igottagorun… with Saucony Hattori: Love at First Try

Saucony Hattori Top & Bottom Day1

Love at First Try

I am smitten. And cutting right to the chase, here are the big takeaways from my first run in the all-new Saucony Hattori minimalist running shoe:

  • Hit the ground and I took off… flying!
  • The road – I feel like I am all but barefoot.
  • More nimble, lighter on my feet.
  • I keep going faster.
  • No socks. No hot spots. No blisters.
  • I don’t want to stop.
  • My calves – yes, they’ll be “talking” to me later.
  • Did I mention I am faster?!

I LOVE my Saucony Hattoris! And I can’t wait to lace them up again. Rather, make that wiggle my feet in and secure the velcro straps. These minimalist shoes are minimal all around: fabric, sole, and weight. They fit like a glove. At 3.8 ounces for the women’s (I’ve worn heavier flip-flops) and a zero heel-to-toe drop, you’re darn close to ground level. A thin, and what initially promises to be durable, well-tractioned sole protects you. Plus, these shoes have some pizzazz on the style front. All around, I am tickled pink with my black & pink Hattoris.

Listen for the Buzz

The running world is buzzing about the Saucony Hattori. The shoe officially hits store shelves on May 1st (although a quick call to the Marathon Sports Boston store proves you can snag a pair now). A Boston Marathon Expo early release landed them on my feet. Getting Saucony’s personal lowdown on minimalist running and valuable consultation from the development team, I zeroed in on the Hattori.

Full disclosure: I have a predisposition to really want to like the Hattori. I am a huge fan of Saucony. They’ve been my go-to running shoe for years. And now, with one year of natural running under my belt with Newton (of which I remain a big fan), I am taking my natural running to the next step, going even more minimalist with the Hattori. In fact, I’ll likely regularly cross-train in both the Newton and Saucony Hattori. Loyalties aside, my goal is to remain objective as any running shoe over time may or may not work for me.

Run Smart

Enough said. “Run Smart” – that is the mantra when it comes to minimalist/natural running. Team Saucony preaches it. Team Newton preaches it. You can injure yourself. It’s a running style and shoe you have to transition into. And it’s not for everyone.

So, how “smart” was I in my Hattoris? Well… as smart as I could be. I wrestled with serious temptation to just keep running. I was giddy, smiling ear-to-ear, loving – loving – the feel of running almost barefoot. It was so easy to pick up my pace. And I am not about speed. But shaving 1-1/2 minutes off my average mile first time out – WOW! I haven’t run that fast in a looong time (injured knee). I was having an unbelievable run. It was so very tempting to keep going and not do the shoe-switcheroo mid-run.

I finally heeded the mantra – and my sensibilities to not push my healing knee too far – and switched out about four miles in. Probably should have done so at two miles. I was forewarned that my calves would be sore. Indeed. Sore when I switched out and even more so in the following hours. Nothing that some restorative yoga didn’t help alleviate. (You might recall from previous blogs that natural running and restorative yoga have been key in helping me recover from a knee injury.)

Needless to say, I am initially very impressed and pleased with the performance and comfort of the Saucony Hattori. I am landing midfoot/forefoot. Team Saucony said if I landed on my heel, I wouldn’t want to keep doing so. They were right. For a few strides I consciously tried out some heel strikes. Was rather uncomfortable – unnatural – to do so. Simply more easy and natural to have the desired midfoot/forefoot stride in the Hattori.

A Marathon vs a Sprint

You’ve likely heard variations of the “sprint/marathon” phrase, and I’ll apply my version here: if there is one thing I have learned as I continue to perfect my minimalist/natural running style, is that it’s not a sprint, but a marathon. Need to log more miles to see how the Saucony Hattori ultimately plays out for me. I am taking it one run at a time. And loving it!

For now…

igottagorun!


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igottagorun… with Newton: Let it Snow


Let it Snow

Old Man Winter cometh. Time to change things up with my Newtons. Putting on the winter coat version: the Newton Motion All-Weather Trainer. My primary goal is to have more traction. Secondary is to protect my tootsies from the freezing temps, snow, ice and wind to come. The Motion AW is billed to deliver on all fronts.

Here We Go

It didn’t take Mother Nature long to make me put my new Motion AWs to the test.  Greeted by a cold morning of sleet, it was time to take them out of the box and onto the road.

Impressive traction out of the gate.

And that was a good thing. Turns out I only had a small window of a few days to test out the traction on wet pavement. Then, full throttle. Snow and ice have entered the picture, and it doesn’t seem like that will change anytime soon.

The Motion AW traction holds… extremely well. The water and windproof uppers… no complaints here. And I’ve been trudging through some serious snow in some serious cold.

“V” for Victory

It didn’t take long for my new Newtons to show an interesting sign of wear. The sole right at the tip of the forefront has frayed into a “V”. While the location of the fraying will not impact traction and overall shoe performance, I did expect more resilience to the ice, which I am sure is the culprit.

Overall, I find the initial performance and comfort of the Motion AWs to be in line with my Newton Stability Performance Trainers. I am optimistic I will have sure-footed running as winter takes hold. A fall on the ice will not be good news for my healing knee, never mind any other part of my body. So “V” for Victory… thus far… I say!

Running Toward Spring

Embracing winter with my Motion AWs. But I am running toward spring!

And for now…

igottagorun!

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igottagorun… with Newton: Size Matters

Size Matters

Shoe size, that is! The diagnosis comes from the one who knows best – Newton Running co-founder and shoe creator Danny Abshire. The fit (and answer to my shoe blowout) was only one of several “aha” moments for me this past weekend at the Newton Running Clinic.

One-on-One with Team Newton

It was two well-spent hours with the Newton Dream Team: Abshire as well as Newton’s Director of Product Development, Ian Adamson (world champion adventure racer), and Olympian barefoot runner Zola Budd (very cool).

The clinic was the latest stop on Newton’s Natural Running Symposia & Form Clinics roadshow. A must-do if you wear Newtons or are intrigued by the natural running concept. It’s a free clinic, complete with quality one-on-one time with the experts and helpful insight into the science, benefits and how-tos of minimalist style running. Thanks to Marathon Sports for bringing Newton to town.

Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency

In addition to a half-size bump up in my shoes, efficiency was my other big takeaway from the clinic. Yep, I need to be more efficient with this natural running. While I’m not bad, I can be better. And adapting to a new style of running after all these years will take time. Consider my form a work in progress.

Efficient running tips from the clinic include:

  • Look up… not down (I’m a downer, afraid of tripping during the wee hours of my morning runs)
  • Back straight (tied to looking up) and slightly lean (don’t bend) upper body forward
  • Keep elbows in, arms pulled back (save the flapper style for the dance floor)
  • Keep a low foot lift (think shuffle – almost) versus a high knee lift (you won’t necessarily be faster, but you’ll be more efficient)
  • Land middle to forefoot; even flatfoot is better than a heel strike
  • Stretch after running
  • Work the core to help maintain running posture: crunches, push-ups, single leg balances
  • Go barefoot – let your twinkle toes run along the ground (more likely an indoor track) to help strengthen your feet and better adapt you to natural running. You might throw in a run here and there in Vibrams for similar reasons.
  • Wear the right shoe size (the wear on the shoe tells all. Remember my blowout?!)

Really nothing new here. But nice to know the basics hold true.

The Road to Efficiency

Many of the suggestions are normal routine for me – stretching, working the core, even the low foot lift (and here I thought my inclination to run “shuffle” style was anything but efficient). However, looking up, straightening my back, leaning versus hip bending, and pulling my elbows in (I thought they were!) are the efficiencies I’ve started working on these past few days. And it’s work! Takes conscious effort to make these fine-tune adjustments.

Practice makes perfect. Which means…

igottagorun!



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igottagorun… with Newton: Take 2


Newton: Take 2

I am six weeks into my second pair of Newtons. Loving it. My ride is no longer peppered with bouncy “Tigger” moments. Rather, I have adapted to the mechanics of the Newton shoe and have that bounce, albeit a rather fun bounce, under control. I have fully graduated to the Newton running style.

Well, almost.

Take a look at the above side-by-side comparison of my two left shoes (newest shoe on left side of pic). You can see I am heading toward another…

BLOWOUT!

Yes, a blowout of the left side of my left shoe! A first for any shoe I have ever run in. And I now seem to be running down that same blowout path once again.

A brief step backward to recap the situation: during the first weeks of my Newton test run, I pondered whether an outward roll of my upper left foot was an optical illusion. Apparently not. I was just into the third month of my first Newtons when the upper left side of the shoe gave way, tearing open. Ended up using duct tape as a temporary fix. (By the way, that worked pretty well, too. Not attractive. Not for the long term. But did serve me well here.)

New Fit … or Different Shoe?

Torn shoe in hand, I beelined to Marathon Sports for some serious shoe consultation. Remember, these are not inexpensive shoes. I love wearing them. They deliver for me in multiple ways, but they are pricey and I needed to know if this was a fluke, was I doing something wrong, are these not the right shoes for me (say it isn’t so!). My yoga instructor wonders if I am slightly favoring my left leg over my right due to my healing knee. Makes sense. But whatever is going on, I am certain the problem here is user error and not the shoe.

I bought my first pair directly from Team Newton at the Marathon Expo. Marathon Sports is my go-to store for my second pair. And they are serious about Newtons. My Marathon Sports Newton guru spent a lot of time with me, studying my gait, examining the very telling wear on the soles of my Newtons, etc. The debate: continue with the same Newton model and size as my first pair – OR – go with a men’s Newton to gain more width?

Long story short, it was determined the best course of action was to stay with the same Newton model and size. Lace up my new pair and add a few tweaks to my stride: body more upright and straight versus a suspected bend at the waist, keep my elbows in, and, hopefully, prevent a second blowout. But this week’s mid-point “shoe checkup” and look at the wear on my soles reveals I’m treading toward another blowout.

Augh!

While I am getting more desired wear on the lugs, the bulk of wear continues to be on the forefoot toe areas and waaay too much on the upper left side of my left shoe.

Timing is Everything

Timing is everything. And this time it is in my favor.

Team Newton is holding a running clinic this Saturday. The focus: proper effective form. That has my name all over it. At the encouragement of my Marathons Sports Newton consultant, I’ll be there bright and early – toting both my first and second pairs of Newtons. There’s still time to prevent the looming second blowout and extend the life of my Newtons.

Stay tuned for what I learn Saturday.

Meanwhile…

igottagorun!

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igottagorun… with Newton: Week 9

Newton Road Test – Week 9

Drumroll… I am keeping the Newtons!

I crossed the finish line of my 60 Day Newton Road Test on Wednesday… and kept going!

The Final Stats

I began this running road test with the goal of trying out this new, more natural way of running concept, exploring whether my increasingly fatigued and tight-muscled legs would get a new lease on the running life and, hopefully, avoid further injury to my healing knee. I am thrilled to say green lights are shining across the board.

The Road Ahead

The Newtons show promise that I will have a good running road ahead of me. The only pain I think I’ll soon feel is in my wallet. Yes, the suspicion I had last week that I’d have a rather short road life with these Newtons is pretty much a given. They won’t last more than 3 months. “Flat tires” are on the horizon. My ride definitely has less cushion and the heavy wear on the soles of my shoes confirms why. Three months is what my other shoes gave me. But there were less expensive. However, the benefits the Newtons give me far outweighs the price tag. I am loving my Newtons.

O Days to Go


And so comes the end of my 60 Day Newton Road Test. Fait accompli!

Thanks for following my run. There’ll be more!

For now…

igottagorun!


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igottagorun… with Newton: Week 8

Newton Road Test – Week 8

The countdown clock has official started on my 60 Day Newton Road Test. The finish line is in sight!

Well-Postitioned for a Solid Finish

Cruised through yet another good week in my Newton. All systems go.

There was one interesting development this week. I noticed that my cushy ride is, well, less cushy. A possible sign that the shoe life will come to an end sooner rather than later. If I’m right, and I’m afraid I am, that means these Newtons will give me about 3 months wear. I was hoping for 4-5 months. Newtons come with a rather pricey price tag. Oh well!

4 Days to Go

Yes! In 4 short days my 60 Day Newton Road Test will be fait accompli.

No doubt about it…

igottagorun!

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igottagorun… with Newton: Week 7

Newton Road Test – Week 7

My Newtons continue to deliver. I logged another full six running days in them. No complaints. It was a pretty sweet week.

Kick It…

It’s not a matter of whether the Newtons can kick it. They can. It’s more a matter of whether I can!

Since I seem to be cruising along nicely with my Newton training, I thought I would use the week to play around a bit – mostly by kicking up the speed. It was rather fun… and demoralizing at the same time. These shoes are at the ready. Any upsurge in momentum from me and the Newtons instantly respond, zipping me along. The humbling part is that I’m not game to kick it for nearly 7 miles. But nice to know the Newtons will deliver should I be so inclined.

Whether or not I step up the pace, I continue to be less taxed after a long run. Feet, knees, thighs, calves… any soreness experienced during the first weeks of training is gone. I’ve even become less bouncy in my gait, fully adapted now to running with a more middle to forefoot strike which engages the Newton’s cushy actuator lugs and patented Action/Reaction Technology. I continue to be impressed by the comfortable ride I experience in the Newtons.

11 Days to Go

My 60 Day Newton Road Test is almost complete. Coming off another great week, I am well-positioned for a solid close.

11 days to go. The finish line is in sight!

For now…

igottagorun!

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