Sunday, May 24, 2015

Shoe Review: Nike Zoom Vomero 10

Let's begin with the fact that I used to hate Nike, Ok, I said it, and it was mostly personal and arbitrary reasons that I will keep off of this blog for now....or probably forever. Anyhow, I digress.... I have a review to write and it's been a while since I've done one of these.

I'll begin with a little background on how I decided to take these kicks on- I went into the Nike Factory Outlet a couple months ago out of boredom and tried a few different pairs on. I had been running mostly in the Adidas Boost line and enjoying them, however, a creeping hip pain  and my latest gait analysis in the Energy Boost 2 indicated my stride had changed, and I looked sloppier wearing Adidas' daily trainer compared to a more traditionally soled shoe. Perhaps the rebound from the TPU midsole became a bit much?  For a Type-A person like me, this left me puzzled and call it vanity, but I've always liked my running form and don't like to see it start falling apart. Although no hard feelings are harbored toward Adidas-what works for one may not work for another.

So back to the Nike experiment: I found a pair of Zoom Elite 7's and thought "these are kinda weird, I think I'll try them on". Long story short, I left the store with them, and really enjoyed the Zoom cushion in the forefoot. That's right, the forefoot, not the heel. When I'm running my best, I tend to be a mid to forefoot striker and I developed a hypothesis after my infamous string of stress injuries that the cushioning may be in the wrong spot for me to be really effective; what I really may benefit from is more up front, since I spend most of my time there anyway. I may be proven wrong, but whatever. While the snappy Elite is a fine shoe, I was looking for a little something that may be more suitable for longer stuff (the Elite is mostly promoted as a tempo trainer vs a mileage soaker) so cue the Vomero 10. *Note that these shoes were a personal purchase. Now, let's begin with some stats and stuff-

The Objective:

Weight: 8.8 oz
Heel to Toe drop: 12mm.
Upper: FlyMesh, an adaptive and fairly attractive lightweight material recently introduced in Nike's lineup along with Nike's FlyWire technology reducing weight and creating some midfoot structure and stability to the shoe and ride.
Midsole: This is where it gets interesting, it uses both Lunarlon and Cushlon materials-with the former in the forefoot and the latter more towards the back of the shoe.
Cushioning:  Nike's Zoom Air Units- What makes the Vomero unique from the Pegasus and the Elite is that it uses the best of both worlds: the Air Peg's have a Zoom unit in the heel, and the Zoom Elite has a Zoom Unit in the forefoot. The Vomero has both (which probably explains the higher price tag compared to the others). Zoom Air is nothing new, but designed to reduce vibration and give the athlete a responsive ride and cushion impact, especially on asphalt or concrete.
Sole: Duralon rubber with a lateral "crash rail" that is supposed to enable a smoother heel to toe transition. Translated: for neutral runners, this enables us to transfer our supinated strides through the gait cycle with a little more cushion and control. The 10 has no sign of any plastic shanks underneath, like in the 9th edition, and continues the trend of full ground contact.
Sticker Price: $140

The Subjective: 

Feel: I've put close to 50 miles so far with distances varying from 4-11ish miles in them. The first day I wore them I was taken aback with how comfortable they are just to stand around in. Day one I wore them to the gym to get used to them, and the next day I had a 5-miler that I ran on asphalt. I'll be honest, It took a few miles to get used to having Zoom units up front and in back, but after a couple miles, my stride smoothed out nicely and I was able to stand up straight and just run naturally. I did notice shoe felt a little tamer underneath after a little bit of a break-in period. Oddly enough, with all the cushion underfoot, I found the ride to not be too terribly marshmallowy as I thought they'd be, but that's not a bad thing, as minimal time contacting the ground is what is ideal anyhow.

Upper & Fit: I love is the Flymesh/Flywire upper combo in terms of fit. I have a fairly weird foot shape-shallow and kinda bony and narrow. What I love about the Flywire is that it immediately wraps around my foot and doesnt let go. Versus the Adidas; midfoot cage, the flywire is barely noticeable but seems to do the job well. People describe a "glove like fit" and for me this model is no exception. These shoes do run a bit narrow in the midfoot, but has a wide toebox; making toe splay a snap and great for those with "diamond shaped feet" (narrow heel and midfoot, longer middle toes and wider forefoot). The shoe is not necessarily low-volume, and it can probably accommodate a number of neutral types and stride patterns.

Cushioning:  I run on soft surfaces most days per week, but would like a shoe where I don't have to think twice about hitting the pavement. Nike did a great job with putting a LOT of cushion in a shoe that is fairly lightweight for it's class. The combination of Lunarlon and Zoom Air creates a responsive, fairly energetic ride; not overly mushy. I like to feel "on top" of the shoe when I run instead of feeling like I'm sinking into every footstrike and this shoe nails it.  While it is far from being a "fast shoe" in my opinion, it has a nice little pop from the toe off which is kinda fun. So far I have taken these out on granite trails, concrete paths, and asphalt. Given that where I live there is a ton of concrete paths I am often hesitant to run on, I have so far experienced little to no grief after running across them in the Vomero.

Sole & Stuff: The sole of the Vomero is interesting. The forefoot has a fair amount or blown rubber with flex grooves around the toes and midfoot area, while cushion is great, it's almost pointless without flexibility. The crash rail extends all around the rear foot and I am assuming it's to match a number or gait patterns-or for marketing purposes. Traction feels pretty decent in them, even on damp roads. I am not sure about long-term durability, but so far the only wear I see is right in the middle of the forefoot (see below).  One thing I would chance in these if I could would be lowering the heel-toe drop a millimeter or two. While not a deal-breaker, these shoes could feel more magical if it encouraged a more natural stride in its cushioned and custom-feeling package.
Wear (and debris) after about 50 miles of use.

Arch support? For a neutral trainer, it's pretty good. I've had no shin pain so far running in the Vomero. I imagine that runners with medium to high arches will enjoy this shoe the most. I also haven't run into any blisters or hotspot issues, even running sockless in them-which is fairly comfortable in these.

Negatives: This is an attractive shoe-the Flymesh is on point when it comes to style, however, the drainage factor is pretty low. For being a relatively small female, I pump out sweat like the best of em, and at the end of a 10-miler you can hear the sweat collect in the shoe with every step, Embarrassing? Nah, but they do get heavy. I live in Southeast Texas where the humidity is off the charts, so those in other regions or with different swear rates will probably not have this issue.

While expected since the shoe is so cushioned, there is little to no ground feel and while the ride is super-smooth, there's not much road feel at all.
As far as flexibility is concerned, the midfoot groove works magnificently with my stride, but it seems to lose some up front. It's not necessarily bothersome, just noticeable and probably related to the forefoot zoom unit. I don't notice me having to adjust my stride or anything for it and I like a little stiffness in my shoes.

The Bottom Line: The Zoom Vomero 10 is a very nice-looking, responsive, and well-cushioned shoe that does well what is was made to do. It uses some fancy technologies without being over-the-top and likely would suit many a neutral runner looking for a good long and easy run shoe. This shoe shines on long runs-I normally have that "trashed" feeling in my legs of varying degrees after longer sessions, but have barely noticed anything wearing these. I have enjoyed running in these so far and hope to put a good few hundred miles on them before replacing, likely with another pair of these.

I'd recommend this shoe to a number of different runners, it seems to be forgiving and adaptive enough to handle a number of body types, competitive levels, and even paces. This is a great option for those like myself who require a little more cushion but don't want to feel like they're running on pudding. And the occasional compliment about how cool they look is always nice too:)

Nike, I was wrong about you on a couple levels and I'm sorry-you do make a nice shoe that I seem to get along with easily.

Stay the course.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Latent Benefits of The Rest Day

I am a few weeks into my new summer training plan and so far am really enjoying it: sustainable mileage in the middle numbers range, tempo-type running for strength, and some harder Alter-G session in there for good measure at Sterling Ridge Orthopedics. This plan also has me taking one rest day per week, usually on Sunday. I am finding that I enjoy the short physical and mental break from training. I thought I'd change it up today and cover something that seems less talked-about but still benefits us runners in multiple ways.

The physiological benefits are obvious: extra time for the muscles to repair themselves without disturbance and the energy systems to be recharged for upcoming sessions. I also use the extra time for some recovery work: foam rolling and stretching, etc....

Mentally, resting used to be a huge challenge for me; sneaking in a few miles was not uncommon, or going to the gym and lifting, etc. was kept off the radar. Maybe it's just me getting old and tired, but having a day sans training seems to help me give myself more permission to really focus on other aspects that may be neglected on days I train, and especially during the work week (as silly as that may sound!).

So what are some of these less talked about benefits of the almighty rest day? Here's my list:

  • Things are actually clean, not just the dusted-over illusion that I have it somewhat together! Ok that is only somewhat true ;) 
  • Food seems to magically appear restocked in the fridge or prepared for the next few days..or both.
  • My dog is happier: which means she is less likely to get into trouble out of boredom or by eating strange things. Think I'm joking? Dauchsunds are great dogs overall, but don't let them get bored! 
  • The likelihood of attending church goes up substantially. 
  • Increased desire to train come the following day.
  • Perhaps the biggest one is this: enjoying the confident feeling that comes from doing what's best FOR ME, and tuning out what anyone else is doing. 
Boom. There we have it! How about you? Anything you really like about rest day? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Unicorns and Big Ugly Critters

The Boston Marathon was Monday morning. No other sporting event carries the magnitude as that race does with me. Maybe because I've sat on a curb in Brookline at Mile 23 and was one of the first to know that the course record was broken that day. Maybe because one side of my family originates from that amazing city. Maybe because it's a large sporting event that I am capable of participating in. Whatever it is, Patriots Day admittedly does some weird things to my emotions: every year I get that familiar combination of excitement for friends and teammates running combined with restlessness and some level of disappointment in the fact that I am not there. Fortunately this year brought less negative feelings than previous ones-hey, I just may be making progress here!

My friends and teammates threw down some impressive performances in conditions that were threatening rain and had a nice little headwind heading towards Copley Square. If you haven't had the pleasure of racing into a headwind, lucky you-as they tend to suck. I smile when I think of those who have made comebacks, hit a milestone for the first time, or just got through the training it takes to run a marathon-you all are awesome!

So my relationship with this race tends to be complicated. Like I said, I have the ability, motivation, and on most days the mental toughness it takes to qualify for and finish the race. I have mostly sworn off the 26.2 distance because of difficulty training for it and the fact that I do believe shorter races are nothing to scoff at if ran to one's true ability. 

How do I see things? Well, let's begin with an over-dramatized and perhaps overrated early 2000's action film "Gone in 60 Seconds". Any of y'all remember that one? Nic Cage's character could steal basically any car successfully, except one; and it wasn't even the most exotic one featured in the film, "Eleanor" the Shelby Mustang. They called it his 'Unicorn'-the one thing that he was after that eluded him, as obtainable as it was-I mean, he was like a professional car thief and stole cars all the time. Note: Just so you know I have no intentions of stealing any cars at the time of this post.... 

For those of different generations, how about a more current example. I first have to confess to occasionally reading Nicholas Sparks books (even though I don't really have a romantic bone in my body). Ok I said it, now let's move on..."The Longest Ride", now a movie as well, features some ridiculously good-looking cowboy who is making a bull-riding comeback after his career and life nearly being ended by a bull named 'Big Ugly Critter". Not to give too much away, but he can't seem to fully move on until he successfully rides this bull. He is able to, but afraid and it is a big risk doing so. And there is some love story in the background, but not the purpose of this post! 

So what's stealing cars and riding bulls have to do with running? Not much, really, except Boston seems to be my unicorn or Big Ugly Critter. Unlike the movies, of course, my life goes on successfully even without ever making it out Northeast to race, but dang it-part of me wants to find a way to go after it. 

Yeah it's kinda like that... only safer!

And in case you haven't seen either of these movies, of course Nic Cage drives the Mustang away and cowboy Luke finally rides Big Ugly Critter. Adrienne has a way to go and goals to hit before giving herself permission for even seriously entertaining training for the marathon again, but wow, does the third Monday in April do some weird things to me.

First step, finish out my 12-month goal or longer. Congratulations goes out to all who raced and finished in this year's event! 

Stay the course.