SHOES: I had not realized how many different shoes there are for various non-road surfaces! Here is my journey – which continues:
After sliding down the grassy slopes multiple times during bonefrog in my Inov8 F235Lites (fave crossfit and road running shoes), I decided I needed some shoes with tread for future races – not an easy task to find. Evidently, trail running is a niche activity so the typical stores (all sporting goods, REI, EMS, specialized running stores etc) don’t carry many of them. Locally, I did find a few good trail shoes at Runners Alley in Manchester, NH. In general, I recommend ordering online via zappos and just returning the ones you don’t want. The issue is that you may end up keeping all the pairs like me 🙂
1st Test: Altra Superior (shown at top): wide toebox, zero drop, good for hard packed trails, not so different from my inov8 f-lite 235s, except they weren’t beat to hell – I had forgotten what any cushion felt like. I took these out of the box and ran a 9 mile interval workout without issue. Used for run up Mt. Monadnock and it drains well but sucked on rocks/tread is not that great. I had forgotten what any cushion felt like!
However, I used these shoes for 15 mile technical trail run on Blue Hills Skyline trail and they about killed me – toes got jammed into the end due to lack of midsection support and hurt like crazy and no stability support in the midsection for all the rock scrambling so…..
2nd Pair: Salomon Sense Ride 2 – Used on Wachusett 16 miler and did well on rocks and also on the scree at Nashoba hill runs; however, despite good socks and lubing my feet, I got a bad blister on the inside of my bunion on the right foot halfway thru the Spartan Super 8 mile race so…..
3rdPair: Inov8 X-talon 260 Ultra (0 drop) – the 260s have a wider toe box than apparently other inov8s (although note the F935 Lites were very wide and awesome): Ran 23 miles at Ragnar VT with no new blisters or sore spots and also 14 miles with 6000′ elevation at Old Speck Mountain without issue. Overall working well but have to check drainage. Needed to retie laces during run even with a double knot. Note I’m not a huge fan of the speedcross method of lace tying also although they seem to stick better.
THESE SHOES WERE ROCKSTARS AT THE 2019 KILLINGTON ULTRA. Could go up and down the grass, debris fields AND MUD without falling when many were sliding down on their backsides. Tops of toes sore with one big toenail turning black. Right foot top of bunion area painful but no blisters and the pain wasn’t enough to have affected the race.
4th Pair: Altra Lone Peak 4 – these felt similar structurally to the Sense Ride at the running store although a wider toe box. After the beatdown on Skyline Trail, I got the Sense Rides that felt slightly more solid. I bought these with the X-Talons and just decided to not return them (a burgeoning shoe fetish). Shoe laces are short and harder to undo/do than the others. Used on a 6 mile flat trail run and loved them – need to check them out on a technical hill. Update 10/6/19: After a 17 mile trail run, these may have less padding then the Inov8 xtalons as the bottoms of my feet hurt.
Now that I am over 2 hour runs, am trying to do a better job with carrying water. I had a 3 hr run last weekend so got the Nathan hard plastic waist bottles (each ~10 oz) ~$50 seen below and ran in a loop to refill every hour. Mixed water with 1 scoop Tailwind and split between the two drinking every 15 min. Was weird at first as you have to hold your elbows slightly out so they don’t hit bottles but was fine this week – no issues at all with waist carrying.
For this week, I wanted to plan a 4-5 hr mountain hike so needed a bladder. I went to Runners Alley in Manchester, NH (good store) and got this basic $70 Nathan 1.5 bladder (as the small hand carry bottle alone was $40 I just upped the size). Several issues:
- Evidently I forgot to get rid of all the air so it was horribly sloshy
- The hose you drink from when hanging down, leaked whenever pressure was put on bladder. I ended up tucking it upwards to help with this after my leg got wet.
Hike ended up being way shorter than planned (2 hr vs. 4-5) so I mostly just used the waist waters and a little of the bladder.
Then I purchased my Inov8 Two in one pack which, in addition to having a 2L hydration pack, has two 18 ml side water bottles and an extra, clip on storage area I can carry my shoes with to XFit during a bike ride or extra clothes on a hike. This pack gets me 5 hours worth of water! Have been using it for weeks now without issue. I only wish the side pockets were more contained – feels like stuff can fall out. I just use them for trash and keep food in my pants.
After researching for the Ultra race, I spent a whopping $85 to get 3 spare bottles (one bladder and 2 side bottles) so I can put them filled with tailwind in my transition bin for halfway changeout.