Tag Archives: Gear Review

Training this week – Things are going much better


The last post I wrote on my training I was a little down on the lack of running and worried about the ultra in May, as of today I am feeling much better in myself.

This week I have done something (either cycling or running) every day and despite feeling a little sore as I sit here and type, am feeling in good shape. Monday through to Thursday it was the usual cycle commute to and from work, with me covering a total of 94.66 miles for the week. The wind throughout the week added to the challenge of this, in the mornings it was behind me on an essentially down hill route but in the afternoon it would be blowing in my face the whole, uphill return journey (by Thursday evening my legs were battered)

Friday saw me try out running in my lunch break. As time is limited I opted to do a 2 mile speed session, running this in 14:41 with an average pace of 7:16/mi which for me is quick and given my lack of any speed training so far something I was pleased with, this set me up well for the long run on Saturday.

My long run started early with me getting up around 06:30 to get my kit ready and head out as soon as possible. My plan for the day was to run around 20 miles with the minimum kit required for the NDW100 in August. My reasoning for this was in part to get used to the weight of the stuff needed, but also to test out the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Race Vest that I would be using for the event (and the NDW50)

This picture shows how much stuff the pack can carry
This picture shows how much stuff the pack can carry

I will go into more detail on the race vest in a separate review, but suffice to say after the unimpressive first run in it last week, I am sold on it now (why in my review)

Setting out at around 07:25 I headed out to join the North Downs Way following my usual route, picking up the NDW just before Gravelly Hill.

Me at Gravelly Hill wearing the SJ Vest
Me at Gravelly Hill wearing the SJ Vest

From Gravelly Hill I headed East along the North Downs Way, stopping as and when to grab some photos not worrying too much on the timing, just enjoying being outside in the sun.

Spring is most certainly here
Spring is most certainly here
Great views, this is why I trail run
Great views, this is why I trail run
Not a cloud in the sky, you could see for miles
Not a cloud in the sky, you could see for miles
Just a phot of some cows
Just a photo of some cows

I carried on east just past what would be Botley Hill checkpoint on the NDW50/100 until I reached just over 10 miles (around Tatsfield), turned around and reversed my route to bring me in a nice 20.

Positives

  • Pace wasn’t terrible
  • North Downs Way has dried out significantly
  • SJ pack with a full load in it is awesome
  • Hoka’s didn’t give me blisters on my insteps since taking out the insoles
  • I wasn’t completely shattered at the end

Negatives

  • Hokas gave me blisters on my big toes instead
  • Could have done with more gels or some solid food
Sore toes from the HokaOneOne Mafate
Sore toes from the HokaOneOne Mafate
With stops excluded the pace was 12:02/mi and a time of 4:04:34
With stops excluded the pace was 12:02/mi and a time of 4:04:34

Wanting to finish the week on a high and get another run in, I went for an easy paced 7 mile run in the mid morning which although still a bit achy from the Saturday wasn’t too bad

Despite not doing a massive amount of running it seems that the cycling and shorter runs have allowed me to maintain the capacity to still do the longer runs, which is comforting. I am not going to rest on my laurels and realise that the 50 in 27 days is still going to be a challenge, but one I am going to give my all to.

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New Balance Minimus MR00BS: Verdict


I have been meaning to write a longer review on these trainers following my first impressions post ages ago, I have run a marathon in them (my first in zero drop shoes) and several medium distance road runs since, I have come to a painful (literally) conclusion; “Not for me”.

This was not the decision I wanted to come to, I love the Minimus trail range of shoes and really wanted to like their road focused brother but it was not to be. In terms of the design I love some of the tweaks that New Balance have put in place over their other Minimus shoes, such as the tongue being attached one side. I also really like the feel when you put them on, almost like wearing a slipper they do feel really comfortable which makes the issues I have had with them all the more surprising.

Wearing such a shoe for the first time on a marathon probably wasn’t the best idea, but having run in other Minimus trainers (including the trail zero drop version of this one) I was reasonably confident that blisters wouldn’t be an issue. I was mistaken in this belief, and about 3 miles into my run noticed a sore point occurring under the ball of my left foot, this progressively got worse as the race went on and although it didn’t prevent me from finishing, I was left with a rather angry blister at the end.

Post-race I put this down to the socks that I had been wearing, I couldn’t believe it would be the shoes as I had never had this problem with the others from the range. With this in mind, my next run (after blister recovery!) I wore them again with some socks that I knew were never going to give me a problem (I wore these for my Ultra) but again, same spot on my left foot a blister started forming. I persisted with the shoes for a few more runs but with no respite from the blistering I have had to shelve these for running completely.

I am still not sure why this problem occurs, it could simply be the fit of the shoe, the repetitive nature of road running over trail running, or a combination of both which gives me the issue; although I have run in the MT00 trainers on the road and have not had any blisters so I am more inclined to think it is the trainer. As I have said it is a shame because the trainers themselves from an aesthetic point of view are really nice, well designed, light weight and made with good materials.

I guess that a lesson here is that just because you have no problems with other trainers in a range, you can’t assume that they will all be alike. I am still going to wear them, as I say they are comfortable to wear so I will continue using them as casual wear.

First Impressions: New Balance Minimus Road (MR00BS)


So far my runs have always been either completely trail or mostly trail and as such I didn’t own any road specific trainers. With the Snowdonia Marathon looming and my birthday a few days before I took the opportunity to get some road trainers.

The familiar look of the New Balance box, I have many of these in my cupboard (much to my wifes annoyance)

Having fallen in love with the Minimus range (on my 3rd pair of MT10, first pair of MT00 and second pair of MT110) I asked for the Minimus road zero drop shoes. Getting my hands on them today, these are my first impressions:

Ah that new trainer smell

Immediately looking at them I notice that the material that they are made out of is more akin to the MT10 rather than the MT00, a thicker yet breathable upper with a bit more substance to it rather than the bare minimum of the MT00

The trusty Vibram sole

When comparing the MR00 to the MT00 , although they are both zero drop shoes the MR has significantly more cushioning under foot, with a thicker sole giving a more protective feel. Trying them on I notice that my foot arch feels more supported, which given the repetitive foot strike on the road could be a good thing. The Vibram rubber feels tough, hopefully meaning that they will be hard wearing and able to put in the miles

This shot shoes the thicker sole designed for the road, while retaining the zero drop
The tongue on the shoe has been redesigned

My biggest gripe on the MT00 is the tongue, it’s a thin piece of material that has a habit of folding over on itself and causing tight spots on the foot and its a real pain to adjust, even a pain to simply get flat when putting the trainer on. This looks like it will not be a problem on the MR00 with a wrap around tongue which is part of the shoe on once side (as per photo). It is also thicker and retains its shape so I don’t foresee any movement at all when running.

So, first impressions are good. I am looking forward to giving these a good test on the Marathon (I know not the done thing really but I have faith in the shoe) I will give a full review of the shoe afterwards.