ONE CUSHION does not work for me. The reason for this is that my running mechanics don’t fall in the design sweet spot¬†for this shoe. This¬†is also¬†the reason the extra testing protocol seemed futile to me.

Does this make it a BAD shoe? Absolutely not, in fact it’s an excellent shoe but for a specific runner type which matches up with its design sweet spot.¬†So what is the design sweet spot for the REEBOK ONE CUSHION¬†–¬†some of the cues for this is already in the messaging the company is sending out the rest is just me trying to speculate.

  • Foot-Strike:¬†The profile of the shoe is designed for people who strike heel first, then¬†move to mid-foot and then toe off and push back. With all the barefoot buzz (and¬†“Born to Run”)¬†most people think that this is the wrong way to run (that’s a load of BS) and therefore most people convince themselves that they are mid-foot or forefoot strikers. Get a gait analysis done and you will be surprised.
  • Body Weight:¬†The shoe is superbly cushioned which is great for protecting your legs but not always great for moving forward (responsiveness). I suspect that the body weight sweet spot for this shoe is 80 kg or more for men. Above or around this weight the cushioning should start giving you great response instead of just pure impact protection.
  • Speed:¬†If you are a lighter runner but run faster (thus generating more impact forces) the shoe will once again start giving you great response instead of cushioning alone. I suspect you will start seeing this if you usually run at a 5.30min/km (8.5min/mile)¬†speed or faster. Remember the kick I felt when doing my striders or when I transitioned from walk to run.
  • Current Shoe: If you are already running in a cushioned shoe (with an 8mm or more¬†heel to toe drop)¬†then your natural¬†running mechanics are well adapted to this type of shoe and you will find the Reebok ONE Cushion – stylish, comfortable, stable, roomy and¬†with a great construction quality.

If I did fall in the design sweet spot for this shoe I would still like to see this shoe reduce some weight (about 25-30gms) and¬†dissipate heat build up better. Here¬†are my suggestions for this –

  • Reduce¬†the cushioning in the upper of the shoe (weight and better heat removal)
  • Use of more breathable material in the toe & tongue area (heat removal and minor weight reduction)
  • Use insoles with perforations to allow a bit more of air circulation

So that’s it – the conclusion of my first ever shoe review. Do¬†send me feedback on what you liked/disliked in the writing style¬†and the review itself. I also welcome any questions or clarifications you may want to seek from me.

Till then…

….RunIndiaRun

Sandeep

P.S. I am sure some of you are wondering – so what’s this guy going to do with these shoes as they don’t suit his running mechanics … aha … I have some ideas … keep an eye out for¬†an update on this ūüėČ

Review of the Reebok ONE Cushion (2/3) – First Run Impressions


The title of this post is a bit misleading, by the time I have sat down to write part 2 of my review on the Reebok ONE Cushion I have already done not one but actually three runs in it with a total distance of 38km. But in this post I will restrict myself to the first run impressions.

For those who have been running regularly the last few weeks, Friday the 13th of September lived up to its reputation! The weather looked like turning invitingly cooler during the day with clouds turning the sky dark by afternoon and even some rain our side of town (East of the Yamuna). All a big deception by the weather gods !

So why am I talking about the weather in a shoe review? Well the simple reason is that in a test you want to keep the variables as¬†low as possible so as to be able to differentiate what is an outcome¬†of the object being tested versus the general environment in which the test is conducted. The¬†hot and¬†humid¬†weather has made that task difficult, especially since I decided to start my first run around 5.30pm on Friday the 13th! Read on…

5.30pm: I am lacing up the Reebok ONE Cushion shoes:

  • I am struggling a bit with this. The shoes inner volume seems a tad larger than my regular running shoes (Free 4.0 & Kinvara 3)
  • Two eyelets are still unused so I decide to run the lace through the 2nd last one. Still feels a little loose so I tighten up the entire lace pulling as hard as I can. Now there is a bit of pressure building on the upper foot but I think this will settle once I start warming-up.
  • Bigger problem, the lace seems to be humongously long – so double knot it, still hanging a little too low for me but¬†hopefully¬†it won’t¬†snag on anything.
  • Walk out of the house – 5.40pm’ish shaking my foot and leg around to get the shoe to sit more comfortably. Still feeling the tightness at the top.

5.43pm: Ready to warm-up

I start my runs with a warm-up routine (courtesy Coach Jay Johnson)¬†which includes 5 Lunges (google it for now, I do intend to do a piece on my training routine at some point) plus some hip girdle strengthening and loosening through a partial Myrtl routine (again please query “doc google” on this).

  • Walking up¬†to my warm-up spot feels good, the feet are feeling more comfortable and I can feel the deep cushioning along the entire length of my foot unlike any of my other shoes.
  • Switch on the Phone GPS (with Endomondo) and start the GPS search on my Timex Run Trainer watch so that I have stable locks on satellites by the time I start my run (why I use both is another story !)
  • As I go through the warm-up the shoe feels very stable. When I am warming up in my Free’s I usually feel unstable and am constantly trying to balance myself. With these shoes, my feet¬†feel very planted.

5.55pm ish: I am ready to go

Have the phone and Timex Run Trainer GPS locked and ready to go. I usually start my run with a fast walk & jog of about 300m. As I start walking the shoe is still feeling a little tight on top but the feet feel very comfortable with lots of room inside for them to splay out.

  • As I transition into¬†a jog from¬†the walk – Whoa ! I actually feel the kick from the shoe (as described in the marketing stuff that I have read & the videos I have watched). Looks like it’s going to be a really comfortable run ūüôā
  • Ok, I am into my run now which is going to be 13k at around 6:15 min/km pace. After about 12k I will do 8 x 100m fast striders (essentially run at about 95% of peak speed with exaggerated hip extensions, arm swings,¬†with shoulders loose & head aligned, helps in fixing postural problems and gets the body used to running correctly when tired).
  • The lace is still feeling a little tight on top but I don’t have the patience to stop and try to fix it (will come back to bite me in the rear-end later !).

6.35pm ish: I have covered around half the planned distance

Man, it’s really hot and humid, I was expecting cooler weather after the clouds and some rain¬†around noon¬†! I have also worn slightly thicker, New Balance, socks today (no specific reason, just usual rotation).

  • The shoe is running pretty hot compared to my other shoes. Although the shoe upper fabric looked like it was pretty well ventilated I think the problem is the¬†thick padding¬†around the heel cup¬†& shoe tongue and the thicker sole overall.
  • After the initial “kick” at the start¬†I am not feeling the “push-off” from the shoe any more.
  • I am also thinking too much about my footwear,¬†over thinking foot landing, gait, etc. Part of this is because I am in research mode but also this is natural when you start using a new shoe which feels different.
  • Reached around the 6.5k mark and now turn around for the run back. The run back¬†on this route is always tougher since there is a very slight uphill (about 10-15 degrees) which lasts for about 3 kms but it tests my resilience so I love-hate doing it (as a fellow¬†runner you understand the love-hate concept of doing a¬†run, right ?).

6:50pm ish: About 3 more kms to go

The last few kilometres have been tougher than usual, part of it is weather related. But there is definitely some other stuff going on around my foot.

  • I should have really fixed the shoelace, the pressure on the top of the feet is not pleasant (Note to self: Need to fix this next time)
  • Feet are still too warm inside, not sure if it’s the weather or the shoe or the sock. Have run in worse weather but don’t remember getting the foot so hot (Note to self – need to wear lighter socks and check this again during the next run).
  • Remember,¬†I have just been through¬†the slight uphill section and even though the shoe is only about 70-100gm heavier than my other shoes (Reebok has officially¬†said it is 270gm¬†but they didn’t say for what size. I still think my UK10¬†is more around 300gm), my feet have been feeling heavier – psychological !?
  • I usually run landing around mid-foot, then heel coming down and then push-off. I am still trying to run like that but the higher heel-to-toe drop (Reebok by now has confirmed it is 10mm – 23mm heel and 13mm toe)¬†means my heel is not reaching where it is normally used to getting to (in my 4mm drop shoes), this seems to be causing more feet drag and maybe that’s¬†what’s making the shoe feel heavier?
  • Tried changing the¬†foot strike¬†a couple of¬†times to heel first but just can’t make that work for me.

7:10pm ish: Finished around 11.5k now ready for the 8 x 100m striders

Really wondering if I have energy left for the striders – but I always like to¬†“Finish What I Start” so park the water bottle on a fence post and am ready to belt out those back and forth 100m sprints with about 100m walk intervals in-between.

  • Whoa ! and another Whoa ! The “kick” has kicked in again and the striders which are normally brutal on the legs after a 12k feel very very comfortable (now the engineering brain is starting to purr, trying to figure this out. Do read about my “shoe physics” and some theorizing when I conclude my review, but meanwhile try to come up with some explanations/comments of your own on this so we can compare notes).
  • So even though the¬†middle part of the¬†run felt a little uncomfortable I finish on a high, which is always a great feeling and¬†motivator for the next¬†run¬†!

7:30pm ish: Run over now cooling down with a full Myrtl routine and some Active Isolated Stretches

Well folks, that concludes my first run impressions in the Reebok ONE Cushion.

Since then I have done two more runs in¬†these shoes¬†– an 18k medium long run and a 7k recovery run. I will cover these briefly in the last & concluding part of my review.¬†Also don’t¬†miss¬†my¬†theorizing on “shoe physics”¬†and my recommendations¬†on the Reebok ONE Cushion.

Till then …. RunIndiaRun !
Sandeep

P.S. I have tried to do this part of the review in a narrative, story style. Let me know if you liked this or you would prefer to just get everything straight up next time. As always would love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: