Review – Naked Running Band

The Naked Running Band is a high performance running waist band with 3-4 litres carrying capacity. It is distributed internationally by Naked Sports Innovations and available from their website for US $45.99 plus postage of US $7.95 within the USA.

The Naked Running Band features unique design with three individual mesh pockets which cover the circumference of the runners waist. These three pockets are designed to store almost all running accessories such as water bottles, sunglasses, gloves, mobile phones or nutrition products. Available in 12 different sizes to fit every individual correctly.

One of the main complaints with running belts or bands I have used in the past is when they are filled with anything remotely heavy they suffer badly from bounce. When running bands or belts bounce they become uncomfortable and annoying. One of the claims of the Naked Running Band is that is bounce resistant, so I was hoping this one would be different. Having seen this product being used by some of the ultra running worlds best athletes including Timothy Olsen and Pau Capell I was keen to test it out. I’ve been using the naked Running Band now for approx. a month and used over a variety of runs carrying a variety of accessories.

The first noticeable positive is that bounce is virtually eliminated even when each of the pockets are heavily used. I used during a three hour long run and utilised all three of the pockets with a mobile phone, nutrition gels, gloves and a 500ml soft flask, there was no bounce or discomfort from wearing the band. Using the three individual pockets is very easy to access while running as there are pull tabs on each pocket and the mesh outer easily moves away to allow access both in and out whilst on the run. This is a simple design and very effective, no need to play around with zippers while on the run. This will be particularly helpful during races allowing you to concentrate on running rather then accessing your running band.

Another positive is that comfort while running is excellent. With 12 sizes to choose from it is important to get the right size as there is no adjustment available or required. When selecting my size I used the sizing chart provided and was easily able to choose my size which fit perfectly. The Naked Running band is tight across the waist but very comfortable and virtually unnoticeable when running. Even with all pockets utilised the weight in the pockets doesn’t alter this and comfort is fantastic.

A couple of cool features included are the race bib shock cord adjustments allowing for easy attachment of race numbers. Another feature on the back of the Naked Running Band is two silicone elastic straps that can be used to secure a rain jacket or folded running poles.

The Naked Running Band is a brilliant running product, the storage capabilities from the three pockets are extremely impressive and perfect for using over long training runs and races. This is head and shoulders the best running band I have used. The comfort, even after a number of hours running is perfect and the storage is fantastic. Without doubt the best feature is the elimination of bounce when wearing the band even with all pockets filled. This is a must have product for all long distance runners.

 

Disclaimer: Thank you to Naked Sports innovations for supplying a Naked Running Band for the purpose of this review. 

 

 

Review – Gladsoles 10mm Super Trails

It’s no secret that my running footwear of choice is usually barefoot running sandals from US brand Gladsoles. I have now run in Gladsoles for almost five years now and for the past 2 – 3 years they have been on my feet more than any other. Whenever I am due for more barefoot running sandals I email Rich at Gladsoles and ask if he has anything new coming out. The purchase of these sandals came because my Trail 2.0 sandals had reached their decline after 1400km over all surfaces. This time around Rich let me know he had a new Vibram rubber that I may be interested in.

Enter the Gladsoles 10mm Super trail. These sandals are built on 10mm thick Vibram Nuflex rubber, the Trail 2.0 sandal was built on a 8mm thick Vibram Gumlite rubber. It was explained to me that the Nuflex rubber would be slightly less dense and slightly more flexible than the Gumlite rubber. If there was any criticism of the 8mm Gumlite rubber it would be that it was slightly too dense and didn’t have a lot of give.

What is missing from barefoot running sandals compared with most running shoes is mid sole foam. The mid sole foam is there to provide cushioning. When you run without mid sole foam your feet and ankles take more impact. There is no doubt this puts more stress on this area however in time the feet and ankles strengthen to the point where mid sole foam becomes irrelevant to your running. The effect of not having cushioning is mainly evident on longer runs as fatigue impacts running economy and running form. This has stopped me wearing sandals in road marathons to this point until my feet and ankles become even stronger. What I’ve been looking for in a barefoot running sandal is exactly what the 10mm Super Trail sounded like.

Immediately after running in the 10mm Super trail it was noticeable that the Nuflex rubber reacts slightly differently. It is quite a bit more flexible than the Gumlite rubber and slightly less dense. The benefit to this is a very small amount of give or cushion effect, that may be enough to help the feet, ankles and legs fatigue less through long runs and be able to run better for longer periods. The Nuflex rubber has been tested multiple times already on long runs of up to 3 hours 30 minute and this is evident.

Having a more flexible sandal means you still get fantastic feel from the ground whether you choose to run on road, trail or other surfaces. These have so far been tested on road, trail and beach conditions and passed each test comfortably. Initially this was a concern moving from a 8mm sandal to a 10mm rubber and whether this would affect the feedback you receive back from the ground. The 10mm sandal does give slightly less feedback however the benefits for longer runs outweigh this ever so slight negative.

The possible downside to a less dense rubber is longevity. The 8mm Gumlite have run 1400km and counting, I am unsure whether the 10mm Nuflex sandals will give this type of mileage. So far though they have run 150km and have virtually no visible signs of wear to the sole of the sandal. These sandals most certainly give 1200km+ meaning they are giving double what most running shoes twice their price return.

Gladsoles sandals are custom made to a tracing of both feet which you email when ordering. This is a huge benefit from any other product on the market. They are hand crafted and customised to your feet making sure that every sandal is a perfect fit for the individual runner.

So far the running experience in the Gladsoles 10mm Super Trail has been excellent. These are the fifth sandal I’ve owned from Gladsoles and for running long distances they are the best yet. Running in this sandal so far and testing it over marathon specific long runs in training, I am confident this sandal can get me through a road marathon (or a race on any other surface) in my best shape.

If you are looking for a barefoot running sandal for your running give Gladsoles some consideration. While they may not be the most recognised name in the barefoot sandal arena they make up for it by working hard to make a mighty good running sandal. The customisation can’t be understated as every sandal will fit perfectly and the customer service is superb.

The Gladsoles 10mm Super Trails are great choice of barefoot running sandal. #freethefeet

 

Coolcore Multi Chill – Product Review

The Multi Chill by Australian brand Coolcore is a versatile, multi-functional headwear item suitable for all types of outdoor sports and leisure activities. Coolcore advertise 12 different ways that the Multi chill can be worn that offer a suitable headwear item for all climates. The secret to the Multi chill and the other products offered by Coolcore is the fabric which claims to use a technology to keep you cooler, drier and more comfortable with a competitive advantage. If you would like to know more about the technology in their fabric visit coolcore.com.au for more details, there is a comprehensive explanation of the technology in the fabric provided.

I have been testing the Multi Chill for 6-8 weeks on a variety of my runs over differing weather. I wanted to test the product on both hot and cooler days and see if the fabric really did cool me during my runs. During these runs I have  used the Multi Chill in a variety of the 12 styles however predominantly the sweatband, saharine and bandana styles.

The main question I wanted to answer was, does the fabric provide a cooling effect? From my first few runs wearing the Multi Chill it was apparent that this is true, I could feel the fabric cooling my head as my body started to heat. The result wasn’t a huge cooling effect but certainly enough to feel a noticeable difference when running. These initial runs were all in mild weather in the early morning.

Using the Multi Chill under hotter condition and runs under direct sunlight, I was surprised to find the cooling effect is greater then the milder conditions. This seems to be when the fabric performs best, during these runs as my body and head heated the fabric again provides the cooling effect. The feeling is not extreme, but rather a noticeable cooling of the head. This also has the benefit of you staying drier, as the Multi Chill absorbs sweat from running the head and hair definitely stay drier and helps keep you comfortable while running.

If you are looking at the Multi Chill or other products from Coolcore and expecting a huge cooling effect in hot conditions then you may be disappointed. However the fabric used by Coolcore will provide relief from the heat of the sun and the natural heating of the body during exercise.

Using the Multi Chill at night in cooler conditions is also a positive experience. Using in the bandana method allows for warmth in the beginning of the run and as the body heats up the head remains comfortable. I haven’t been able to use the Multi Chill in very cold conditions yet however I don’t see any problems as the Multi Chill can be worn in a way to provide warmth and also the fabric’s cooling will happen when the body heats during the run.

If you are looking for a multi-functional headwear item for running or other sporting activity, I don’t see any weakness in the Coolcore Multi Chill. The claims that Coolcore make in regards to their fabric are accurate and the Multi Chill is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. It’s a welcome addition to my running accessories collection

The Multi Chill sells for AUD $19.95 plus $6.95 shipping within Australia. This is well priced against other products in this space with not many staking claim to the cooling effect that Coolcore offers. Coolcore has a range of products all using the same fabric, check them out at coolcore.com.au for more details.

 

 

 

*Disclaimer: Coolcore provided a Multi Chill without charge for the purpose of this review.

Carson Footwear Iguana Racers – Review

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Earlier this year I purchased the Iguana Racers from Carson Footwear and right from the start the experience with this company was a happy one. I found out about Carson Footwear from stumbling across them one day on the internet and was intrigued by the brand. I decided to investigate the brand further and liked what I saw, so I needed to try some of these out.

Each pair of Carson shoes are made by hand in Oregon, USA. They have some of the most fun and cool colours and designs you’ll see on a running shoe. The hardest part is picking the design you want. I decided to go with the Iguana racer, which was the first design to go to market for Carsons. My experience started with me ordering the wrong size, Carson use a last sizing which is different from the current shoe sizing standards and despite using the sizing chart I got it wrong, the size I ordered was too small, not ideal when the shoes have already travelled from the US to Australia. The service from Carson Footwear was great, they promptly sent me a new pair and I returned the incorrect sized pair.

From my first run in the Iguana racers I immediately noticed they were different to every other pair of running shoes I’ve worn. Initially I thought they felt heavier than advertised but once I ran in them my opinion changed. The biggest difference is the polyurethane midsole/outsole that is zero drop with a 10 mm stack height. The polyurethane midsole/outsole is where most of the weight is in the shoe which makes the shoe have a lower centre of gravity which makes the shoe feel very light once running in them. Also the polyurethane reacts differently to a traditional EVA midsole as it absorbs the impact over a larger surface area giving greater ground feel. The advantage of this is it allows for more cushioning with less material under the foot, which is what we want in a minimal shoe. The polyurethane is remarkably flexible, 10mm under foot is not very much, but it is more than enough to give a smooth ride over all surfaces and a comfortable running experience. Like every good minimal shoe there is a wide and roomy toe box. With a flexible, light and responsive midsole and outsole the foot makes the decisions for the shoe rather than the opposite.

The upper material is extremely comfortable, made from a synthetic mesh, and very breathable in hot conditions. As said previously the upper are available in numerous fun designs. You will be asked about your shoes when you wear them.

The Iguana racers are head and shoulders the most comfortable shoes I have worn. I have now run over 400km in these shoes, they have been tested on all surfaces, technical trails of both dirt and rocks, as well as road and beach. They are responsive on the technical trails and although the tread is not extreme gives more than enough grip when needed. The feel is very smooth and comfortable for a shoe with only 10mm stack height, in my opinion this is the advantage of the polyurethane. Comfort on the road is fine, however I think they are best suited to the trails. Each time I run in these I feel like heading to a trail.

After 400km in the Iguana racers they are now firmly into my running footwear rotation. Whilst some shoes with traditional EVA midsole won’t last much longer than 400km, the Iguanas are just coming into their own. There is some visible wear to the sole but there are many more runs ahead in these shoes. So if you don’t like buying shoes every few months than these are for you.

Overall the Iguana racer is perfect for anyone comfortable running in a minimal shoe. If you haven’t transitioned to this style of footwear it will take some time. The comfort, ground feel and cool designs make sure the Iguana racers are a happy experience every time I run in them.

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Review – Gladsoles Trail 2.0

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I recently took delivery of a new pair of Gladsoles trail 2.0 barefoot sandals. Gladsoles website simply calls these Trails, I’ve added the 2.0 to differentiate from the first pair of Gladsoles Trails I owned as the sole is different and the run is slightly different. Don’t be confused if ordering these, you’ve been warned.

The Gladsoles trail 2.0 is an 8mm Vibram Gumlite sole custom made to your individual tracing of your feet that ensures a perfect fit. They are a natural zero drop huarache sandal. 8mm is not a lot of rubber under foot, but it is enough and it’s enough to give you a great running experience.

In the time I’ve owned these sandals I’ve given them 79km of use. 79km over seven runs on a variety of terrain. First thing I notice about these sandals is they are slightly less flexible then the previous Gladsoles I’ve run in. This was reiterated by Rich at Gladsoles when I asked the difference in the sole, in his words, the Vibram Gumlite sole is denser and will take longer to cold to your foot but provide slightly more protection.

The denser sole certainly takes a little longer to mold to your feet however this doesn’t impact comfort a whole lot in the early runs. Straight away these sandals felt very familiar and easy to run in, once lacing was perfected the running experience is very natural. It is true to say that sandals become better the longer you wear them, my last pair ran 1100km in total and only as the sole started to break down in the last 100km did they not feel great. I anticipate this denser sole will last more than 1100km. The absence of a mid sole compared with regular running shoes is the reason why they last longer.

The Vibram Gumlite sole definitely gives more protection from objects under foot. This is  a big plus for this sandal, the extra protection allows for a more confident foot landing over trail terrain in particular. Ground feel is still amazing  despite the extra protection and slightly less flexibility.

I have run a number of runs over road, trails and beach in these sandals so far and been very comfortable in them on all surfaces. Being winter in Australia I have completed these runs in Injinji toe socks as most of my running is done in early morning and cool conditions. I have run two 20km + long runs in these, a 5km race, a hill repeats session and a number of aerobic runs to give them a variety of runs. The slightly less flexible sole has no impact on the running experience, the Trail 2.0 is a joy to run in, they give a pure barefoot running experience allowing the foot to move freely in its natural state and is not limited  or controlled at all by the footwear. This denser sole offers a more confident ride which should translate into faster running over longer distances.

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The fit of Gladsoles is perfect, being custom made to your tracing the fit simply couldn’t be better. Getting the lacing correct is important though and will take a few attempts to get the feel right, once this is achieved they feel like an extension of your feet.

The vast majority of my runs is now done in these sandals as it was with the previous trail model. Currently in the early stages of a marathon preparation and these sandals will be my footwear of choice for all my longs leading up to this race and the race itself. the race is a beach and trail marathon with a large variety of terrain changes throughout, i have no doubt that the Trail 2.0’s will help me get the job done in training and on race day.

If you are transitioning from a regular running shoe with a high heel differential be patient. The barefoot running experience will change your life for the better if you transition correctly.

Gladsoles-NewTrail

 

 

 

 

Review – Gladsoles Original Barefoot Sandals

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Earlier this year I discovered GladSoles Barefoot sandals on Twitter. I had been researching a few barefoot sandal brands and was instantly interested when I read more about GladSoles. The fact they are custom made was impressive , the fit could only be perfect if they are custom made.

A couple of weeks later I decided to order some, I decided on the Original instead of the Trail or Lite models. Although I run on some trails, a good percentage of my running is on road so I thought the Original was the best choice for me. I filled my cart online and found what I thought was a large issue. Shipping not available to Australia. This was a disappointment. I sent GladSoles a tweet asking if they would ship to Australia, within an hour I had a reply telling me to email and I would be able to order and shipping would be available. Awesome result, I emailed and was promptly emailed back. The same afternoon I did my tracing and emailed it through, my work was done, it was all up to the GladSoles team now. The same evening I got an email from GladSoles saying ” Your sandals have been made and posted this afternoon, and I’ve thrown in an extra set of laces for you.” Overall, fantastic service which is refreshing from an online purchase and something all online retailers should take note of.

Unfortunately two weeks had past before I ultimately received my sandals, it felt like two months because I was very excited to get these sandals and start running in them. It is a long way from the US to Australia so the postage time is the standard time, my impatience didn’t help.

Very keen to try, I quickly watched the you tube lacing video available and got them on my feet. My first run in the was a little 3km jog around the neighbourhood and instantly I liked what I felt. My first thought was that these gave incredible feel on the ground. 6mm of Vibram sole under your foot is not a lot, but it is enough to protect your feet and give a pure barefoot experience.

Since this first run I have given the GladSoles a solid test over many terrains and a variety of running paces. I have given them a test on road, both dirt and rocky trails, on the beach and in wet off road conditions. On all surfaces they have responded well. On road they give a Pure Zero Drop experience, amazingly low to the ground. I have run in other zero drop shoes but these are a different world away in terms of a low to the ground running experience. Plus my feet enjoyed being free. They are cooler and love the wind and elements against them.

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Over trails I found the Original very good, on uneven terrain your feet will splay on landing allowing you to grip the terrain when needed. With only 6mm of Vibram between you and the trail you can feel everything you step on, giving you amazing feel on the ground and the confidence to raise your pace. I would love to compare the Trail models 8mm sole over the same type of terrain but I found the Original very good on these surfaces.

Overall the one thing that stands out after running in GladSoles is that I now look forward to every time I run in them. I have 3-4 other excellent pairs of minimal running shoes I can put on when I go for a run but more often than not I choose the GladSoles.

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For those looking at a barefoot sandal I would highly recommend the GladSole Original. The fact they are custom made will ensure you have a perfect fit. I haven’t needed to tinker with the lacing design at all, they stay perfectly on my feet across all surfaces.

If you are interested in GladSoles use the coupon code: therunninger and you will receive a 15% discount. I am positive you will enjoy the pure zero drop experience of running in GladSoles

Review – Inov 8 Road X 233

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Last year I discovered Inov 8, a UK company that mainly specialise in trail running shoes. My training is predominantly a mix of road, trail and beach running so I decided to try the Road X 233 as opposed to a more trail specific shoe.

The first thing you notice about Inov 8 running shoes is the bright colours, well built shoes and easy to understand arrow system which allows anyone to easily transition into more minimal running. The Road X 233 is a 6mm drop or 2 arrow on the Inov 8 system.

I purchased my Road X 233’s, they arrived a week later and I was very keen to put some miles on them. In terms of fit the Road X has a largish toe box which is great for those transitioning to minimal running as it gives the toes room to find the ground. Otherwise I found them comfortable around the heel and mid foot and at 233 grams or a bit more as mine are size UK 11 light.

After a few short runs they were run in and very comfortable to run in whether at speed or on a easy run. They are light and responsive. The last is quite firm and stiff which I like but some may prefer a little more give especially on a firm surface like road. If these are your first step to transitioning I would suggest start with some smaller runs and build up as the 6mm drop is noticeable but will still put more strain on your calves and Achilles than a traditional supportive shoe.

Overall I love the Road X 233, they are one of the fastest road shoes I’ve run in. Light, comfortable and extremely durable. I like the room in the toe box that these provide. I’ve put about 200km on them so far including a half marathon and they still feel like they have many miles left in them.

For those considering Inov 8 as their shoe of choice, don’t hesitate, the Road X 233 hits the mark nicely.