GEL-NOOSA Tri 13 Review

As an ASICS Frontrunner, ASICS kindly gifted me a pair of the new GEL-NOOSA Tri 13 to try and test out so here is my personal review. I was very much looking forward to this shoe as I used the 12s last year and I was very impressed by them. The 12s changed my opinion of the shoe as before I wasn’t sure if this type of shoe was for me. However the 13s have some big changes so this was a concern for me and whether I would race in it for the 2021 Triathlon season -onto the review.

So what is the GEL-NOOSA Tri 13?

The GEL-NOOSA Tri 13 is designed for triathletes and the model has been around for a number of years now and built for the neutral runner.  Gwen Jorgensen who inspired me wore the older versions and this is what got me interested in the previous model. However unlike previous versions which had minor tweaks to them each time the new version was released, the GEL-NOOSA Tri 13 has had a big overhaul which is very visible when looking at the 12s and 13s at the same time which I will go through.

ASICS state: The NOOSA TRI 13 shoes are built for triathletes, but they’re not the only ones who can appreciate this model. With the addition of GUIDESOLE technology, this shoe just got lighter in weight and is now designed for a wide range of runners.

The NOOSA TRI 13 shoe’s GUIDESOLE technology is built around a philosophy that aims to lessen the overall load placed on lower limbs by implementing a curved sole design. These elements help increase running efficiency by reducing the movement of the ankle. This technology is proven to help runners feel fresher longer, creating a smoother and more comfortable ride. The NOOSA TRI 13 shoe has FLYTEFOAM technology in the midsole, which gives the runner a lightweight feel and more cushioning for longer runs.

Some key features include:

FLYTEFOAM TECHNOLOGY PROVIDES LIGHTWEIGHT CUSHIONING

GUIDESOLE TECHNOLOGY HELPS CONSERVE ENERGY

ENGINEERED MESH UPPER IMPROVES BREATHABILITY

AHARPLUS OUTSOLE IMPROVES DURABILITY

SUSTAINABLE SOCKLINER DYE

BUNGEE LACE

First impressions are that the GEL-NOOSA Tri 13 look very cool and a funky, right up my street as I do love unusual colours so this ticks a big box for me. However I noticed that they looked bulkier than the 12s and there was no hole in the tongue for getting on the shoe quickly and this rang alarm bells in my head as to whether this is the shoe for my Triathlons and to achieve my goals….

Of course you can use the shoes for normal running and not just for Triathlons, but the shoe is built to dry your feet quickly and so your able to get them on quickly by giving you some comfort as most Triathletes will use this shoe without socks, so being a comfortable shoe is important.

The Gel-NOOSA now is based on the same technology from the EvoRide 2, the shape and sole of the shoe looks very similar. When comparing against the 12s, they have a heel drop of 8mm and weight 249g/8.8 oz. The 13s have a heel drop of 5mm and weighs 219g/7.9 oz. comparing the 12 with the 13s weight wise the GEL-NOOSA Tri 13 feels lighter and indeed it is lighter. Although it looks bulkier, put that to the back of your mind because this shoe felt super light when I ran with it so don’t let it put you off. The 5mm heel drop also allowed me to feel like I was bouncing and running on my forefoot from the Guidesole technology.

Let’s talk about the tongue as I mentioned this was a big concern for me as there was no hole in the tongue and no BOA system like the 451s did, so I was concerned that version would affect me in races and cost me a few seconds; and be a lot harder to put on after a swim or bike leg depending if you’re doing an Aquathlon or Triathlon. Although the GEL-NOOSA Tri 13 comes with standard laces it also comes with tri laces which is a must for Triathletes so you can slip your feet in quickly.  However I noticed that on the heel there was a tab, so I tested it out doing a few pretend transitions and trying to get my feet in quickly.

Firstly I found it a bit hard but then realised on the tongue it had a gripping material so that your able to pull it on so that you can get your feet in quickly. I actually found it as quick as the last version which is a good thing after doing some tests with it.

So far so good the shoe had a funky design and colours, felt light on but how was it going to do when running with them? I first tested them on my speed sessions and I found they felt so light and felt comfortable on. The faster I ran the more I felt like I was bouncing along and they felt very responsive. I also found that I was running my reps faster then the previous week when using my go to Roadhawk shoes. Legs also felt fresher and I assume this is due to the Guidesole technology to use less energy. I definitely felt I was being pushed on my forefoot. In regards to long runs I took it out for my zone 2 60 minute runs a few times. I had no problem with it, it still maintained a bounce and my legs did feel a little fresher then normal and it was still comfortable. You can definitely do longer runs with this shoe but I am not sure how comfortable it will be after 13 miles as they are a racing shoe.

The mesh material is impressive, not only does it allow your feet to breath it is light weight, a good feature to drying your feet after coming out the swim, so it lets plenty of air in, very similar to the 12s. In previous tri shoes my feet would get hammered with hard material and therefore toes get very sore. So when testing this out without socks as that’s what I would do in a triathlon, my feet and toes didn’t feel it at the front of the shoe and stayed comfortable.

The grip below the shoe is very similar to the previous model and I am still getting plenty of miles out of them without them wearing down fast.

Onto my conclusion – at first the new design put me off and rang alarm bells that I would have to find another race shoe because it looks heavy and no hole in the tongue, but that was not the case, it’s a very light shoe and still quick to get on and comfortable. This is a great fast race shoe for your shorter races, speed work and a must for your Triathlon races. Triathlons for me are all about how quickly I can run the run section while being tired and I am pretty sure these shoes will be faster and save energy in my races; I can see this in the training I have done with the GEL-NOOSA Tri 13. This will be my 2021 Triathlon race shoe and to be honest I am very excited by them, just as I was with the Metaracer.

You can check them out on the ASICS website HERE and my YOUTUBE review HERE

Staying motivated and looking after your mental health through Covid-19

2020 was sure a year not to remember but there are still some positives you can take out of this time period. I have struggled like many others with these uncertain times but I have decided to share some of my top tips on staying motivated and looking after your mental health. I personally believe we have the last bit of the mountain to climb and things will start to return to the new normal slowly.

Firstly, control what you can control and anything else don’t worry about it, it is out of your hands. The stress and worry about something you cannot control is not worth it as it will affect you, so the best way is to relax. What I have learnt over the year is that if I feel anxious or start to panic take a step back for a few minutes, control your breathing by breathing in 4 seconds and then out 7 seconds and it helps calm down the nervous system.

I found having a worry book is very helpful. I spend 10 minutes every day writing in this book my concerns for the day and also how I could deal with them. Once the book is shut, then I stop worrying about things for the rest of the day; I find it very helpful.

Next tip is to get outside daily, just getting outdoors for 5 minutes will go a long way to helping your wellbeing and mental health even if it’s just for a walk. It can give you relaxing time and take in the countryside for example and just getting out in day light will help a lot with your mood. I always find the sun sets me up for a happy day. There will be days you don’t feel like getting out but honestly they are the days which are the best. If I don’t feel like running I force myself to go out and say if I am not enjoying it after 10 minutes I will come back home, but most of the time I stay out longer and end up enjoying it or having one of my best runs. Keep moving don’t just sit about all day if you are working from home – I walk round the house if I can’t go outside for some reason. It’s important to keep moving it will help your health and wellbeing. I always found when I am exercising I relaxed and it’s helping me clear my head and therefore destresses me.

Motivation can be tough without knowing if your race will go ahead or not. Again this is out of your hands and what you can control is your training. Having a goal is very important in staying motivated. It can be something like I want to run a 28minute 5k to I want to podium at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in my age group. Which is my big goal, and is my motivation to get there. If you believe you can do it then you are half way there and if you keep working at your goal and work hard at it with smart training then you will achieve your goal. Believe me I couldn’t swim in 2012 and in 2019 I won my Age Group at the European Aquathlon Championships. So the impossible can became the possible. Having small little goals too so you can work towards a big goal is a good way for you to work towards and stay motivated.

Breaking your training up with cross training and having a plan to work with I find is also very important in staying motivated. Of course you can work round the plan if days don’t go according to plan as it’s important to be very flexible. Having a plan and breaking up your day is a good way to go and keep your mind busy, that’s how I find it helps me. A good plan should have the right balance of training and structured recovery weeks as well as full rest days etc.

Don’t over train because you will just burn out or give up. Make sure you have the right balance of mixed training with easy training and hard training, the 80/20 percent rule is a golden rule to follow. 80 percent of training easy and 20 percent hard training, this has worked well for me over the years and allowed me to get in consistent training which as allowed me to improve and achieve my goals as well as keeping injuries to a minimal. Mix up training often, don’t do the same things every day and every week, changing this up not only keeps it fun and interesting it’s the way you get better and improve.

I hope these tips are helpful as these are some of the things I have used over the past year to help my training, daily life and enjoy it as well as looking after my mental health. When it comes to exercising we all know how important it is to your health and mental wellbeing so keep moving even if you don’t feel like it. Of course having rest days are important but not too many to a point you stop training altogether. Stay positive and stay safe the good times will come back.

Check my YouTube Channel HERE

GEL-NIMBUS 23 Review

As an ASICS FrontRunner ASICS have gifted me a pair of the GEL-NIMBUS 23 to test out and review so here is my review.

So what is the ASICS GEL-NIMBUS?

The GEL-NIMBUS 23 shoe is a neutral shoe for both ladies and men and provides plenty of cushioning and comfort. This model is for a wide range of runners with neutral striking run technique and provides a bit of stability, comfort and is a solid sturdy shoe perfect for all abilities and for those long runs. However these aren’t light and if you like lighter shoes this model may not be for you. For me it’s a good shoe but not my preferred shoe of choice. The NIMBUS has been going for some time now and is classed as a reliable running shoe and is one of ASICS popular models for all abilities but remains a very popular shoe amongst beginners.

ASICS state: The GEL-NIMBUS™ 23 running shoe continues to offer excellent comfort and long-run impact absorption. Its improved stability provides a more balanced stride that’s followed by smoother transitions. Constructed with comfort and breathability in mind, the upper features a softer engineered mesh design for long runs. Engineered eyelet shaping helps the upper move more naturally with the foot, while a stretchy midfoot panel appropriately hugs the foot to generate better flexibility. Providing the runner with excellent shock absorption and softness, the GEL-NIMBUS™ 23 delivers more compression in the heel thanks to its softer GEL™ technology cushioning unit and contoured design lines. Also, a gender-specific TRUSSTIC™ device provides an articulated amount of support in the right direction for men and women to help generate a smooth transition. Under the toe, the inclusion of gender-specific pillars help cushion the body and help runners experience a softer feel. Simultaneously, the ORTHOLITE™ X-55 sockliner equips runners with a forgiving, yet responsive stride. The components of the GEL-NIMBUS™ 23 shoe help increase the softness without forgoing the integrity of the shoe’s ride. The 23rd version of the GEL-NIMBUS™ continues to make advancements within the lineage by offering improved support and comfort for distance runners.

Some key features of the GEL-NIMBUS include:

•             ENGINEERED MESH UPPER IMPROVES BREATHABILITY

•             GEL™ TECHNOLOGY CUSHIONING

•             TRUSSTIC™ TECHNOLOGY IMPROVES STABILITY

•             FLYTEFOAM™ PROPEL TECHNOLOGY CUSHIONING INCREASES IMPACT ABSORPTION AND RESPONSIVENESS

•             FLYTEFOAM™ TECHNOLOGY CUSHIONING

•             ASICS LITE RUBBER OUTSOLE IMPROVES DURABILITY

•             ORTHOLITE™ X-55 SOCKLINER IMPROVES STEP-IN COMFORT

•             REFLECTIVE ACCENTS IMPROVE VISIBILITY IN LOW-LIGHT CONDITIONS

•             3D SPACE CONSTRUCTION IMPROVES COMPRESSION AT FOOTSTRIKE

What is new compared to the previous models?

A few minor upgrades have been produced; the Gel cushioning allows the heel to have more expansion which allows for a softer and more absorbing foot strike feeling as well as the laces being adapted slightly to allow a more foot flexibility as well as making it a more comfortable shoe.

So how does it compare?

The shoe weighs 309 grams so it’s not one of ASICS light shoes. The material allows your feet to breath and it appears light weight and very similar to other ASICS models. The laces are normal running laces with the tongue being quite excessive. The tongue is bulky but provides that comfort you’re after. It’s the same for the heel quite thick but provides that little stability you are after inside. The grip appears to be slightly different to the previous model and feels very robust and a solid shoe that again will provide some stability when running. You will definitely be able to get plenty of mileage from this shoe because I believe it is built to last a long time. When putting the shoe on there was plenty of room for my foot and felt like a perfect fit. What I found was it was very comfortable and the heel and tongue made it feel like it was giving me some stability as well as giving me that comfort. What I did notice as mentioned before is that they are slightly heavier than my other trainers but of course I use light shoes more.

I took the Gel-NIMBUS out for a long run of around 60 minutes and had no problems at all, no sore toes from hitting the front of the shoe; I always go up around half a size anyway. I found the shoe very responsive to my easier runs while maintaining that comfortable feeling and feeling like the shoe is giving me more support than my normal models I use. However when I took it for a speed test it certainly maintained that comfortable feeling with my foot and supporting my foot. But I found it was not a very responsive shoe for speed training but that’s ok as that’s not the GEL-NIMBUS purpose. I do see that they do a light version and would love to try those and compare those.

Conclusion: It is a very popular shoe model in the ASICS range that caters for all abilities. This shoe is built to last in regards to running lots of mileage in them; the way the shoe is designed is to be sturdy & robust to give you that stability as well as comfort. I believe the Gel-Nimbus is a perfect shoe if you’re looking at doing plenty of miles in them and long runs, with stability while keeping your feet comfortable. Lets face it, keeping your feet comfortable is important and if that is your main aim then this is the shoe for you. However it is a heavier shoe and for me it’s not a training or race shoe for speed work, but that’s not the purpose of this shoe -you need to look at another shoe model if you want speed.  If you have been happy with previous versions, then I am pretty sure you will like the 23. I think it’s better than the last version and a sturdy running shoe for long runs.

Check out my YouTube Video review HERE

Are you setting up your heart rate zones correctly?

Are you setting up your heart rate zones correctly? The chances are you are not….here is my guide.

Firstly, why do this? Well getting the right zones can help you improve, keep injuries to a minimal and not over train. These three key things help you in consistently training which is the key.  Unfortunately people think they are getting the zones right but most of the time they are getting it wrong just like when they say they are training easy and they are not. Getting the right zone sorted for you is a must and a power tool in improving and getting that desired personal best you want. Not to mention training in the right zones is a much smarter way to train.

Heart rate zones can be different for different activities such as my cycling zones are different to my running heart rate zones.

The biggest mistake people make is using the default zones on their watch. This is because they automatically set and are adjusted by the watch. So therefore you need to know your HR max or do a test which I will explain in a minute and manually change the zones. The next mistake is people use a HR wrist monitor on the watch – it is not as accurate than having a strap so my advice is always use a strap if you can as the wrist monitor built into the watch can be way out.

Everyone has a different HR max and the 220 minus age rule was proven not to work. For example one of my friends is the same age as me but has a much higher HR max then me.

So how do we get the zones? Well the key is to find out your maximum heart rate whilst running. This can be done by a VO2 test in a lab which will be very accurate or by running for ten minutes as fast as you can with a heart rate monitor attached to you and then take the max from there. Of course this won’t be as accurate as a lab test but it will be near it. Once you have got your Heart Rate max you then need to get the zones right. This is simple – you just use an online heart rate calculator. I have put a link HERE to what one I recommend to use. Now the reason I use this one is others can differ quite a bit and I found from the various lab tests I did and the zones I was given in the studies I took part in this one always got the zones right and the same as the sports scientists zones they gave me.

Now once you have got your zones you will need to go manually into your watch/dashboard setting and change them, once that’s done you’re ready to go. You have Zones split from 1 to 5, with one being easy training and 5 being maximal training.

Once you have the zones what should you do with the zones?

Well lots of people follow the 80/20 rule with 80% of training in zones 1 and 2 and the rest hard. For me I train hard days hard and easy days easy. There is no moderate and this is one of the biggest mistakes people make that they train too hard all the time or over train by moderate training. Heart rate running is very good and if you find you’re 60% of your heart rate max you can be improving at a faster rate than just speed training alone. Long runs at 60% can make a huge benefit by teaching your body to not burn carbs and burn fat to make you more efficient. This therefore can make you quicker. Last year I spent most of my training doing these long runs that proved to work as it has done since I started doing this in 2015. At the same time by making you more efficient it will improve your running economy.

What is running economy? Running economy (RE) is typically defined as the energy demand for a given velocity of submaximal running, and is determined by measuring the steady-state consumption of oxygen (VO2) and the respiratory exchange ratio. If you don’t know what VO2 is please read my old blog about VO2 (HERE)

A lot of marathon runners use this because instead of pounding away for 13 miles on a long run for example they can go longer at an easy pace and wont feel tired the following day. The key is to train at less intensity on a long run which will teach you to burn fat but also make you recover quicker. Many people struggle with the pace because it is a lot slower than they normally run and if you run up hill you need to run slower in order to keep the heart rate down. Of course it is a must to keep the speed sessions up but by just slowing your speed down a little on a long run it can be a huge benefit.  I used to do a 13 mile run every Saturday at race pace which of course felt good but took me a few days to recover and my Half Marathon time wasn’t any better. Once I had changed my training and ran at 60% I found that if I wanted to do another long run the next day I could because MY body felt fine and improved.

So my advice would be to try it for 6 weeks and see how it goes, if you don’t react to the training then at least you tried something new. But how should you train for HR? Well a simple guide can be by increasing the distance or time in your run slightly for a three week period, with each week increasing. Then maintain the third week distance/time for a further 3 weeks and see if you have improved in a race. Let me know your thoughts and progress.

I hope you found this useful – it’s a small guide which should help and give you the basics. I have written previous blogs about heart rate running which can be found HERE You can also see my YouTube video with a more in depth step by step guide on how to set your heart rate zones up HERE

All photos in this blog where taken by Jason Dodd Photography

No races? Two key things to work on!

Its been such a strange year and it is still very much uncertainty across the world. COVID-19 has affected us all this year with lockdown and one by one races being cancelled. Travel plans, training, daily life all changed and we had to adapt in these uncertain times.

For me, everything was gearing up for the 2020 European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Malmo which was scheduled for August. Despite lockdown and being restricted to going out once a day for exercise and essentials I was very much on track for this race. With my coaches we decided that with the pools shut it was a good opportunity to work even more on the bike. Although I had been training more on the bike, coach Mark Shepard said this was a great time to work more on the bike to improve. So with no swimming I did more bike sessions and also Craig Coggle, my strength coach, focused on land base workouts to keep those swim muscles going.

Despite all of this, I had a gut feeling the whole year would be a write-off – I didn’t panic because it was out of my control and the main thing was to stay safe. The European Championships had been moved a year and in the same week British Triathlon cancelled all qualifiers and National championships. As soon as I heard this Mark told me to have two weeks off and do what I fancied with no plan and all easy training – I did and really enjoyed it.

This mentally helped me so much with not knowing what was going to happen in future months; it was also time not to over train and just enjoy my hobby more and tick along.

We then ramped the training up once we came out of lockdown and focused on races towards the end of the year. I managed to race 4 times with 2 wins and a 2nd place, I also managed a PB and a course record but this was off the back of consistent training and not over doing it. It was a short season for me and now I am having a break and time out for a few weeks from training. But the key is not to get carried away with more time on your hands.

Of course no training is a waste because it has so many heath benefits so it is important to keep going and not give up. The problem is though with another lockdown in force, people will have more time on their hands. This will have a negative effect on training, with more time on your hands and if you are like me, you will want to train more and more but that’s not the way to go. The great saying is too much of a good thing is a bad thing. As a result you risk burning out, getting long term injuries and giving up with no goals. So I have two key things that you should focus on while in lockdown/winter.

Make a long term goal – this is very important in keeping you motivated. It can be anything from wanting to start running to running a marathon in a certain time. Now the key is not to over train but be patient, work towards it slowly and that way your see the progress. Have structured recovery weeks, rest days (rest means total rest) and test yourself regularly to see where you are so that you can work towards your goal. I have written it many times before that easy running means easy and can improve you a lot so don’t think that you have to run fast all the time. A well balance program has more easy sessions than tough sessions.

The second is work on something over lockdown/winter. Something that you have not focused on before. This can be a weakness of yours and you can improve a lot from working on that weakness. I improved a lot on the bike this year by working on that area. You can work on things like technique in running and swimming – this can make you more efficient and you can improve from this. Maybe you have neglected strength work and again that can make you faster but also keep the injuries away. Something I like working on during the winter is my running technique – I start doing more drills and focus on something like my arm drive. During easy runs I do a check of how I am running and seeing if I have gone back to bad habits. This doesn’t have to be a major thing it can be a little thing, but working on a weakness will give you great gains in the long term.

My conclusion is that no training is a waste but you need to be smart in your training and don’t over do it. Base training and easy training is the way forward and once you have a race that is going ahead you can ramp up the intensity. Having a long term goal will keep you motivated and training – that works for me. Always work on a weakness to improve; something people ignore and just like to stay in their comfort zones. Stay safe over this winter and keep working on your goals and move forward as we will beat this.

Why You Need Different Shoes for Different Workouts

This blog will go through the reasons why you need different shoes for different workouts and how to plan this into your training and races. I have many shoes – I know it could be costly but then investing in the right shoes for the right activity is very important. Having the right shoe will not only help you get the most out of the session but of course it will help keep injuries away. My shoe rack is filled with trainers from gym shoes to running shoes. Your feet need a combination of cushioning and stability when you run to help you avoid injury.

Deciding what shoe to have and what shoes to use in workout is very important. Making sure the shoe is right for your work out is crucial for many types of reasons. The wrong shoe type for the wrong workout can cause problems and injuries, so when deciding what to use or buy it is also important you invest some time choosing what you need and not just jumping into a getting something because the shoe looks flashy.

It’s important you get your gait checked out from a reliable establishment -not just somewhere that wants to sell you anything. Running in the wrong shoes can injure you and keep you out for a long time. Just a few miles in the wrong shoes can be a disaster and the same goes for wearing shoes that are too worn; this has the same effect. A big mistake people make is they wait until they get holes in the upper shoe before changing them – well what about the sole? The sole could be worn which means it needs replacing. Just because your last pair lasted for years or thousands of miles, it doesn’t mean the others will and it’s likely they were worn well before that. I always check my shoes after every run to see how worn they are. This allows me to monitor the wear and then replace them when needed. I find having a spare pair in hand ready to go is the way forward too, otherwise you will be put off changing shoes.

A big mistake people make when they use new shoes is that they jump straight into them and run long miles without wearing them in. This is a big no – with any new shoe you need to break them in because if you don’t you will get injured. Your feet need to mould to the shoe; my tip on this is just to wear them in walking around the house for a few days and do some very short runs before you take them on more mileage.  Anyway on to the different shoes for different sessions.

There are three different types of shoes to help you decide and take in:

·         Maximum support running shoes

·         Structured cushioning / stability shoes

·         Neutral shoes

Maximum support: The most supportive type of shoe to help with a runner who pronates. ASICS state this trainer “includes features like medial posts (ASICS DUOMAX™), which are higher density materials on the inner side of the midsole to stop it from collapsing as the heel everts onto it. Maximum support running shoes also tend to have a carbon rubber outer sole for durability and are built on a straight last (mould), which offers maximum ground contact and stability.”

Structured cushioning / stability shoes: They are not as heavy as maximum support trainers but still offer good support and is the most popular choice of shoe for runners.

Neutral shoes: These shoes are normally lighter and more control over your foot movement and therefore able to run faster with little support.

Strength training – well that’s no brainer you would need to have shoes with a little stability so when lifting weights you have that grip and helps protect your feet from straining. But for me the most important area is my running shoes as I spend a lot of time running I need to get these shoes right. Firstly I mentioned above that you should get your gait analysed which can be done in a shop, but its important it’s from someone that knows what they are doing such as a running coach. From doing this you will be able to find if you need stability or not. This is important as it’s not easy to find out what type of runner you are without someone checking for you. For example, you might over pronate so you would have to get the right shoe for your running style. Once you know what kind of runner you are such as a neutral then you have to decide what shoes you want. The mistake people make is having one shoe for everything as mentioned before so you need to look at ideally two pairs.

I am a neutral runner and this type of shoe is where you get the most choices, well that’s what I find. I have lots of running shoes so I will have light weight shoes for speed sessions and races. The reason I run with this type is purely because my feet need to be used to this type of shoe as I race in them and of course never try something on race day that you haven’t before as that has disaster written all over it. So my go to shoes for speed sessions and running races have been the ASICS Roadhawks as they are light, provide comfort and have a little bit of cushioning. I would use them up to 10k, however for Triathlon races I use the ASICS Noosa Tri’s purely because they are a racing shoe and are easy to get on during a race because of the laces and the tongue. If I was to run a marathon I would go with more comfort. However with the carbon shoe war with companies trying to get the fastest shoe out I would race with the ASICS Metaracer. Purely because it is super light and a racing shoe. Not to mention it is designed to make you run faster because of the carbon plate but also the energy saving it gives you. So for me it’s all about having a lightweight running shoe that is designed to be fast when doing races and speed work. Now if I was to run with racing shoes for longer distances I would get injured and my legs would be in bits.

That brings me on to the second pair of shoes you should own and that is a long run shoe. A long run shoe normally weighs more than racing shoes and is more comfortable than racing shoes. For longer runs, which is where I spend more time doing my runs than speed work, it’s important that you look after your feet. As a result some stability, cushioning and comfort is what I am after for a long run shoe. It makes sense to look after your feet after pounding them, so having a more comfy shoe with stability is a must purely because you will be doing high mileage. I always look for a more robust shoe that is going to last high mileage and allow my feet to be comfortable on the run. I run with the ASICS DynaFltyes as they are perfect for me in long runs. I wouldn’t run regularly in long runs with racing shoes as I personally want to maintain comfort and look after my feet.

The two types of shoes I mentioned above are for road runners but what if you want to train off road or even race? Well you need to cover yourself again in this area. It all depends on the terrain – whether it is trail or all grass?  Trail shoes provide great grip and are an all-round shoe to use on trail runs and races. They are heavy, tend to have a lot of cushioning to help feet, grip for the mud and a very strong solid robust shoe. Basically in a nutshell trail trainers are designed exactly for what is in the name and the purpose of the shoe. If you run trails without the right footwear such as a normal pair of running shoes, you will slip all over the place and won’t have grip and you are likely to get injured plus the shoe will be ruined, don’t make that mistake I did. You can use these on races but if you are racing cross country mainly in mud then you might want to look a cross country spikes which are different to track running spikes. Don’t make the mistake in using those in cross country as they are not designed for that and you will get injured. Cross country spike shoes offer better grip than trail shoes and are super lightweight and therefore I always find I can run cross country races faster in spikes then trails, but be aware you spend a lot of time on your toes which can give you stiff calf’s if you’re not used to running like this.

It is important you find the right shoe that works for you and your style. I would always recommend researching into shoes before you buy a new pair. Running shoes are a personal thing and just because your friend does well in a particular model, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Make sure you don’t wait for the shoes to go dead, you want to prevent injuries. This is is a small guide on the right shoes for the right type of running and hopefully you find this helpful to assist you in your decision when choosing what shoes to have in your collection.

Check out my YOUTUBE Video on this subject HERE

Is this the next game changer shoe?

I could not wait to get my hands on these shoes. I have never been so excited to get my hands on a pair of shoes. Before these shoes went on the market they already started breaking records. Jan Frodeno breaking the Ironman record and Eilish McColgan breaking the great south run record just on the prototypes. Originally, they were due to be released for the Paris Marathon, but got postponed due to COVID-19.  Let me introduce you to the METARACER by ASICS.

ASICS gifted me a pair of the METARACERS and here is my review. The running world has gone mad recently, since we saw the marathon record being broken in carbon plate shoes. ASICS have had these quietly in the background, being tested by the professionals and is there answer on taking on its rivals in the carbon shoe war. It’s no question that records are being broken with carbon plate shoes and they are a game changer for sure, there is no doubt. At first I thought it was hyped up but looking in more detail, if you want to run faster then a carbon shoe can be the way forward?

Firstly, ASICS state: The METARACER™ Tokyo shoe is made for runners who want the most out of their fast-paced training and racing. Featuring a limited model offering, this iteration is displayed with a Sunrise Red colorway to symbolize and celebrate the city of Tokyo and the country of Japan. The upper is designed to capture as much airflow as possible, which helps keep feet cool. This cooling provided by the shoe means your body does not have to work as hard to keep you cool. The upper also has drainage ports to release any water that might get into the shoe. GUIDESOLE™ technology features an improved toe-spring shape. These two components are combined to reduce the movement of the ankle joint, helping runners save energy with each stride. Combined with a carbon fiber plate in the midsole, this shoe generates a rolling motion that actually propels the foot forward, producing a totally unique running experience. The METARACER™ Tokyo shoe with GUIDESOLE™ technology is designed to help you take your racing to the next level.

Designed for the neutral runner, with a heel drop of 9mm and weighs just 190 grams, it already makes it sound fast but is it?

ASICS have gone a different direction to its rivals making a carbon plate shoe by making it closer to the ground with a lower heel drop to give that curved sole, while using there FLYTEFOAM MIDSOLE technology.

So first impressions? The sunrise colour stands out for me, the colour is very bright and the black logo stands out. So the funky colour ticks the box for me, but it’s not about the colour. Firstly it felt light holding it; the tongue was very thin and no excess material. The material felt very light and breathable, the laces were very thin too. When looking under the shoe it has lots of rubber, which I guess is to make it last, unlike it’s rivals where you don’t get many miles on them. However they did not look like they had much grip and if it’s wet will it still be quick and not slip?

When putting them on the METARACER felt super light. Unlike the NOVABLAST they felt a lot lower on the ground and felt they are going to be quick, but are they? When testing them on my threshold run, I have to say I was very impressed and I now know the hype of these shoes. I did my threshold run and was trying to slow myself down but it felt hard to do so. I was running at a faster but very comfortable pace. When doing my run I had to run 4 miles at threshold and I thought I would struggle because I went off a bit too fast. It was wet too but I felt like I was bouncing and had loads of energy. In fact my heart rate was at least 7 beats down than normal for this session and I was running faster. I felt very strong and not tired at all, I finished the session buzzing because I didn’t feel tired and was so impressed with these shoes. The METARACER felt super light on when running. Doing a longer run they felt fine and quick, but I prefer not using racing shoes for longer runs.

What did I find from this shoe? I was feeling very fresh after my runs and I certainly believe that it does save energy as ASICS claim. What does that relate to in a racing environment? Well in theory you can run harder for longer and faster and you can therefore get that desired PB. The METARACER has been designed for Marathons but there is no reason at all why you wouldn’t run a 5k in these as they are so quick.

ASICS has its own GUIDESOLE technology in the midsole, which has a curved sole which will help you propel forward in a rolling motion. With the carbon plate inputted too this is designed to use less energy.

Conclusion – I am hugely impressed by this carbon plate shoe. Do I think I can run faster or PB in this shoe? well the answer is yes. Even with the grip underneath which I thought would be slippery in the rain was not and I was buzzing after my session. What impressed me is running at a faster pace, but at a lot lower heart rate. This proves to me that this is a game changer, super fast shoe. Ask my wife – she said I was praising this shoe so much. This will be a race shoe for me. However the question is how long will the shoe last? The extra rubber shows it should do but I don’t know.

Check out my YouTube review on this HERE

My Favourite shoe, ASICS DYNAFLYTE™ 4 review… will it disappoint?

ASICS kindly sent me a pair of the new ASICS DYNAFLYTE™ 4 to try and test out and here is my review. Now this shoe I have been waiting for a while and the reason I am excited to try these is because I have had every model since its release and it’s my favourite shoe – I use the DYNAFLYTE for my longs runs and in races. 

So what does ASICS state about the DYNAFLYTE™ 4: “This lightweight shoe sports FLYTEFOAM™ Lyte technology to put a spring in your step, along with rear-foot GEL™ technology to ensure shock absorption and a softer, more luxurious feeling underfoot. The plush shoe also benefits from our I.G.S™ (Impact Guidance System) technology which ensures you get a cleaner stride, strategically enhancing your natural gait as you push for that new personal best. Furthermore, engineered jacquard mesh means feet stay cool and dry, while the shoe’s reflectivity ensures you’ll always stand out. The DYNAFLYTE™ 4 model is a durable running shoe for neutral, fast-paced athletes looking to go the distance and push boundaries”. It is a road running shoe and it’s the shoe that gave me a half marathon PB in 2018. The DYNAFLYTE has a heel drop of 8mm, 11mm  for the front, 19mm for the rear-foot and weighs 241grams.

First impressions is the model looks very similar to the 3 model. The colour is flash and you know I love flash colours. I don’t have the 3s anymore but when comparing it to the 2s which I still have a pair of, it felt much lighter. The laces look thinner and lighter too. The material had changed and seems more breathable, the tongue was perfect with no excess material. I found the back had a bit more cushioning but when putting the shoe on it still gave me the comfy slipper effect from the previous models.

How does it compare? So I put the the DYNAFLYTE 4  through its paces. The shoe was light just like previous models .This shoe retails around £130 in the UK which makes it affordable. The material felt light and allows your feet to breathe very well. The shoe felt very comfortable on and had plenty of room. The way to describe this is they felt super comfortable just like having a glove on. The grip is for the road runner as it is a road running shoe, however the grip is similar to previous models and will last a lot of miles.

I put the DYNAFLYTE 4 through its paces and ran some long runs; they felt comfy just like the previous model and they felt quick. The sole of the shoe looks strong and looks as if it will last a long time again like previous models. This model for me is definitely a long run shoe that maintains the comfort. I ran the Fleet Half Marathon with the 2s in 2018 and I dipped under 1 hour 20 min. I was super impressed how comfy they were. So this newer model does not disappoint. I find this model helps my Achilles and never troubles it, however with speed work I prefer other models, but I have tested these out on my speed sessions and no problem at all as I felt quick here too.

Conclusion: My favourite ASICS shoe which just gets better, this shoe will not disappoint and I spend most of my weekly running mileage on this particular model of shoe, it’s very robust and light. So in a nutshell it’s a perfect running shoe for long runs and races up to half marathon. I have raced races with this model in the past and would continue to race with these shoes. However I do prefer racing shoes for shorter distances.

Check out my full video review on my YOUTUBE HERE. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

ASICS GEL-CUMULUS 22 Review

ASICS kindly sent me a pair of the new ASICS GEL-CUMULUS 22 to try and test out so here is my personal review.

So what is the ASICS GEL-CUMULUS 22? ASICS state: The GEL-CUMULUS™ 22 running shoe is a recommended choice for neutral runners who want a soft, flexible everyday trainer with a great fit. This update features a one-piece upper mesh that’s combined with a seamless 3D print construction, which balances support and comfort around the foot — giving you an excellent fit right out of the box.

The GEL-CUMULUS 22 technology midsole is softer than the previous version to promote a pillowy ride. Under heel where the foot first hits the ground has been redesigned to better isolate impact. This new heel design has deeper forefoot flex grooves and a softer midsole foam to give you a soft ride.

The shoes soft, lightweight Jacquard mesh upper delivers excellent airflow, keeping your feet cool and fresh throughout your run. Additionally, reflective details provide extra visibility in low-light conditions. It includes a hard-wearing AHAR™ rubber outsole compound that has been placed in key contact areas to help the GEL-CUMULUS™ 22 shoe stand up to a ton of miles – ASICS state.

The updated GEL-CUMULUS 22 shoe is very similar to the latest Nimbus shoe and  has the comfort. It features the following:

• Flytefoam™ propel technology in the midsole that offers excellent bounce and toe-off

• 3D print upper that increases forefoot support and comfort

• Ahar™ rubber outsole compound has been placed in key contact areas of the outsole to better resist wear

How does it compare?

So I put the GEL-CUMULUS 22  through its paces. When unpacking them the colour did look very attractive. The shoe was light even though it looked like it wasn’t but not as light as other ASICS shoes I have used. This shoe retails around £120 in the UK which makes it affordable.

The material felt light and allows your feet to breathe very well, the shoe felt very comfortable on and plenty of room and space, I also found the size came up slightly bigger than other ranges so bear that in mind when purchasing. The tongue fitted perfect with the shoe design and comfort, so no excess tongue here.

When wearing them they felt like the Nimbus 22, but did not feel as light as I first thought, however they felt super comfortable – the way to describe this is like a glove. 

I put it through its paces and ran some long runs; they felt comfy and felt like a sturdy strong shoe that can last for miles. The sole of the shoe looks strong and looks as if it will last a long time, it certainly looks like it’s built to last many miles. I found my feet were comfy and very breathable when running with them. I tried some speed sessions in them and they felt fine but not as quick or light as my race or speed training shoes.

Conclusion – I think this shoe is for someone that wants to do long miles in them; they offer some support even though they are for the neutral runner. They are a comfy shoe, the design of the shoe is good and I believe the GEL-CUMULUS 22 is ideal for someone just getting into running or wants to run longer runs. For me I will use this more on my long runs and as a rotational shoe, it’s a good shoe but I personally prefer the DYNAFLYTE.

Check out my full video review HERE. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

What is Zone 2 Training?

For most people they are under the impression that they should go hard in every session. They get fixed on certain paces all the time because they think they will not improve and therefore neglect the easy days and even go too hard on easy days as a result. The most common thought is “if I train hard and fast I will get faster” but that is not the case and you need to be clever in your training and like many of the pros they train in zone 2 to get faster. We all know that well known saying “go slow to get fast”. If you keep training hard you with keep having bad training days and likely spend a long time each year on the sidelines.

What is zone 2 training? Zone 2 is steady training just coming above the easy zone, It’s not moderate or anything above. The main benefit form zone 2 heart rate or zone 2 power is that it builds aerobic base and endurance. By Improving aerobic capacity this improves your ability to maintain a faster pace for a longer period of time. Of course you still need to do the higher intensity efforts but zone 2 is the basis and foundation from which to begin to build your faster pace. If you have a strong aerobic capacity it will also allow you to recover quicker between those higher intensity efforts.  For example, with a better aerobic fitness, you will be able to perform intervals with a shorter rest in between and hit pace stronger.

Why is Zone 2 training important?

One of my coaches Mark Shepherd is very critical on me for my training and the majority of his training he gives me is all in zone 2. He stresses the importance of zone training every week. I also believe in this training; before Mark I went on studies on how to improve and the main finding was I was training too hard although I thought it was easy. I had my zones adjusted to my heart rate max and since that study in 2015, I have improved a lot from training in zone 2. So when Mark gave me my training I was no stranger to this. Of course lots of people think they are doing it right but I see it all the time on Strava and can tell it’s wrong. Zone 2 training should be a big bulk of your weekly training and for the benefits mentioned above it also leaves you feeling like you can go on for ever, fresh, recover and therefore really target your hard runs and not get fatigued, which of course will keep the injuries away. If the injuries stay away then to me that’s a major importance in any training, not only will you get consistent training which is the key, but if you get consistent training you are very likely to improve. If you keep over training and get injured you will just end up chasing your fitness and making excuses.  With zone 2 training you should be able to maintain a conversation very easily; I always like to focus on form as it’s easy to do whilst at this heart rate. What is there not to like about it? It’s a well-known method and your body needs to repair – you just cannot keep breaking your body down with hard training. I always point out to people even the best marathon runners in the world run slow miles.

How to work it out?

Firstly you need a watch and a heart rate monitor. You need to know your heart rate max and once you have that you can put your heart rate in many calculators online HERE or watch my YouTube videos HERE and you will get your zones from there. You do need to make sure the HR max is right, you can do tests like: 5k Time Trial, FTP test, coopers test, VO2 Max lab test and so on etc or even use a recent race result. Do not use your watch automatic/present zones as 9/10 times they are wrong zones. Once you know your heart rate max you can get your zones.  Don’t go by pace or mileage, I just go by time and follow the zone strictly. By sticking to lower heart rates, over time you will find that you are likely to increase your pace at the same heart rate output. This is due to increased aerobic efficiency – yes I had to walk up hills to start off with but that was a way my body was telling me I am pushing too hard. You may have to walk but in time it improves. When you become more efficient in time you will then be able to do more training hours at a lower heart rate. Check out old blog HERE about if Heart Rate training is worth it.

Why do people ignore this method?

People are simply not patient and they expect instant results and that won’t happen overnight. At least 2/4 of my runs a week are in zone 2. When I first did this training it was a few weeks before I saw my pace improve, but found I could train more and on the hard sessions go harder. Over the years the pace is sometimes at a pace which I was doing back in 2015 too hard. I have improved a lot from this but it takes times, it could be weeks or months to see improvement but you have to keep at it and your see the benefits. Stick with it and you will make improvements and of course with anything you will struggle to get quick results so why break your body and get injured when you can train smart?

My conclusion is it is a big topic and this is a quick simple blog about this; I have written many in depth blogs in the past and YouTube Videos so check them out. I train like this, my athletes do and I have many friends doing this training who have all gone to do well whether it’s a PB or a medal. I believe in this and when I look back over the years I have improved so much and continue to improve. The medals I have won are due to training smart and not over training. Thanks for reading and what do you think about zone 2 training?

Check out my YOUTUTBE video on this subject HERE