|Asics Gel-Cirrus33 2|
|Asics GT-2000 GTX|
|New Balance 890v3|
|New Balance Leadville 1210|
|New Balance Minimus Trail 20v2|
Why am I geeking out on gels? It's because cramps got me in the last mile of 3 trail races (18k, 15k, and 11k) in a row. Greatly frustrated, especially since good runs turned into bad ones at the last mile even with Gu, Gatorade, and water. I had even trained well for the races. Discouraged at this point, I started looking into what I could do to avoid another bad day.
After months of experimentation, I now use gels and salt caps in most if not all my runs. I typically use Gu, Hammer Gel , and Clif Shots Gel for daily runs, however when I need heavy support, I turn to e-Gel and Salt Stick Caps, all with water of course. These latter two products are superior in Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium (Salt Stick) supplementation. I used to be a non-believer but in conjunction with strengthening, stretching, massages, and using a roller, Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium are very useful elements when it comes to muscle cramps.
So I know that these products work very well for me after trying just about all tricks, but don't listen to me and simply look at the ingredients and the amount list provided by each product manufacture:
Infinitize is marketed as premium endurance sports supplement designed for athletes to sustain stable energy and mental focus while preventing cramps and muscle burn during activity in their Berry Chill flavor. It's packed full of BCAAs, Taurine, vitamins, and minerals to keep the body willing during extended workouts. Want to know more? Here is the supplement breakdown.
Refinitize is their protein recovery supplement which includes whey protein, BioAstin antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and additional amino acids to aid with recovery and muscle development post work out in Chocolate flavor. Want to know more about what's in it? Read here.
Both products can be mixed in water, milk, or any liquid of your preference.
|Infinitize - Performance inter activity supplement|
|Refinitize - Post workout recovery supplement|
|Tifosi Pave Polarized Fototec Lens|
There are a number of popular choices when considering sunglasses for running. Let's look at what athletes look for in sun glasses, which is shielding from the sun, rain and elements, while fitting well and looking at your best. They should stay off cheeks and be stable running, jumping, bouncing and even when taking a fall.
|Oakley Flak Jacket (LiveStrong edition)|
|New Balance (women's)|
|Preparing for the 50k start|
|Getting ready for the 25k start|
|Asics Blur 33|
First, both Asics 33s have minimal to no heel to toe drop. They feel different from typical running shoes where they are supposed to feel natural and free. They are Asics answer to the minimalist running movement, however, they aren't very minimal. The Blur 33 is plush, includes gel cushioned soles and feels similar but not exactly like the Nike Free. In fact, my Kayano 16s feel stiff compared to the softness of the Blur 33s. There is good flex in the forefoot and the tread grips nicely. However, they are not as light as advertised and I am wearing the US9.5 Men's which come close to 11oz each. The shoes are true to size in length and fits a bit snugly around the midfoot with socks but they fit perfectly barefoot. The Blur 33 feel good running and have grown on me with the plush cushioning comfort without any the heel to toe drop. I've also been running in Kayano 16s and New Balance 890s which seem firm after running in the Blur 33s.
|Asics Rush 33|
In conclusion, running in the Blur 33 proved they are well cushioned with a very soft, gel feel for those looking for cushioning in a shoe but prefers no heel to toe drop. The Rush 33, the closest to a minimalist shoe that Asics has produced has no cushioning, feels stiff and makes a good gym shoe but it could be improved by using the same light and breathable upper mesh material in its bigger sibling Blur 33s.
Please note, I post mostly men's shoes but all these shoes are available in women's model's as well.
The Essential Comparisons:
The biggest difference between Asics and New Balance are the Asics Gel sole and the New Balance Abzorbs Foam sole technologies. Asics Gel soles give their shoes a plush gel cushion making them soft in sensation. New Balance Abzorbs Foam also cushions well using a foam technology that is equally as effective but not gel like. Depending on your activity you may find that you like one over the other. I simply find them different and they both do a pretty good job.
Upper materials are also somewhat different between the two manufacturers. Asics typically use soft stretcheable mesh uppers in most of their shoes giving them a snug feeling as the material surrounds the foot. This gives them the snug and comfortable feeling to their shoes that they are known for and that many like. Asics also uses something called Ahar Heel Plugs which supposedly absorb shock from heel strikes and less prone to quick wear.
New Balance tends to use lighter materials in the uppers but just as tough and breathable. Although they don't tout a special heel plug the shoes are just as effective. New Balance shoes tend to feel more like a runner's shoe as they are different from the insulated feeling of most Asics. Also, it seems in most cases that Asics technology and materials in the more advanced Asics running shoes are just a tad heavier compared to New Balance of the similar models.
|New Balance 890|
|Asics DS Sky Speed 2|
|Asics Blur 33|
|New Balance Minimus|
While Asics and New Balance may be your first choices for running shoes keep in mind there are other brands such as Saucony, Brooks, Nike and Reebok. A shoe that is comfortable and doesn't hurt you during activities is a good shoe but if you're looking for performance I recommend moving away from the heavier, typical shoes to newer, lighter technologies.
|Asics Kayano 17|
|New Balance 1226|
The New Balance equivalent to the above is the new 2011 New Balance 1226, focusing on good foot support and arch support. The New Balance Abzorbs Foam is somewhat lighter than Asics Gel technology. What gets me excited for New Balance are their newer lines of shoes, the Minimus for minimalists and NB890s for those who are not ready to go minimal but want something close with just as much cushioning but lighter than a typical running shoe.
|Montrail Mount Mashocist|
|Kevin Steele Photography|
Photos of the event by Kevin Steele Photography
|Kevin Steele Photography|
Are you a traveling runner or on the west coast this summer? Here are some of events in California.
Central California (near San Francisco)
Headlands 50 and Marathon - Tiburon, California. Sat. July 16, 2011
La Sportiva Table Rock Trail Race 25k - Stinson Beach, California. July 23, 2011
Southern California (near Los Angeles)
Mt. Dissapointment 50k - Mount Wilson, California. Aug. 13, 2011
Bulldog 50k and 25k - Calabasas, California. August 27, 2011
|New Balance 890|
By using a new cushioning material called Rev-Lite and stitch-less uppers, New Balance claims the cushioning power is just as strong and 30% lighter than material used in other foam cushioned shoes. These shoes are only 9.7 ounces per shoe (size US9.5 men's). The shoes are also seamless/stitch-less so they fit very comfortably over the top of the foot with no seams or shoe laces felt at all.
The NB890 fills the spot as something new for those who aren't ready to try minimalist shoes such as the New Balance Minimus, Merrel Barefoot or Vibram 5 fingers but looking to for mid/fore foot striking support. These have quickly become my favorite shoes for light, cushioned mid-support daily runners. If Asics is your preference I would highly recommend also checking out the Asics DS Sky Speed 2 equivalent.
|Guillermo Medina, 1st in 100 Mile|
The morning, afternoon and evening was glorious. Rolling hills, virgin lands no one had ever raced on, brand new paths in the knee high foxtail grass that took runners into the base of picture perfect rolling hills. Around 11PM it became a wet and muddy event as the rain came down (only to clear up by the next day). The steep descent of a hill in the second loop became a slippery water slide as rains and winds came upon us in the middle of the night. However the image of being in the middle of a field, surrounded by rolling hills in the dead of the night, on a path barely beaten down by runners in faded moonlight behind the stormy clouds and chilling wind will always be a warm memory of the Born To Run Ultras event.
My 10 mile run was as enjoyable as could be as I my body drained a GU Roctane for the last few miles cruising past the true endurance runners pacing themselves for the long haul. (Luis Escobar is an established photographer, a character in Born To Run and ultra runner sponsored by Montrail). It was a grass roots ultra affair at its best attracting over 160 runners from around the country when they first only expected 20 people to show up. The other categories were 10 miles, 50k, 100k and 100 miles. My friend Eric Yan finished the 100 mile race achieving his personal best time of 19:59 (that is 19 hours and 59 minutes) finishing 4th. The North Face sponsored Guillermo Medina finished 1st in a blistering 18:58 and it wasn't even one of his best days. He had beaten Lance Armstrong just a few weeks before at the Santa Barbara Endurance Race. The Caballo Blanco (Micah True) even ran the 50k event I believe. Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton was also present promoting his new book on barefoot running.
|Eric Yan, 4th in 100 Mile|
It must be the crazy gene in me looking forward to going 50 miles but I always learn something new about something myself and as humans all the time. I noticed many runners at night had poor lighting and not enough rain/cold resistant outer layers when adverse weather hit. It seems like a good idea to have a good night light, pair of dry, water proof running shoes, gaiters and a rain proof soft shell waiting around just in case. I was shivering like heck when we had to grab a ride in a truck back to camp in my soaked long sleeve wicker shirt and shorts but the runner and I were all smiles as we sipped on our hot soup because these ultra runners are something crazy. Something good crazy.
|New Balance 890|
|Asics DS Sky Speed 2|
|Asics Blur 33|
|New Balance Minimus Pavement|
|Asics Rush 33|
From Merrell are the Barefoot Glove and Barefoot Trail Glove. These are super light minimalist shoes, designed with little cushioning and no heel to toe drop like the NB Minimus to achieve a nearly barefoot experience without going barefoot.
It seems to be the consensus that running a couple times a week in minimalist shoes may improve form and may help strengthen the foot, ankle and knees. However, keep in mind the body needs to adjust and if you feel unnatural pain to rest and heal when changing from traditionally cushioned to minimalist shoes specifically if you run distances in them.
Montrail Enduro Insole
|Correct Flexion point|
Incorrect Flexion point
Please read my blogs posts on Asics vs. Nike vs. New Balance to see a few comparisons of decent running shoes from these manufacturers. Saucony is another brand some runners seem to like. Thank you.
Running 3-5 miles a day, 4-6 days a week after my workouts my cheaper and older Asics were not cutting it. They were cushioning but lacked stability causing pain in the bottom of my heel and in the knees after a couple weeks. If you can squish a shoe down length wise like a sponge they are not good for your feet I found. I could hardly walk the day after a few days of 4-5 mile runs. So I had to find something to make it better.
I purchased the Asics Cumulus 12 yesterday and ran with them for 4 miles and I can tell you today, the right places are in pain and not the wrong places. Gone is the pain in my knees and the bottom of my heels. Instead, my calves, quads and a little of the Achilles is where I felt like got worked out. They seem to help me keep form and with my slight suppination (the Asics Kayano 16 are good for slight pronators) as it got later in the run.
Are these the best? Probably not but there are a step in the right direction from bad running shoes to good running shoes.
The Asics Cumulus 12 is in the $100 range and can be purchased as low as $89.95 on sale or even cheaper if you find a $25 off coupon for a $100 purchase at Sports Authority (in the US), which is what I did. For $80 after taxes it was a good deal for my wallet and my feet.
Asics, Nike and New Balance all produce good entry level to intermediate running shoes in the crowded $100 range which will last about 100-150 miles from reviews I've read. The Saucony brand with the grid structured soles seem to last up to 300 miles without giving away cushioning and stability over the miles from a recent marathon runner I spoke with.
Who knows, take it with a grain of salt.
Here are a couple more objective reviews at Running Shoes Guru to confuse you even further:
Someone asked what the replacement for the New Balance MT840 I wrote about last year, it is the MT876. But if you're looking for an upgrade and not a replacement, try the award winning New Balance MT910. New Balance is a highly trusted choice.
Entire midsole made of ABZORB® FL.
Ortholite® foam inserts with anti-microbial function to fight odor.
Rock Stop® embedded into forefoot provides protection from sharp rocks.
Ndurance rubber compound for maximum outsole durability.
NLOCK® external support system. And more...
Asics is simply known for the best running shoes. Try a pair of the award winning Asics Gel Kayano 16 and you'll know why. Their cost is well worth your feet's comfort and health. Besides, with the Gel Kayano 16, it's like running on clouds. Mid level Asics Gel models are very comfortable too.
Impact Guidance System (I.G.S®) (RUNNING)
Forefoot and Rearfoot - GEL® Cushioning System
Nike designs a wide variety of running and sports specific shoes, well rounded are the Nike Zoom Vomero+ 5 for those who are mild under and over pronators with a neutral gait.
Segmented crash pad for shock absorption and a smooth transition
Deep, men's-specific flex grooves for flexibility and smooth stride
Multiple types of rubber and traction patterns for sure-footedness
Weight: 11.6 ounces (men's size 10) And more...