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Man Runners vs Lady Runners

11 Apr

Running Shoe Review: On Running Cloudsurfer

1 Feb

Right Out of the Box…
Upon first glance, these are some of the most unique running shoes I have seen. The rubber “tubes” on the sole are really interesting and are a new feature to me. Unlike other running shoes with rubber lugs, these shoes feature them at the midfoot and also on the heel. The overall design of the upper is extremely simple, featuring a two-color black and lime green design. The mesh that extends across the entire upper of the shoes is light and is widely pocketed, which I think will make it highly breathable. The padding of the tongue is substantial, making for an extremely comfortable fit on the top of the foot. Even tying the shoes tightly created no pinched feeling. The logo designs on the shoes are simple and not distracting. For runners who keep aesthetics at the top of their list, it is worth noting the clever placement of the logo on the heels of the shoes. Well played!

On Running Cloudsurfer

Clever design!

Just holding the shoe and moving it around, it does feel a bit more at the midfoot than what I am typically used to, but I am hoping the rubber lugs will help make up for some of that lost flexibility.

Road Tested…
On the road, this shoe performed extremely well. The forefoot of the sole felt more flexible than I had anticipated. The midsole was a bit stiffer, but as I suspected, the rubber lugs did their job and did not make it feel stiff. The collar of the shoe felt really snug under my ankles and on my heel but it did not rub and it caused no blisters. My foot felt stable, but I never felt like movement of my ankle was hindered. After doing a couple of road runs, the shoes responded well and I was able to change directly quickly while still maintaining a stable contact with the ground.

CloudTec Lugs

(Light) Trail Tested…
My bigger concern was taking these shoes out on a light trail run (ie, light gravel, grass, light cross-country), however, I was pleasantly surprised! I thought the smoothness of the bottom of the lugs might keep me from getting the traction needed to push forward, but this was not an issue at all. As the foot hits the ground, the lugs compress, and they, for all practical purposes, “grit their teeth.” Once the teeth on the inside of the lug are together, they keep the shoe from moving out from underneath you, while your body continues to propel ahead. Even more interesting is the fact that the teeth in the lug on the heel and the teeth in the lugs at the forefoot are different sizes. Your body hits the ground differently depending on your strike and the Cloudsurfer can absolutely respond appropriately.

"Wide Teeth" Heel Lugs

"Narrow Teeth" Forefoot/Midfoot Lugs

The only hiccup I experienced was with running in these in light rain. Since the sole of the shoe is relatively smooth, I found it a bit more difficult to get traction when the road was wet. Living in Louisiana with many rainy days, this would mean having a second pair on hand for rainy runs, but these shoes felt so great that I would highly recommend getting a pair to have for all the dry days! If you live in a drier part of the country, this would not be a concern for you at all. However, it is worth noting that the wide-pocketed mesh of the upper breathed really well and dried very quickly once wet.

The Specs…
The best part about the CloudTec technology is that the lugs give you the feeling of stability and cushioning without having to add padding to the upper of the shoe. Instead, the cushioning and shock absorption comes from the sole of the shoe, as opposed to the padding inside the shoe. Very smart!

The medium-width of the toe box was very comfortable. Being a runner who experiences relatively significant toe-splay during running, I felt that my toes and feet had plenty enough room. For runners who like narrower shoes or who do not experience much spreading of the forefoot during runner, this may not be the best option. However, for the average runner with normal toe-splay, this shoe would perform beautifully.

The weight of the shoe is 11oz (313g) for a men’s size 9. This was only slightly heavier than my typical running shoes and the added weight did not seem to be a huge factor for me. As stated before, it seems that the majority of the weight of the shoes comes from the sole, with the material and stitching on the upper part of the shoe being very simple. The overall heel drop is 6mm. More stable shoes often feature a heel drop of 8mm and more minimal shoes feature a heel drop of 4mm. Coming in right in the middle, this would be an ideal shoe for a runner needing a shoe right in between a neutral running and stability running shoe.

As far as price goes, these shoes certainly are not the “economy model” and may not be the best choice for someone just getting started in the sport. The price is comparable to a pair of Newton running shoes, and in my opinion, they are worth the money. At the end of the day, it takes good gear to perform and sometimes, you just have to invest in yourself.

I have put a fair amount of miles in these shoes in training for the upcoming Rouge-Orleans. Considering the volume of miles, duration of the runs, and the way I tend to beat my shoes to death, I am very impressed with the durability. After the rainy run, I did clean them up a bit, and they still came out looking almost brand new. Investing in a good pair of running shoes can be daunting, but knowing that you will have a durable and reliable pair for your training is worth every penny.

Engineered for running.

Lastly, and this is a purely aesthetical notation, but I would like to point out the tab stitched on the tongue. It says, “Engineered in Switzerland.” This really stands out to me. As an analytical person and a runner, I like to think I personally try to engineer my body to perform well by training properly, stretching, etc. I like the idea of this shoe being “engineered” to help me perform. It’s the little things.

This seems like a great shoe for a runner looking for neutral to light stability. While it is not too over the top, the light cushion, mid-level heel drop, and ever so slight rigidity would be ideal for a runner who slightly overpronates. Due to the placement of the rubber lugs on the entire sole, it seems to be a good fit for heel-strikers and runners who push off on their forefoot/midfoot.

Overall Grade: A

For more, information on the On-Running CloudTec technology, be sure and check out their website at

Have a question? Leave me a comment and I will get back to you!

To wash or not to wash…THAT is the question!

6 Oct

I have found that runners are either VERY pro-washing or VERY anti-washing when it comes to the concept of cleaning their running shoes. Some of those in the anti-washing camp think excessive shoe washing can degrade materials and make your shoes look to squeaky clean and “newbie” like. While I have never really worried about looking like a newbie (since I am not terribly concerned what more seasoned runners think of me), degrading the materials of a $100 (or, often times, more expensive) pair of running shoes is a legitimate concern of mine. I spend a lot of time deciding on my running shoes, so by the time that I get them, I typically really love them and want to take care of them as best that I can.

Here is how I decide when and if to wash my shoes. First, it depends on which level of my Tier System into which they fall. Yes, I have a totally neurotic Tier System for my running shoes. If the shoes fall into Tier 1 or Tier 2, that means I actively use them to run in or work out in. These are the two tiers that I care the most about. In general, I really try hard not to wash my “good” running shoes. I am lucky in that I do not ever have a lot of sweaty shoe funk or odor, but there is the rare occasion that I will get caught in the rain/mud or run through something nasty and I just have to get the funk off of my shoes.

To clean my “good” running shoes, I use the following items:
• Big fat toothbrush (purchased from Whole Foods)
• Woolite
• 1 old medium sized towel
• 2 old washcloths

I start by running about 2-3 inches of warm water into my kitchen sink. I add about half a capful of Woolite and swoosh it around in the water.

Then I remove the insoles and laces from both shoes. The only part I clean is the shoe itself…not the insoles or laces.

Next, I VERY lightly dampen the outside of the shoe. I DO NOT at any point dunk the whole shoe in the water or allow it to get completely saturated. I use my big fat toothbrush to scrub the especially nasty parts of the shoe, namely the outsole and upper areas.

I use one of the washcloths to dab the moisture off the outside of the shoe. I DO NOT run the shoe under water to rinse out the Woolite. I figure it is mild enough not to need too much rinsing. Then, I roll up the washcloth and stuff it inside the shoe to help the shoe retain its shape. I repeat this process with the second shoe.

Then I place both shoes on my covered back porch to air dry with some fresh, outside air.

To clean the laces, I usually just toss them in with the next load of laundry that I run in the washing machine. I do not really “clean” the insoles. If I do anything to them at all, I might just set them outside overnight while the shoes dry on my back porch just to let them air out. I try not to get them wet or scrub them.

Before --> DIRTY!

After --> CLEAN!

I *promise* there is a difference. 😀

A lot of shoe stores will also try and sell you “sneaker wash” or “sneaker cleaner” but all that stuff just reminds me of when my mom used to make me shine my shoes for church when I was little. It is the last stuff I want to “paint” my running shoes with! I never throw my “good” running shoes into the washing machine. The foam rubber of the sole actually causes the shoe to float in the water so they do not really get as clean as you would think. Plus, you also risk the agitator of the machine tearing the fabric upper of your running shoes.

However, I do allow shoes that fall into Tier 3 or below to get tossed in the washing machine (without insoles or laces) and then I set them out to dry on the floor of my utility room. I never ever put any of my running shoes (no matter what tier) in the dryer.

Do you wash your running shoes? If so, how?

Running Shoe Lacing Techniques

4 Oct

When most runners purchase their running shoes from a specialty running store (You are not still shopping at those big box sporting goods stores, are you?) they are already cross-laced and ready to go. Or are they? Did you know there are different ways that you can lace your shoes to make them more comfortable or to help customize your shoes for your feet? Here are some of the more common shoe lacing patterns that help combat some common shoe issues. I tried to find the brightest shoe laces on the brightest pair of shoes I own so that you could see easier.

First, let’s cover the LOOP LACING LOCK. This technique can be used in a number of different lacing patterns to insure a tight and snug fit anywhere along the eye row of your shoe, depending on where your laces seem to be slipping.

In this example, I have put the loop lacing lock at the top of the shoe. The shoe was cross-laced as usual to the top of the shoe. To accomplish the loop lacing lock, put each lace end back into the same hole it just exited, leaving a small loop on each side.

Then thread each loose end through the loop on the opposite side of the shoe.

Pull tight to make loops smaller. Then tie shoe as usual.

PROBLEM: High Instep
Near the toe of the shoe, start lacing with the cross-lacing technique. Once you get to the middle of the shoe, thread the laces up the sides of the eye row, leaving room. Continue cross-lacing at the top of the shoe and tie at the top as usual. This will give your foot room in the midfoot area and help keep the shoe from feeling to tight across the arch of the foot.

PROBLEM: Wide Forefoot
From the bottom of the eye row, lace up the sides of the shoe. Once you get to the middle of the shoe (midfoot), start the cross-lacing technique and continue on to the top of the shoe. Tie shoe at the top, as usual. This will give your foot plenty of room to spread or allow your toes to splay while running.

PROBLEM: Narrow Foot
To help a shoe fit more snugly on a narrow foot, you might want to try adding a loop lacing lock in the middle of the eye row. To accomplish this, cross-lace the shoe as normal up to the midfoot, add a loop lacing lock, and then continue cross-lacing the shoe to the top. Tie the shoe at the top, as usual. Doing this will double the amount of laces across your midfoot, ensuring a snug fit.

PROBLEM: Heel Slipping
There are two good ways of keeping a shoe from slipping on the heel. The first way is to put a loop lacing lock at the top of the shoe (shown in the beginning of the post) and tie shoe as usual. Another way is to use a modified loop lacing lock, called a “runner’s tie.” To accomplish the runner’s tie, cross-lace the shoe until the second to last top hole and then lace up each side of the eye row. Take each loose lace end and thread it back under the side lace of the opposite side. Tie the shoe at the top, as usual.

PROBLEM: Shoe Feels Too Tight
To give your shoe an overall roomier feel, try the parallel lacing technique. To start, lace the first tow eyelets near the toe of the shoe. On one side, pull the lace up through the first eyelet and then straight across the shoe and into the eyelet directly across from it. On the other side, skip the first eyelet and pull the lace up through the second eyelet and then lace it into the eyelet straight across from it. Repeat this skipping an eyelet and lacing across pattern until the shoe is laced to the top. This lacing technique is a little tricky, so here is a link to a video that might help.

PROBLEM: Black Toenails
To accomplish this threading technique, start by threading one end of the shoe lace through the eyelet at the top of the shoe on the opposite side of your big toe. Leave enough lace length to tie the shoe. Lace the rest of the shoe lace through the eyelet closest to your big toe, creating a diagonal lace down the length of the shoe. Lace this long length of shoe lace straight across toward the outside of the shoe and then diagonally up toward the inside of the shoe. Repeat this lacing pattern until the shoe is laced to the top. Tie the shoe, as usual. Lacing the shoe this way allows the material above your big toe to be pulled up and off of the nail when the outside lace is tugged and tied tightly.

These are just a few alternative lacing techniques that may help solve some common runner’s shoe fit issues. I hope this has been helpful for you!

Have you ever tried any alternative running shoe lacing patterns? What issues with your shoe were you trying to resolve?