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Vasquely Superior

Running Shoe Review: Vasque Pendulum

Vasque Pendulum (pair)

Does the Pendulum trail running shoe from Vasque impress or depress?

The Pendulum is the lightest shoe in Vasque’s line-up of trail running shoes. At 10.6 ounces, most would consider it to be a medium weight shoe. I wear tested a pair provided by Vasque. Read on for the verdict.

The Pendulum I received had a calm and understated color scheme, namely Jet Black and Sodalite Blue. There’s an alternate Formula One/Solar Power version that’s a spicier combination of red, yellow and grey, but I found that the black and blue version looks great when paired with Jet Black bicycling socks!

The fit of the shoe is narrow, but it’s not overly snug or tight. The Pendulum has a squared off toe box that allows one’s toes to flex freely. The elastic laces on the shoe stay tied, and there’s an EVA midsole and a TPU plate to protect against rocks and other sharp objects.

When I first stood in the shoe, it felt high, although it feels lower in action. Walking in the shoe to a nearby trail, I felt like I had on a pair of Adidas trail runners. This was true for both the comfortable “feel” of the shoe and its appearance, with the flared out heel that Adidas has often featured.

The Pendulum has a “toothy outsole” which looks like a sparse waffle sole. What’s unique about the shoe, for both good and bad, is that it comes with a 3mm FluxFoam sole. This is a two-density sock liner that’s thick in the apparently EVA-padded rear (this is good) and shockingly thin up front (not so good).

I experienced a couple of issues with the insole. Firstly, the thin forefoot section is not built for runners whose metatarsals need a decent amount of protection underneath them. Secondly, there’s a section of thick foam rubber that rubs against one’s arches, something that becomes irritating as the miles go by.

The thin part of the sock liner promotes the feeling that the Pendulum’s rubber forefoot is more flexible that one would expect it to be. But anyone with metatarsals that become tender on occasion will want to consider substituting the Pendulum’s sock liner with a Dr. Scholl’s Sport insole. There’s a reason why most running shoe insoles are virtually uniform in depth from front to back.

On a trail, the supportive nature of the low-profile Pendulum (which has a 6mm heel drop) comes shining through. On crushed gravel, the shoe is fully protective while delivering a firm but reassuring heel plant. The shoe makes concrete surfaces feel smoother, while providing a pleasing amount of bounce and energy return on asphalt. Because the Pendulum’s lacing pattern holds the foot securely in place, runs on hard-packed dirt trails are something to enjoy and appreciate, as are runs on grass covered trails.

The Pendulum supplies excellent traction and protection on a hard rock trail. With this shoe, you can scramble wildly over rocks that would otherwise punish the feet. I found myself wanting to yell “Attack!” while running over a rough trail that usually beats me up rather than vice-versa.

The Pendulum is also a good walking shoe. It has a “roll through” forward motion that’s satisfying. Since the shoe has a relatively large heel pad for a trail shoe, heel striking runners can pound away on sidewalks, roads and tracks in the Pendulum. Further, it’s a shoe that will work well for mid-foot landers.

Verdict: The Vasque Pendulum is a midsized crossover vehicle for trails and roads. It works well as a trail shoe, a running trainer and as a walking shoe. While the shoe’s insole could use some improvement, this is a protective, highly performing shoe that can be purchased for a moderate price ($110).

Well recommended.

Joseph Arellano

This article first appeared on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-vasque-pendulum/

Outside magazine had this to say about the Vasque Pendulum: “Vasque took a pliable, unpadded upper and mated it to a fat, off-terrain midsole with big, toothy lugs and a protective rock plate underfoot. Which is why one tester called it a ‘stripped down dune buggy with monster tires.’ Be sure to check the fit: some testers found the heel too wide.”

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Run, Run, Run

Running Shoe Review: Reebok Zig Carbon

Reebok Men's Zig Carbon running (500x471)

Is the Reebok Zig Carbon simply a radical looking shoe or is it a true running performer?

“This is radical!” I found myself saying this right after opening the box of new Zig Carbon running shoes provided to me by Reebok. The sole of the ZigLite line of shoes was described by a magazine writer as looking like a Slinky. I think the Zig Carbon’s sole looks like toothpaste, newly released from a tube, that’s happened to freeze into a saw-tooth pattern.

The Zig Carbon comes in a color scheme described by the manufacturer as excellent red, black, tin grey and white. It’s snappy and can be made even more so by pulling out the standard black laces and substituting the alternate pair of red laces that are included in the box.

The fit of the shoe is awesome, at a half-size up it feels just right from back to front (the shoe’s rear snugly surrounds the ankles). The shoe is quite comfortable to walk or jog in, and this comfort is enhanced by the fact that the upper’s materials flex and “give” with every foot strike. The materials actually move away from the foot in motion. It’s a nice feature especially as a few other running shoes claim to offer a flexible upper but fail to deliver on the promise.

One of the key features on this limited edition shoe is a military grade carbon fiber plate. The plate acts as a full-sole rock and hazardous ground materials protector. And yet the shoe, in the men’s version, weighs just about 7.4 ounces.

This is not a minimalist shoe. When you first put the Zig Carbon on it feels high. I would guess that the heel drop runs somewhere between 9.5 to 12mm. It’s a shoe that will appeal to heel strikers and it should also work quite well for mid-foot landers.

The unique sole covers the entire bottom of the shoe and then some. It actually angles out from the edges like some trail shoes of a few years back. The insole fits well and provides a rubbery protective feel. It sits on top of the upper suface of the slip-lasted midsole which also feels rubbery. Working together, the two rubber-like surfaces provide a big measure of energy return for the wearer.

Although this is a neutral shoe the Zig Carbon provides more than a smidgen of stability. A number of minimal to moderate pronators should be able to jog in it. The nylon fused open mesh on the shoe’s forefoot provides breathability for runs in hot weather. The laces on this model stay tied and there are two flap covered eyelets that serve to keep the soft (dare I use the word rubberized?) tongue in place. The fit of the Zig Carbon is so snug and secure that it parallels the feeling of a slip on triathlon shoe.

Initial runs on concrete and asphalt street roads confirm that the ride of the Zig Carbon is ultra-smooth, bouncy and responsive. These shoes make you feel racing flat fast, and that feeling is furthered by the forefoot’s flexibility. There’s a grove in the forefoot that seems to snap, in a pleasant way, with every step. And as you’re moving forward in the Zig Carbon you can feel your toes splaying and griping in an almost feline fashion.

Running on a crushed gravel trail was painless and proved the worth of the carbon plate. There is some slippage since the sole is not designed for trail running but one’s feet are not punished. The protective aspects of the shoe are also felt on a rocky trail. The sole will, naturally, grab and retain some small rocks.

The Zig Carbon provides a very nice ride on a grass-covered trail, and it delivers a bouncy, fun ride on hard-packed dirt.

These shoes made me do something I usually avoid at all cost. They made me proceed to a crushed gravel track to run laps at a quicker pace. The shoe provides a sense of confidence which is no small thing.

The Reebok Zig Carbon is worth checking out if you’re in the market for a lightweight running shoe that does virtually everything well. It does most things well while protecting the feet at a level that’s almost above and beyond the call of duty.

There are said to be some 9,000 sensory nerve endings in the human foot. About 8,900 of them were happy in the innovative Zig Carbon running shoe. 8,900 nerves can’t be wrong.

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

The Reebok Zig Carbon running shoe retails for $110.00.

This article originally appeared on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-reebok-zig-carbon/

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Ready to Run

Zoot Banyan soleZoot Sports Banyan

Running Shoe Review: Zoot Banyan

A few weeks ago, I would have told you that I do not like running shoes with soft heel cushioning and a bouncy ride. That was true until I wear tested the Zoot Tempo Trainer model provided to me by Zoot Sports. That shoe is impressive, and so I decided to purchase another model from Zoot, via Road Runner Sports, to see if I would be equally impressed with it. I selected the Zoot Banyan. Read on to see the verdict.

The men’s version of the Banyan comes in a tri color scheme that Zoot describes as black, green flash and safety yellow. I would describe the colors as bold black, lime green and electric green but I’m color blind. The color scheme in the women’s version is so jumbled that I won’t even attempt to describe it. (My wife says the color mix on the women’s version reminds her of Disney toys.) You can look it up online at the Zoot Sports site.

The Banyan has a virtually straight last, which means this neutral trainer can be used by minimal to moderate pronators. The Banyan’s fit is excellent and the shoe is comfortable; neither tight nor loose. The lacing system is off-center to relieve top-of-the-foot pressure, and it has a secure gusseted tongue. The shoe has a firm heel counter, which is protective, but you will not feel it as there’s plenty of interior padding around the ankles. The Banyan’s soft heel padding carries on a family tradition.

The Banyan has a low to the ground feel but this is not a minimal shoe. After a number of runs in the shoe, I thought of a way to describe its ride. If you could breed a Mizuno shoe (with a traditional 12mm heel drop) with a current Asics running shoe (most of which have an 8mm heel drop), their offspring would feel like this. It may not be totally coincidental that the heel drop on the Banyan is right in between the Mizuno and Asics levels at 10mm. Heel strikers will feel right at home in this model.

The Banyan is lighter in weight than the Tempo Trainer (9.4 versus 10.3 ounces). You might think this difference cannot be felt on the road but it is most definitely noticeable. The Banyan has a blown rubber forefoot, a ZVA midsole and a set of durable rubber pads in the heel. There are a total of 8 pads or pods underfoot, five up front and three in the rear.

There is a concern about these pads/pods, which is that they are glued on the sole. Will they stay on for 300, 400 or 500 miles? I don’t know.

One consumer noted on the company’s website that the Banyan running shoe is “a bit stiff out of the box.” This is a statement I disagree with. I found the shoe to have an almost broken in feel right from the start. And the sock liner seemed to be perfectly matched to the shoe, something that’s increasingly rare these days.

The Banyan’s forefoot sole looks like those found on a more traditional running shoe as compared to the Tempo Trainer. The appearance and feel of the forefoot sole reminds me of early 90s running flats, and the shoe appears to be more flexible than the Tempo Trainer. The Banyan is a less expensive shoe, but for the savings, you get a reduced amount of protection for your feet.

The Banyan is well padded enough to provide an enjoyable and bouncy ride on concrete. On asphalt, the ride is comfortable and steady. This would be a fine shoe to use for a 5K or 10K organized run.

The Banyan feels competent on crushed gravel, but the features that make this shoe special do not stand out on this surface. Because of this, I would choose another shoe for long training runs on crushed gravel trails or tracks.

The Banyan shines on a hard-packed dirt trail, as it’s both flexible and stable enough to deliver a fun run. If this was a car, we would say that it has a great suspension. I’m looking forward to locating a grass-covered trail for a Sunday drive in the Banyan.

Verdict: The Zoot Banyan is a very good to excellent shoe for urban and suburban pathways. It will appeal to those who like a bouncy ride combined with a soft heel strike, and those who prefer a lighter, non-minimalist, shoe for fast paced training runs.

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

This review originally appeared on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-zoot-banyan/

The Zoot Banyan retails for $110.00. Since writing this review, I have had feedback from two runners, each of whom has run 300 to 500 miles in their Banyans. They have experienced no material or construction flaws with the shoe.

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Running on Sunshine

Running Shoe Review: La Sportiva Helios

Is the lightweight La Sportiva Helios running shoe fit for both trail and road?

LS Helios (sole)La Sportiva Helios (side)

At first glance the Helios trail running shoe looks more like a racing flat than a shoe built to take you bounding and pounding over mountain and urban trails. It is heavier than it looks (8.1 ounces) but it is bold in appearance, at least in the grey and orange color combination. The Helios is also available in a more conservative, tamer grey and red color scheme.

La Sportiva describes the fit of the Helios as medium/wide but, trust me, it’s anything but that. I could only get my narrow feet into the shoe — a half-size up from my walking shoe size — by removing the provided insole, substituting it with a thinner sock liner from another trail shoe, and wearing a very thin pair of socks. I would label the fit as narrow/tight.

Although the Helios is a neutral shoe, it’s built on an almost straight last which provides some low-to-the-ground stability. It is a minimalistic shoe with a 4mm heel drop, but with a good sized EVA midsole. The shoe has a two-piece upper and comes with a gusseted and highly padded tongue which does not move around. I changed the lacing pattern on the pair provided to me by La Sportiva, eliminating the use of the extra eyelet which sits a full inch in front of the standard eyelets. This made the shoe feel more flexible up front.

The sole of the Helios looks like nine ocean waves headed toward shore. It is most definitely a wave patterned sole.

There’s a blue rubbery surface on the top of the slip-lasted midsole which implies a softer ride than the shoe actually delivers. The Helios’s cushioning was initially unimpressive on crushed gravel. This changes when one speeds up the pace and then the sui generis soft rubber underfoot seems to take hold. According to the manufacturer, the orange Frixion AT sole is “soft, resilient and lightweight rubber… for road and trail.” One immediately gets the feeling that this is a shoe designed and built for those who prefer to put in relatively fast training runs.

I found that the Helios absolutely comes alive on concrete. Suddenly, you can feel the bounce from the soft rubber which makes it easy to lift one’s feet higher for a quicker ride. Since the Helios is heavier than it appears to be, I think it may be durable enough for more than the occasional run on roads. Warning: Your actual mileage on concrete may vary.

The heel cushioning on the shoe is more soft than firm but it gets the job done. The heel pad looks awfully small, but this is not something you’ll notice while running.

The shoe’s inherent stability kicks in on asphalt when, again, a quicker pace is rewarded with a smooth ride. The Helios should perform well on any organized run from a 5K to a half-marathon.

On a hard-packed dirt trail, the Helios provides a good but not a great ride. Luckily, I happened to find a grass-covered trail on which this model’s pliable sole delivered a blissfully enjoyable run.

I think the biggest issue for many with the Helios will be the fit. You may want to consider a full size up if you try this shoe and note that the toe box is lower than most in height. The shoe is simply snug from back to front, something that a certain number of trail runners will prefer as opposed to a wide, loose-fitting shoe.

The La Sportiva Helios is a hybrid shoe to consider if you train on city or suburban sidewalks or run on minimal to moderately punishing trails at whatever altitude. Just don’t be surprised if someone asks you if you’re wearing racing flats!

Well recommended.

Joseph Arellano

This article originally appeared on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-la-sportiva-helios/

Outside magazine’s Buyer’s Guide supplied this verdict on the La Sportiva Helios: “Our favorite shoe for guys with consistent, midfoot-striking, form who want a really natural feeling, slipper-like fit without getting all caveman about it.” (Well, that’s clear.) And Running Times added these comments: “Some testers had a hard time getting into the Helios, which runs significantly short (try them on in a shop and consider sizing up). Once fitted, however, the Helios brought wide grins to our test team members, because of its light weight, outstanding security, conforming tongue, comfortable upper, strong traction and smooth cushioning. As one tester said, ‘The extra ounce over the weight of the La Sportiva Vertical K was a small price to pay for the added protection and all-day wearability.’ The responsive performance and feel of the Helios were enough to inspire confidence on most surfaces and, one tester commented, it ‘excels as conditions deteriorate.'”

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Keep On Running

Running Shoe Review: Asics GEL-Neo33 2

The Asics GEL-Neo33 2 is a stealth running shoe in more ways than one. The model that I received from Asics arrived in a bold black/lightning/royal color combination that makes it appear more aggressively serious than a daily mid-weight (10.2 ounces) trainer. And then there’s the fact that there’s no visible medial post in this stability shoe — other than a few almost invisible dots in the midsole — but the Duo-Sole support is most definitely present.

The name does not refer to 33 revolutions per minute. Instead it refers to the fact that Asics’s technology is intended to support the 33 bones in the human foot, and this is the second version of this model (thus, its replacement will be known as the GEL-Neo33 3). This shoe has a semi-curved last and a slip-lasted midsole, something that is almost standard on stability running shoes. The fit is narrow from the ankles to the arch of the foot (providing a secure fit), and allows plenty of room for the toes upfront.

The heel strike in this model is quite soft, but the cushioning is sterling and the ride is responsive. I encountered no issues with the lacing.

Experienced runners generally have one thing to say about Asics running shoes, “They require no break-in period.” Correct, and this is true of the GEL-Neo33 2. It’s comfortable as a runner from the very first steps and miles. It’s also a strikingly comfortable walking shoe — something that is not unprecedented. I’ve often used Asics 2000 series running shoes as my Friday and weekend walking shoes.

The GEL-Neo33 2 has an innovative 8mm heel-to-toe drop (the traditional standard is 12mm and minimalist shoes tend to have a 4mm or less drop). As such, it’s likely to assist someone intending to transition from a running shoe with a traditional heel height, like the Mizuno Wave Rider 16, to a minimalist-style shoe like the Skora Core.

The relatively flat sole and lowered heel results in mid-foot landings, and rules it out for sprinting. You’ll find your feet staying closer to the ground as you jog along. You may also find yourself running with smaller/shorter and quicker steps, something that’s actually quite efficient.

I found the support on the GEL-Neo33 2 to be more than minimal, in the mid-range stability category. It should work for anyone with pronation issues, which become more important as motion control shoes are being phased out of production.

So how does the current iteration of the Neo work on the roads? On crushed gravel it performs like a champ. The fully cushioned insole and the forefoot gel pad unit provide great protection, even on a day when one’s metatarsals are bruised and swollen. On concrete, the Neo delivers both a nice bounce and a satisfying energy return. The shoe does not feel as smooth on asphalt but it’s still a far-above-average performer on this surface.

One thing I almost never risk is taking a new running shoe onto a rock-filled trail but I decided to do this with the Neo. It worked perfectly well, remaining highly protective (no stone bruises) with minimal slippage — probably due to the unique multi-pod pattern on the sole. Just keep in mind that you’ll be pulling plenty of rocks out of the sole once your day is done!

The Neo should work well for flat-footed runners, because it has an atypically flexible forefoot for a stability shoe and the forefoot bed is flat — no raised areas to contend with.

The Asics GEL-Neo33 2 displays multiple strengths, although those gifted runners unaffected by pronation issues may want to look instead at the sleeker GEL-Lyte33 2 model (8.4 ounces and with a 7mm drop). For many the Neo will serve as a protective and durable trainer, and a shoe that will maintain their running form on race day whether the distance to be completed is 3.1 or 26.2 miles.

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

Asics-Gel-Neo33-Dropped-HeelAsics GEL-Neo 33 2 (480 x 360)

The Asics GEL-Neo33 2 retails for $100.00.

This article first appeared on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-asics-gel-neo33/

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Run With the Pack

Running Shoe Review: TrekSta Sync

Do you need to run on high mountain trails in order to appreciate the TrekSta Sync stability running shoe?

You may have had this experience: You test drive a new car and are not greatly impressed by it. But then subsequently you find yourself thinking about it, and a day or so later you’re back at the dealership asking a salesman if you can drive it off the lot. In some respects this parallels my experience with the TrekSta Sync, a mountain trail running shoe.

The Sync is a great looking shoe, especially in the lime and black color scheme on the model provided to me by TrekSta of Moscow, Idaho. It’s a mid-weight shoe (10.9 ounces in the men’s version, 9.5 ounces in the women’s version) with a medium fit. While it looks somewhat like a Skora running shoe, there’s an odd angle in the forefoot that reduces the space available for one’s smaller toes. I had to trim my nails close to provide enough space for my toes to fit in the Sync, a half-size up from my walking shoe size.

Standing in the Sync, the low profile shoe — with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop — feels quite flat. Walking in it is not very comfortable and jogging on crushed gravel provides a rough ride for sore feet. Had I been blindfolded in the first few miles, I would have guessed that this shoe was from Saucony — a brand that I’ve not had much luck with. Their running shoes tend to feel not quite soft enough or firm enough to provide a satisfying ride.

The arch feels a bit high in the Sync and the shoe has a distinct sock liner (which arrives with indentations in the insole, as if one had already worn the shoe). At first I didn’t like it. The curved ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) insole proves to be one of the durable components in the TrekSta NestFIT system that make the shoe what it is.

The Sync’s forefoot sole looks like it was modeled after a big cat’s paws, but I never felt the spring or cushioning supposedly provided by the individual forefoot pods — which I thought of as “paw pads.” The HyperGrip sole is said to provide superior traction, but I didn’t notice that.

The Sync is labeled as a stability trail running shoe, so there’s a small second-density medial post that sits underneath the front part of the heel. It’s a small stabilizing device and I never felt its impact while running. The good news began when I realized that my feet were landing perfectly straight with each set of strides. To use another automobile analogy, it’s like driving a car on the freeway and determining that it will travel straight even when you take your hands off the wheel. My confidence in the Sync was now enhanced.

Jogging on concrete and asphalt in the Sync was a more pleasant experience than I’d had on a crushed gravel trail. But the best was yet to come. Running on a hard-packed dirt trail allowed me to find the winning qualities of the Sync. It’s a virtually unbeatable type of shoe on this surface (and presumably on a high mountain trail). The aforementioned once-troubling insole keeps the feet securely cradled in place as your ankles twist and turn like crazy on the trail bends. The TrekSta NestFIT system meets its goal of providing nearly unrivaled support.

The laces on the Sync remain tied and the shoe seems to increase in comfort the more it is worn. Soft foam fabric padding surrounds the ankles, which makes one think of a deluxe racing flat.

Since the feet are riding on top of two layers of EVA, in the midsole and insole, this is a protective runner for road races and street training. I’d feel quite confident about using it in a 5K, 10K or half-marathon.

If you’re a runner who runs on city and suburban streets but would like a shoe that provides an attractive, unique and minimalistic appearance, the Sync should work for you. If you’re lucky enough to run on mountain trails or lowland dirt trails, this Town and Country shoe may be the next best thing to coming home from auto shopping with a new VW GTI.

Well recommended.

Joseph Arellano

The TrekSta Sync retails for $125.00.SONY DSC

TrekSta Sync 3

This article originally appeared on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-treksta-sync/

The Outside magazine Buyer’s Guide (Summer 2013) added these words about the TrekSta Sync: “(T)he Sync… (is) fast and fun, with a smooth enough gait for those who log just as many miles on-road as off.”

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It Keeps You Running

Zoot Tempo Trainer 2Zoot Tempo Trainer 5

Running Shoe Review: Zoot Tempo Trainer

Does the Zoot Tempo Trainer work just as a running shoe, or does it succeed as an all-purpose shoe?

Last week I had the frustrating experience of stopping by a major outdoor goods retailer to try on some trail running shoes. Although I have narrow and thin feet, it was difficult to find a fit among many of the trail runners, even at a full size up. Several of the shoes — including those from Saucony and The North Face, felt quite tight and snug; even more so than racing flats.

Fortunately, fit is not a problem with the new Zoot Tempo Trainer, a stability running shoe with a comfortable medium-wide fit. I hadn’t previously run in a shoe from Zoot (“1983… Born in Kona.”), thus I had no preconceptions about this model that was provided to me by Zoot Sports. But then I have maintained a couple of preconceptions that were transformed into misconceptions by this virtually distinct running shoe.

I say virtually distinct, because as soon as I put on the Tempo Trainers and began jogging, I was reminded of the original Adidas Supernova trainer from the early 90s. This was true for both the fit and the feel. The classic Supernova, a bit wider than most running shoes of the time, provided a smooth ride and a bit of extra stability on rainy days.

The Tempo Trainer is a mid-weight shoe (10.3 ounces in the men’s version) with a two-density midsole. The firmness provided by the small second density post above the arch insert may be just enough to allow a runner to maintain his or her natural foot striking pattern when tired. It is not significant enough – and this is a positive – to force the feet either inward or outward.

My first preconception was that I do not favor running shoes that provide a bouncy feel. The Tempo Trainer’s Z-bound maximum cushioning midsole provides a bit of bounce over crushed gravel, something that’s appreciated by those whose feet regularly get beat up by this supposedly “softer” surface. The same minimal-to-moderate bounce cushioning feels like a protective force when jogging on both concrete and asphalt. The Tempo Trainer’s ride on asphalt is so pleasing that you might find yourself wondering when’s the next time you can sign up for a full or half marathon.

My second preconception was that as a heel striker I do not like soft heels. I’ve continually searched for running shoes with a firm or stiff heel plant. This shoe might have cured me of a strange obsession. The Tempo Trainer has a very soft heel which nevertheless provides a pleasingly smooth ride.

The Tempo Trainer arrives in a Graphite/Black/Blaze color scheme, which most of us would describe as orange and black with neon green laces. If you’re an introvert who disdains attention except when you’re out jogging, these shoes will get you noticed! If you’re on a Most Wanted list, substitute jet black laces for the neon green ones.

The forefoot of the Tempo Trainer is wide enough for your toes to splay at will, and forefoot runners will enjoy the sweet blown rubber section up front. Reflective materials are sown onto the forefoot for night running protection. And speaking of protection, I’ll reiterate that these trainers provide enough cushioning that even those with minimal padding on their feet and/or metatarsalgia will want to sing the Beatles song, “I Feel Fine.”

Well, no running shoe is perfect, so what issues cropped up with the Tempo Trainer? The first is that the sock liner is quite thick – mysteriously so (a friend mentioned that it looks like an aftermarket insole). This Bare Fit shoe was constructed to be run in without socks. Simply replace the provided insole with a standard one from another pair of running shoes — and add socks! — and presto, the fit reverts to feeling normal.

The second issue is that this trail runner feels only competent on a hard-packed dirt trail. The width of the shoe makes it feel more like a ride in a family sedan than in an exciting personal sports car. But the Tempo Trainer gets the job done, making this a bit of nit picking.

The Tempo Trainer is well named as it permits the runner to maintain a consistent running tempo in a style that favors mid-foot landings. The shoe makes for a relaxing walking shoe; it feels Asics-like at walking pace.

All in all, this trainer from Zoot presents a close-to-perfect blend of strengths that should overwhelm any minor weaknesses in it. It’s an all-purpose shoe that may eliminate the need to buy separate shoes for running, walking, visits to the gym and for casual wear. With the Zoot Tempo Trainer, it may be “one and done”!

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

The Zoot Tempo Trainer retails for $120.00.

This article was first posted on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-zoot-tempo-trainer/

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