Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gear Review: Altra Lone Peak

I picked up a pair of the Altra Lone Peak (trail) and Instincts (road) shoes from Fleet Feet Sports. Below are my personal impressions and opinions on the Lone Peaks.

The below information is directly from the Altra website: http://www.altrazerodrop.com/

Product Features

Inspired by the Lone Peak, one of the rockiest, toughest mountains on the Wasatch Range, The Lone Peak™ was designed to conquer the Wasatch 100. While the foot-shaped design allows athletes to stay relaxed and comfortable for hours, this do-everything mountain shoe promotes happy feet, increases ankle stabilization and improves form with the Zero Drop™ platform. The Lone Peak™ features an innovative, sandwiched StoneGuard™ system that deflects rocks into the midsole for a smoother, more stable ride. Stand above the rest with the ultimate trail running shoe.

Product Details

  • Weight: 9.9 oz
  • Zero Drop™ EVA/A-Bound Midsole
  • Foot Shaped Design: Male FS-1 Last
  • NRS: Natural Ride System
  • TrailClaw Outsole
  • StoneGuard and Trail Rudder
  • Strengthen and Support Insoles
  • Quick dry abrasion resistant mesh upper with minimal seams
  • Asymmetrical Lacing, HeelClaw, and A-Wrap for Superior Fit
  • Drilex Premium Liner
My Impressions: 
 I took these out on a 5 mile "get to know you" run on one of the sloppiest days on the trail I have seen in a long while. We had heavy rains for two days and then overnight switched to 2-4" of snow. It's a 1/2 mile of road to the trail head, the trail is singletrack with good elevation changes, roots, mud, rocks, and a calf level couple creek crossings.

First things I noticed:
 1. the traction is amazing. despite the mud & snow, the traction was excellent. the little spikes do not collect mud at all, stays clear.
2. the cushion is firm and adequate. As I understand it, the stoneguard is sandwiched between the midsole, allowing the cushion to take the hits and leaving a smooth feel on jagged rocks. I like this design immensely. It literally gives you a firm ride with cushion.
3. the stone guard makes this shoe feel bomb-proof. I covered some sections of the trail with near reckless abandon that I normally take more care on.
4. the trail rudder....I couldn't tell how much this affected the run, but it didn't seem to do much for me except add some traction on the down slopes. 
5. overall, the shoe is stable and the toe box is roomy enough to fit your feet the way feet are shaped...at least mine are. 
6. water drainage after a creek crossing is average.
7. they are certainly a bit more firm than other trail shoes, you can feel this on the roads especially. It seemed to me to 'encourage' you to mid-foot strike. It took a couple minutes to get the strike just right, but once I was dialed in I took the pace up as usual.

The following day I debated on these shoes or another pair for a 50k training run. I ended up lacing these up for a second run.

Here are my takeaways from the two days (36mi) of running in these. 
1. The quality in Altras is apparent. This is a well thought out shoe that I have no doubt will handle tough 100 mile runs.
2. These are not minimal shoes, the heel & toe cushion is 17mm (zero drop) but they feel light on the feet at about 9.9oz. I would call them natural running shoes.
3. I went down a 1/2 size in the Lone Peaks. 
4. By the end of the 31 miler, I will honestly admit that my feet were NOT sore. I could feel the zero drop difference (compared to my normal 4-7mm shoes I wear) when climbing, but overall it was not significant.
5. The day after the run, my feet were still fine...I ran a fast 10 mile uptempo road run with no issues. 

My overall opinion of this product if you are looking for a zero drop, natural style trail running shoe to handle tough trail runs & 100 mile ultras, this is a great choice. Altra is doing great things.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Running: 2011 in Review

I started this post, deleted it, then started it again. I am pretty sure I could write a few pages on all the things that occurred with running this past year, the gear I tried, the things I learned, the people I met, ran with, were inspired by, and the places I was able to run. 

I'll try to keep it really simple. 

My main running goal last year was to run the Burning River 100. Check. I did it with fellow running friends who all worked hard to accomplish that same goal.

A lot happened as well with the growth of the Outrun group, creation of the ultra team along with Fleet Feet and NUUN as sponsors, and hosting our first official trail race (Believe & Achieve 5k/10k). The snowshoe race was a success. Running was amazing and we found tons of new trails. 

I was very happy to become an ambassador for NUUN early in the year and more recently with Runwell.

In 2012, my main running goal is to continue to promote running in the community, convert some roadies to try the trails, and maybe introduce some folks to running. I have a few races that I am focusing on (Leadville 100 - main one) and we are hosting the first USATF certified 24 hour trail race in Kirtland (O24) in April. 

My quest for the perfect shoe continues. As I have doubled the amount of miles I ran per year just 3 years ago, my feet have also increased in size. I like to think of them as getting big and strong. I have effectively blown out all of my trail shoes, even my last 2 pairs of Adidas xt3's that I was so fond of. 

I am currently starting a rotation between the smoking light and very well updated New Balance 110's (update to the 101) and the high quality, naturally shaped, zero drop Altra Instinct (road) & Lone Peaks (trail)....Let the duel begin. I think in the end, they will serve similar but different purposes. 

One of the most exciting things I have been focusing on is Metabolic Enhanced Training (MET) as the Ambassadors on the Runwell team are coached by Bob Seebohar (fuel4mance.com). I will not go into all of it, but I have been on the journey to MET for the past 6-7 weeks, and the results speak for themselves. Just check out the website. 

Okay, so it was a bit of a ramble but I tried to keep it simple. I'll leave you with this quote from a short article I read the other evening. 

"...They (ultra runners) understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort."