Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Marvelous Trio


Shocking pink, olive green and dirty white. These are the colors of the Marvelous Trio, aka my three pairs of Nike Streak Zoom 6. The newcomer is the "Pink Panther", purchased at an eBay auction and arrived from England just in time to avoid extra custom costs (thank you, delayed Brexit). Now my arsenal is complete and set to last at least until 2021 or longer (knock on wood).
The first white Streak (now they are closer to grey) have currently covered 500 km, so I assume that soon I will be forced to identify a successor. However, I will handle them with care, hoping that they will last as long as their cousins, the Streak LT 3, who carried me for 1000 km during 13 months, before the mesh ripped completely on both shoes. I think that high temperatures, downhill sessions and water are the most dangerous enemies of the Streak model, therefore there might be chances to enjoy my current pair until May 2020. But let's wait and see. Anyhow, I don't have any problem now!
To conclude, here are the prices of the Marvelous Trio (this is the thing I am most proud of, considering that the list price for each is 100 € or higher):
1) White: bought in September 2019 at www.km42.info at 50 € + 9 € delivery costs;
2) Olive Green: bought in November 2019 at runningwarehouse.it at 60 € (free delivery);
3) Pink: bought in January 2019 at eBay UK (auction) at 36 £ (42,50 €) + 12 £ (14 €) delivery costs (and a couple of euros extra for currency exchange fee and credit card charges).

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Sneakers vs Technical Shoes

When it comes to running shoes, you will find two different "schools of thought": on the one hand, experts, coaches and self-declared gurus claim that a high-quality technical shoe can make a huge difference; on the other hand, you will hear voices saying that speed and endurance depend solely on the runner (and on his talent combined with proper training, motivation and, why not, a prodigious DNA). Willing to touch results with my hand (pardon: with my foot), I decided to make an easy test, comparing the feelings I experienced running a 30 minutes session with a pair of technical shoes (Nike Zoom Streak 6) and a pair of sneakers (Mistral Seventies). Here are the results, of course based on my personal experience.

Weight
The shoe is quite heavy, when running on the forefoot I felt like I was dragging a heavy burden on the back of the shoe
Very light (below 200 gr). When I run at a 4:00 min/km pace or below, I have the impression that foot and shoe become one thing
Breathability
After 30 minutes running, my socks were totally soaked
Even in summer, the foot can breathe and sweats moderately, thanks to the very thin mesh and the essential material of the upper
Stability
The foot is not firm, especially on the heel. On the front, I had the feeling that running 10 or 20 minutes more, I would have had blisters
Feet are firm, shoe is stable, especially running fast. A real pleasure to sprint with these shoes
Grip
Not so good. The sole “scratches” the ground, and it makes a noise like a “clap” when the heel lands on the asphalt
Very good grip, responsive soles, these shoes fly like feathers on the ground, yep providing good traction
Comfort
Too much rooms on the back and in the front, more material than running shoes but more “dispersed” and superflous
Very well cushioned around the ankle, essential upper, the blown rubber midsole ensures a “soft” stability
Responsiveness
Probably I should have run longer to evaluate the absence of a shock absorption unit. The impression is that the sole is quite hard and the shoes don't provide any propulsion
Two great features of the Streak 6 are the Zoom Air unit and the plate. When shifting running style, from forefoot to heel running, the unit on the back of the shoe allows the runner to rest the feet. The midsole plate pushes the runner forward and ensures speed.

Bottom line: a pair of good technical shoes are worth their price. They guarantee speed, comfort and stability. If your aim is to improve your personal bests, you cannot do without them. Cheap "normal" shoes can cause injuries, blisters and bad running habits.  

Monday, December 16, 2019

10K Personal Bests in 2019

Here is the list of my 2019 personal bests in the 10K distance:

1) 44' 47" - 3 October (current personal best)
2) 46' 03" - 2 December
3) 46' 07" - 1 September
4) 47' 01" - 16 December
5) 48' 00" - 15 November
6) 48' 26" - 6 August
7) 48' 39" - 20 August
8) 49' 15" - 9 March

Ad maiora semper

Friday, December 6, 2019

Convinced

In September 2019 I decided to upgrade my shoes, shifting from a pair of Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 (unusable due to consumption and more than 1000 km) to the Nike Zoom Streak 6. Although I was not overly convinced about this choice (actually I couldn't find the LT 3 anywhere at a reasonable price), after 200 km my feet gave me a positive feedback: let's stick with the 6 model! As I wrote in previous posts, right now I have the impression that the "Six" are the right shoes for me, for the following reasons:
- they are more cushioned than the LT 3;
- my feet is more stable while running fast, even when I run below a 4 min/km pace;
- very snug and comfortable: maybe the ultra light LT 3 model is more ideal for tempo runs, but definitely cannot be compared with the "soft and bouncing" sensation that I feel on long-distance running with the "Six";
- after each run with the LT 3, my heels hurt, due to their very low sole. Never experienced such effect with the 6;
- better lacing system;
- last but no least, I think they will be more resistent than the LT 3, but this is something that only time will confirm (probably the thin mesh will be the first victim of aging, on the othen hand, the sole looks more solid and less prone to consumption).

This is the reason why I've been looking for a second pair of Nike Zoom Streak 6 (of course online, where I live I have never found a pair on the shelf of the shops, but this is another story...). I know that the "Seven" are similar, but I read reviews that highlighted the slight differences on the size (it seems that the 7 are bigger than the 6, and that means running the risk to order a pair which doesn't fit my foot...). This time I wanted to be on the safe side, so I explored the Black Friday offers (an event which I utterly despise, but, alas, my budget was limited...) in search of a new pair of Nike Zoom Streak 6. When I was about to give it up (Friday had gone and I couldn't find any model in my size at a reduced price), on the night of Saturday, 30 November, I stumbled on the website of Running Warehouse Europe, where I found a 60 euro pair with no delivery costs. Considering that the launch price was around 100 euro, I had no doubt: seen, ordered, received! As you can see, the color is questionable (olive green is trendy this year, but combining it with the flashing crimson swoosh was not the greatest idea...). The shoes lay now in my closet, ready to be used as soon as the white/yellow/black Streak 6 which I am currently using kick the bucket. Hopefully, as late as possible.


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Breaking the wall

Honestly, only 1 year ago I didn't think it was possible. I mean, I had hopes to improve my 10K PB after the last encouraging performances, but whenever I thought of breaking the 45 minutes wall, I shoke my head in disbelief. I was wrong.
Today I put on my brand new Nike Streak 6 (well, they're getting dirty now...) and hit the road. The weather conditions were ideal for a new PB: light wind, 20°, blue sky. Let's try...after 15 minutes warm-up, I started running at a 4:30 m/km pace, making sure to not run faster than that (my feet instinctively reached a quicker pace, but I had to restrain them). The first split at 5K was 22:25, quite good, so it was the 7K split, 31:18. I could breath with no effort and I had the impression that I could accelerate a bit, but I wanted to keep the same rhythm till the end. Only in the last 500m lap I increased the pace, and I concluded with my new personal best: 44' 47" (a bit less than 4' 29" m/km), breaking the 45 minutes wall, which I thought it was unbreakable. Right now, one hour after this performance, I don't feel particularly stressed or tired, and I guess that this proves that my condition has reached an optimal level. The next target? Breaking the 20 minutes wall in the 5K ! 

Monday, September 23, 2019

New 7K PB, or: getting close to break the 45' wall

Pushed by the desire to test further my new Nike Zoom Streak 6, this afternoon I decided to cover the 7k distance at a 4:30 m/km pace and I concluded my session with a respectable 31'22" time (4:28 m/km). I think I've taken the right path that will lead me to break the 45 minutes wall in the 10k distance, provided that I'll keep on running with discipline and motivation. The weather for the last days of September is promising (25°, fresh wind, no rain), I am in a good shape and the new shoes are responding very well: today I felt like running with my slippers! After around 50 km, I can say that in these new Streak 6 my feet feels much more comfortable than in the Lt 3, whose very thin midsole and extremely low heel drop were a plus in terms of speed, but a minus in terms of comfort. However, I don't want to jump to conclusions too fast: let's run other 100 km and I will be able to express a more detailed opinions on both shoes. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Goodbye Streak Lt 3, welcome Streak 6


On Saturday, 14 September, I accomplished a performance which had occupied the top of my to-do-list for too much time: running from home to the beach and covering a 15 km distance. The path is downhill (there is a difference of around 300 meters from the hill where I live to the seaside), so it is not an impossible task. Everything went fine: the weather was not too hot (around 25°), the wind was not too strong and the final time was more than satisfactory (1 hour, 9 minutes and 36 seconds, meaning 4'38" m/km). Actually, one thing went wrong: my old Nike Zoom Streak Lt 3 died. It was a symbolic event, as I used them to cover 1000 km and they decide to retire just after I finalised the purchase of my new Nike Streak 6, which arrived this morning...perfect timing indeed!
So here they are, my brand new Streak 6, bought at the great price of 50 € + 9 € delivery costs.


First impressions: compared to the Lt 3, they are a bit heavier (but still very light, under 200 g), more cushioned, even more breathable, higher and less tight. To better detect the differences, I wore a Streak 6 on my left foot and the old Lt 3 on the right one. I knew that the Lt 3 were "low", but I had never noticed how much! I really appreciated this feature, but lately my heels started complaining after each running session, even the short ones. I expect this not to happen anymore with the new Nike, due to the thickier midsole (something I don't like, though) and the 8 mm heel drop (vs the Lt 3's 4 mm). Also, the Lt 3 were extremely narrow, whereas the Streak 6 provide the foot with more space. I am curious to test the grip, which was excellent in the Lt 3, thanks to a very reactive sole. Last but not least, the color: I didn't mind the blue-orange-black combination of my Lt 3, but the dazzling white-yellow on the new Streak 6 looks really gorgeous. Alas, they will get dirty more quickly. And before I forget: running a prototype of these shoes, Eliud Kipchoge won the Berlin Marathon in 2015 (but he had serious problem with the insoles, a feature that was later improved when he won the London Marathon in 2016).



But what happened to my Lt 3? Well, honestly I hoped to enjoy a ride with them till the end of the spring 2020, but that was definitely wishful thinking. Experts suggest to hang them up after 400 miles, I overran this threshold by more than 250 miles, covering around 1100 km (660 miles) over 1 year. The results? The mesh on the side broke, the sole was completely worn-out on the outside-lower part and partly on the central-upper part, I found out a small hole on the internal cushion of the right shoe, which was getting dramatically bigger day after day. In a nutshell: for this kind of essential, ultra-light, A1 shoes, 1000 km are really too many. It was time to replace them.


Feedback after the first 5 km run in the afternoon: the new Streak 6 fits snugly, the contact of the upper sole with the ground is particularly "soft". They are indeed heavier, and I could feel the increased cushion around the ankle. Running at a 4 m/km pace, I confirm that this version is ideal for tempo runs, but I have the impression that they are comfortable enough for 10 km and half marathon distances, too. When I increased the speed, I felt a little pain on my little fingers, due to their contact with the mesh. I experienced the same with the Lt 3: sometimes my fingers were sored (even with blisters) after 5k tempo runs. Hopefully it won't happen too often with this model.