Posts Tagged ‘Cushioning

26
Aug
13

Five Shoes for Different Occasions

When I started running I had no idea about picking the “right” shoe and just wore whichever fits me well and looks “decent” enough.  In fact, I don’t think that what I wore during my first race were running shoes!  (They were most likely badminton shoes that I wore when that was the “it” sport.)  Fast forward five years and much more than a dozen pairs of shoes later, I have a list of five running shoes I like wearing for different “occasions.”

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09
Feb
10

The Natural Joy of Running: Barefoot?

Barefoot running?  It can’t get any natural than that—before civilization was invented, or any form of it, that was how our ancestors moved and survived eons ago.  Today in the 21st century running had become very technical—pronation, supination, compression, hydration, fartlek, Global Positioning System, etc.—isn’t it nice to not think of any of these terms when we think of running?

Running is not rocket science, or maybe now it is

Believe it or not, in the ancient Olympic Games athletes participate in the games in the nude so no one had an unfair advantage of using any tool except for what nature had given them—their bodies.  Back then there were no running shoes, chemical drinks, dope, or anything similar but runners were still able to compete in footraces in as long as 5K runs!  Even the barest of runners of our age would look luxurious! (The longest footraces in the ancient world are thought to be “only” about five kilometers long; the marathon was only introduced in the modern Olympic Games)

Long-distance runners of the ancient Olympiad

In the latter part of the 20th century people started looking at running scientifically and invented running-oriented shoes. Back then shoes were very much Spartan featuring only simple rubber soles with spikes for traction—many of the technical details we enjoy these days weren’t invented yet, but it didn’t stop humans from running, and continue getting better at it. Eventually things like stability, cushioning, mesh, and other technical features were devised and that’s when things got complicated.  Gone are the days when you pick a shoe because you liked its design!

The good old days

Many runners these days say running got complicated—actually, it didn’t.  We just started to know more about the mechanics of running and the more we know, the more we realize that we have much more we don’t know!   And now with all these fancy technologies and $160++ shoes they tell us that all these “improvements” actually made us more feeble and prone to injuries?  That with all these “comforts” we “enjoy” we practically lost our ability to run with the correct form as nature designed our feet?

Honda’s Walking Assist Device—could this be the future?

Is your mind messed up already?  Good.  Forget all that I mentioned for a while and imagine yourself here:

* with some digital color correction

One of my favorite spots in the country, Ilocos Norte, gave me the chance to get away from it all, particularly with the beaches of Pagudpud.  I could just spend the entire day there, relax, let the world turn, and be contented.  But since I did not have that luxury, I had to maximize my stay with the most natural way a runner can—run at the beach!

With practically just my board shorts on I just let loose and run like I’m the only person in a desolate island.  I even left my flip-flops on the sand and ran barefoot!  In fact the only “unnatural” item on me at the time (aside from my clothes) was my GF405—since I was already wearing it I just started it to save where in the world I was running (I lost my Philippine geography lessons quite some time ago) and just forget about it (to remember only when to stop).  I just love that it works unobtrusively letting me savor that “natural” moment.  At that moment the only thing more “natural” I can do is to run in the buff but of course I’m neither in a nudist camp nor in ancient Greece.

Crash course on Philippine geography: the location of the beaches of Pagudpud (click to view Garmin data)

At first I wanted to have a “beach running photo” for this site’s banner, but I don’t perform well in such “unnatural” conditions and after some “fake” shots I relinquished the idea.  I can always come up with some fancy digital artwork as banner I thought.

What do runners do at the beach?  Run! Little did I know (and glad that didn’t know) that some “paparazzi’s lenses” were still on me during my innocuous beach run.  It was a “real” moment in a “natural” setting, and it was digitally captured so I was very thankful that I wasn’t a lone person in a desolate island.  Running barefoot and feeling the sand under my feet—it was a feeling that every runner should experience!   I was just lucky that I found one of the best beaches in the Philippines as my setting.  Thank you Sir Rene for capturing that moment! (FYI: this site’s banner is also “natural,” taken candidly by Sir Rene “Jazzrunner”)

Enjoying myself at the beach, courtesy Rene Villarta

Running is naturally pleasurable, and it is more so on natural settings—free from feigns and complications of the world.  You need not find a secluded beach, an exotic location, run barefoot (or even in the nude) to find the natural joy of running—just bring yourself, have an open mind, a willing heart, and leave your baggages behind.  Grab along some close friends too for company!

“Natural” is always best! Also courtesy Rene Villarta

Related: my barefoot running stories in Boracay, Nasugbu, and Pagudpud.

18
Dec
09

Shoe Review: K-Swiss K-Ona

K-Swiss isn’t particularly known in the Philippines as a company that makes running shoes so I was quite surprised when I saw several models in the local market.  One particular shoe that caught my eye was the K-Ona.

K-Swiss K-Ona

K-Ona is definitely a looker with its design.  It looks very breathable but what surprised me was when I lifted it—at mere 9 ounces it was one of the lightest shoes I’ve ever handled!

Judging by looks of the K-Ona one may think that this is just your regular cushioning shoes for those leisure runners but the K-Ona is anything but that—it was the pair that Terenzo Bozzone wore at the recent Ironman 70.3 CamSur (Philippines).  Not only was the K-Ona Ironman 70.3-certified (half-Ironman), it is also Kona-certified (full Ironman).  A very impressive ultra-lightweight shoe!

Top view

Shoe Features

An Ultra-light (9oz) and stable running shoe perfect for fast days, races, and triathlons.

  • Durability is achieved with an Aosta® II rubber outsole.
  • Flexibility is enhanced by anatomically correct flex-grooves.
  • Support is obtained with a direct injected urethane support cage with five-stripe branding on top.
  • Stability comes from a rigid TPU midfoot shank.
  • Breathability is enhanced by a Flow Cool System™ for moisture management.
  • Cushioning is provided by Superfoam® technology, an Si-18 technology crash pad and a k-EVA midsole.
  • Comfort is enhanced with a seamless upper construction.

Technology Features

Aosta II AÖSTA II RUBBER COMPOUND
High-density outsole provides unsurpassed durability from heel-to-toe.
Flow Cool System FLOW COOL SYSTEM
Enhances breathability and moisture management from heel-to-toe to keep feet cool and dry.
K-EVA K-EVA
Special formula EVA to provide maximized cushioning and enhance durability of the midsole.
Superfoam SUPERFOAM
A space-aged energy-return foam that resists compression and lasts longer providing cushioning and comfort.

Of course shoes are not meant only to be looked at, but to be worn.  It was love at first step as I tried the K-Ona for the first time and run with it on a treadmill.  The first thing I noticed was how comfortable it was, not to mention that you hardly feel that you’re wearing a shoe because of its light weight.  Of course you know you’re wearing one because you land softly on the surface.

Don’t you just love the scent of new shoes?

The Test: Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon

Four days before SCSM I decided to have a piece of Kona myself, K-Ona I mean.  I’ve never had this much fascination with a shoe before and that same night I had it for a 6.75K test run.  It was one of those rare shoes that you need not break-in—it was excellent out of the box!  With just a single test run this shoe earned my trust that I decided outright that this would be my SCSM pair.  They said never to try anything new during race day but hey, if it’s good enough for Ironman, it’s good enough for me!

Ready for some action in Singapore!

Unlike other shoes that force you to conform to, the K-Ona is perfect for forefoot and heel strikers alike because of its excellent cushioning in these areas.  The rubber outsole is also very durable as it hardly exhibit any wear and tear even after a full marathon.  And unlike other shoes that feels hard after a long run, the Superfoam remains soft and comfortable even after the end of the 42K spree.  I’ve never had a shoe that was this comfortable that I actually never worried about my feet all throughout the run.  The flow cool system was also better than other cooling system used by other brands as you get unobstructed air flow from virtually all directions, which proved to be very useful for those humid runs like SCSM.  All these without sacrificing weight!

Among other noticeable features of this shoe are the excellent grip (despite the holes on the soles), excellent fit, seamless construction, no “hard” zones, and interesting shoe laces.

Even the soles feature the Flow Cool System™

The only drawback of this shoe was that it is definitely not for those who need stability or motion control as the midfoot shank provides only a moderate amount of control. You may also want to think twice before running into that puddle of water or mud as it may enter through the holes under the soles, although it may dry faster than other shoes would.

Aftermath of SCSM: My K-Ona didn’t get dirty during the marathon, it was during the claiming of the finisher’s medal!

Conclusion

The K-Ona is easily one of the best shoes in the market as it is very versatile in terms of use (good for sprints and long runs) and target audience (forefoot and heel strikers). It offers one of the best rides while maintaining support, good traction, and some level of control without sacrificing breathability and weight.  Even the insoles were very well made like those custom insoles. Add to that cool looks without breaking the bank. Don’t just take my word for it, seasoned Ironman champions use it!  It was a “perfect” shoe for that “perfect” race. If there’s anything more I’d like, that would be to have another pair (wait, make that two)!




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The MIRACLE isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the COURAGE to START
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