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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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Asics Gel Neo orange

A running shoe review. We take a look at the Asics GEL-Neo33 2 stability trainer.

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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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