Friday, May 29, 2015

Solomon S-Lab X-Series Review



I received the Solomon S-Lab X-Series a little over a month ago.  I couldn’t wait to try them out because they are designed to help you tackle all life has to offer in urban settings.  Solomon made these shoes to provide traction and instill confidence on the road or smooth trails.  As far as I have been able to determine, this is Solomon’s first attempt at a road shoe. 

These shoes are extremely comfortable from the moment you put them on.  They have a quick lacing system similar to some of the Hoka One One shoes (the Huaka in particular).  I found that it was quick and easy to lace.  There is a pocket at the top of the tongue to store the excess lace after you tighten them.  I found it slightly difficult to use this pocket, but it is a great idea.

These shoes have a hybrid outsole that takes characteristics from road and trail shoes to provide the best traction on various types of trails.  There are smoother areas that are typically used in lighter weight road shoes and deeper lugs that are typically found in trail shoes.  I found that the traction was great on smooth trails and pavement.  These shoes definitely do not provide enough protection for technical trail running on rocky trails, but I found them to be really comfortable on pavement.

These shoes weigh in at 7.7 ounces for a men’s size 9.  The X-Series has an 8mm heel drop (19mm in the heel and 11 mm in the forefoot).  This provides adequate protection while still giving you that feeling of being connected to the ground. 

The upper is made up of a combination of barely there mesh, thin Lycra, and a more structured nylon area near the ankle.  There isn’t any toe protection so don’t try kicking any rocks.  The upper is nice and airy and I felt that it fit my foot well. 

The X-Series uses a rocker geometry that helps promote a forefoot strike.  This rocker design has worked well for companies like Hoka One One and I did feel it made a difference.  All in all this is a great shoe.  They are somewhat expensive costing $160 on the Solomon website, but you can find it cheaper on various other sites including Amazon for about $125 including shipping. 
 
Pros:
Very comfortable
8mm heel drop
Fits like a slipper
Very light (under 8 ounces)
Plenty of cushion
Quick lacing system
Superior traction on various surfaces

Cons:
A little pricy ($160 MSRP)


I feel that the Solomon S-Lab X-Series is a great shoe and can be used on the pavement, smooth trails, or a combination of the two.  I really like the shoes and they fit like a slipper.  I will be keeping these in my shoe rotation.  This is a great entry into the road shoe arena Solomon.  Two thumbs up!

Facebook http://facebook.com/solomon
Twitter http://twitter.com/solomonsports
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/officialsalomon?feature=CEAQwRs%3D

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What to do if approached by a predator!


I was running on my local bike trail recently and came across a sign that was taped to a mileage post.  It said that there were mountain lions spotted in the area and to not run alone after dusk.  It was a little late for me to take that warning into consideration.  I can tell you my senses were heightened and every little lizard or mouse in the bushes made me think I was being stalked by a mountain lion.  Luckily, I made it home safe.  The sign did say what to do if you are approached though.  I wanted to compile a list of what to do if you are approached by various predators.


Mountain Lion 

According to the California Department of Fish and Game, from 1986-2014, there were only 14 attacks on humans (only 3 being fatal attacks) (1). While it is rare, mountain lion sightings do happen.  Do not run!  Running may stimulate a mountain lions instinct to chase.  Instead, stand tall and face the animal.  Start to shout and throw sticks and rocks (2). This can intimidate the mountain lion, which can make it lose interest.  Your chances of being confronted by a mountain lion are reduced if you are not alone.

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnakes can be identified by two characteristics.  They have a triangular shaped head and typically have rattles at the end of their tails.  One note of caution is that just because it doesn’t have a rattle, that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.  They can lose their rattles and it is hard to see rattles on baby rattlesnakes.  Rattlesnakes are typically docile and would rather stay away from humans than attack them.  Most attacks are due to the snake feeling threatened or startled.  Rattlesnakes shake their rattle to warn you, but don’t always rattle before attacking. If a rattlesnake bites you, it will most likely be painful, but is rarely life threatening (3). 

The first thing to do is to stay calm.  If there is any restrictive clothing or jewelry near the wound, remove it.  There will most likely be swelling near the wound and you don’t want to cut off circulation.  Immobilize the wounded limb as much as possible and try to keep it below your heart.  Unnecessary movement will only make the venom spread faster.  Get to a hospital as soon as possible.  Contact them when you are on the way to let them know that you are coming and that you have a rattlesnake bite (3).

If bitten by a rattlesnake, do not use a tourniquet, try to cut the wound to get the venom out, try to suck the venom out, apply ice, or drink anything (except for a little bit of water) (3). 

Bear
Bears naturally try to avoid humans.  Do not try and outrun a bear.  They can run faster than humans on any terrain.  If you are far enough away from the bear (about 350 feet) and it has not detected you, retreat slowly.  If you need to go past where the bear is, wait a while for the bear to leave (4). 


If you are far enough away from the bear (about 350 feet) and it has detected you, let it identify you as a human.  Stop moving and speak calmly to the bear.  This will let the bear know that you are not a threat.  It will usually give up some ground.  Find a way around the bear, but try to stay upwind of the bear and continue to talk calmly.  That way, the bear knows where you are and that you are not a threat.  You may also wave your arms to help identify you as a human (4). 

If a bear identifies you and starts to act aggressive, you should first assess the situation.  You want to try to retreat if possible, keep an eye on the bear and continue to talk calmly.  Do not look at the bear in the eyes though, just watch for where it is at as you back away.  You can try and climb a tall tree, although bears can climb trees too.  You will want to get at least 30 feet up in the tree.  The hope is that they will feel less threatened with you in the tree and leave (4).

If you are attacked by a black bear, fight back with anything you can get your hands on.  If you are attacked by a grizzly bear, play dead.  After the attack has ended, remain where you are for a few minutes to determine if the bear has left the area.  If so, leave and obtain medical help.  These are the most effective ways to survive bear attacks (4).    

A Human Predator

Most attacks by humans are in locations where people run alone, like remote parks, or are running in the dark.  The best thing to do is run with a partner or run when it is light out.  If attacked, scream or do anything else to draw attention to you.  A cheap dollar-store whistle is a great investment and can help alert people in the area that you need help.  It may scare off the predator as well.  If you are attacked, try to fight off your attacker.  Go for the most vulnerable spots.  Eyes, noses, ears, genitals, and knees are all great places to hit or kick if possible.  This could give you enough time to get to your feet and run away. 

There are several free apps for your smart phone which can help keep you safe and notify your family if you stop moving.  These apps include Kitestring, Road ID eCrumb, bSafe, and the React Mobile app.  While there are threats out there, we can be better prepared to handle these situations.  This will increase the chance of survival.  What are your tips on surviving these predators or others?



Monday, May 11, 2015

Skora Tempo Review


I contacted Skora about testing out a pair of their shoes.  I was able to get a sample of the Tempo before its release to the public.  What drew me to Skora is that they use some of my favorite design aspects like a zero drop platform and a wider toe box than standard shoes (similar to Altra).  This allows your toes to spread out and puts your body in more of a natural running form. 

The Tempo uses some great materials to keep this shoe remarkably light, weighing in at less than 8 ounces.  They have a stack height of 22mm, which is minimal enough to really let you connect with the ground, but provide enough cushion to keep your feet feeling good mile after mile.  Skora calls them “Plush and protective yet flexible.”  I don’t know if I would call them plush, but if you are comparing them to some of their other shoes that are true minimal shoes with only a stack height of 11mm, I guess the Tempo are considered plush.  I would call them just right!

They utilize asymmetric lacing, meaning that they lace at a diagonal instead of straight down the top of the shoe.  This design matches how your foot is shaped and provides a more comfortable and secure fit.  I really like the one piece upper which eliminated stitching, reducing hot spots and providing a better fit for different types of feet. 

I don’t know that I have ever seen a running shoe that has a heel shaped like Skora’s shoes.  The heel is rounded to match the natural shape of your foot.  The upper is made up of a mesh that is extremely breathable and will help keep your feet cool in the summer.

The only negative thing that I could find is that the material in the outsole (bottom of the shoe) is harder high abrasion rubber while other areas are softer.  The high abrasion rubber seems like it is extremely durable and will last quite a while, but the softer material seems like it will probably wear out faster.  I am not sure if that will really shorten the life of the shoe, but it was the only negative thing that I could find.

Pros:
Very comfortable
Zero heel drop
Wide toe box
Very light (under 8 ounces)
Plenty of cushion
Great price (As low as $129 at Skora)
Asymmetric lacing

Cons:
Some of the material in the outsole is soft and might wear faster than the rest of the outsole.

I feel that the Skora Tempo is a great shoe and can be used for training runs, speed workouts, or races.    
I was not expecting these to become my favorite shoes.  I am not talking about liking them a little; I mean that they are my favorite shoes by far.  I love my Altra Instinct 3’s, Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte’s, and Skecher GOmeb Speed 3’s too, but the Tempo jumped to toe top of my list.  I would probably call them the best shoe of 2015 (so far).  Way to go Skora!


Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Do you know the rules of the road/trail?



I have been riding my bike on the local bike trails for over 20 years.  It always amazes me that more people aren’t aware of what side of a bike trail or road you should cycle on versus running or walking.  It also amazes me that many paved bike trails do not have signage that lets people know which side to be on.

The main reason for following these rules are to remain safe.  With cyclists zooming around corners, you need to watch out for them, even though the responsibility falls on the cyclist to yield to runners and walkers.

As a runner or walker, you should be on the left side of a paved bike path (the opposite side that you would drive on).  As a cyclist, you should be on the right side.  Cyclists should yield to runners or walkers and faster runners should yield to slower traffic. 

If you are running in a bike lane along a road, or running on the shoulder, you should also run on the left side against traffic.  The main reason for this is that you can keep an eye on the traffic.  With more people driving with their phone in hand, it is more important than ever to take the initiative and watch out for them. 

If you are out running around dawn or dusk when visibility is limited, it is a good idea to wear reflective clothing and lights.  There are several options ranging from a couple of dollars to over $100.  One of my favorite ways to make sure I am seen is the Tracer 360 from Noxgear (click here for my review).

The Tracer360 is a light weight vest that has fiber optic cables that light up with multiple colors.  You can pick a solid color or have the vest flash through multiple colors.  I have been stopped several times by people asking what I was wearing.  It is powered by batteries and they last for several months before needing to be changed.  You can buy the Tracer 360 at the Noxgear website starting at $55.00. 

Follow the rules of the road or trail and stay safe out there.  By taking a few precautions, you can greatly reduce the chance of injury.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Dr. Cool Chemical-Free Cooling Shirt Review



I have been reading about cooling fabrics and towels that you could put around your neck.  I even bought a hat that had some cooling material in the headband.  I didn’t feel that it worked that good.  I contacted Dr. Cool when I saw they were coming out with the Dr. Cool Chemical-Free Cooling Shirt because I love the Dr. Cool Wraps (Click here for my review of their wraps) and wanted to see if the shirt would actually keep you cooler.

The Claims:
Dr. Cool claims that the shirt delivers three distinct functions to provide chemical free cooling.  It wicks sweat away, circulates moisture, and regulates evaporation.  They claim that by doing so, the fabric’s surface temperature is up to 30 degrees cooler.  They also claim that because they don’t use chemicals like most of their competitors, the cooling effect never washes out.

My Review:
I got this shirt in the mail and to be honest, I was skeptical.  I put the shirt on and went to my Les Mills Body Pump class.  I figured that because I typically work up a decent sweat there, what better place to put the shirt to the test.  I have to say that I was noticeably cooler and my shirt was drier after the class.  I didn’t sweat any less, I don’t think, it just evaporated (or ended up in a puddle on the ground).  The Dr. Cool shirt passed test number 1 with flying colors.  I had similar experiences the following three weeks in the class.  While the shirt was still sweaty, you don’t feel it on your skin.

Now it was time to put the shirt to the real test.  I took it out on a run with my very fast friend.  I knew it would be a struggle to keep up with him, especially because we were doing a 10 mile run, at a fast pace, up some very steep hills.  Oh, it was relatively warm out as well.  “Let’s see you pass this test Dr. Cool!”  Again, I felt cooler than I expected.  The shirt was actually fairly dry in the front, but the back was soaked.  You can feel the air circulating through the shirt which helped with the cooling effect.  I did stay fairly cool and dry.  The shirt passed this test as well.  Good job Dr. Cool, good job…

Pros:
Keeps you cooler than normal running shirts
Great job of wicking away moisture and keeping you dry
Looks great!

Cons:
It fits a little on the large size, so order 1 size smaller.
I only have one

I really like this shirt and plan on buying another one in the near future.  I really like that it is chemical free.  It fit well, looks great, and most importantly kept me cooler.  With the warmer weather on its way, I would recommend this shirt to anyone who wants to stay a bit little cooler.  While it won’t make you feel like you are running through a cooler, it definitely helps.  You can pick up your cooling shirt for $34.99 at the Dr. Cool website.  They have several colors in both men’s and women’s shirts available.






Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.