Mizuno is probably the envy of many brands within running shoe industry. Mizuno does virtually no advertising yet they remain one of the top brands year in and year out not by promotion, but primarily through a clear focus on their product. They make shoes each season that are consistent in road feel and fit so customers know what to expect. The cosmetics are generally well done with top quality materials and construction techniques used throughout adding to the perceived value of the shoes. Mizuno has a well earned reputation among experienced runners for providing shoes that perform well with little fanfare or hype, just solid shoes using proven technologies with little in the way of over the top changes each season.
After one of the most disappointing seasons of my 19-year running career, I decided to look into more drastic forms of treatment for the plantar fasciitis I’ve been tolerating for close to 4 years. I have become a pro at taping and icing. I have had 2 different sets of custom orthotics (and a couple over the counter pairs), 3 rounds of Shock Wave Therapy (3 sessions for each round) from ’07-’09, 2 shots of a light steroid with an anti-inflammatory, religious usage of the Strassburg Sock and countless massages. What else could I do? Surgery?
We just received the new Nike Air Zoom Streak XC 2 in stock and I gotta say, this flat is nice. 5.4 oz in size 9.0, a minimalistic mesh upper with few overlays and aggressive graphics. An Air Zoom unit in the heel adds protection. The outsole has a small waffle treatment that allows it to provide traction on a variety of surfaces. The Streak XC 2 is supposedly designed for California Cross Country which means a mixture of hard pack dirt, some grass and roads, but truth be told, you could run just about anything in this shoe and have success. This shoe can easily handle longer track races, 5k’s or 10k’s on the road, even half marathons and marathons for the real efficient types. The previous Nike Air Zoom Streak was one of the best selling racing shoes on the market providing a great racing shoe suitable for a wide range of events at an afforable price. The new Nike Air Zoom Streak XC 2 blows the previous version out of the water. Regardless of price, this is one of the best racing flats on the market and at $65.00 this shoe is an absolute steal. Nike set the bar very high on this shoe and at this price, there is little that can match it. More info here.
Over the past few seasons Saucony has quietly transformed themselves from the shoe company of your grandparents to the shoe company of their grandchildren largely through improved styling that holds ties to traditional styling cues while improving each new update with consistently fresh and modern cosmetics. Add to this a renewed focus on the types of shoes that younger runners tend to wear such as lightweight trainers, cross country flats and spikes and you have a recipe for growth within the younger generation while still maintaining contact with their more conservative customer base. The newest updates from Saucony for Spring 2010 should help keep the momentum built up the past few seasons rolling forward.
Saucony updates for Spring 2010 start with the new Saucony ProGrid Triumph 7. Saucony has always been known for producing shoes that have a soft, plush ride as well as having a snug fit in the arch area. The Triumph is Saucony’s premium neutral cushioning model that has traditionally highlighted these qualities. To this end Saucony has addressed several areas in this newest update that exemplify the soft ride and snug arch Saucony is known for. Saucony has increased the Super Rebound Compound (SRC) in the heel of the ProGrid Triumph 7 for improved cushioning on impact plus they have added more blown rubber in the outsole for a softer road feel. A less bulky Arch Lock improves the fit, while the addition of an eye stay within the Arch Lock improves lockdown of the midfoot. A newly added midfoot support bridge should help support the arch better. The fit and performance of the ProGrid Triumph 6 was pretty spot on, so Saucony took the approach of minimizing the “improvements” in search of a better end product, which was the correct path for this particular model. This new edition will likely please the current fan base of the Triumph series and continues to be an attractive model for runners looking at a new high end neutral trainer to consider switching to.
Last week I attended the 36th annual Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, which was postponed a year due to fires in 2008. My wife, daughter, and I packed up the truck and hit the high country of the Sierra’s. The race goes from Squaw Valley to Auburn and covers 100 miles of rugged trails with 18,000 feet of climbing and 22,000 feet of descent.
Most years you would find my wife or I toeing the line as a participant, but this year we would start our journey at mile 10.5, Lyon’s Ridge aide station.
Because of the remoteness of the aide station we were required to camp out overnight with 25 other volunteers. Morning came quickly as the lead runners hit us right at 6:30 a.m., just 1.5 hours after their 5:00 a.m. start. This early in the race all the runners looked great. Some had smiles, but many had the serious look that ones gets during the early hours of any 100 mile race. All knew this would be a tough day with dusty trails and temps topping off around 105 in the canyons. The high temp would lead to 238 finishers out of 399 starters; a finishing rate of 59%.
Spring 2010 brings new additions to the Nike Lunar family: the LunarElite+ and LunarSwift+. The Nike Lunar concept originated with the LunarLite Racer and LunarLite Trainer in Fall 2008 and introduced a new foam along with a carrier/inlay midsole construction method. The Lunar concept hinges on the super-light space-age Lunar foam (it’s true, this is where the foam originated) Nike originated in this line. The bounce is the result of the Lunar’s innovative midsole construction in which the super shock absorbing space-age foam is encased within a lightweight but slightly stiffer foam that provides a trampoline effect. It’s a unique, cushioned feel that provides impressive energy return.
The LunarGlide+ (available August 2009) uses the carrier/inlay method of the previous Lunar shoes, but the midsole is built with an asymmetrical design known as Dynamic Support. This system, with a TPU medial reinforcement, allows the shoe to deliver support for moderate over-pronation, while still being effective for a neutral gait. Another distinction for the LunarGlide+ is that it uses Phylon and Cushlon foams versus Phylon and LunarLite foams. Cushlon provides a firmer road feel which most runners prefer in a support trainer. The LunarGlide+ is light given the moderate support trainers it competes against are 2-3 oz heavier. The LunarGlide+ comes in at an estimated 10.7 oz. and provides the most pronation control within the Lunar family.
Running Warehouse hosted the 17th Annual Pozo 5k on the 4th of July this past weekend. The race is held in the small town of Pozo, a beautiful area set among the oak trees and rolling hills east of San Luis Obispo. The race starts and finishes at the Pozo Saloon, one of the few structures in town and the only business open to the public. The Pozo Saloon is a 150 year old former stage stop which still has the original old false front structure. The interior has the old wood flooring and ceiling, plus a funky old bar. The open area behind the saloon features large oaks tress, a big grass area and a industrial grade BBQ where we host the awards. To say Pozo is off the beaten path is a bit of an understatement. When runners aren’t invading the property on the 4th of July, its mostly popular with off-roaders, Hogs and concert goers. Ice Cube plays there next month.