Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

My new Newton Momentum shoes rock for off road running.  Newton describes this model as the Trail Guidance Trainer.

However, the coolest part of ownership is the many looks and comments, such as, “Wow, those are green!”

The majority of my running is on a combination of asphalt, dirt road, bridle path and single track. The Momentum is designed exactly for this. I have tried quite a few different types of shoes in the past five years.  Typically, they were built with mild stability and wide toe boxes. However, this is my first attempt with “minimal” running shoes. Newton’s run a bit small, I selected a 1/2 size larger than normal. I tested this shoe over a wide variety of terrain for a six week period.

The Momentum is Newton’s first trail running shoe combining their Action/Reaction lug technology to help runners perform with a more natural gait and foot placement with the rugged necessities of a trail shoe.  With these there is also less “Heel-Toe Drop” than the standard Newton shoes.   This makes it a good choice as your first “natural running” shoe to try.

Newton states that the “Momentum is an off-road guidance trainer designed for runners committed to a more efficient natural running style. It provides intelligent control for all foot types on all types of terrain, from groomed bridle paths to technical mountain trails.”

First Impressions

I want my shoes to look fast and these look like my Junior High School track shoes (not that they ever went fast). The green and lemon really work for me.  Interesting comments come from every type of person. They really attract attention.

Sliding on the shoes I was impressed by the snug and secure fit of the heel cup through the mid-foot and the shoe widens towards the toe box to allow or the wiggle room I crave. Standing and walking in the Newton’s are a bit strange, comparable to walking around in track spikes, due to the protruding Activator lugs on the outsole of the forefoot. It will quickly strike you how much lower the heel is compared to any other running shoe.  Clearly the calf and Achilles tendon are stretching more. The shoes felt like they had plenty of cushion, and as a mid-foot striker, I could tell that I would not be lacking protection in these shoes. Walking around, the flexibility in the ball of the foot was almost unnerving. My foot roamed into positions that are only reached when barefoot.

The First Runs

I first ventured out with the Newton’s on a smooth, flat, crushed gravel trail for a two mile run. Newton recommends easing into wearing their shoes and starting with as little as 10 minutes at a time. Newton cautions that the new wearer may experience excessive calf soreness from the new experience of forefoot striking. I think it is more due to how much lower the heel is compared to typical running shoes.  They wisely close in the area in the center of the heel – I hate having to stop for trapped rocks.

The recommended Newton adjustment period

Immediately, I felt that I was running 15 seconds per mile faster.  The feedback received as to my running form was immediate and continual.  The bounce felt appears to be more than a gimmick.  The Actuator Lugs clearly compress and seem to effectively transfer that energy forward as you roll onto your toes.  This combination of improved form, flexibility and efficiency, go figure, translates to speed.

Instead of building up the medial side of the shoe with motion control devices as most road shoes do, Newton built in a rear-foot chassis that acts as a stable platform. This provides ample pronation support. Beyond this, toes and forefoot are allowed a significant amount of movement – very similar to barefoot running.  This is actually a bit unnerving.  I was very conscious of how my foot was moving.

The Momentum is not as effective with more technical terrain. The mid-foot and rear-foot chassis in the mid-sole had difficulty adjusting to the varying surface of a single-track trail. Extended running on side-sloped hills also seemed to put undo stress on my knees, feet and ankles.

Within a couple of weeks, I had ramped up my mileage in the Momentum’s to six. During the first two or three attempts the ligaments and tendons in my feet were clearly unable to handle the new flexibility and hurt during and after. This quickly passed, I assume as they were strengthened.  However, Achilles tendon and calf pain continued, post-run, for several weeks.  All of this seems to be common, given the significant position and flexibility change.  I see this as a clear result of a lifetime of running and walking in stiffer shoes with heels above the ball of the foot.  Over time, stretching out my calf and improving foot tendon/ligament strength, are clearly advantageous and should help reduce injuries

Pros

Given that the Momentum is their first trail shoe, Newton got a lot right. The fit was excellent out of the box. I wear a size 12.5 US in most trail shoes. The Newton’s I received were a size 13 and fit well throughout the foot with maybe a bit more toe room than I’m used to. The weight of the shoe is just over 11 ounces; this is on the light side for a trail shoe.

Besides looking seriously cool, the upper felt supportive and protective from rocks and roots. They dry quickly and don’t get that Squidward-sounding water logged feeling. The tongue stays in place – which makes me crazy when it doesn’t.

The shoes offer great cushioning and support for pronation.  On relatively tame trails the perform very well.

Cons

The momentum mid-sole is very stiff and does not perform as well on severe terrain. The Activator Lugs provide superior cushioning, but their protrusion can get in the way when running over loose rocks, descending or ascending more severe terrain. The risk worsens as you tire.

Summary

These shoes are FAST.  Shoe quality is superior and they look great. The low heel-toe ratio clearly facilitates forefoot/midfoot striking. This makes sense to be helpful for injury prevention; however, the adaptation period is weeks – not days.  The Momentum is a very good choice for entry into “minimal” or “barefoot running.”  For the vast majority of territory you will encounter, the Newton Momentum is a shoe you should consider.

The Momentum (Terra Momentus) is available at Inside-Out Sports with an MSRP of $139.

Todd Spain, todd@deltatriathlon.com

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There is no suspense here – I really like the Zipp 303 tubular wheels.

If you try these you will have to have them.  The cool factor is very high, but comes at a fairly hefty price of $2,300 for the pair. However, these are perhaps the most versatile combination in Zipp’s arsenal.  They are light, responsive, climb well, accelerate rapidly, and are very durable.  You can ride them as the perfect training wheel on your road bike, race them on your time trial bike in any conditions, and outclass your competitors at cyclocross in the winter.  If I had the chance to buy just one super nice tubular wheelset, for all the types of riding, this would be my top choice.

The 303’s are similar to the rest of Zipp’s portfolio. They are laced with 18 radial front and 24 radial/1-cross rear SAPIM CX-Ray bladed spokes. External nipples make truing easy. The hubset is Zipp’s 88/188 combo, featuring fat, 17mm aluminum axles and threaded endcaps for easy bearing interface adjustment. These guys weigh in at only 1171 grams per pair.  This is light.

In total, I have ridden approximately 300 miles on these wheels over the spring and summer with Vittoria Corsa Evo KS tubulars. I used the 21mm, 290tpi with the puncture resistant belt.

The 303’s were installed on my road bike for the Paris Mountain Triathlon in the spring.  This course featured a 2.7 mile climb that is quite steep, while the rest of the course is hilly.  The Zipp 303’s are an ideal choice here as they climb very well and are far more aerodynamic than an ordinary lightweight climbing wheel.  They also made their way onto my time trial bike for several of the fast group rides.

Here is what I like:

They feel light and are fun to ride, especially when climbing and sprinting.

Acceleration is tremendous as the rear does not “load up”.  With many lightweight wheels, the applied rotational torque rotates the hub faster than the rim and you can actually feel this load as a softness or sluggishness in the rear until the rim catches up.

Zipp does not compromise on aerodynamics.  The 303’s have much less side/crosswind deflection to the point where there is no reason to consider potential crosswind when choosing wheels for the day.

These guys are solid.  It feels like they could handle the worst spring pothole riddled roadway.  The 303’s have stayed exceptionally true and require very little maintenance.

Since campy record hubs in the 70’s and 80’s, I have not been impressed with any hub for smoothness.  However, Zipp has built a seriously good hub.   They are  s a m o o o o t h.

They look sexy and fast.  The cool factor is seriously high.


Not as crazy about:

The price – they ain’t cheap, nor is there any compromise on quality.

The rear wheel is not as stiff as several other wheels I have ridden.  This would translate well, I believe, to comfort on long rides, but will zap a bit of efficiency along the way.

Switching back and forth with other wheels requires a bit of a rear brake adjustment, unless you are willing to run your rear brake just a tad loose.

Conclusion:

I seriously like the Zipp 303’s.  They are light, snappy, and super comfortable. They’d make an outstanding one-wheelset solution for someone doing road racing, triathlons and cyclocross.  They are a bit pricey, but have fantastic all-around characteristics and are impressively versatile.

Related Videos:

How to install a tubular tire Part I

How to install a tubular tire Part II


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Stickers on our cars and, now, our clothing reflect who we are, where have been and where we are going.  Check out the DELTA Oval Sticker Tee available now at Inside-Out Sports in Cary and Charlotte or buy online.

The idea is that, using a sharpie, you check off each event you have completed – from a 5K to Century Ride to Ironman.  Take pride in what you have accomplished.

This 100% Cotton Tee was expertly printed by Progressive Graphics.  It comes in light blue and light yellow and is available in Unisex Sizes XS-XL.

Proceeds help fund clinics and events for multisport athletes.

There is no better investment to buying triathlon speed than an aero helmet. A corroboration of studies from Texas A&M University to M.I.T. has accurately quantified the benefit of tear drop shaped aerodynamic time trial helmets. The results vary as to the actual time savings, but the end results are unanimous: An aero helmet saves time. Conservative studies show time savings that range from as little as 30 seconds to as much as 2.5 minutes over 25 miles (an Olympic triathlon bike distance).

This equates to 2.5 to 12.5 minutes over an Ironman distance ride.  Thus reducing the 112 miles to an equivalent of 1o7 or less, in terms of watts used.  For me, getting off the bike at 107 sounds way better than 112.  As importantly, valuable energy is saved, which can be utilized in the run.  Some studies have indicated as much as a 6+ mile savings over 112 with an aero helmet.

Most podiums are separated by less than 3 minutes.  An aero helmet could get you in the photo or on to the top step.

The real value of this research becomes obvious to the middle of the pack triathlete when you start to compare dollars to time savings. Nothing saves more time for less money than an aero helmet.

Summary:

Buy the fastest gear you can afford, but remember that comfort and power on the bike are paramount to anything you add to it.  For return on investment, make your purchases in the following order:

  • Aero helmet
  • Skinsuit
  • Front Wheel (deep dish – the front has a larger impact on aerodynamics than the rear but, the deeper the wheel the more difficult it is to control in the wind)
  • Rear Wheel (solid disk is best, but also more difficult to handle in the wind and the most expensive)

Watch the Video with Cid Cardoso, Jr. and Todd Spain discussing Aero Helmets

Read the Louis Garneau Rocket Product Review by Cid Cardoso, Jr.


The Rocket features a polycarbonate outer shell that extends back beyond a Styrofoam core to form a sharp, pointy tail. The outer shell also extends downward on the sides to cover the ears, further reducing air drag. It has four small vents in the front and it uses LG’s patented SpiderLock Elite system of adjusting, for a secure and perfect fit. It weights 14.8 ounces and it is available in sizes Small, Medium and Large, and in three colors, Blue, Fuel and Grey. LG offers and optional visor in Clear or Smoke for $30.

The thing to keep in mind when trying on an aero helmet in the store is that everyone looks like a dork with the helmet and plain clothes! With that being said, I was more interested on how it fit, how comfortable it was on a ride, and how much time savings it offered. The fit of the Rocket was good, especially with the fine tuning of the Spider Lock knob. It felt like any other helmet, except that you notice right away that other sounds are somewhat distorted by the tight fairings covering the ears. On a training ride it was as comfortable as any other helmet, although it was weird not feeling the wind on my ears. I did not try it on a hot day and during a really long ride, so I don’t yet know what effect the smaller and fewer vents can have on ventilation and thus over heating.

To get the full experience, I added the smoke visor, which was also easy to get used to. I did have a minor issue when my forehead started itching and I couldn’t scratch it. After loosening the front screw on each side (that are used to attach the visor), I was able to slide it up and down and thus have a little more access to my forehead.

After a positive experience in training, I decided to use it on a race, the White Lake Sprint. As before, the helmet worked great. In fact, I liked it even more since I wasn’t as self conscious and felt like I was just slicing through the air, especially on that flat course. Even getting the helmet on and off, which worried me a bit, was not an issue (note that I did practice the motion, since the helmet fit so snug on the sides that I was afraid I would slice my ears off if I wasn’t more careful than usual).

So how much time does an aero helmet such as this really save? I did not find much specific information, although most of the studies I saw showed at least some time gained due to drag reduction. John Cobbs suggests in an article on Slowtwich that an aero helmet can save a professional athlete approximately 5 minutes over 100 miles. Mark Cote, a researcher at the MIT Center for Sports Innovation tested helmets for Specialized at the university’s Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel Test and found that aero helmets can save a rider as much as two and a half minutes over a 40K time trial, when compared a regular helmet. *

The Rocket is a good investment if you are a competitive athlete looking for every possible edge, or if you want to look like Norman Stadler on your next race. For me, as long as it was not uncomfortable or slower to transition, then any time gained is a benefit, even if only a few seconds. At the price tag of $180, one has to decide if those precious seconds are worth the money. If you are looking at qualifying for Hawaii, a few minutes may be well worth the cost. At IM Arizona, most of the pros and several top age groupers were sporting aero helmets, such as the Rocket.

Watch the Video of Cid Cardoso, Jr. and Todd Spain discussing aero helmets.

The past decade of triathlon long distance course competition has born witness to the hyponatremic meltdown of many age-groupers and professionals competitors. While this lowering of blood sodium levels can be dramatic, dangerous, and even fatal, many half and full Ironman triathletes can experience mild to severe degrees of this condition. The lower sodium blood levels drop, the more serious and life-threatening the symptoms. At the very least, hyponatremia can slow your competitive efforts and is best prevented. Anywhere from 3 to 27 percent of ultra-endurance athletes seeking medical care may suffer from hyponatremia. Researchers at one Hawaiian Ironman found that up to 30 percent of competitors were hyponatremic.

Cause and effect
While the causes of hyponatremia are many and varied, there are two main culprits. The first is excess fluid intake, which occurs when you drink too much salt-free fluid leading up to competition and drink in excess of your sweat losses during competition. High sodium sweat concentration is the second culprit. Extensive and repeated sweating as seen during Ironman can clearly result in large sodium losses. Triathletes with longer finishing times are also at great risk for fluid overload, as there is simply more time to sweat and drink during a race.

Simply put, excessive fluid intake is a big risk factor for developing hyponatremia, and how you pre-hydrate and your drinking strategies during competition can have a significant effect upon this precarious fluid balance. Being a salty sweater also exacerbates this condition.

Fluid – Just the right amount
Of course, you should consume fluid during a race as the risk of becoming dehydrated is still much greater than that of developing hyponatremia. The trick is to not over drink, and to be familiar with your individual hourly sweat loss rate. Some well acclimated triathletes may be very efficient sweaters and lose only one-half to one liter of sweat per hour, while others may reach higher levels of two or three liters per hour in hot and humid weather, despite being acclimated.

Checking your weight before and after longer training sessions can indicate how well you are keeping up with or possibly exceeding your sweat losses. A weight loss of 2-5 pounds is clear indication that fluid intake needs to increase. Conversely, if you actually gain weight during training, your drinking may be excessive. A rough estimate of your sweat rate (see table below) and checking weights before and after training can help prevent both overdrinking and dehydration.

Salty Sweat
High sodium sweat losses can further increase your risk of developing hyponatremia. Fit and acclimatized triathletes usually have less than 900 mg of sodium per liter of sweat. While higher sodium sweat losses are usually seen in unfit and unacclimatized individuals, some highly trained triathletes may be salty sweaters with losses exceeding 1400 mg per liter. If one of these salty sweater triathletes also has a high sweat rate, their losses multiply and they can lose significant amounts of sodium during a half or full Ironman triathlon. While lab testing indicates that sodium losses range from 460 to 1800 mg sodium per liter sweat, chances are your only indicator of high sodium losses is white salt rings and streaks on your clothing and skin.

Clearly salty sweaters need to replace sodium losses to maintain safe blood sodium levels. Even dehydrated triathletes can develop hyponatremia if they have high enough sodium sweat losses over a long race. Look at the sodium content of the sports drinks, gels, and other products that you consume during racing. Some triathletes will need to veer closer to higher sodium sports drinks, and others may even want to carefully supplement with sodium tablets. Salt tablets should be stored in a waterproof case or bag to prevent disintegration and should be taken with eight ounces of fluid. Generally one or two salt tablets per hour is sufficient (amounts per tablet vary). Excess salt intake without adequate fluid intake could irritate your stomach, and result in bloating and nausea. Experiment with these products in training. High sodium sports drinks are probably the most convenient strategy and also provide fluid and carbohydrates when racing.

Before and After
Pre-hydration strategies can also contribute to development of hyponatremia if not done appropriately. Keep in mind that your fluid losses may decrease during a race taper. Of course you need to hydrate leading up to the race, but there is also a risk of overhydrating at this time, just as during the race. Monitor your weight to keep tabs on hydration levels. Healthy triathletes with no specific medical concerns should consume salty foods and add salt to food in the days leading up to the race. If you are a very salty sweater, you can also increase your salt intake significantly in the days leading to the race.

Hyponatremia can also develop after a race as you attempt to rehydrate. For every pound of weight lost, aim to consume 20 to 24 ounces of sodium containing fluid. Drinks and foods that contain sodium, as well as a salty meal or snack several hours after race will help rehydration efforts. These higher sodium intakes will result in less urine production and improve rehydration efforts.  If you have gained weight during the race, rehydrate carefully.

Table 1: Blood Sodium 101

Blood Sodium Levels Symptoms
136-142 millimoles per liter Normal levels
125-135 mmol/L No obvious symptoms or mild gastrointestinal upset such as bloating and nausea
Below 125 mmol/L Symptoms are more severe and include headache, vomiting, wheezing, swollen hands and feet, unusual fatigue, confusion, and disorientation
Below 120 mmol/L Seizure, coma, brain swelling and damage, and death are more likely

Table 2: Estimating sweat losses

This method provides an estimated of sweat losses in hot weather and is fairly simple formula. Of course urine losses affect this equation, as would weight gain from any solid food consumed.

  1. Check your weight before and after training and calculate your weight loss.
    165 lb. to 162 lb. (75 kg to 74 kg)
    3 lbs. weight loss during training (1.4 kg)
  2. Know the amount of fluid that you consumed during the training session. 30 ounces of fluid weighs 2 pounds (an easier estimate is 1000-ml fluid equals1.0 kg body weight).
    Consume 60 ounces (1800 ml) of fluid during a three-hour bike ride. This fluid weighs 4 lb. (1.8 kg)
  3. Add the answers in 1 and 2.
    3 lb. + 4 lb. = 7 lb.
    (1.4 + 1.8 kg = 3.2 kg)
  4. 7 lb. equals 105 ounces fluid divided by 3 hours = 35 ounces per hour for sweat losses.
    (3.2 kg equals 3200 ml fluid divided by 3 hours = 1060 ml/hr).

Table 3: In Summary

Hyponatremia occurs during longer exercise bouts and overconsumption of fluid in relation to your individual sweat losses. High sodium sweat losses increases risk of developing hyponatremia even in the presence of dehydration. Total sodium losses during exercise are a combination of your sweat sodium concentration, sweat rate, and number of hours of sweating. Don’t overhydrate, keep up with sodium losses during the race. Prehydrate appropriately, and consume sodium before and after a race.

Nutrition for Endurance  Athletes Monique Ryan, MS, RD is the author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 2nd edition (VeloPress 2007). Click here to view more about the book or purchase. She was a member of the Athens 2004 Performance Enhancement Teams for USA Triathlon and USA Cycling Women’s Road Team. She is owner of Personal Nutrition Designs and offers her sports nutrition “E Program” at www.moniqueryan.com. Monique Ryan, MS, RD is owner of Personal Nutrition Designs with programs at http://www.moniqueryan.com. She is the author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes.


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