Archive for Reviews

1095miles.com – Day 226 ‘Farewell Garmin 310XT’

Run went well, and I went over some old ground from yesterday.

However, I thought I would share a few thoughts on the Garmin 310XT that I have had for the last 24 months.
Overall it has been a brilliant watch and the data it captures is very useful indeed.

Good points
Battery life has been 14 hours plus, Garmin Connect is good (not as good as Strava though), quick release between strap, TT bike and road bike is very very useful, accuracy is very good, residual value

Not so good points
Seems to take longer and longer to ‘see’ satellites on start up, bulky with the QR kit fitted, heavy compared to a 910XT

I am looking forward to using my new 910XT tomorrow (if Hermes get their sh1t together) :)

Miles today 3
Miles so far 781
Miles to run 314
Shoes adidas AdiZeros

Day 112

Early morning run due to playing 5 aside tonight , i never push the pace on a monday i like to save my energy for the match.
miles today 3.03
miles completed 342.80
miles to go 752
shoes nike
ipod n/a

Jabra Rhythm Headphones

I know that headphones are a really personal choice, and so this review is my opinion of the Jabra Rhythm headphones which were sent to me to test.

These are primarily designed to be used with a smart phone, e.g an iPhone.

Firstly, these headphones have an integrated microphone and also a little button with which you can stop or move forward the current playing track. They come with 3 sizes of ear piece cover so you should be able to find a comfortable fit.

For me they were comfortable enough, I am used to using this style of in ear headphone and I like it. Once they were in my ear I decided to plug them into my iPhone to get an idea of the basic sound quality.

I picked a track I know well, and hit play, the first thing that struck me was that the sound was a little dull and seemed to lack some clarity. But as this was the initial usage I finished the track and then picked a very different track, again I was disappointed with the overall sound, for me they just lack some real clarity.

I didn’t want to give up on them so I went and found the original headphones that come with the iPhone, and tried them, for me the Jabra is a slight improvement on them but not as good as my current pair.

I decided upon another test to see how they faired. I plugged them into my Line 6 Pocket Pod with my guitar to test the sound. For the guitar they weren’t too bad, but personally I wouldn’t swap my existing ones for them.

Overall, I would say if you want a cheap alternative to the headphones that come with your device these will certainly do a job, if you are looking for a real improvement in the sound quality you will need to invest a bit more money.

Postscript – I did seek a second opinion from my lad, Sam, and whilst he agreed that the sound quality was slightly poorer than my normal headphones, he said he didn’t actually mind too much as they were better than his current headphones. He has since adopted them and I doubt I will ever see them again!

Asics Torana

The Asics Torana running shoes were kindly supplied to me free of charge by SportsDirect.com to test, and I am grateful to them for this.

Now the first thing that strikes you about these shoes is the colour scheme, it has prompted a very much love it or hate it amongst my friends, me, I love it. I like a shoe that stands out, I am fed up with the stock silverish, whitish, greyish colour most shoes seem to be.

I have used this shoe for about a week, on a variety of terrains hand in a several different weather conditions, and so I feel pretty happy about giving opinions on it.

The shoe is billed as a trail shoe, and it seems to fit into the range where they are designed to allow you to run to the trail, run the trial and then run home. So, from this you can deduce it’s not a fully fledged off road weapon but more a cross over shoe.

So, with this in mind I decided to try the shoe on a variety of routes, firstly I did an off road run which had a long downhill stretch through some woods and a road climb back up. The wooded section is on a pretty good path and the shoes were providing plenty of grip through here, and equally on the road climb back they were giving good support. The only point I would make is that when I did go through a muddy patch the traction was not great, certainly not as good as my full off-road shoe.

Next test was to use them on a canal path, I did this run in the rain and I did expect the shoe to struggle a little if it was muddy. However, on a canal path the shoes were excellent, the combination of cushioning and grip were excellent. Also the road run to and from the canal path was dispatched with ease, and I certainly enjoyed the extra comfort of the Asics shoe over doing the same run in my other trail shoe.

After the encouraging performance on that run, I decided to try man made trail path, well the shoe coped on that with ease, and coming back along another canal path I forgot these were new shoes due to the comfort and grip.

Road running was something I thought that maybe the shoe would do, but not give me the stability of my normal road shoe. I was wrong, it was excellent, whilst I only did about 6km there were a couple of longish hills and at no point did I think I wish I had used my other shoes. I don’t know whether I would do a really long road run in them, but they aren’t designed for it although I reckon they would cope well.

THe overriding thing I have noticed about the shoe is that they feel fast, especially on mixed terrain runs.

For me, these shoes are ideal for canal path, summer trail running and where there is some road work in getting to the off road stuff. I do a lot of runs like that, and I certainly will be using them for those runs.

Would I buy a pair of these, yes, would I recommend them, yes if you do mixed terrain running.

Is there really an alternative to the Asics Kayano? Meet the Mizuno Wave Alchemy 10 and my long term test!

If you’re a long time Asics Kayano user like myself, it’s tempting to try and find an alternative that doesn’t require re-mortgaging every time you need a new pair. Damian told me recently that he was chatting to the staff in his local running store and mentioned I ran in the Kayano and they said it was effectively as close as a running shoe gets to being special shoes. Cheeky. They are the Rolls Royce of runners though.

Having discussed the conundrum of a suitable alternative to the Kayano with a wide range of sports shoe officionados, I had compiled the following list of possibilities…
Adidas Salvation 3
Mizuno Wave Alchemy 10
Saucony Pro Grid Omni 9
Stick with the Kayanos 😉

I have finally had the opportunity to try them all out.

I’ve previously bought a pair of the Sauconys and had found them lacking the support of the Kayano, so I’ve written them off as an alternative from personal experience. ‘Your mileage may vary’ as they say, but they didn’t work for me. My impression of them, ignoring the fact that the support structure wasn’t strong enough was that at £80, in comparison to the Kayano, you get what you pay for. They feel a little less sunbstantial and thinner in the tongue and forefoot area than the Kayanos do.

To ensure a level playing field with the remaining candidates, I started by setting the benchmark in a brand new pair of Kayano 17s. The store staff took a video me running on a treadmill with their gait analysis software, confirming the Kayano was a suitably supportive shoe for my running style and saved this video for comparison purposes.

Next up, the Adidas. The Salvations I tried were not the latest model. It appears that Adidas have completely redesigned the support structure for the fourth iteration of the Salvation and I was advised that if I needed strong support, stick with the 3. I did so. The video gait analysis revealed that the Salvation 3’s allow quite a lot of roll in of my ankles, particularly my right one and so we immediately wrote these off as an option too.

There was now nothing left but the Mizuno offering in the form of the Wave Alchemy 10. Initial impressions were of similar quality to the Saucony, one which is entirely resonable given their £85 price tag, in comparison to the £130 tag on the Kayano.

So, what did the video reveal? Well, we spent quite some time rolling the video back and forth to try and come to a consensus on whether the Mizuno or the Kayano were better suited to me! It really was difficult to tell the difference. I bought a pair and have now put about 80 miles on them.

What’s this Heel-Toe delta thing anyway?
Have a look at the image to the right here –>
I’ve done my best with the aid of paint(!) to show you what I mean by heel-toe delta. It’s essentially the drop in height between the heel and the toe when your foot is in the shoe. The Mizuno is considerably flatter in the sole than the Kayano and this means that you’re stretching your achilles and calf a bit more on the tail end of every stride.

Test results
I hadn’t noted that the heel-toe delta on the Mizuno shoe was so small in comparison when I was running on the treadmill. I noticed it was smaller, it felt different just standing in the shoes, but hadn’t realised how significant this would turn out to be. The Kayano has a steep heel-toe delta and I’ve been using them for about two years now (and over 2000 miles) so I’m very used to this aspect. After about four runs (mainly short three milers) I was really struggling with a range of pains including achilles tension which wasn’t good. I then added some heel gel support pads to the shoes (4mm ones seemed too high when I tried them, I ended up using 2mm inserts) and have been much more comfortable. I suspect that in the long term, the 4mm inserts will be better but that’s a test for another day.

Conclusion
At a retail price of £85, you may just find the Mizuno Wave Alchemy an appropriate alternative, offering the same level of cushioning and support, but at around 2/3rds the price of our beloved Kayano staple! Beware though, the heel-toe delta is as near as it gets to flat and this might leave you struggling as I did. Be prepared to try some heel inserts if you find you have problems. I’m able to use them, but I’ll still be buying Kayanos again next time I’m afraid.

High5 Energy Gel – Citrus Burst

The blurb:
High5 Energy Gels are carbohydrate gel with glucose and 15% fruit juice.

The numbers:
30ml gives you…
80 kcal and 20g carbohydrate

The reality:
The packaging is small, given there’s no huge amount of water inside so you carry less weight but will have to grab some water to wash this one down with.

Verdict:
The top tears off easily which is good, but the taste is terrible in my view. It’s like the terrible cough medicine your mum would force down your neck ‘because it’s good for you’!

Rating: 1/5

SiS Go Gel – Blackcurrant

The blurb:
SiS Go Gels are carbohydrate gel with sweeteners and don’t need to be consumed with water to be effective.

The numbers:
60ml gives you…
87 kcal and 22g carbohydrate

The reality:
Tearing the top off is hard work, the packaging is very thick compared to some others. I can see it would be annoyingly difficult during a race.
This one tastes quite horrible to my personal palate. You can tell it has lots of water in it as it’s quite a watered down blackcurrant taste.

Verdict:
Easily found in many running and other sport stores is a plus, but only if you like them! They’re not for me. The combination of fiddly packaging and unpalatable taste means I won’t be packing these in my kit bag!

Rating: 1/5

Asics Gel Kayano 17: 100 Mile Review

Ratings
Overall
Ease of use
Value for money

Having been a long term user of the Gel Kayano 15, yet now unable to get hold of another pair, I’ve resorted to the 17s.

First impressions
They’re very white and won’t be for long! They also feel somewhat more heavy in the mesh areas, especially the toe box. The lining material around the heel is thicker and more plush and they’ve lost the strange wonky lacing pattern of the 15s.
The whole shoe looks very familiar, with the Duomax inner arch and the semi transparent center sole section too. There’s a little more mesh/less stretchy rubber at the sides compared to the old design and the heel cup feels reassuring solid, as I’ve come to expect with the Kayano.

The Fit
First impressions were that the whole shoe feels wider. Noticeably. It also feels heavier material wise and so less well ventilated. The heel cup feels solid and stable, yet larger than that of the old 15s. I have narrow feet. This may not be a good thing.

The first run
First run out was an inadvisable 11 miles to break them in. I had no choice, I had to get the miles in and my old 15s were well and truly beyond dead (and my knees were telling me so). It rained heavily, they got very wet. They didn’t feel like they fitted me, they felt way too wide. In fact, they felt loose all round my foot. My heel felt like it was wallowing around though and the toes didn’t really have anywhere to sit as there’s so much width in them. The knees survived the 11 miles though, so the legendary cushioning of the Kayano was obviously there!

The first 100 miles – review
Having played about with the lacing a lot (and I mean a lot, like maybe an hour of faffing about) I think I’ve now got them about right. I have to say, they now feel somewhat tight around the midfoot/lace area and still very wide around the toe box. The heel is now much better too, and the revised lacing strategy seems to have improved this somewhat. They’re now a lightly dirty brownish colour and as they’re so thick and not so well ventilated, smell like running shoes. Not nice, but for the winter/spring months at least my feet aren’t so cold!

Overall verdict
The ever reliable Kayano returns as the flagship model, with good cushioning, good support and a strong construction. The 17 is a heavier meshed model yet gains no discernible weight for this. If your feet are on the larger side, they will likely fit you well, but if you’re used to the Kayano with smaller feet, do make sure to give them a try and expect much fiddling with laces before you commit your hard earned premium-price-running-shoe cash.


The North Face Hydrogen Jacket

Ratings
Overall
Ease of use
Value for money

Retailing at around £65, packing down to the size of an apple and weighing in at less than 100g, I give you the North Face Hydrogen Jacket. The jacket is constructed from Ripstop nylon with an impermeable waterproof [and allegedly breathable] coating. To the front is a full length zip, complete with luminescent pull tag and it has a single napoleon chest pocket.

First impressions are that 100g is less than I thought. It feels like it’s made of fine paper, it’s so light. Fit wise, it’s loose-ish and flaps in the breeze. As for the waterproof-ness, those of you who read my review on the GoreTex Apex cap will know my feelings on waterproof shell gear, this is no different, it’s a true boil in the bag jacket and is, as is my experience with all ‘breathable’ gear, not at all breathable in my view!

Quality wise, it’s what I’ve come to expect from TNF. Their designers are great, they think of innovative touches, like the elastic tags on this jacket so you can wrap it up. I’m always impressed with the design tweaks they get into thier products. Sadly, as is also my experience of TNF gear, their manufacturing and/or QC isn’t up to scratch. Remember those elastic tags I mentioned? One was poorly sewn in and popped out of it’s lining the first time I tried to use it. The last TNF item I bought was a hydration pack, again purchased because the design was truly miles ahead of anything else. In it’s first use, one part detached itself and the bladder in it leaked everywhere due to a lack of a rubber seal (by design). Shame my experiences have been so consistent!

Verdict: As a stuff it in the pocket just in case it rains jacket, it’s pretty good. As a windproof shell, again it’s pretty good. As a breathable jacket, it’s as good (or poor, depending on your point of view) as the next. It’s probably just as effective to buy a budget £20 nylon jacket though!

Exped Waterproof Fold Dry Bags

Now, these may seem like an odd item to review on a running site, but I felt like I needed to expound the virtues of what has turned out to be such a useful product. A couple of years ago I was kindly given a few, in a range of sizes, prior to a five day cycling expedition. They were a godsend for packing large amounts of clothing, squishing the bag down and then rolling it up into the smallest volume possible to fit the maximum stuff in my panniers.

Since I’ve started running though, I’ve discovered a new use for them. Keeping smelly running gear under wraps! I have a large one for my running shoes, enabling me to have them in a bag under my desk without turning everybody’s noses up. They also mean I can stuff all my used running gear into a bag and seal it, using the roll top closure, until I am home and ready to shove it all in the washer. It stops everything in your bag developing the odour of damp used running gear. Magic!

Verdict: As it turns out, they cost a small fortune, at around £20 for a set of four in different sizes, but in my view, they’re worth every penny. Go buy some, now!