Ginger Runner Holiday Gift Guide

@ethannewberry on Instagram

@ethannewberry on Instagram

You know those days where running is the last thing you want to do? Ethan Newberry, aka the Ginger Runner, is looking to change that. His blog, gingerrunner.com, is brimming with reasons why you  should get out, get active and most importantly, have fun doing it. His humorous running gear reviews break down the tech specs so you know what you’re working with when you lace up and head out the door. Check out his top 10 picks for the holiday season.
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Light Up the Night in Reflective Running Shoes

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Running is our time to reflect—so make sure your shoes are paying their dues! These styles boast hi-vis fabrics and shiny detailing to give you one more layer of safety when you’re eating up miles before breakfast or taking a spin at dusk. Light up the night in one of these poppin’ bright picks.

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3 Nathan Performance Accessories You Need for Fall

With fall races on the horizon, it’s crunch time. Your training runs are getting longer, your running shoes are getting down and dirty with the pavement or trail, and your confidence is soaring because you keep nailing your pacing (or at least you’re trying!).

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Top Shoes from Summer Outdoor Retailer 2014

Phew! This summer’s Outdoor Retailer trade show was a whirlwind of a trip. We saw so many exciting new things for spring 2015 that we are already counting the days until we can add the new styles to our shoe rotation. Here are the top 10 we are most excited for (in no particular order).
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We’re Headed to Outdoor Retailer!

Outdoor Retailer is a chance for run specialty brands to show us what new styles and technologies they’ve dreamed up for next season—and make us faint from happiness over everything we see. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we take on the show. We’ll get you the dish on spring 2015 styles so you know which pair to have your sights set on next.

Breaking Down Merrell’s AllOut Technology

flashMerrell has long been known for its barefoot-inspired trail running shoes. This year, it’s taking new strides and expanded its lineup by creating the AllOut series, a collection of neutral cushioned shoes that offer a touch more support than zero-drop options.
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5 Trail Shoes for Spring

With all these April showers. we know the impending May flowers are going to be pretty awesome. And what better way to see them than to tackle the trails?! We’ve pulled five of our favorite styles to entice you to get off the beaten path and explore the road less traveled.

Brooks Cascadia 9

The Cascadia got an update as fresh as spring for its ninth birthday. And the icing on the cake? Runner’s World awarded the shoe its coveted Editor’s Choice award in its April 2014 issue. The Cascadia’s midsole is Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA compound. The thing about Brooks DNA is that it gives you custom cushioning.  It responds to the amount of force you exert and disperses that energy accordingly. All that means is that you get softness underfoot when you want it and responsiveness when you need it. The fact that the Cascadia uses the BioMoGo variety means it is a more eco-friendly pick because of its biodegradable characteristics.

Pearl Izumi Trail N 1

The Trail N 1 is as simple as it gets. The upper is just one piece of seamless mesh that hugs your foot perfectly; it’s not constricting or irritating but you know your feet stay protected. Plus, the mesh can stretch to accommodate wider feet. The outsole boasts full ground contact to give you one of the smoothest rides around. There are no plastics or shanks trying to correct your foot strike. Instead, your feet can point and flex unencumbered.

Saucony Peregrine 4

The Peregrine is ready to eat up the trails—just look at its impressive tread pattern! Toes are extra protected thanks to a nylon fiber rock plate. This keeps any rocks and roots from ruining your running groove when you’re soaking up nature’s feel-good effects. Plenty of overlays keep your foot locked in place without adding weight to the upper or making the foot feel too constricted. The Peregrine has a lower profile design than some trail runners to keep you closer to the earth.  But don’t dismiss it too fast! Like the Cascadia 9, the Peregrine 4 took home an Editor’s Choice award in Runner’s World‘s April 2014 issue. Outstanding!

Merrell AllOut Fuse

Merrell might be known for its barefoot running shoe styles, but the brand is making a splash this season with its AllOut line, whose styles boast a 6 mm offset. And the Fuse? It’s your ticket when you want to transition from road to trail in a snap. It’s lightweight (8 oz. for a men’s size 9 / 6.5 for a women’s size 7) and unbelievably breathable but doesn’t leave behind an ounce of integrity. You can run assured that you’ll still be uber protected when you’re tearing it up on your favorite route.

Salomon Sense Mantra 2

The Sense Mantra 2 just begs to move fast. Its low-profile design makes it an agile style to lace up when you’re craving a swift, lean and nimble spin around the backwoods. A Sensifit design hugs your feet for a precise fit that locks your foot in place so you only think about what’s in front of you rather than beneath you. The outsole is a blend of contragrip HT and contragrip HA, which means you can expect durable traction and tread with every foot strike.

Gear Pick: Compression Socks

Compression socks might seem like the latest hype in the running community. You’ve probably seen them on the trails, at starting lines or on friends who are looking for some extra recovery on rest day.

But they’re more than just glorified tube socks. They have running-specific benefits that can help you perform better and recover faster.

Photo: coolfitwear.com

Photo: coolfitwear.com

Recovery

The recovery aspect is the biggest plus touted with wearing compression socks. Medical-grade compression socks have long been used as a way of relieving pressure in the legs. They’ve made their way into the running community as a way of making legs feel fresh and ready to fly after a killer workout. Compression socks hug the calf like a kid hugs his favorite blanket. This increases blood flow, which thus increases oxygen flow. And more oxygen means you can get back out to your favorite route in no time.

Extra Support

Because compression socks tightly hold muscles, bones and tendons, the leg vibration that occurs upon footstrike is minimized. This vibration is the result of the impact forces that saddle your gait when your foot first touches the ground. The idea is that this muscle vibration could contribute to DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. (We’ve all been there, right?) So if we can minimize this extra stress in the first place, there will be less time between workouts.

Extra Protection

If your usual routes include tackling trails and single tracks, compression socks could be a good option to keep the nicks and scraggles at bay. They’ll protect ankles and calves from being the victims of any rogue branches, mud or any other trail abrasions you might encounter by giving you just one more layer of protection.

If you feel like it works, it works.

As any runner knows, what you think you can achieve is a huge component of what you actually accomplish. Likewise with compression garments, if you feel more refreshed after you wear them, then they did their job. Many studies focused on compression gear agree that the placebo effect is a strong variable when studying compression benefits.

 Are compression socks a must in your training arsenal? Leave your thoughts in the comment section. 

 

Toe Socks — What’s Not to Love?

Runners can be seen as an odd bunch.

When co-workers ask what you’re doing this weekend, you want to (slash do) respond in miles.

You don’t dream of spending $100 on a pair of shoes — unless they’re running shoes.

And you can get into heated conversations about socks. Primarily, ones that defend or rag against toe socks.

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I know you’ve seen them — on your friends’ feet, in the gym locker room and maybe some Twitter pics pop up on your feed.

And you’ve probably wondered how people can find them comfortable. I mean, come on. There is stuff between your toes! No, thank you, you think to yourself as you silently judge.

Wrong. So very wrong.

Toe socks might look funny, but people aren’t looking like goobers for no reason. (And I can call them goobers because I swear by them.)

We are wearing them because they deliver on their promises.

The RunningShoes.com staff is crazy about them, too. “Whether it’s just a normal day or I’m tearing it up at the gym or the trail, you can always find a pair of Injinji’s on my feet,” says Herb Hagely, one of our web developers. “I’m a big fan of the barefoot experience, and Injinji’s socks allow me to keep the natural toe splay that most big toe-box barefoot shoes provide while adding a little more cushion to the shoe.”

The most noticeable benefit about toe socks is the no-blister factor. And if you’re going to wear funky-looking socks, there best be a reason. Hot spots are caused because of heat and friction build-up, so minimizing the chance of either dramatically reduces the chance of blisters. Lo and behold, the funny looking toe sock. Because the stuff between your toes? That’s what keeps your feet happy. Your toes stay separated so they can’t rub against each other.

The toe separation also lets air circulate better so your feet feel more refreshed and keep the stink from filling the footbed. Your feet can breathe happier and easier when they aren’t sweating next to each other, trapping moisture in a very small space.

When we were at Outdoor Retailer this past January, we caught up with George Schott, the senior vice president at Injinji. Predictably, the man loves a good toe sock. And he makes a strong case for why the style is crucial to a runner’s performance. So strong, in fact, that we left the Injinji booth with a handful of new colors and styles, eager to feel a new world of comfort.

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments section. 

Are You Ready for Mizuno Madness?

March may mean heated bracket conversations, placing bets that rival the cost of a major marathon and a healthy dose of smack talk. But this year, we’re ready for a different type of March Madness — Mizuno Madness. That’s because there are a slew of new styles that are vying for a spot in your running shoe rotation.

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First on the court is the Wave Hitogami. It’s a go-fast pick that will pick off competitors one by one as you tackle the race course. Its U4ic — pronounced euphoric — midsole is lighter weight than Mizuno’s AP+ midsole compound. The best part? It doesn’t lose a speck of its cushy feel. The upper’s design is the true calling card of the shoe, however. Mizuno turned to its Japanese roots for inspiration and found it in the form of Kabuki theater, a type of Japanese dance and drama. When you hold the shoes together, the design forms a Kabuki mask. Grab this shoe when you want to feel like a racing god.

Next out of the chute is the new Wave Inspire 9. The trick to the Inspire is that it feels like a lightweight trainer but still has plenty of stability features baked into the design. The mesh upper is thin, seamless and light, and the main overlays are near the midfoot and heel areas. These will keep your feet in place no matter how many miles you rack up on your run. The outsole’s rubber compound only adds to the inherent stability while keeping the shoe at or below 9 oz.

When you need a little bit more support, tag in the Wave Paradox. It touts maximum stability at a minimum weight, a paradox in the running shoe world. It won’t weigh you down even though it is chock-full of stability features. The midsole uses the brand’s Fan Wave technology, a compound that features waves of different heights. The result is a supremely cushioned ride that gives you the confidence and comfort to keep adding on miles.

Rounding out the lineup is the Wave Rider 17. Take it off the bench when you need a neutral, cushioned ride. This newest iteration has the same amount of cushioning underfoot as the 16 (that is, that stack heights are identical), yet the shoe still manages to shed some weight. That’s because Mizuno introduced the U4ic midsole into the Rider with his update, as well. In the upper, sewn overlays are kept at a bare minimum. This reduces the chance of developing hot spots when you’re on the run and gives you an almost sock-like fit. That way, you can always outrun your competition.

What shoes do you have in your running shoe lineup?