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Review of the Puma Ignite (Part 1/2) – First Impressions


Prelude

A couple of weeks back a huge packet arrived from Puma. I was a bit surprised since I didn’t remember ordering anything. Removing the wrapping revealed a large purple & blue box (interest was piqued). On opening the box I was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of purple shoes – the Puma Ignite! It was then that I recalled the casual emails a few weeks back from the Puma PR folks wanting to update their database with some of my stats and coordinates – cheeky folk!

Puma Run Ignite Box

I had been hearing of the Ignite for the past several weeks especially since Puma had been organizing events all over the world to launch the shoe (I couldn’t attend the #igniteDelhi event). Was really excited to get to try out these shoes, unfortunately I have been nursing a right knee issues for some time and I was in the middle of what would turn out to be an 8 week hiatus from running. So eager though I was to run in these I had to hold myself back.

Puma Run Ignitepuma-ignite-41

First the Official Line

For those who are keen, here is the official description of the shoes –

IGNITE features a superior cushioning material that disperses impact forces while providing optimal responsiveness and energy return to make you faster. Our unique PU foam formula offers high rebound and ultimate comfort where you need it the most. ForEverFoam is integrated in the heel to provide durability for long-lasting performance. The shoe’s minimal upper design offers lightweight flexibility and an incredibly comfortable fit.

  • Flexible AirMesh upper with seamless overlays
  • Soft, ultra-thin suede tongue for more comfort
  • Molded EVA sockliner hugs the arch
  • IGNITE Foam midsole for high-rebound cushioning
  • Chevron flex grooves for increased energy return
  • ForEverFoam at heel for optimal durability
  • Flexibility through forefoot flex grooves
  • Transition Line mimics the natural gait pattern
  • Smoother toe-off for a fluid ride
  • EverTrack for durability in high-wear areas

Lot of words – most of which I tend to ignore 🙂 !

Essentially this is a neutral running shoe which is touted to make you run faster. With the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt officially promoting it – you can’t miss that message!

 EEA_IgniteYourCity_hero_012315_1

Visual and Tactile Impressions

A few things hit me immediately, the shoe looks really small for a UK9/US10; and the colour combination of purple with a fluorescent orange sole seems really over the top (and I’ve worn some crazy colours, including parrot green!).

My dress shoe size is a UK8/US9. For most of my running I have been either using a UK9.5/US10.5 or UK10/US11. This sizing has worked well for me with Nike, Reebok and Saucony. The Skechers GoRun2 ran really large and a UK9/US10 worked really well with room to spare. Considering that the Ignite was a UK9 I am concerned it wouldn’t fit me.

Anyway I decided to leave them in the box for a few more days while I complete my 8 weeks of resting the knee, so more on colour and size later. But before all that some basics for the shoe –

Price: Rs.8,999 (this is getting into expensive territory but comparable to shoes from the competition except Skechers which is more aggressively priced). For me price per se is very important but one has to factor in the durability of the shoe. This is where Skechers had a problem, priced very aggressively but the usable-running-life seems less than half of the competition especially if you are running a lot on tar/concrete.
Weight: The shoe felt really light in the hand so I was surprised that it weighed in at around 272gm for a size 9. Still the weight is in, what I consider a good zone for most runners.
Heel-to-Toe drop: Visually this looked pretty aggressive to me, but again was surprised that it was 12mm. After using several types of footwear (including barefoot & Vibrams) I’ve come to the conclusion that a 12mm drop is actually good for most runners.
Flexibility/Flexion: The shoe is definitely stiffer than some of the other shoes in my arsenal like the Nike Free, Reebok Realflex and Skechers GoRun2. It even feels marginally stiffer than the Saucony Kinvara (which itself is fairly stiff). But I have seen with experience that this too is not a bad thing as a stiffer shoe tends to be more responsive.
Upper: The shoe upper seems fairly structured like the Reebok Realflex but not over the top like the Reebok One. The Nike Free, Skechers GoRun2 and Saucony are more minimalist.
Shoe Shape: The shape is more straight than curved (look at the sole of the shoe and the curve from heel to toe). Puma seems to have decided that their running shoes would have a straighter shape – case in point the whole FAAS series and even the Mobium Elite. Once again, not a bad thing for a neutral shoe.
Sole: The sole looks solid and even the rubbery bits look and feel pretty durable.
Tongue: This is pretty rubbery & soft and should provide good protection from pressure from tight laces at the top. The laces themselves are pretty long and if you don’t use the heel-lock-eyelets at the top you may need to do a double bow tie to keep from stepping on them.

Impressions on the Foot

About 7 days into receiving the Ignite I couldn’t hold myself back any longer and decided to take them for a short spin (mostly because I was coming back from a long running break).

As I take them out of the box I am pretty sure there are going to be small for my feet. Surprise surprise, they are actually very roomy in the toe area with a very good fit in the heel and mid-foot. In fact I am now concerned they may actually be too big for me! Now here is the contradiction – they still look pretty lean on my foot compared to the other shoes I have, including the Nike Free!

After using these shoes for a few runs – my recommendation is to not oversize them and maybe even go with your true size (dress shoe size). If you engage the heel lock lacing (Google that) with your true size you will also likely have some space left in the front for foot expansion which invariably happens over a longish run.

Two other comments with the shoe on the foot – the colour combination of  purple and orange actually looks pretty good and in fact might be part of the reason for the shoe looking smaller and slimmer.

The second is the weight; it actually feels quite light on the foot. A walk to my warm-up area feels routinely normal and I am not thinking about the shoe at all. Normal is a great thing when it comes to new shoes!

I said earlier that Usain Bolt was promoting these shoes, as a long distance runner that’s a mixed message for me – is the Puma Ignite a long distance running shoe or are they good only for shorter runs? I am not going to get the answer to this on my short comeback run but this is the questions on my mind as I start my first run in them.

Watch-out for the second part of the review when I’ll talk about my experience running in the Ignite. And do leave your comments below and also let me know if you want to know something more about these shoes.

RunIndiaRun
Sandeep

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Is the RealFlex Run 2.0 for you? The Conclusion (Part 3/3)


First an apology that this post is so late. Part 2/3 of this review was published in November 2013 with a promise that the last part would be out in a couple of weeks. Well life and running events caught-up. First Airtel Half in December; then extensive physiotherapy to fix some running injuries during second half of December and first half of January, and finally the Mumbai Full and the several weeks of recovery thereafter dealing with more injuries. Finally have the mental energy & motivation back to conclude this.

The good news is that current mileage on the RealFlex Run 2.0 stands at 270km, which means it’s really been put through the grinder. It has also become a favourite go-to shoe for most of my training runs. I haven’t done any races in these as I kept going back to my Saucony Kinvara 3 which was a tried and tested option. I am looking forward to race in the RealFlex 2.0 at the Budh International F1 track HM in March.

When we talk about shoes and our feature preferences we tend to think in terms of extremes – on cushioning (none to 2 inch springs), on heel drop (zero to 15mm), on flexibility (contortionist “yogi” to rigid planks), on  pronation support (none to big hard wedges) and on uppers (minimalist to extreme padded pillows). And therefore the debate of what shoe is right for a certain person sees some pretty extreme stances being taken.

I personally think the RealFlex 2.0 is a shoe where someone at Reebok has made some really smart design choices and “compromises”, and I don’t use compromises in a negative sense but rather in a sense of saying “maintaining the balance”.

What I mean by this is that the shoe hits the cushioning, heel drop, flexibility, pronation and uppers sweet-spot in a way which will appeal to a wide variety of runners without people having to fight over whether minimalist shoes are good or cushioned shoes are good or whether one needs stability/motion control.

Now that I have said this let’s go back to our runner profiles (if you have read the previous review on the Reebok Cushion you are familiar with this but even if you haven’t don’t worry) and see how things work for each.

Runner Type 1 (used to Cushioned Comfort): If you are a runner who is already running in a highly cushioned shoe. The RealFlex has great cushioning while still being extremely light. I would easily recommend it for people who want cushioned comfort and yet yearn for a lighter, faster shoe.

Runner Type 2 (Heel, mid/fore Foot striker): Two thing stand out for heel strikers, first the heel drop which is 8mm and therefore more than conventional minimalist shoes with 4-6mm drop. Second the extra tough outer rubber in the heel area which gives some extra protection and prolongs the life of the shoe. So a good choice for the heel striker.

And yet the heel drop is much lower than the monsters with 12-15mm drop. The 8mm shoe drop “feels” much lesser and personally I was deceived into thinking the profile was very much like my 4mm heel drop Kinvaras (do read https://runindiarun.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/review-of-the-reebok-realflex-run-2-0-a-little-beyond-the-first-run-with-166km-done-and-dusted-part-23/ to understand the significance of this). This coupled with the flexibility of the shoe also makes it a great choice for the mid/fore foot striker.

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. Well choose the RealFlex 2.0 with an easy mind, the added benefit a much lighter shoe and if at any point you want to go aggressively minimal well you are already in a great transition shoe.

Runner Type 4 (Body Weight “irrelevant”): If you recall I had recommended the Reebok One Cushion for the “heavier 80kg+” runner. Well the good news is that this shoe will work for them as well. However because it is lighter and flexible it will also work extremely well for the lighter runner without compromising on the response. So you won’t need the weight of your body to elicit a “response” from this shoe.

Runner Type 5 (You are also fast): If you are already on low profile shoes or racing flats and are a forefoot to midfoot striker but yearn for some more protection then again the shoe is a great compromise.  And since it is very light and relatively flexible the responsiveness is super.

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. Till now this meant having to wear highly cushioned, bulky and heavy shoes. With the RealFlex 2.0 there is now a much lighter and cushier option available.

Finally a category that I said I would not review for – “The Pronators” since I believe most people can actually do pretty well in neutral shoes and since there is research (new and old) to show that inside the shoe (irrespective of type) the foot is still doing what it is doing ! Read this http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/26/the-myth-of-pronation-and-running-injuries/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 and this http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021929000001160 if you are interested in this topic. Well the RealFlex is interesting since it has dual density midsole which makes the mid-foot area more rigid then the rest of the shoe. I suspect this would be of help to the mild pronator (and assuming that these shoes actually help).

So if you are looking for a minimalist, cushioned, flexible, low heel drop, stable shoe which runs cool (a lot of these adjectives would be normally mutually exclusive for most shoes) then the RealFlex Run 2.0 is for you. I am almost tempted to call it an “every runner’s shoe”.

RunIndiaRun
Sandeep

P.S. Two other shoes have been patiently waiting on the sidelines – the Skechers GoRun2 M and the Puma Mobium Elite. Hope to complete those reviews before end of March. The good news is that the GoRun2 already has about 150km on it

Epilogue – Is the The Reebok ONE Cushion for You ?


For those of you who have read my blogs I don’t do short ones 😉 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 – stylish, 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 🙂

…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 – provide 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 😉

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 🙂
  • 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.

Review of the Reebok ONE Cushion (1/3) – “The Official Line” and First Impressions Pre-Run


(You might want to read the preface to this post first to figure out whats going on – https://runindiarun.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/my-first-shoe-review-reebok-one-cushion-preface/ )


Some Background First:

My reviews will be about “neutral” running shoes with high, moderate and at times no cushioning. Before I start, some confessions/facts to help you put things in perspective – I am a runner who is moderately overweight (5ft7in; 68kg); completely flat-footed; a mid-foot striker (however the soles of my shoes also show significant wear near the back of the heel).  I run 45-55km per week in non-running season which goes up to 70-90km in the few months before a race (usually September – January). My best race times are 10k-50m31s; HM-1h53m5s and FM-4h19m12s. Almost all my running is on tarmac or concrete roads and sidewalks. Since mid-2010 I have been mostly running in “minimalist footwear” from the Nike Free series (although some would debate whether the Nike Free is truly minimalist). I have also put significant kilometres in the Vibram Bikila (about 600k) and done some mileage barefoot (probably less than 50k a few years ago). I currently use a Nike Free 4.0, a Saucony Kinvara 3, and a Nike Free 3.0 in that order of mileage. So my basis for comparison will be these shoes.

Finally, shoes are a very personal choice therefore in these reviews I have no intention of commenting on what type of shoe you should be wearing (stability, cushion, motion control, rigid, flexible, etc) or if you should be wearing shoes at all !

Here are some pictures of my shoe collection including my dress shoe for some visual comparison.

Shoes Visual Comparison

Photo 1: Shoes Visual Comparison
(click to see a bigger image)

The Official Line:
So what’s the big deal about yet another running shoe ? Below is what Reebok has to say about the Reebok ONE series which has been launched in two versions, the neutral running “Cushion” (being reviewed) and the “Glide” (not being reviewed) meant for mild to moderate overpronators.

“The Reebok One Series is the introduction of a unique running concept based on a function-first design philosophy– featuring technology you can feel.  Built from back to front instead of the standard bottom-up method, the Reebok One Series features ‘Zoned’ technology that mimics the way the foot moves, meeting the demands of the runner through each phase of the Gait Cycle.  The goal of the Reebok One Series is to give the runner the smoothest ride possible.  A new seamless fusion of zones is engineered to ensure the upper and bottom work harmoniously as one system.   

The state-of-the-art technology in the One Series features 3 distinct zones that complement the runner’s needs at each phase of their gait. Zone 1 is the Contact Zone – featuring a soft foam compound that provides shock attenuation with every stride.  Zone 2 is the Midstance Zone – engineered to provide a smooth mid foot transition. Zone 3 is the Propulsive Zone – featuring an ultra-responsive high rebound foam compound to help propel the runner forward during toe-off.”

First Impressions Pre-Run:
Out of the box here were the first impressions and comparisons –

  • First the price, the MRP is Rs. 8,999. Definitely seems more expensive than the minimals (Rs. 6,000 – 7500) but I know for a fact that Nike has running shoes which go north of Rs. 10,000.
  • Visually very appealing. I received the flourescent green and electric blue combination which looks great
  • “CUSHION” is an apt name for this shoe – the sole, the upper, the heel cup all look, feel and are signficantly “cushioned”.
  • Shoe felt bigger then most of my other shoes and I was concerned if this was going to be too large for me. If you look at Photo 1 above, although marginally “longer” versus the minimalist collection, it compared well with the Lunarglide (which incidentally is a half-size smaller). However the real difference was visible in the side profiles (Photos 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 below) – even if one discounts the thicker sole the shoe upper is definitely taller than all the shoes in my collection.
  • The sole too was definitely much thicker then all the minimals (Free 3.0, 4.0 – Photo 5 & 3) but was comparable to the Lunarglide (Photo 2).
  • Although I couldn’t get the official weight of the shoe, I did some research. This weighs in around 283gm v/s the Nike Free 3.0 around 204gm v/s the Nike Free 4.0 around 215gm v/s the Kinvara 3 around 225gm. With a thicker sole and the upper cushioning this is not surprising.
  • The sole of this shoe is significantly more rigid and harder than the other shoes. The Frees are of course highly flexible; the Kinvara 3 less so and the Lunarglide+ almost as hard as the Reebok ONE Cushion.
  • The upper of the shoe is also quite stiff even more stiffer than the Lunarglide+ and I think this “stand-up-ness” contributes to the shoe looking really tall. The Frees, the Kinvara and of course the Vibram have extremely pliable uppers, to an extent that they tend to settle/sag down on themselves. Not the Reebok ONE which stands at attention!
  • Heel-to-toe drop is another thing which I was trying to determine for these shoes. In spite of trying my best I could get the numbers for the Reebok ONE Cushion. I also don’t have the tools which would have allowed me to do the measurement myself. However a very rough measurement puts it in the 15-20mm range which is way higher than 4mm for the Free 3.0 and the Kinvara 3; 6mm for the Free 4.0 and 0mm for the Vibrams !

Hope you enjoyed the preliminary report. Please do give me your feedback below.

While I was writing this report I also completed two runs in the Reebok ONE Cushion – first on the evening of Friday the 13th Sept (ominous!) – a 13km Aerobic run with 8 x 100m striders at the end; and the second today morning, Sunday the 15th Sept – an 18km Medium Long run. Watch out for the first run report in the next few days.

Till then…
…RunIndiaRun!

Closer in sole thickness with the Lunarglide+

Photo 2: Closer in sole thickness with the Lunarglide+. Overall height comparable.
(click to see a bigger image)

Significantly thicker than the Free 4.0

Photo 3: Significantly thicker and taller than the Free 4.0.
(click to see a bigger image)

Although the sole near the heel is about the same verus the Kinvara 3 the ONE is way taller.

Photo 4: Although the sole thickness is about the same as the Kinvara 3 the Reebok ONE is way taller.
(click to see a bigger image)

Photo 5: Towers above the Nike 3.0

Photo 5: Towers above the Nike 3.0.
(click to see a bigger image)

Photo 6: The Vibram looks puny in comparison!

Photo 6: The Vibram looks puny in comparison!
(click to see a bigger image)

My first Shoe Review (Reebok ONE Cushion) – Preface


I always knew my running was taking me places (literally !)  and I have enjoyed expressing my views on everything and anything related to running on various facebook groups/page; email groups and here on my running blog  but that was about it, well until a few weeks ago when I got an email first from Reebok India and then another shoe company (which will remain unnamed for the time being) expressing interest in associating with me and my running blog. Sounded interesting but sometimes these things just remain that – interests. Well today I received a pair of Reebok ONE Cushion shoes which have just been launched by Reebok in India with a request to put them through the grind and then review them on my blog.

Will this be a one test wonder? I don’t know but the engineer in me decided to set-up a shoe test protocol just in case. So here is what those that are interested can expect in the next few weeks –

  • First just some stock photos (below) & a video
  • Next will be an initial pre-run review with primarily stock stuff from the company and maybe some comparative photos with my other footwear (Nike Free 3.0, 4.0 & 5.0; Vibram Bikilas; Saucony Kinvara 3 and yes, my dress shoes – a pair of Hush Puppies!)
  • Watch out for the first run impressions from a 13k with 8x100m strides that I have planned for tomorrow
  • I will then start putting the shoes through various type of runs over a few weeks & miles – recovery, aerobic, medium long (18k-24k), long (24k +), tempo/LT and some speed work (VO2 Max runs)
  • Finally will do a wrap up review and hopefully be able to give you some recommendations.

Wish me luck for stepping into the unknown and do have a look at the review as it happens

RunIndiaRun

Disclaimer: I get to keep the shoes after the review. No other monetary gain.

Reebok One Cushion

V47299_02V47297_06V47300_05 Reebok One Cushion

Running in the Heat and Humidity (especially at SCMM Mumbai)


First the great news, humidity on 20th Jan 2013 is forecasted to be around 55% at start and will go down to about 50% around 10-11am. This means that the body’s natural cooling mechanism of sweat evaporating from the skin surface will be functioning well. The other ok news is the lower temperature forecast of around 22C at start but rising to 25C around 10-11am (the lowest being 21C around 8am). To most this temperature may sound really good but as you run you will soon find your body core temperature rising significantly especially if you are pushing your pace.

One of the best strategies for managing heat is to acclimatise to it. For most runners coming from warmer zones (and of course Mumbai runners) this is already taken care of. However for people coming from colder zones (like North India) this is a big issue since most training has been done in brutally cold weather. Although it is a little late, if you go out for runs over the next few days, do them during late morning/noon when the sun is out and temperature is warmer.

Here are some steps you can take to help manage the heat irrespective of how acclimatised (or not) you are –

PRE-RACE PREPARATION:

  1. Although coffee is a good stimulant but it will also cause an increase in body temperature. So if you don’t really need your morning boost, avoid it.
  2. Try to wear the minimum possible clothing and make sure it is breathable (dri-fit/coolmax/play-dri etc). Running singlets are strongly advised. The same goes with lowers, shorts are good. The logic is to expose as much skin to allow a larger area for evaporative cooling. If you are worried about “losing your fairness” then probably you have chosen the wrong sport 🙂
  3. Avoid any sort of compressive clothing or form fitted clothing. Slightly loose clothing is recommended. This will prevent sweat from getting trapped between the skin and cloth. The looser clothing allows air to circulate between the skin and clothes.
  4. Also ensure that the upper is white or of a lighter colour so that it reflects heat. Avoid black, it’s a heat magnet !
  5. The body tends to lose a lot of heat through the head. Even a very efficient dri-fit running cap will interfere with this. However some eye/face protection may be required – either use running sunglasses or use a visor only cap (which leaves the head exposed).
  6. If you have been having anti-inflammatory medicines (crocin/brufen etc) or plan to use them before or during the race – please be advised that they can interfere with the body’s ability to retain sodium. My advice is to refrain from such medicine at least 3-4 days before the event. DO CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE DISCONTINUING ANY MEDICINES.
  7. Start building on your hydration reserves at least 2 days before the event. Either use a ready-made drink like gatorade/enerzal on the 18th and 19th (about 1.5 litres each day + plain water) or make your own drink (50:50 diluted sugar-free juice with a pinch of salt added).
  8. Continue hydration (gatorade or homemade mix) on race morning till about 1 hour before start. Let the excess fluid drain through the system and then start hydrating again about 10min before start.

DURING THE RACE:

  1. Consume about 600-700ml fluid for each hour of running. Either a gel/water combo or a gatorade/enerzal mix.
  2. Pour water over your head and down your back at water stations. This year there will be water sponges also available, use them over your head, face, legs, etc.
  3. Look for shade and try to run under it as much as possible along the route.
  4. If you find the heat really unbearable make adjustments to your pace, since the faster you try to run the faster the heat will build up.

RunIndiaRun

Motivating oneself to run


A new runner asked the question on a mail group – “How can I motivate myself to run?”.

Believe me, I passed (and still pass) through many moments of self-doubt and de-motivation. Some things I do –

  • Always run away (not the “never coming back again” sorts!) from home (with some id and initially very little money) till I feel I can run no more. Still have to get back home which means I have to run the return distance after I am ready to give up. The “very little money” meant that no autorickshaw rides home.
  • Stopped running in parks (basically in circles) – it’s the most “run killing” thing that you can do! I made an exception to this rule last year when most Delhi roads were dug up before the commonwealth games. Most real long runs were in a park with a 5.6km loop.
  • The days I feel very low on motivation I tell myself I will do a very short run and somehow get myself out of the door and on the road. I will then say to myself – if I can belt out a few extra kms today that means I won’t have to run more tomorrow. Many a times on my very low motivation days I will end up putting in the maximum kms with this strategy.
  • Buy myself good (and sometimes a little expensive) running gear. Then I will say to myself “are you going to just waste all that money by not using this stuff!”
  • Talk about running to whoever will listen and look at their awestruck expressions when I mention my mileage that day/week/month…!
  • Tell people what I used to weigh earlier and also look at some of my old photos from time to time. Also started buying clothes which were exact fits, which meant even a small weight gain meant I would feel it. Fear is a good motivator!

I am sure there were many more such small things which have kept me going.

Do write in with your comments on what keeps you running.

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