Quite the local trail running legend, Escobar hails from the Central Coast of California, not far from Running Warehouse‘s retail store. Luis Escobar wears a few hats: photographer, ultra runner, and high school cross country coach, to name a few. I had the pleasure of asking him a few questions over email.
How long have you been trail running?
Twenty-six years. On December 1, 1990 I ran the first Annual Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run – I have been trail running ever since.
How much do you currently run?
Depends on what’s happening. At this point, my body can handle about 70 MPW (miles per week) – but that number varies. I prefer to train specific and lean towards quality over quantity.
How long have you been coaching cross country?
Nine seasons at Righetti High School and will be starting season number six at St. Joseph High School. We are in the PAC-8 League and CIF-SS Division V.
What is your favorite thing about coaching?
Life long personal friendships. Creating opportunity for my community. Watching people achieve their personal, social and athletic goals.
How many 100 milers have you done?
I don’t remember… more than 30, for sure. I also completed the Badwater 135 three times and Badwater 146 once. I am an 8 time finisher of the Western States 100 and 11 time finisher of the HURT 100 Oahu Hawaii.
Which have been the most memorable, and why?
That’s like asking, “What is your favorite noodle?” in a bowl of spaghetti. Each race and each run relates to the next. Each is important to our evolution as a runner and person in general. With that said, running 146 miles from the bottom of Death Valley to the summit of Mt. Whitney comes to mind.
How long have you been a photographer?
Photography has been my profession for my entire life. I started in high school and I’m still at it. I am very fortunate to have a great customer base. I photograph everyday and it is always rewarding. I love photographing people who are passionate about what they are doing. I love my work!
What got you into photography?
My parents are photographers. I grew up in a photography studio in Atascadero, California.
You photographed Scott Jurek on his way to the Appalachian Trail record, took a “break” to fly back to CA and run Western States, and then turned around and flew back to finish documenting Scott’s accomplishment (whew!). What motivated you more – your passion for running, or your passion for photography?
My running and my photography are interconnected. Sometimes I am a photographer who runs and other times I am a runner who photographs. Either way, both subjects are always on the top of my mind. (I’m not qualified to do anything else… running, taking pictures, and beer drinking is pretty much my skill set.)
What is your trail gear of choice?
Shoes – Brooks Puregrit and Cascadia
Socks – Drymax
Clothes – Patagonia
Replacement – FLUID and CarboPro
Sodium – SaltStick
Packs – Ultimate Direction
Lights – Black Diamond
Trecking Poll – Black Diamond Z Polls
Nutrition – real food
Recovery – chocolate milk
You’ve been known to run in sandals. Why?
Specifically, LUNA Sandals Gordos. Comfortable. No blisters. Simple.
What sparked your connection to the Tarahumara Indians?
Micah True, the creator of the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.
If you could sum up your greatest take-away from racing through Copper Canyon with the Tarahumara Indians, what would it be?
Run Simply. Run Gently. Run Free.
Tell us about your “Born to Run” series coming up in May.
The Born To Run Extravaganza is a multi-day running festival. It’s has been described as the Burning Man of Trail Running. With over one thousand participants it is by far the largest trail running event in Santa Barbara County. It is completely family owned and operated. It is created by runners for runners and is 100% non-corprate. It is funky and cool and it is happening on May 14, 2016. www.allwedoisrun.com
You’re going for a long run. It’s hot out. You don’t have time or energy to deal with a running shirt that is going to cause you to overheat.
When it comes to technical excellence, the Pearl Izumi Men’s Pursuit Endurance Short Sleeve shirt is built to keep you focused on your run, not on how hot it is.
But not just any mesh. Open mesh makes up a large percentage of this top, but without the “I’m wearing a sheer shirt” affect. With thoughtfully arranged open mesh panels, air flow is increased at the upper chest, back, and side panels. More air flow = more cooling.
Transfer Dry Fabric with Ice-fil treatment not only wicks moisture away from your skin as you perspire, but also aids in the cooling process as your sweat hits the fabric. When Ice-fil treated fabric gets wet from your sweat, it creates a cooling sensation against your skin.
We wonder why the short sleeve half zip style is so popular in Europe and yet avoids catching fire here in the states… The half-zip feature provides quick, easy, adjustable ventilation, and that can make a big difference when you’re off the grid and really feeling the heat. When unzipped, you open up your chest to greatly increased air flow. And like we said before, more air flow = more cooling. Maybe those European runners are really on to something?
Pockets in running shirts are cool and everything, but they lose their value when they bounce uncomfortably on the run. The fitted construction of this shirt ensures that storing a few gels in the envelope chest pocket will be held securely as you run.
Not only are the seams moved forward to help prevent any uncomfortable chafing on the shoulder, but those seams are also reflective, allowing you to be super visible in low-light conditions as you run.
The heat isn’t the only obstacle the sun throws at you. Prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful rays is dangerous, and the UPF 50+ rating on the main body provides an extra barrier to keep your skin protected.
I love asking the question: what else can this do? I hate the idea of something only being able to perform one task (a uni-tasker… gasp!). So when I started asking myself, “What else can I do with my recovery drink mix, besides just mix it with some sort of milk, water, or add it to a smoothie?” I thought I’d have a fairly short list.
Turns out, I think the better question is: “What can’t I put my drink mix in?!” So, I’ve been experimenting and the list just continues to grow. My goal with these recovery drink recipes is not to remove carbs and add protein (you can look at any body builder website for those recipes), but to make sure there is plenty of protein AND carbs present. Runners need carbs as well as protein, and these recipes will deliver.
I’ll be doling out these super quick, easy recipes over the next few weeks, created with recovery products that we carry here at Running Warehouse. And rest easy; know that when you purchase recovery/protein drink mix, you are NOT purchasing a uni-tasker.
Makes about 8 small-ish waffles
For this recipe, we used Fluid’s new Vegan Cinnamon Vanilla Recovery Mix. We love the light, cinnnamony flavor for a waffle! You could easily substitute a chocolate, or any other flavor recovery mix. If you use straight protein powder, you might add a bit of honey to round out the sweetness.
Add the flour, flax seed, drink mix, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl or the measuring cup you used for the milk, combine the milk, vanilla, coconut oil, and egg yolks. Add to the dry ingredients; give the mixture two or three light stirs to barely combine.
In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the medium bowl with everything else. The mixture should be slightly lumpy with no big dry spots.
At this point, you can either cook the waffles right away in your waffle iron (use non-stick cooking spray on the iron once to prevent sticking), or the batter can be stored up to two days in the fridge.
Top with fruit and enjoy!
Approximate per serving (1 small-ish waffle): Calories 151 ⁄ Fat 6 grams ⁄ Saturated Fat 3 grams ⁄ Cholesterol 46 mg ⁄ Sodium 103 mg ⁄ Carbohydrates 19 grams ⁄ Fiber 2 grams ⁄ Sugars 5 grams ⁄ Protein 6 grams
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Hats serve a few important functions in the runner’s wardrobe: protect the runner from harmful sun exposure, shade the runner from the heat of the sun, absorb perspiration, and shelter the runner from wind, debris, and rain.
But there are a few issues that the average running hat doesn’t solve for trail runners:
To solve these problems for trail runners, we carry a number of hats and visors here at Running Warehouse that come built with a shorter, more flexible bill. The flexibility benefits a trail runner by providing an easy way to fold up and carry or stow the hat when it is no longer needed, and a shorter bill is less likely to obstruct your vision or contact your neck and irritate it as you run with your hat backwards up a steep hill.
Patagonia Duckbill Cap – MSRP: $29.00
The quality that we have come to expect from Patagonia apparel comes through in their hats, blending fashion and function and quickly becoming one of our more popular hats. And the fact that you can fold these Duckbill hats makes them that much more valuable to the trail runner. With a super lightweight, flexible construction, this cap will bend to fit into your pack, jacket pocket or large short pocket. With mesh in back, you’ll find it extremely breathable, and the adjustable back clasp allows you to find the fit that keeps the cap securely on your head as you run. The shorter bill is popular for providing protection with minimal obstruction.
Patagonia Duckbill Visor – MSRP: $25.00
The sister style to the Duckbill Cap, the Duckbill Visor provides you with the same lightweight flexibility as the cap but with the style of the visor.
Salomon Race Cap – MSRP: $35.00
The Salomon brand is known for outfitting trail runners with everything they may need in the most sleek, lightweight form possible. The Race Cap is no exception. Providing the sun protection and sweat absorption that you require from a hat, it’s minimal form is perfect for race day, when you’re keeping things as lightweight as possible. With a Velcro strap in back, you’ll find a secure fit that will stay on as you run like the wind, and due to its flexible construction, you can easily fold and pack it away when you don’t need it.
Salomon Race Visor – MSRP: $30.00
Just like the Race Cap, the Race Visor provides you with race day coverage and a minimal design that easily folds and packs away when no longer needed.
Buff Anton Cap Pro Buff – MSRP: $29.00
With a design inspired by ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka, this Buff Cap comes with a reversible construction – black on one side and blue print design on the other. The super light material still provides ample UV protection thanks to its double layer of Fastwick Extra Plus fabric. For freshness with longevity, Silverplus odor control helps to maintain a clean, fresh cap for multiple day use. The shorter bill provides protection without bulk. And when you don’t need it? The foldable bill allows this cap to be stowed almost anywhere.
New Balance MT/WT10 v4 vs Topo Athletic MT-2 vs Inov-8 Terraclaw 220
The latest version (v4) of the New Balance MT/WT 10 has added 3mm of stack height to its underfoot protection. This has resulted in us moving the shoe from a minimal stack height classification to a low stack height classification. Low stack height trail shoes include the ASICS FujiLyte, Brooks PureGrit 4, Pearl Izumi Trail N1 v2, and the Salomon Sense Pro 2. In comparison to these shoes, the MT/WT10 v4 still feels more minimal underfoot. So while the shoe has gotten thicker, it still remains true to its Minimus pedigree in terms of feel. The fit is also consistent with the Minumus ideal of natural foot shape, as the toebox is rounded instead of pointy. Lastly, the MT/WT 10 v4 maintains the 4mm heel-toe drop found in all iterations of the MT/WT 10.
When looking for a comparison of low stack height trail shoes, the search is initially a bit challenging. A comparison shoe should be within an ounce of overall weight and plus or minus 2mm of drop. The shoe should also have a rounded toebox. The Salomon Sense Mantra 3 has a somewhat rounded toebox and 6mm drop, but it’s almost 3 ounces heavier. The Pearl Izumi Trail N1 also has a somewhat rounded toebox and a 5mm drop, but is also almost 3 ounces heavier. I normally don’t like to pick on weight, but in this case, these two shoes certainly feel like a lot more shoe than the MT/WT 10 v4. Alas, we have a competitor: the Inov-8 Terraclaw 220. It has a rounded toebox, 4mm drop and is just a little heavier. But there have to be more options, right?
Not really. However, the relatively new brand Topo Athletic has a shoe to fill the void. The MT-2 has a truly rounded toebox, 3mm drop and is 1.5 oz heavier. Granted, this is more than an ounce heavier – but let’s not nitpick, it’s close enough. Especially since there is nothing else to meet the specific criteria for this comparison. The Altra Superior 2.0 is close, but it’s a medium stack height shoe, zero drop, and 2 ounces heavier.
Now that we have our contenders, let’s get into the comparison.
The fit and the upper
While all three shoes have rounded toeboxes, the Topo MT-2 definitely has more length near the outer toes (pinky side) than the other two models. The NB MT/WT 10 V4 and the Terraclaw 220 are nearly identical in shape. In regards to toebox height, all three models skew toward the shallow side. The MT/WT 10 v4 is the most shallow, followed by the Terraclaw 220 and then the Topo MT-2. I found it odd that all three of these shoes have rounded toeboxes for natural toe splay, yet have a low height that could interfere with how the big toe lifts during stance and prior to ground contact.
Along with the lower toebox heights, the MT/WT10 v4 and Terraclaw 220 have lower midfoot volumes but can also fit a medium volume foot quite well. The Topo MT-2 has a more versatile midfoot fit. It’s a medium fit that expands nicely for a larger volume fit, yet can be tightened without bunching on a lower volume foot. The upper of the Topo MT-2 also has the ability for a refined fit. The gilly lacing loops are in an offset pattern of close then spread, which allows for a precise and secure fit. The MT/WT 10 v4 has a burrito-style tongue. The advantage is a seamless interior, which means you can go sockless. The disadvantage is the top fabric of the tongue bunches a bit as the lacing is tightened. And since it’s a thin tongue, the bunching may irritate the top of some feet. The Terraclaw 220 has an asymmetrical tongue and row of eyelets. It’s well executed, which is not always the case with asymmetrical styles. However, it only works well for low to medium volume feet. The interior is nearly seamless and soft, so going sockless is an option here as well. The more rugged upper of the Topo MT-2 is best with socks.
Speaking of the rugged upper of the Topo MT-2, let’s get into upper performance. The Topo MT-2 has a very good toe bumper built into the upper. It’s not a steel-toed shoe, but it’s a nice addition for added protection that actually works. The welded overlays provide a perimeter mud guard. Additional overlays in the midfoot provide protection from protruding objects that may rip less protective uppers. The Topo MT-2 upper is definitely built to go almost anywhere and this is why the shoe weighs a bit more than the others.
The Terraclaw 220 has the most minimal upper. As such, it is best suited to open trails. The upper of the MT/WT 10 v4 does a good job of keeping dirt and debris out, but it’s the least breathable of the three. The Terrclaw 220 is the most breathable followed closely by the Topo MT-2.
The Ride and Traction
As mentioned earlier, the MT/WT 10 v4 is thicker than its predecessors yet it still has a minimal feel under foot. The Terraclaw 22o also has a minimal feel underfoot. As such, both shoes feel like an extension of your foot. They are both nimble, flexible shoes that are great for picking your way through technical trails. The Topo MT-2 has a more cushioned feel. There is some initial give and then a well-grounded feel. If you remove the insole from the Topo MT-2, it feels very much like the other two shoes. But with the Topo MT-2 insole in place, you get a little more of a forgiving ride, that is finished with a great sense of connection to the trail. All three shoes performed well on trails with dirt over hard-packed and looser terrain. If the trail gets softer, the Terraclaw and MT/WT 10 v4 dig in better. But on hard trails and dare I say road, the Topo MT-2 is the clear favorite. The MT/WT 10 v4 does okay for short stints (500m) on harder ground and the Terraclaw is not recommended for harder ground.
Contributing to the overall feel of the shoes is weight. Perceived weight is different than actual weight. The Terraclaw 220 is a little heavier than the lightest MT/WT10 v4, but it feels the lightest on foot. The simple, minimal upper of the Terraclaw 220 feels light on the foot. The shoe also has a built-in flex plate called Dynamic Fascia Band, which seems to help with propulsion and makes the shoe feel faster. The Topo MT-2 is more than an ounce heavier than the MT/WT 10 v4, but it’s a more protective shoe. If you encounter protruding rocks where protection is welcomed, the Topo MT-2 is the shoe of choice. The MT/WT 10 v4 does feel lighter than the Topo MT-2, so if you don’t need rock protection, and you want a light, minimal feel for training, the MT/WT 10 v4 fits the bill.
The Topo MT-2 is the most versatile shoe of the three. It will fit the greatest range of feet and performs better, on average, over a broad range of surfaces. It’s more comfort-oriented but still keeps you connected to the ground. The other two shoes are a little more nimble, but not by much. The Terraclaw 220 is the most specialized of the bunch and skews toward faster running over loose to soft terrain. Even though the MT/WT 10 v4 is the lightest, it doesn’t feel as fast as the Terraclaw 220. The MT/WT 10 v4 shines as a minimalist, regular use trail shoe for loose terrain.
Happy National Jelly Bean Day, runners. And in keeping with the spirit of the day, let’s take a closer look at the jelly bean’s more active cousin; Sport Beans by Jelly Belly. Yes, you can get all the yum of a jelly bean in a package that is completely appropriate for fueling your run.
You’ve probably heard about those jelly beans that people eat on the run, and maybe you just assumed they got them off the discount candy rack at their local grocery store, or maybe raided a small child’s Easter basket. There’s more to these beans than just the fact that they resemble the culprit of your springtime sugar rush.
So how exactly are the ingredients in Sport Beans different from traditional jelly beans?, you might ask. The difference might seem little, but it’s all about how it’s sweetened. Traditional jelly beans use sugar, corn syrup, and modified food starch (vegetable starch, usually). Sport Beans use a healthier alternative to these sweeteners, like evaporated cane juice and tapioca. Like most gels, Sport Beans also include electrolytes like potassium and sodium, helping to replace what you lose as you sweat. For reference, one pack of Sport Beans is an equivalent amount of fuel to one pack of most gels.
When comparing Sport Beans to gels, you’ll find them to be much more sugary… we’re talking more than double the grams of sugar. This makes Sport Beans a higher Glycemic Index food. Foods with a higher GI are a good option to eat while you run because they get into your blood system quickly. Your muscles burn glucose (sugar) as fuel and need it ASAP. So when you feel like you’re bonking or crashing, Sport Beans will deliver the quick energy you need. Sport Beans provide simple carbohydrates (derived from glucose, fructose, or a combo of both) with a high GI, and those carbs are easy to break down and use for energy when you need it, stat. The other side to this is the possibility of a sugar high followed by a sugar crash, but this depends on the individual consumer.
There are also Extreme Sport Beans which have the same ingredients as regular Sport Beans, but with the addition of 50mg of caffeine (equal to about half a cup of coffee) per serving, which can be beneficial for sustaining endurance performance.
Sports beans are made by Jelly Belly, need we say more?! These things taste like that familiar candy we all know and love, and that’s one of the major draws. With a variety of flavors, there’s something for every runner with a sweet tooth.
Sport Beans are especially great for instances when, for example, you might require the nutrition that would be equivalent to 1/3 of a gel. Where consuming part of a gel might be messy because you have to stow the remaining gel in your pocket, Sport Beans provide a resealable bag that closes nicely when saved for later. Only eat as much as you need, save the rest for your next run.
…is up to you. One positive attribute to these Sport Beans is that some runners just like to take one or two beans at a time and let them dissolve in their mouth during the run. It’s easier to do that with a bean than a chew, for example, which doesn’t dissolve as easily.
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Topo Athletic is a fairly new running footwear brand that we are carrying here at Running Warehouse. Topo has garnered a following among runners seeking a natural, open toebox shape, low heel-to-toe drop, and simple, lightweight cushioning. We caught up with Tony Post, founder and CEO of Topo Athletic, and asked him a few questions about his brand, and running in general.
Tell us about the name Topo Athletic.
Topo is a nickname I had in college, short for Tony Post. I was on the track and cross country teams at University of Tulsa in Oklahoma and a few friends and folks on the team coined that nickname. It stuck — and later, when I was at Rockport in the 80’s and 90’s a few folks also called me Topo or Mr. Topo. It was never intended to be our brand name, but trademarks can be very hard to clear. After the first few didn’t pass, we discovered Topo did clear. It felt worn in and familiar, so we went with it.
Can you tell us more about your running background?
I was a golfer and a skier growing up, but in college I had a roommate who ran. I started running with him, eventually going 5-8 miles every afternoon. I found I really liked it. I loved the bodily sensations it gave me, I loved the movement itself. But I was always attracted to competition, so I decided to train for an intramural track meet. I won the mile and two-mile, and decided to enter a regional AAU meet. I won the regional AAU mile in 4:16, the Tulsa track coach was there, and he invited me to walk onto the track and cross country teams. I joined the team, but soon realized a 4:16 mile wasn’t going to cut it in D1, so he bumped me up to the 5K where I would eventually run a few races in the 14:20’s. After college, I moved to Boston in hopes of training with better runners, competing in road races and a few track meets. I won a few local and regional races, but I could never break through to an elite level. I got a full-time job and eventually just started running for fitness and fun. It’s been a big part of my life for almost 40 years now.
How much do you currently run?
Depends on the season- I probably run 25-40 miles a week these days. I also mountain bike, road bike, and ski as much as I can. In the winter, I’m also at the gym 3 days a week. I travel a lot for work, so I love running in a different city or in a different part of the world — I get a strong visceral feeling when I run in a new place; it helps me feel more settled and more connected.
How did your experiences with competitive running translate into Topo Athletic?
My family tells me I’m competitive in everything I do, so I guess that carries over into my work life. But like most competitive sports, this is a team effort. I know it’s a cliché, but no one really succeeds alone in business, it’s always a coordinated effort requiring lots of collaboration and execution across disciplines. Besides, it’s always more fun to win as a team.
When did you start Topo? Why?
We started Topo a little over 3 years ago, but ‘why’ is probably the more interesting question.
First off, it’s a huge challenge and I love pulling a team together to create something new or solve a problem. Having been involved with sparking the natural running movement, I wanted to explore that idea more. Despite there being a lot of great running shoes out there, something was always missing for me: too narrow, too sloppy, too thick, too heavy…I wanted to create a footwear brand that could bring together all the key ingredients that I like, while delivering a better, more natural running experience.
What did you do to help spark the natural running movement?
Back in the early/mid 2000’s a lot of running shoe companies were creating shoes with more structure and support, using stability and motion control technologies to cast the foot. Candidly, I felt like a lot of those technologies were gimmicks designed to make people believe that shoes could ‘fix the way you run.’
I became interested in a different approach: instead of making products that treat the pain symptoms, we tried to develop constructive methods and products to help address the root causes of the problem. We brought more attention to the idea of improving running form, which not too many people were talking about back then. We became interested in improving strength and mobility throughout the body. We started making footwear with less ‘stuff,’ so your body could move more naturally – feel the ground, and feel yourself in space. In many ways, the work we are doing with HealthyRunning.org and ACU-Running today is an extension of these early ideas.
What makes Topo unique?
Our fit is one of those things that stands out. We’ve worked hard to create a fit that’s roomy in the toes, but snug and secure through the waist and heel of the foot. I want the shoe to feel connected to your body so you feel nimble and agile — but I want those toes to spread and splay naturally for balance, power, comfort, and better muscle activation up the kinetic chain.
Another thing I hear often is that our shoes are a great value. There’s a trend in footwear to keep adding “stuff” to a running shoe. In many instances, these parts and pieces are talking points for marketing, but don’t add much functional value. As a result, the cost of shoes can get as high as $200, which just isn’t necessary. We’ve worked hard to responsibly source materials and produce products that deliver both functional and economic value to the end user.
What do you like about running a new company the most?
There are so many exciting and daunting challenges in building a company- start-ups are a roller coaster! But of course I love product creation —I love everything that leads up to that, and everything that follows. I love the team collaboration, getting and sharing feedback, testing ideas; it’s most rewarding when you see someone using a product and thinking back to when that finished product was just an idea. It’s amazing to realize how many people it took to get that product on that one person’s foot.
I also love any event that puts me/us in direct communication with consumers. We do a lot of demo events and quite a few race expos; I love getting feedback from users, or, strange as it sounds, discovering a problem to bring back to the team so we can try to solve it.
Finally, and anyone who’s a manager already knows this, it’s so satisfying when you see the growth and execution start to come together in a new team. It’s like running in a relay —always more rewarding than competing alone.
Has Topo seen big media attention thus far in 2016?
2016 has been kind of a breakout year for Topo. While we’ve always won some critical acclaim, this year we’ve been recognized by bigger publications. Outside Magazine featured us in their article “Coolest New Running Gear for 2016.” Runner’s World named our MT-2 the “Best Buy” in all trail shoes this spring. And National Geographic picked the Topo Athletic Hydroventure for their “2016 Gear of the Year.” The year is still young, so we are hoping for a few more! It inspires the team when we get recognized like that.
Anything new from Topo we should get excited about?
Always! We get lots of great feedback from customers, all of which only inspires us to create more, so stay tuned! 3 more new shoes coming in 2016 alone!
What is your favorite Topo model?
Oh, they probably told you to ask this question! It’s been the same answer for 30 years now… the next one!
If you’re running long and running fast, chances are you’re racing a marathon. HOKA has a shoe for that! The HOKA ONE ONE Tracer is built to be both a trainer and a racer, but much like the name itself, the “Tracer” is mostly “racer”.
When you’re running a race, you need your shoe to have a snug fit, and the Tracer has that on lock. With a narrow, close-to-foot fit, your shoe will stay put as you turn corners and make moves on the run.
What makes the Tracer different from other marathon racing shoes? When we compare them to shoes like the New Balance 1400 and adidas Adios (which both have a 10mm heel-toe offset), the Tracer stands out with a 4mm offset. This results in the Tracer having a thicker forefoot, meaning more forefoot cushioning material for its low weight. And when you’re running fast, you tend to be more forward on your foot, so the added padding is welcomed.
Don’t take our word for it. Try the Tracer yourself, courtesy of Running Warehouse and HOKA ONE ONE. In honor of the release of the HOKA ONE ONE Tracer, we are giving away a free pair of HOKA Tracer running shoes to two winners. Entering the contest is easy – just fill in your name, email address, and answer a few questions in the form field below and you’re entered to win. Contest ends April 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm PST. See Contest Rules for more information.
Heel-toe drop is a popular topic of conversation among many runners. The discussions often include type of footstrike (heel, midfoot, forefoot), running efficiency, and natural running. One view is lower drops are better, particularly if one has a mid or forefoot strike. As such, there are runners who are adamant about buying shoes with a specific heel-toe offset. Based on our sales and search results on our website, the 4mm offset is the most popular low drop platform for consumers (10-12mm is generally considered a traditional drop and 6mm or less is a low drop). Many who tout the lower drop shoe also state that pronation control is not necessary. At the time of this writing, there is not enough scientific evidence for sound conclusions on recommending a specific drop for all runners (the American College of Sports Medicine recommends shoes with 6mm drop or less). Also, we don’t see enough data to confirm whether pronation control is necessary for runners in low drop shoes or in running shoes in general. So, it comes down to some trial and error and what works for you, as an individual.
If you have been considering trying lower drop shoes and you classify yourself as an over-pronator, there are a few options to consider. The Brooks PureCadence 5, Hoka One One Infinite, and New Balance Vongo all have 4mm drops and features to reduce pronation.
The PureCadence 5 uses a Guide Rail system for a small amount of pronation reduction. While most Hoka shoes are inherently stable and work well with some degree of over-pronation, the Infinite is built with a wider platform, higher medial side wall, and a Late Stage Meta Rocker for mild pronation reduction. The Vongo is a much more supportive shoe than the other two. It uses a split midsole/outsole design for lateral release. A varus-wedge inspired shape (higher on the medial side) helps keep the foot tracking along the lateral half of the shoe. More foam is injected into the medial side of the midsole. Concave shapes on the lateral side of the midsole and a “lattice” design on the medial side provide added support. Hence, we classify the PureCadence 5 and the Infinite as minimum support shoes and the Vongo as a maximum support shoe.
The Infinite has the highest volume shape, offering the most spacious fit of the group. The toebox is somewhat deep and the midfoot is somewhat high making the Infinite a better fit for medium to high volume shaped feet. Due to the roominess in the Infinite, some may find a need to go down a half size. In contrast, the Vongo has a lower volume shape. The toebox is shallow and the midfoot is on the lower side. The supportive overlay and bootie construction further contribute to a snugger overall fit, making the Vongo better suited for low to medium volume shaped feet. The PureCadence 5 has the most universal fit of the bunch. Although it skews a little to lower toebox height and midfoot volume, the shape adapts well to a moderate range of foot shapes. In regards to widths, the Vongo is made in both medium and wide, while the PureCadence 5 and infinite are only available in medium widths. The Infinite is roomy enough that most people with a wide foot will find the Infinite can also be a good fit. The wide option in the Vongo will not accommodate an extra wide width but the standard width Vongo will also fit a narrow foot well. The PureCadence 5 does a good job of fitting feet from slightly narrow to slightly wide.
All three shoes fall near the middle of the soft-firm spectrum. The biggest difference among the three shoes is related to the overall stack height (amount of shoe under the foot). Since all three shoes have a 4mm offset, let’s look at the forefoot height. According to our measurements, the Infinite is 26mm, the Vongo is 21mm and the PureCadence 5 is 18mm. With the thicker Infinite, there is a feeling that the foot sinks into the shoe during the ground contact phase. In contrast, the PureCadence 5 feels faster under foot with less give. The Vongo splits the difference. If all three shoes had the same stack height, we believe they all would feel the same or at least very similar.
All of the shoes are fairly light for support shoes, but they don’t necessarily feel light during use. The Vongo is the heaviest (Men’s 10.0 oz / Women’s 8.8 oz), but the Infinite feels heavier. With it’s higher stack height and high volume fit, the Infinite feels like more shoe on your foot. The Vongo feels like an average weight shoe, but considering it’s best suited for runners coming from, say an ASICS Kayano, Saucony Hurricane or even a motion control shoe, it may feel light to those runners. The PureCadence 5 is the only shoe that actually feels somewhat light.
I don’t know about you, but the entire fate of my run can be determined by what I’m wearing up top.
I can hear you rolling your eyes, so hear me out! There is something to be said about the positive psychological affect of wearing something that makes you feel powerful, fast, and super fly – it’s a big confidence boost, if nothing else. Personally, I never run better than when I feel sure of myself, and usually the foremost component of my running outfit is my top.
These running tanks are new for Spring 2016, and they are going to be key in some of your best runs this season. Check out a few of our favorites.
New Balance Women’s M4M Seamless Tank – MSRP: $45.00
This. Feels. Amazing. The buttery smooth fabric feels luxurious next-to-skin, and the seamless construction ensures that you won’t get chafed by any pesky seams. A subtle engineered jacquard pattern adds a touch of style, while mesh panels in key areas allow for extra ventilation and keep this tank feeling lightweight and airy.
The North Face Women’s Better Than Naked Singlet – MSRP: $45.00
Let’s face it, running a race naked is generally frowned upon. So the next best thing is to find a lightweight tank that feels so effortless, you can almost forget it’s there. Enter, the Better Than Naked Singlet. It’s incredibly lightweight design with ultra silky soft fabric is body-mapped to provide enhanced breathability. The sleek lines of the construction add a feminine flair.
Oiselle Women’s Lux Shimmel – MSRP: $60.00
What would you do without your sports bra? Uhhh, probably not run, that’s for sure. Well, some days you need a little extra support, and this is where the Lux Shimmel comes in. The built-in shelf bra with removable cups provides added support and modesty when paired with your high-impact sports bra, and while the support of the shimmel alone may not be enough for your run, it works well independently for post-run errands or your cool-down yoga sesh after a workout.
Janji Women’s Ethiopia Patterned Tank – MSRP: $42.00
Running tank, or fashion tank? Do we really have to choose? Nope. Not with this tank. The strappy back adds a unique detail, and the vibrant pattered fabric will really pop with your gym shorts, or your favorite cut offs. You’ll enjoy this fashion statement even more knowing that in the purchase of this piece, you’re helping provide one year of clean water to a person in Ethiopia who needs it. I’m hip to that.
Lucy Women’s I Run This Tank – MSRP: $55.00
A veritable kaleidoscope of colors, this Lucy tank is not one for the timid. If you’re wearing this piece, you’re definitely not trying to blend in, but why should you? With all the technical features you crave in a running tank (including a mesh panel in back for added breathability, racerback design for freedom of movement, and moisture-wicking fabric), you’ll stand out for all the right reasons.
adidas Women’s 3-Stripe Performer Tank – MSRP: $22.00
This daily training running tank top is all about value. You get all the basics you need for a quality, technical running piece, without the bells and whistles that jack up the cost. And you don’t need to sacrifice style, either, because this tank is full of it. With a flowy design with a scoopneck, and fun, striped elastic straps, you’ll feel like a million bucks.
Shop all Women’s Running Tank Tops.