A tale of two shoes

Here’s a quick first impression of both my new running shoes that I acquired on Saturday.

Hoka One One Clifton 3

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First I ran in the Hoka One One Clifton 3 running shoes. This is my first experience with Hoka One One shoes of any sort.

I ran intervals in them on the treadmill. A set of 2 minutes walking, 2 minutes running moderate pace, then 1 minute sprinting at 8 mph.

I was very pleased with them. They were like running on a mattress. Lots of cushion. I tend to land rather heavy and they absorbed it pretty well. My one fear was that I’d feel unstable on them, because that is a complaint I sometimes hear from people who have tried Hoka One One shoes. It’s also how I felt in the Puma Bioweb pair I have. You ride rather high and there’s this feeling like you’ll twist an ankle. Not with the Clifton 3 shoes. They felt just right. No instability. No feeling like I was on stilts. They felt secure even with all that cushioning.

First impression: I like the Clifton 3. They are a good trainer on the treadmill. I hope to try them on cement when the weather gets better (and my weight). I hope they’re as cushiony on cement as they are on the treadmill.

Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17

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Uecker is comparing the Brooks GTS Adrenaline 16 (top) and 17 (bottom)

I ran in these today. Put in a good long 5k run on the treadmill at a faster pace (for me), which is faster than the moderate pace I use in the intervals, but still slower than a sprint.

The shoes fit well, didn’t seem to create any hot spots, and were very stable. I’ve changed my running style from when I first started running in the Brooks GTS Adrenaline 16 shoes I just retired. I was a heel striker and I’d overpronate as my foot rolled from the heel to the toe.

Now with my running style I land more midfoot, so I wonder if I need a stability shoe as much since my foot doesn’t roll as severely as it would have striking with my heel first, but I like these shoes any way.

There seems to be more bounce in the midsole with the 17 than with the 16, a complaint I originally had with my first pair of Brooks.

Other nice changes:

  1. There is a bigger protective toe cap for the 17 than the 16, which just had an inch wide extension of the outsole. The 17 also has that inch wide extension, but there is now a harder protective piece of plastic that extends around the toe so the fabric won’t get scuffed.
  2. There seems to be an extra stabilizing strip along the outside of the upper (the black strip on the bottom shoe) compared to the 16.
  3. The 17 also has an extra reflecting strip on the toe instead of just at the heel.

My 16 are size 11, which is only 1/2 a size larger than my foot. I decided to go to an 11-1/2 this time because my toes were cramped in the smaller shoe (that’s what I get for listening to the salesman) and the tips of my toes rubbed against the inside of the toe box, which caused my toes to hurt. (I have a split nail on one toe that really hurts when I run in too short a length shoe.) The 17 are much roomier, but I can’t say that’s because the toe box is wider and more open or if it’s just a case of the extra 1/2 size of leeway inside.

First Impression: I like the Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17 much more than I did the 16. I just never felt comfortable running in the 16. They were too hard, too cramped, and I was just dissatisfied with them, which is why I tried to replace them with a pair of Saucony (fail), and alternated them with my Puma Mobius (which I’m going to use for trail running now that I have these two for treadmill/road running.

Disclaimer: I have never claimed to be a reviewer. I’m just a guy who runs and writes about the run. Additionally, I am not compensated for my reviews. Who the hell would pay me to write this shit?

Run. Switch shoes. Run again.

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In with the new

For runners, what is our most exciting day?

OK, besides pizza day.

Right! Buying more equipment!

Today I struck gold, so to speak. I bought two pairs of new running shoes.

I went in not sure what I wanted, not even sure I was going to buy one pair, much less two. In fact, I went in just sort of thinking everyday walking shoes. But as I walked down the rows of running shoes, picking some up that grabbed my attention, flexing them in my hands to see how much give they had, and oohing and ahhing over the colors, I came upon a pair that this particular shoe store had never had before.

They had Hoka One One. (Someone told me that’s pronounced ohnay ohnay.)

Now to be honest, I’ve read about Hoka One One and they were never on my radar. Seems runners either love them or hate them. Plus, I was thinking more along the lines of another minimalist style pair of running shoes similar to the Puma Mobium I have that I like. Certainly not the exact opposite: a pair of maximal shoes. C’mon! They’re like 1970s disco platform shoes. It would be like being on stilts, or I’d look like Herman Munster! Who wants that?

But, for shits and giggles, I thought I’d try on a pair. I put them on, tied them tight, then jogged up and down the aisles.

Oh my! (You have to say that like George Takei to get the right effect.) They felt wonderful. I admit, I’m a heavy lander and these made it feel like I was running on a cloud. So I picked up a pair.

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Hoka One One Clifton 3

Another pair of shoes that attracted my attention were a pair of Adidas Alphabounce Engineered Mesh running shoes. I liked the feel of the sole, it seemed soft and giving, almost like the Hoka’s, so I tried them on as well. I did like them and was about to buy them when I saw the newer Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17. I’ve had my 16s for almost a year now and because they served me well, I thought, “What the heck? I’ll try these on.”

Well, one thing led to another as they say and I ended up liking them more than the Adidas, so I ended up purchasing the Hokas and the Brooks.

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Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17

So I came home with two new pairs of running shoes.

Maybe I’ll review them later after I’ve actually run in them a few times.

Run. Buy new shoes. Run some more.

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Review Puma Mobium Elite V2

Ok, I know I promised a review of my Puma Mobium Elite V2 running shoes months ago. If you’ve actually been waiting for it, I apologize. But here it is. I hope the wait was worth it.

First, we’ll get the disclaimer out of the way. I have not been compensated for this review (but if you would like to send me a check, feel free). Nor am I affiliated with Puma or any running shoe company or store. I do admit, however, that I have always had a thing for Puma, although the last pair I actually used for running was in 1984.

There. That was relatively painless. 

I’ve had my pair of Puma Mobium Elite V2 running shoes for several months now. My first impressions of them were that they were lighter and more flexible than either my Brooks Adrenaline or my Saucony Grid Cohesion  (now retired to walking shoes), but they also had less cushioning.

Now, months later, I run almost exclusively in the Puma Mobiums. The pair I have aren’t for heel strikers, at least not extreme heel strikers, yet they’ve become more and more comfortable with each run. Maybe I adjusted my stride a little to become more of a midfoot striker, but that’s been an ongoing process and not something forced upon me by the shoe.

Also, considering I have flat feet and overpronate, I haven’t had any foot or joint pain despite the fact that these are more minimal than anything I’m used to. 

The soles have a rubber band (Mobium band) that Puma claims stretches as the foot flexes then releases all that kinetic energy when you push off. In effect, its supposed to be like snapping a rubberband. I don’t know if it does or not but I will admit that it felt like my step was springier on my outdoor runs, as if I was a little lighter.

The soles also have an arch in them where the Mobium band crosses in its figure 8 shape (see second picture below). I’m going to assume this absorbs some of the shock of your foot strike whereas other companies use thicker cushioning material to insulate your foot.

Additionally, Puma says the sole is designed like a cat’s paw. Sure. Ok. You can see the sole pictured below. I don’t know if they provide more grip as claimed, but they do seem very flexible.

The toe box is roomy, both width-wise and in front and my toes don’t feel crammed in there, nor do they rub against the front like they do with some shoes. Puma claims the shoe fabric conforms to your foot somehow. Adaptive running they call it. I don’t know if it does but I didn’t get that pinched feel across the top of my foot I get with other shoes.

To be honest, when I bought these my expectations were very low. All my other so-called running shoes from Puma were anything but made for running. They were more fashion than function. I was worried the Puma Mobiums would also turn out to be just another pair of good looking walkers. But I was pleasantly surprised to find these are an actual honest-to-goodness pair of running shoe and, despite the cool colors, aren’t just a fashion statement.

The Puma Mobium Elite V2 are now my go-to running shoes and I use them for the majority of my runs, preferring them to my Brooks Adrenaline, which had been my previous go-to shoes.

I’m happy Puma is finally concentrating on R&D in their running shoe development instead of relying on their marketing department.

If you’re looking for a comfortable, light weight trainer, then consider looking at a pair of these.

Run. Buy new shoes.Run some more.

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Would Spider-Man wear these?

Earlier this summer I was in the shoe store, Rogan’s by name, and I was looking at the different pairs of Puma they had.

One of them stuck out from the rest, which is no small feat considering Puma is known for its bright, eye catching  (some might say garish) colors.

This one:

It’s the Bioweb Elite and as you can see on the upper there’s a website structure covering the fabric. Puma calls it a web-cage.

OK, I admit it. I’m a sucker for garish. So I tried on a pair and they seemed fine for the few minutes I had them on at the store.

At home, I decided to try to run in them. Well, let me tell you (and even if you won’t let me, I’m going to tell you anyway) they sucked.

Since then, I’ve read several reviews and they mostly seemed, if not rave, at least overly positive reviews. Makes me wonder if Puma isn’t paying them.

We’ll start with the so-called Web Cage. It was tight. So tight, that after a short time wearing them, my instep started to hurt.And I hadn’t tied them any tighter than any other shoe.

Second, they have a very high profile. Not Hoka One One high, which I’ve never tried, but high enough that they made me feel like Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster, tottering around on his big platform boots. I felt tall and I think that threw off my natural sense of balance because running in them made me feel unsteady, like I was going to step wrong and sprain an ankle.

Third, they seem rigid and stiff. Not much flex. And whatever the cushioning material of the midsole is, when combined with the hard plastic webbing surrounding it, the shoes felt like I had two bricks strapped to my feet.

One reviewer called them light weight, but they felt just as heavy as my Brooks Adrenaline GTS16.

And one final comment: they are noisy! What with the hard materials of the midsole and outsole making the shoe clomp like it’s a hard leather boot, plus all the creaking, groaning, and squeaking coming from the midsole plastic wrap, suffice to say no cat burglar is going to want these Pumas.

It should come as no surprise therefore that I did not enjoy that run and immediately relegated the Biowebs to walking status. I mean, they still are attention-grabbing.

Also, I hoped that several months of walking would “break them in.” No such luck. I still have instep pain so have to tie them looser than I like and a recent run in them hasn’t changed my opinion of them.

Get them for the looks if you must (they do have a wide range of colors), but if you’re looking for a decent pair of runners, look elsewhere. These ain’t them.

[FYI: Puma released the Bioweb Elite in 2013. The model I have is from that first generation, I believe. Puma remodeled the shoe as the Bioweb Speed with a lower profile. I don’t know if that model is an improvement.]

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Body and inSole

This may sound like a familiar complaint (see Remember the Brannock Device?), but it’s a whole new one, I promise.

As you may recall, I injured my leg somehow last week. There was pain in the thigh and gluteus and when I attempted to run, the leg felt weak, like it was going to collapse under me.

So I took a week off running, then ran Thursday. Everything felt fine, the pain was reduced. Today, I attempted another run. The pain was there and so was the weakness, but it was only evident at a 5 mph pace or slower. At 6 mph it was fine and at what for me right now is a near sprint — 8 mph — it was also fine.

The problem is, I took a week off! Yes, exactly. My aerobic level isn’t there. I can’t sustain 6 mph. So instead I did 30 to 45 seconds at 8 mph and then did about 3 minutes at walking pace, 4 mph. I managed about two miles in about 25 minutes.

Before I ran, I did two minutes of warm-up on my Lifestyler Cardiofit (which is in the foreground of the picture. In the background is my Schwinn treadmill. In the center is my comfy chair for vegging out and listening to my collection of vinyl).

exercise room

Afterwards, I stretched.

But, as you may have noticed reading this, I’ve ADHDed around what my complaint was and what the subject of this whole blogpost was supposed to be about. (It’s been a bad day ADHD-wise, but I’ll not go off on that tangent and explain. I’ll try to keep on topic.)

Back in June, I bought a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 running shoes (see Saturday Shopping for Shoes). I tried on a few shoes and found them to be the most comfortable. The problem lately has been they just haven’t been as comfortable as they were just two months ago. That’s why I picked up the cushy pair of Saucony a couple weeks back, because the Brooks seems stiff and unpleasant, as if the cushioning had hardened up or something.

It was strange because my most comfortable fitting shoes were my Brooks Beasts and they’ve lasted for years. It seemed odd that Brooks had forgotten how to make good fitting shoes in such a short time.

Well, guess what it was?

Aw. You peeked.

Yes, it was the replacement insole the salesman at the shoe store talked me into. It was deja vu all over again. The insoles the salesman at Sports Authority (now kharmicly out of business) for the Asics I bought last year also hurt my feet. Now I find that the problem with the Brooks wasn’t the shoes, it was the Superfeet Orange Insoles I had in them.

superfeet_orange_pair_top_edit

Now, Superfeet is probably a very good brand of aftermarket insole inserts, but the problem I just realized today is: this particular pair hurts!

I put one of the original Brooks inserts into one shoe and left the Superfeet insert in the other and bounced in them. The Brooks insert felt the way I remembered the Brooks feeling at the store: cushy, yet supportive. Very, very comfortable. The Superfeet insert? It was only when I compared them side by side that I realized the problem was the Superfeet were too narrow at the heel. Instead of my heel fitting comfortably inside the hard plastic cup, it rested up on the sides.

So it never was the Brooks, it was a poorly-sized Superfeet inserts. I guess that was my fault. At the time, they seemed to fit. I didn’t realize they were too narrow or that the plastic sides were digging painfully into my heel. I just assumed a proper insert was supposed to be stiff… and, um, painful.

Now I know better. Maybe I’ll try to take the Superfeet back to Fleet Feet and say they weren’t the right size. It’s only been two months.

In the meantime, I was unhappy with my running shoes, but now I’m not. I’m very happy with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16.

And I wonder if aftermarket inserts are really necessary or if they’re just something shoe salesmen try to talk you into for an additional sale?

Do you use special inserts or do you use the insole that comes with your running shoe?

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Happy trails to you

Today I made my first attempt at trail running. There is a park in Wauwatosa snuggled between Swan Boulevard, Innovation Discovery Parkway, and Watertown Plank Road. I’m not sure it has a name other than County Grounds Park.

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Look east across County Grounds Park

It covers an area of 55 acres and has a number of paths worn through it by walkers and runners. I’ve walked there a few times, but today I went with the intention of actually attempting to run.

I wore my battered old Brooks Beasts because I didn’t want to get my new Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 dirty. Yeah, I know. I’m anal that way.

This was my second time off the treadmill. I ran a few weeks back on the sidewalks and roads around my house for about 2.75 miles for an average pace of 11:46 minutes per mile.

Today, I ran for 2 miles on the little trails that wound all over the park. Honestly? It kicked my ass. I was exhausted when I finished, dripping with sweat. My legs felt like noodles.

According to Runtastic, my average pace was 14:01 minutes per mile. Yes, I admit, that’s slow as heck. But as I said, the trails killed me. They weren’t flat as they wound around the park; they followed up and down the hills that dotted the field. My elevation gain was 85 feet and my elevation loss was 75 feet.

That’s a lot of up and downs. And as I said, I felt it. My legs were burning. I was gasping for breath. I stopped a few times to drink water and sometimes I had to walk up the steeper hills.

My average speed was only 4.3 mph, which is a fast walk, and just a tad slower than I manage on the treadmill when I do inclines. My maximum speed however, and I assume I hit this racing downhill, was 10.7 mph!

That’s faster than I’ve ever run on the treadmill.

And I enjoyed it. Truly. It was exhilarating running along the trails. I was forced to keep my focus on the ground ahead of me to avoid rocks, holes, and what appears to be a dry creek bed. Gave the run a whole new dimension that I don’t experience on the treadmill or on the sidewalk.

I look forward to my next visit. It’s a great addition to my running repertoire.

And afterward, as a reward, I had a fudge shake from Gilles Frozen Custard.

That’s why we run, right? For the food rewards?

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