Posts Tagged ‘681

18
Jul
11

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes!

Shoes are probably the only piece of equipment that running entails—and strictly speaking, even that is optional!  After more than two years of running, here’s how my shoe collection looked like.

Some of the gears in my arsenal 🙂

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24
May
10

Ten Running Essentials 2010 Edition

My first post about the ten running essentials served as my shopping guide when I was just starting with the sport.  Back then I had no experience to rely on so I was dependent on guides like these.  Now, more than a year hence I can say I’ve gained some knowledge to finally update the list based on my own experiences.  And here are my 2010 updates to the list:

  1. The right running shoe
    Your shoe is your best friend whenever you run so picking the right solemates is vital.  “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are” as they say and so with picking your pair.  If you know your feet you’ll know which is the best pair for you.

    K-Swiss K-Ona, my ultra-long distance racer

  2. Racing or Training Shoes?
    Racing shoes (“racers”) are the pairs you use during races and as such are usually your most expensive pairs.  Training shoes (“trainers”) are the ones that you use regularly when training or not racing and are usually your cheaper pairs.  Racers are usually your lightest pairs (lighter usually means faster) while trainers are usually heavier (and they should be) because it offers more protection for your feet.  Since racers are expensive you may want to extend its lifespan by using it only during races and for everything else in between, use the cheaper trainers.  If your budget permits it, have both.

    New Balance 681, my trainers

  3. A Watch with a Lap Memory (Updated)
    The purpose of having a watch is for you to monitor your progress both in training and in races.  Just about any digital watch is good for monitoring single laps but for more laps you should consider getting a watch that saves laps.  Expensive GPS watches are the most accurate distance-wise and convenient but are still optional.  Add to that the optional Heart Rate monitoring.  In case you have one you may want to turn on the Auto Lap feature to save your time per lap.

    Bench Pedometer and Garmin Forerunner 405

  4. Technical Shirts
    Technical shirts are just generic terms for shirts made of synthetic fabrics commercially branded as Lycra, Climacool, Dri-Fit, Coolmax, Supplex, Clima360, Spandex, Supplex, etc.  After joining a couple of races chances are you’d have a collection of these (normally in the form of singlets), but if haven’t done so, or those free shirts don’t fit you well, or it gives you a rash it’s better to invest in one.  Avoid anything that absorbs and retain water like cotton.

    adidas King of the Road 2009 singlets

  5. Hydration Equipment (Updated)
    If you run exclusively on well-organized races this is optional, but for those long runs this is a must.  For relatively short distances you may just opt to hand-carry that bottle of sports drink you have, but for convenience consider different hydration solutions (handheld, belt, or bag) that would fit your lifestyle.

    Deuter Nordic Lite, my hydration belt for relatively short runs

  6. Sports Drinks (Updated)
    Sports drinks are generally better than water during water because of its rate of absorption, minerals, etc. but it’s not the exclusive formula that works with the sport.  Note that sports drinks are different than energy drinks and which one works best varies by individual.  Even Oral Rehydration Salts (Oresol) and sodas (softdrinks) are acceptable drinks!

    Just a matter of which one works for you best

  7. Petroleum Jelly and Sun Block
    If you’d be running for a significant distance or time it’s best to apply these beforehand.  Petroleum Jelly reduces chaffing and sun block protects your exposed skin from burning.  You may need to reapply as necessary.
  8. Running ID (Updated)
    For emergency and identification purposes, this item is a must but it need not be those expensive road IDs.  The practical solution is to simply write your name and emergency contact information behind your bibs during races, and for non-races and long runs carry an ID (another reason to get a hydration belt/bag).
  9. Running Socks (Updated)
    By my experience socks are the primary reason for having blisters and not shoes as commonly perceived.  Having socks that don’t fit well is the primary reason and you can only tell if the socks fit you well when you’re already using it so it’s a game of chance.  Aside from blister issues, try to avoid cotton socks (same reasons with technical shirts).  Your feet will most likely be sweating a lot, and cotton tends to keep your feet wet.  Look for synthetic blends which are best at wicking away moisture.

    Nike Run Fast for sprints and medium distances

  10. Ice Bag
    If you’re running long distances chances of injuries are higher so you may want to consider having one not just for your own but also for your group.

To summarize the updates:

  • GPS watches are optional but if you have the means it’s a great motivator to running.
  • Hydration equipment is optional depending on the situation but more likely you’d need one sooner or later, it’s just a matter of which one you’d use more.
  • Sports drinks are a necessity but aren’t the exclusive drinks for the sport.
  • Running IDs are highly recommended but practical solutions abound that won’t break the bank.
  • Finally, running socks are more import than anticipated but you can’t really tell if it’s good beforehand (applying petroleum jelly beforehand may help).

I hope that this list along with my updates gave some added guide to runners out there.  As a final tip, don’t be conscious with looks or brand, stick with what really works for you.  You can’t look good if you don’t feel good, right?

18
Nov
09

Shoe Review: New Balance 681

Choosing a good quality shoe need not be expensive.  The 681 from New Balance in an entry level running shoe that not only looks good, it also performs well.

Features

  • ABZORB®
    Forefoot and rearfoot ABZORB® to soften the impact of road running
  • C-CAP®
    Compression-molded EVA for superior midsole cushioning and flexibility.
  • Stability Web
    Optimal arch support that’s both rigid and lightweight while preventing midfoot flex.

First Glance

At first glance the 681 looks good and upon closer inspection you’ll notice the Abzorb cushioning is also placed in the forefoot area.  The shape of its sole is also unique that it seems to aide forward movement especially for forefoot strike runners.  You can’t really tell that it is an entry-level shoe until you’re reminded when you see the insole.

The Test

I tested this first walking a few kilometers to and from a nearby running specialty store and it passed with flying colors.  The shoe fits well and it very comfortable.  Cushioning was sufficient and is breathable enough.  Things changed when I finally tested it for a seven kilometer test run—you immediately feel the slightly narrower front as you feel your fingers rub on its sides.  Coming from Asics Kayano I can feel the difference with the cushioning which was sufficient although I wouldn’t recommend it for runs longer than 10K or exceeding an hour.  It’s also not as bendable as other running shoes but it’s very negligible.  On the good side though the slightly concaved shape of the front sole really aide runners with forefoot strike.

Conclusion

New Balance 681 is a very comfortable shoe that looks good and fits well.  It provides good cushioning not just in the heel but also in the forefoot and it sole is shaped to aide forefoot runners.  The narrow front may be its biggest fault making it unsuitable for long runs, but for casual use or easy runs it fits well.  Overall this is a good shoe for those 5K or even 10K runs, or simply for just walking around.  This shoe may have been designed for those who just started running and didn’t want to risk spending a huge sum, or those looking for some affordable everyday good trainers.




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