Running Toys

This summer I have had the opportunity to try out a few running products. Included were: Julbo’s Dustsunglasses with Zebra lenses; the Skora Form, Altra Superior, Inov8 Trailroc 235 shoes; and RaceReady’s LD Easy Shorts, Sixer Shorts, Streamline Technical shirt, and Cool T Technical shirt. In this review, I’d like to share in what scenarios I recommend using each of these products.

I have used Julbo’s Dust/Zebra in a variety of situations. The frames are a tough plastic, which do an excellent job of wrapping around your head. This makes them great for the constant bobbing, weaving, and jumping in trail running. I wore them at Burning River 100, though it ended up being an overcast, rainy day. For most of the course I had them propped up on my head as there was no need for sunglasses. I was pleasantly surprised by how they stayed put despite all the turning and bouncing.

Even though they are form-fitting, they do not pinch or feel obtrusive. I like this because I do just as much road running as trail running, so I wanted something non-obtrusive. The Zebra lens has a lighter yellow tint. It works great at cutting through glare without creating too dark of a view for some of the more shaded trail sections. Someone who is constantly in super bright sun might consider a darker lens.

In short, The Julbo Dust sunglasses with the Zebra lenses are ideal for trail running.

I have raced, trained, and just plain wore the Skora Form for almost a year now. This shoe is extremely versatile. I like it best for road and hard-packed trail. It is a zero-drop design with a goat skin leather body. If you enjoy a low profile shoe that is extremely durable, this is a great choice. It has a tough sole, allowing it to withstand the brutality of pavement. I love them when I am looking for feedback from the terrain on which I am running. I also noticed that, despite being low profile and zero-drop, it does a much better job than most low profile minimalist road shoes on pavement. It’s light and gives feedback, but you don't get a shock with every rock or pebble you come across.

For anyone looking to transition into a lower-drop shoe, I would strongly recommend first buying a pair of Forms to wear while walking around in order to strengthen the foot muscles that have been weakened from a lifetime in built-up, cushioned shoes, then ultimately build up to running in them.

The Altra Superior offers by far the most comfortable toe box of all the shoes I have tried. This is my go-to shoe on recovery runs, where I want protection for my feet but don’t want to sacrifice anything in terms of zero-drop. The Superior has a removable rock plate, which I just leave in all the time. Though the shoe is designed to go on both trail and road, I prefer it on the road. Even so, I know many who advocate its trail functionality. For someone looking for a bit more support and comfort, but who still wants low drop, this is a great shoe.

The Inov8 Trailroc 235 have quickly become one of my favorite technical running shoes. It has a 0-inch heel-to-toe drop, allowing me to still mid- or forefoot strike. It has pretty decent sized lugs (wouldn’t take onto the road), which give tons of grip on curvy descents and sloppy terrain. The lugs do an excellent job of not gunking up with mud. I have blasted through both puddles and trails with wet mud and never had an issue of it clinging to the shoe.

I raced the Ice Age 50 Mile and the Kettle 100k in these, as well as numerous workouts on trails. Zero complaints from me on the rugged stuff.

Over the past two months I have been reviewing a few of RaceReady’s products.

From their men's shorts selection, I tested the LD Easy Shorts and Sixer Shorts. To be honest, when I first saw them I thought they would not be quite my style. I typically like the traditional, low-cut racing short, and the LD Easy and Sixer shorts are both longer in length. When I took them out for a run, however, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn't feel obtrusive at all. In fact, I ended up wearing the LD Easy at Burning River 100 and was amazed at how quickly they dried after getting wet (it rained for nearly 50 miles). Of course, the RaceReady outside pockets came in handy during the race as well: I didn't bring a crew and was happy to realize that the shorts alone were enough to hold all the gels/Vespa I desired, so ultimately I ditched my waist pack. I would strongly recommend these shorts, especially for anyone looking for all the comfort of shorter running shorts but with additional length.

The two shirts I tested were the Streamline Technical shirt and Cool T Technical shirt. The Cool T Technical was similar to the shorts in that it is super light and dries fast! It is ideal for warm training in the heat because of how fast it wicks and dries. Its light design also keeps it from getting heavy even when it does get drenched. I noticed how effective it was when I did a few boot camp workouts in August. I was sweating non-stop and I never once felt like the Cool T Technical was getting annoying or intrusive. I would strongly recommend this short for any type of hot weather training.

The Streamline Technical shirt also does a nice job of wicking away moisture. It is thicker, so I prefer it more in cooler conditions. It has a nice feature where you can run your headphone wire through the shirt, so it is not bouncing around or getting in the way. I love this shirt for cool morning runs where I will begin to sweat after the first few miles.