Archive

Archive for January, 2012

Asics Sneak ‘Peak’

January 16th, 2012

A Mountain of New Models from Asics

Our Asics field rep was kind enough to drop by today with two big ol’ bags of Fall 2012 shoe samples. Our desks runneth over with running shoes!

As you can see, one of the big stories for the Fall ’12 collection will be color – and lots of it. Asics is going big on the color front with many shades of neon and fantastic color combos. There are also some new additions to the 33 family as well as updates to the Nimbus and Cumulus.

Stay tuned for more pics of each shoe, along with several First Looks to give you the technical background on what promises to be a very exciting Fall collection.

Matt Running Shoes , , ,

New Balance 890 v2 – First Look

January 16th, 2012

New Balance M890 v2 Men's Running Shoe

The original 890 – introduced in February 2011 – quickly became a popular lightweight trainer for the neutral runner who still wanted plenty of cushioning along with a responsive ride. But for all its fans, it also left a few folks unimpressed. Love it or hate it, the 890 sold well enough that New Balance invested in an updated version.

The 890 v2 (New Balance has adjusted their numbering system so that the model number stays the same and a version number is added) looks plenty fresh but keeps things pretty much where they were with the v1.

There are few technological changes in store, which will come as good news for those of you who wish shoe companies would leave things well enough alone more often. The 890 fan still benefits from full-length ABZORB cushioning, RevLite midsole, and an open-mesh, no-sew upper.

While the balance of comments we’ve heard trends in the positive direction, a few customers have expressed disappointment with the upper (too stiff feeling) and the outsole (slippery and not durable enough) of the original 890. We’ll let you know if the new upper feels more flexible in the v2, but we’ll have to wait until the v3 is introduced to see if any changes are made to the outsole technology.

Projected to come in a few tenths of an ounce lighter (9.2 oz versus 9.5 oz in the Men’s size 9 of the v1), the v2 should remain competitive with other lighter weight trainers, including the Brooks Launch and Mizuno Wave Precision 12. Men can look for Green/Black (pictured) and Silver/Blue colors in mid February. Women will have a White/Pink color available at the time of the initial launch. More colors will be available in July 2012.

Update: New Balance has moved the 890 v2 to the Natural PL-1 last, which is designed to have an 8mm heel-to-toe differential in the midsole. We’ll measure the shoe as soon as it arrives in stock and post the exact stack height and heel-to-toe ratio on our site.

Matt Running Shoes , ,

New Balance MT110/WT110 – Our Take

January 13th, 2012

New Balance WT110 Lateral View

New Balance WT110 Medial View

Our Tweet

This update to the 101 lightweight trail racer gets low (4mm heel-to-toe drop) and goes to a natural running last for more forefoot room.
(View the Men’s MT110 and Women’s WT110.)

Runners Say

“The MT110 is actually one of the most versatile trail shoes on the road that I’ve seen. I was impressed by the comfort and stability of this shoe on the road and trail. The cushiony lugs provide a nice level of protection. I rarely go sockless, but without socks in the MT110 I didn’t feel a single hotspot.” – Erik

“I really like the fit of the upper. No complaints there. And the midsole seems plenty flexible, but it feels a little too built up on the outside edge of the forefoot. Probably something I would get used to after a few longer runs.” – Joanna

“New Balance stamped the phrase ‘Keep Up’ in the outsole. It’s kinda corny, and anyone behind you would have to be crawling on their hands and knees to see the words on your footprint, but it’s also a fun little detail that tells you the designers put some thought into every aspect of this shoe.” – Matt

Big Updates

  • Lower, Flatter: The 4mm offset is flatter than the 9mm offset found in the 101, with the forefoot lowered two millimeters and the heel lowered 7 millimeters.
  • New Last: The 110 switches to the wide forefoot of the NL-1 run-specific last, which gives you the room you need for your feet to spread out during midfoot striking.
  • Synthetic Mesh Upper: This material breathes well, feels durable, and is easy to wipe clean. Or, if you’re like us, you’ll want to leave them dirty so they look a little more like genuine trail shoes.
  • More Flexible Midsole: The midsole gives you some cushioning and protection but doesn’t get in your way (though a few testers noticed a built-up lateral forefoot, which felt a bit awkward at least at first).
  • Better Cushion & Traction: Directional lugs from heel to toe on the 110 improve traction on uphill climbs and descents. The outsole is made from sticky rubber that also offers a bit of cushioning.

Road Test

Every now and then there’s a shoe that has our staffers tossing and turning at nights, waiting in anticipation. We know the signs. The open catalogs on their desks. The methodical checking of blogs and chat rooms for product updates. The tents in front of our receiving dock.

The New Balance MT110 is one of those shoes. Every trail runner in the building was drooling over this shoe. So when we got our first shipment, it took about 16 nanoseconds for the first pair to be out of their box and on someone’s feet.

Turns out, the anticipation was totally warranted. New Balance nailed almost every technical aspect of this shoe. We couldn’t find one tester who was unimpressed with the fit and construction of the upper. It reminds you it’s there just enough without getting in the way. Of course, for the heel strikers on staff, this shoe would take some getting used to on the trails, but midfoot strikers felt right at home right away, with a smooth transition free of the “slap” on ground contact that can occur in a less well-designed shoe.

Apparently we weren’t the only folks eager for the launch of this shoe. The MT/WT110 is selling fast. Check out the Black/Green color of the WT110 (pictured) and the Black/Orange or Titanium color of the MT110.

Matt Running Shoes , , ,

Website Feature of the Week: Experienced Shoe Finder

January 13th, 2012

Women's Experienced Shoe Finder

We’ve got hundreds of running shoes on our website. That level of selection is one of the reasons our customers love us so much. But it also presents a bit of a problem: how do you find that one perfect pair for you out of all the shoe types, brands and sizes we carry?

Men's Experienced Shoe Finder

Enter the Running Warehouse Experienced Shoe Finder (available for Women and for Men). In just seconds you can select your size and some other features to narrow down your search. Click the Search button and our finder does the rest, returning a list of shoes that match all your chosen characteristics.

Narrowing Down Your Options

The only required field for our Experienced Shoe Finder is your shoe size. But you won’t want to stop there. Here are some other ways you can pinpoint the right shoe for your needs:

  • Price Range: Find a shoe that fits your budget.
  • Brand: Limit your search only to brands you’d want to wear.
  • Shoe Width: If you have a narrow or wide foot, be sure to click here.
  • Shoe Type: Road? Trail? Lightweight? Tell us what you need.
  • Pronation Control Level: Find shoes that give you a proper level of support.
  • Feature Level: Choose from bare bones to bells and whistles.
  • Heel-To-Toe Drop: If you have a preference, select it here.

You can always find our shoe search tools by clicking on “Search Shoes” under Product Finders on the right-hand side of the Men’s or Women’s homepage.

Check out last week’s Feature on Shoefitr to see something else that’s something special on our site.

Matt Website Features ,

Asics Gel Excel33 – Our Take

January 12th, 2012

Asics Gel Excel33

The 33 collection by Asics is fast expanding (the Instinct33 trail shoe comes out in less than a month), so as fast as Asics keeps servin’ ‘em up, we’re going to keep reviewin’ ‘em.

Our Tweet

Giving more bounce without much more ounce, Asics Gel Excel33 is in essence a Blur33 with more cushioning technology.
(View the Men’s Excel33 and Women’s Excel33.)

The Backstory

As a quick reminder, the 33 collection is all about lighter weight, flexible shoes that are durable enough for high-mileage training. The Excel33 slots in as a moderate-feature, cushiony shoe for the neutral runner.

Road Test

The Excel has one of the best heel-to-toe transitions we’ve experienced from the 33 line so far. We chalk that up to a nice balance of heel and forefoot Gel cushioning. If anything, the Gel cushioning may feel just a teeny bit too much in the forefoot, which gives you the impression of sitting more level than the 10mm drop would suggest.

Asics touts the ability to customize the fit of the Excel, with the heel clutching system and Personal Heel Fit (PHF) memory foam collar. Most of our testers felt that their heel wasn’t “clutched” enough, and if anything there was a bit too much room in the heel that could cause some unwanted lateral movement. However, the heel collar prevented slippage that would tend to cause Achilles rubbing over time.

The heel fit was in contrast to the fit of the rest of the shoe, which is a little more cozy than traditional Asics models and similar to that of the Gel Blur33. It’s certainly not a tight shoe, but plan on an upper that makes its presence felt, providing structure and keeping you fastened to the midsole.

Hey…Weight a Minute!

One thing we’ve noticed on both the Excel33 and Gel Neo33 shoes is that our weight measurements have come in somewhat heavier than those reported by Asics for both the Men’s and Women’s versions. Asics claims a 9.9 oz weight for the Men’s size 9, but we recorded a weight of 10.8 oz. On the Women’s side, Asics claims 7.9 oz for the Women’s size 7. We measured 8.6 oz. We hope the published weights for future 33 releases are closer to our actual measurements.

Matt Running Shoes , , ,

Race of the Month: Maui Oceanfront Marathon

January 12th, 2012

Once a month we’ll be profiling a run event that sparks our interest. Don’t think of it as an exhaustive survey of the cool races out there or a ringing endorsement of any one event. We just want to share our take on some fun events and encourage you to get racing in 2012.

Maui. January. Yes, Please.

So it’s gotta be pretty obvious why we picked this first race, taking place on Sunday, January 22, 2012. 100% oceanfront. Sunny skies. Whales and surfers on your left side, the West Maui Mountains on your right. Rainbows. Need we say more?

This would be a fantastic outing for all of you East Coasters and Midwesterners who are just starting to get walloped by some real winter weather. Of course, if you haven’t planned on it already, you don’t have time to train for a marathon on such short notice. But don’t sweat – a 15K, 10K and 5K are also on tap. Heck, this might be an even better option – your race will be over faster and you’ll have more time on the beach.

Race Details

For the serious competitors out there, this course is a Boston Marathon qualifier and is pretty darn flat overall. The first mile is downhill, starting at 112′ and ending at sea level. You’ll stay at zero altitude for another 9 miles, then jump up to 157′ before gradually working your way down to sea level again at the finish line. View the course map on the site for the race.

Matt Running Sport ,

2012 Top Running Trends – Focus on Recovery

January 11th, 2012

For the rest of the month, we’ll be counting down the top running trends we see taking shape in 2012. Feel free to check back at the end of the year to see where our crystal ball was a bit cracked and where it was “crystal” clear!

We’re starting off with Trend #10: Focus on Recovery. Sure, runners have been icing injuries, using compression and spending some well-earned downtime on the couch for years. But now, more runners are integrating recovery into their training regimen. One big trend in particular that we see continuing is the use of foam rollers for self myofacial release.

For the initiated, foam rollers may seem heaven sent. But if you’ve never used a foam roller, you’re probably wondering how a few feet of foam can make much of a difference in your life. Here’s a brief glimpse into what you could be missing:

  • Increased Flexibility: A layer of connective tissue wraps and connect the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Tightness and restricted range of motion can develop when this tissue, known as the superficial fascia, adheres to the underlying muscle. Foam roller exercises break down adhesions (more commonly known as muscle knots) and soften the superficial fascia through the application of targeted pressure and traction (rolling).
  • Improved Comfort: People using a foam roller often experience that “hurts so good” feeling that comes along with a professional massage. The roller can help your body to flush out metabolic waste and re-oxygenate your muscles, both of which keep muscle pain to a minimum.

But using a foam roller certainly isn’t the only recovery technique out there. And recovery’s not just something you deal with or go through after a run anymore. More coaches this year will be integrating recovery techniques such as massage therapy, chiropractic treatment and water therapy into their workout plans to help athletes reduce pain while improving mobility and flexibility. Runners who plan for recovery and diligently follow through will have a leg up (a more flexible, healthy leg, we might add) as they train and race in 2012.

Matt Running Sport , , ,

Escape the Matrix with Asics Gel Neo33

January 11th, 2012

Is it The One for you?

We had some fun with the Asics Gel Neo33 (see the Men’s Neo33 and Women’s Neo33), for starters because of its name. It’s certainly not a bad name – it just reminds us of one of our favorite movie characters from a certain blockbuster Hollywood franchise. And as much as we tried, we couldn’t resist comparing the Asics Neo to the character Neo from the Matrix trilogy.

So if you and your friends are dying to know just how well this Asics shoe stacks up against a gun-toting, world-saving archetypal hero, here’s the head-to-head comparo:

Asics Neo vs. Matrix Neo

  • Cool Look: This is a tough one to judge. Matrix Neo looked pretty slick in his Ray-Bans and trench coat. But the Asics Neo is one of the sharper looking shoes in the Asics line, particularly in the Royal Blue/Limeade colorway.
  • “The One”: Matrix Neo was also known as The One. Asics Neo could be known as The Thirty-Three. Therefore, logic clearly dictates that the Asics Neo is much more awesome – thirty-three times more awesome, to be exact.
  • Can Defy Gravity: If we ever have to make our way through a lobby under heavy, automatic gunfire, we’d sure like to have the gravity-defying moves of Matrix Neo. But for those days when we’re just out for a long run or a race, Asics Neo can really help to put a little extra bounce in our step and give us the propulsion we need.
  • Part of a Blockbuster Series: Matrix Neo, with the help of his buddies and some still-impressive special effects, sparked a multibillion dollar, international franchise. Asics Neo isn’t likely to blow up that big, but it’s still part of the growing 33 collection by Asics, which has been earning a lot of new fans and keeping Asics fresh in the marketplace.

Road Test

Outside the Matrix and in the “real” world, the Asics Neo remains a competitor. The shoe offers a snug fit that is unlike most other Asics models. The fit is a boon for runners who like to feel a close connection to their shoes, with that secure, strapped-in dynamic. And the shoe also feels light – much lighter than its 11.5 oz weight (Men’s size 9) would suggest. All testers reported liking the smooth heel-to-toe transition. Unlike the Blur 33, the Neo has a forefoot gel cushioning unit, though this unit is much less pronounced than the one in the Excel 33.

The Verdict

As a running specialty company, we may be a little biased in favor of the Asics Neo. But still, it’s the clear winner in the head-to-head comparison. It’s a good choice for a slightly overpronating runner looking for a responsive shoe that still offers some core Asics technologies, including Gel cushioning, a Solyte and SpEVA midsole, and Asics High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR) in the outsole.

If you’d like to partake in the winning, find your size in Men’s models or Women’s models.

Matt Running Shoes , , ,

Olympic Marathon Trials – What to Watch For

January 10th, 2012

The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials are less than a week away – this Saturday, January 14, 2012. The race won’t be televised live or streaming on the Web, though you can get minute-by-minute updates through Runner’s World here. NBC also will be showing a tape-delay program of both trial races from 3:00-5:00 EST on Saturday.

The Stakes: The top three finishers in both the Men’s and Women’s category will make the U.S. Marathon team for the London 2012 games (assuming they come in under the qualifying times, which is an almost certainty).
Unique Course Layout: Contenders will be racing a specially designed course that starts out with a 2.2 mile inner loop followed by an 8 mile loop run three times. The course more closely resembles what athletes can expect at the London Olympic course. View the full course map here.
Weather: The weather looks to be a non-factor in this race, with a race day forecast of sunny skies and around 45 degrees when the gun fires.
Plenty of Challengers: With 147 men and 185 women qualified to run, there are bound to be some surprises and some truly inspired performances come race day. This is the first year when runners can qualify based on 10K, half marathon, or marathon times, meaning that there are lots of unknowns. Without any slight to the many other serious contenders in this race, here are a few athletes in particular to keep a close eye on:

Women

  • Shalane Flanagan: Flanagan is considered by many the leading woman on the course, even though she’s had just one previous marathon outing (2:28:40 at the 2010 USA Women’s Marathon Championships in New York). She won bronze in the 10K in Beijing and is coming off two recent half-marathon wins.
  • Desiree Davila: 2011 was a year of PRs for Davila, including her 2:22:38 finish at the 2011 Boston Marathon, making her the fastest qualifier in the women’s field. Expectations (and buzz) are high for Davila.
  • Deena Kastor: At age 38, this would be Kastor’s fourth Olympic Games. Still, she holds the fastest American women’s marathon record (2:19:36, London 2006) and took bronze at the 2004 Games. No one should count her out.
  • Magdalena Lewy Boulet: After finishing second at the 2008 Olympic trials, a knee injury kept Lewy Boulet from finishing the event in Beijing. She’s a seasoned competitor in big races and all signs are that she’s healthy heading into Saturday.
  • Kara Goucher: With a fifth place finish at the 2011 Boston Marathon (in 2:24:52), Goucher trains alongside Flanagan and is shooting for big success in road races.
  • Amy Hastings: A former teammate of Davila’s at ASU, Hastings finished second at the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon and has been training with Mammoth Track Club athletes Kastor and Meb Keflezighi.

Men

  • Ryan Hall The American marathon record holder (2:04:58 at the 2011 Boston Marathon) is widely expected to finish in the top 3 if not to take the top spot.
  • Dathan Ritzenhein: An injury-prone runner, all signs are that Ritzenhein is healthy heading into the trials. In addition to a second place finish in the 2008 trials, Ritzenhein has delivered personal bests in the 5K, 10K and half marathon since 2009. A top 3 finish would be a great way to start 2012.
  • Meb Keflezighi: Keflezighi took a silver medal in the marathon back in 2004 in Athens. Coming off his personal best of 2:09:13 at the New York City Marathon in November, this 36-year-old may be in the zone or may have a tough time rebounding with only 69 days between races. Race day will tell.
  • Brett Gotcher: With a debut 2:10:36 marathon (Houston, 2010) under his belt and coaching from Greg McMillan, Gotcher seems well positioned for a run at the top three.
  • Jason Hartmann: A high school teammate of Ritzenhein, Hartmann gets noticed for his height (6’3”) but would prefer recognition as an Olympic hopeful. He qualifies based on his eighth place finish at the 2010 Chicago Marathon (in 2:11:06).

Matt Running Sport , , , ,

Saucony ProGrid Guide 5 – Our Take

January 10th, 2012

Saucony ProGrid Guide 5 Men

Our Tweet

Heel down 4mm, weight down 2.0 oz – Guide 5 is a wake-up call from Saucony. With more flexibility and cushion, this moderate support shoe is a great trainer.
(See Women’s Colors and Men’s Colors.)

Big Updates

  • 8mm Heel-to-Toe Drop: Saucony did their homework (i.e. a ton of research and computer modeling) to determine that an 8mm drop is ideal for cushion and performance.
  • Weight Loss: Plenty of people wish they could drop almost 17% of their excess body weight. Saucony achieved the equivalent of massive weight loss by bringing this shoe in at 10.0 oz (men’s size 9.0).
  • ProGrid Lite: A lighter weight midsole foam is part of this shoe, and the cushioning technology now runs from heel to toe.
  • SSL Midsole: Saucony Super Lite (SSL) material replaces the impulse EVA material throughout the midsole. The dual-density SSL material is thicker in the midfoot to help control overpronation.

Road Test

How do all these updates affect the ride of the Guide 5? Very positively, we’re happy to report. Each update complements the others to create a ride that is much different – and in our opinion much better – than the Guide 4 that came before it.

So what type of changes are we talking about? Well, for instance, the lowered heel combines with the the more flexible midsole to create a heel-to-toe transition that feels uber-natural. And that flexibility plays well with the trimmed down weight, helping the shoe to feel more like a natural extension of your foot, rather than a horseshoe tacked onto your hoof.

On the list of changes we’d like to see, the midfoot felt just a little loosey-goosey for some of us. Others felt a hotspot at the base of the big toe, which is probably due to the low toe box height. And of course the 4mm heel height drop could be seen as a plus or a minus. Customers who liked the Guide 4 in the past might be worried that the 5 will take some getting used to because of the lowered stack height. This is certainly an area of personal preference, but in our experience the heel drop is not very noticeable and the big benefit is a lighter weight shoe.

Runners Say

“I’m impressed by the better heel fit of the Guide 5 versus the Guide 4. But I had a hotspot by my first metatarsal on both feet that would have caused blisters for sure on a longer run.” – Moe

“I LOVE the new 8mm design…it really helps to promote a smooth heel-to-toe transition. The toe box is a little wide for me, but I prefer a narrow toe box. Such good cushioning that you can’t even tell it’s s support shoe.” – Lauren

“It ain’t much to look at (at least in the white/blue color), but this shoe surprises with a smooth transition and pretty good responsiveness given its level of cushioning and support.” – Matt

Matt Running Shoes