Friday, May 18, 2012

Gear Review - The Stick / Brooks Green Silence

I have purchased two new pieces of gear this week, a pair of shoes, and a massage tool.  Both, (so far), have worked fantastically.  I'll talk about the massage tool first.

The massage tool I bought, and have been pretty much using religiously the past 3 days is The Stick Roller Massager. 

I don't think that it needs a huge description, but here's the key points from REI's website:

Use The Stick® Original Roller massager before, during and after workouts to get rid of knots and soreness in your muscles.

  • Flexible center rod is surrounded by spindles that roll over your muscles; handles provide secure grip
  • Can be used to provide myofascial release and trigger point therapy
  • The Stick® Original Roller massager includes instructions with examples of exercise
I've been using The Stick for the past few days about four times a day, specifically on my right leg where I have been having the IT band and gastrocnemius muscle tightness, and I must say, I couldn't be happier. 

Basically, I've been using it when I wake up on my quads, hamstrings, IT band, and calves.  I do about twenty rolls of bearable pressure on each muscle group.  I also use it right before I run, right after, and right before bed.  It has done wonders to keep my muscles from tightening up.  They still get a little stiff, but not near as much as they did prior to using this tool. 

I have a foam roller at home, but I just find it's not very convenient to use (maybe I'm just lazy).  This is quick, easy, and at least for me, works great on relieving leg stress.  I like that I can control how much pressure I use on specific points, and I don't have to worry about balancing on top of the foam roller. 

I know my foam roller and lacrosse ball will still have their place in my tool set, but for right now, The Stick is my "go-to" tool for self muscle therapy.  I highly recommend it!

Shoe Review!!!!

So as I am sure you have read, up to this week, my higher mileage (cushioned) road shoes have been a pair of Saucony Kinvara 2s.  I loved those shoes, and they served me well through probably close to 300 miles over the past 8 months of running.  It was time to retire them, and I will say, that it's not so much because of excessive wear, because many of those miles were on a ship on a treadmill, but more because of fit.  The more miles I've put in, the more my forefoot has flattened out.  So while a size 11 Kinvara 2 fit me awesome 6 months ago, these days, it crushes my forefoot.  That being said, I had been putting more and more miles in my Merrell Road Gloves. 

The Merrells are great, and by no means are they being taken out of the rotation, but I just know that sometimes when I'm putting in the miles on the pavement, I like something with a little bit of heel, and a little bit of cushion.  Like I've said in previous posts, I'm not a full-time barefoot style runner.  I do, however, see the benefit of using barefoot style (anatomically shaped, zero heel-toe differential) shoes as another great training tool to build a good running base.

So I was on the search for another cushioned, minimalistic, road shoe.  I suppose lately I've been on a Brooks kick, as I love their Pure Grit and Cascadia 7.  I tried the Brooks Pure Flow, Pure Connect, and Pure Cadence.  I just couldn't, as much as I wanted to, be happy with the fit on my foot.  The Pure Grit fits my foot great, but none of the other "Pure" line of shoes seemed to do the same. 

While at a local sporting goods store, I came across the Brooks Green Silence.  I liked the look (I do like "loud" colored running shoes, I think they make me run faster!), and having read several online reviews of them in the past, they seemed to fair rather well. 

Here's the description from the Brooks website:

Category: Competition/Neutral
: 6.9 oz
: Universal
: Strobel
Launch Date
: February 1, 2010

One of Brooks More Minimal Shoes:

• Midsole Height: Heel (18 mm), Forefoot (10 mm)
• Outsole Height: Heel (3 mm), Forefoot (3 mm)
• Heel-to-Toe Offset: 8 mm

• Tooling Height: Heel (21 mm), Forefoot (13 mm)

Green Features:
• BioMoGo, the world's first-ever biodegradable midsole for running shoes
• 75% of the shoe’s materials are post-consumer recycled
• Biodegradable insole and collar foams
• Laces, gillies, and reinforced webbing are 100% post-consumer recycled
• Water-based adhesives are used throughout
• All dyes and colorants are non-toxic
• Packaging is 100% post-consumer recycled

Heel-Toe Offset : 6.5 - 8.0 mm 

I've logged about 11 miles in these shoes so far, and I must say, I'm liking them.  They do have a more noticeable heel than what I usually run in on the road, but I wouldn't say that it interferes with my foot strike.  I can definitely tell my strike is slightly more mid-foot than forefoot, but that's probably not a bad thing.  

I know the specs say 6.9 oz (mens size 9), but they feel much lighter than that.  They really just feel fast.  I suppose they are racing flats (technically), so that's probably a good thing.  While most places to classify them as a racing shoe, I would see no problem logging some serious mileage in these, especially if you are used to a minimal style shoe.  If you are coming from a heavier trainer (i.e. Brooks Adrenaline, Brooks Beast, anything Asics, etc), these would definitely be something you would probably want to ease into as far as mileage is concerned.  But, coming from usually road running in something like a Kinvara, or a Road Glove, these present me no problems.  

One thing to note, I did have to go a full size up in these shoes.  That puts me in a size 12.  Running small seems to be the norm with all the other reviews I've read, most noting they needed to go 1/2 to full size larger.  Even still, going up one full size gives my plenty of room in the shoes, and the fact that the tongue of the shoe is only attached on one side, allow me to cinch them down a little more if I need it.  I like that, simply because sometimes I like to wear thicker socks, and this gives me a little room to expand without cramping my feet.

The BioMoGo midsole on the shoes is great.  Sure it has the fact that it biodegrades 50x faster than normal midsoles (along with the entire shoe being made from 75% recycled material), making this a "green" shoe, but that's not of near as much concern to me.  I suppose knowing that I'm running on someone's old plastic bottles might make me sleep slightly better at night (but probably not).  All I know, is that it's the perfect amount of cushion for my foot.  It's firm, not plush, but not hard.  It seems to absorb shock fairly well.  

There was one point after about two miles in them this morning, that I felt what I thought was going to be a hotspot developing on the ball of my foot.  I stopped, tightened up the laces a little more, and kept on going.  The hotspot went away, so I won't blame the shoe for that, I'll chalk that one up to user error.  

I'll report more as I log some more miles in them, and they get broken in.  In the meantime, Keep Running!


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