First impressions: Topo Ultrafly 2

First impressions: Topo Ultrafly 2

Last year I tested out the Topo Fli-Lyte 2, a lightweight shoe from Topo Athletic with 3mm heel drop. This time I decided to buy the newly released Ultrafly 2 in order to check out how their more stable shoe would perform and if I, as a more overpronated runner, could have a shoe that fit me better.

It's more foot-shaped than a conventional running shoe and builds on the natural runner school of thought, where the toes get more space and thus should contribute more to the stability. It does, however, compared to barefoot shoes, offer a huge amount of cushioning for the longer runs. So far I've run on forest paths, gravel and asphalt in order to make up my mind about the shoe. 

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First impressions: Mizuno Inspire 14

First impressions: Mizuno Inspire 14

Last years best shoe in my opinion was the Mizuno Inspire 13, which I just love to run with. I still have it to this day, and use it on occasion when I want a shoe that just works and that I am comfortable with. It’s my safe bet.

This years shoe, the Mizuno Inspire 14, has now been with me for about 50k on gravel and asphalt. Has the Inspire improved?

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First impressions: New Balance 1080 v8

First impressions: New Balance 1080 v8

Before leaving for Australia I got two pairs of shoes to review, the first one was the New Balance Zante v4, and the second was the New Balance 1080 v8.

Last years entry into the 1080 line (v7) was one of the best shoes I tried in 2017. Not only did it give a softer ride than I was used to, but it also still had some responsiveness to it. So how well would the new version do compared to the old one?

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First impressions: New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 4

Just before I traveled to Australia I received two pairs of shoes that I would test while I was in Australia. One of them was the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 4.

Last year was my first introduction to the Fresh Foam sole in the 1080 v7. I loved the shoe and actually ended up using it too much. As I have said previously, changing shoes is no joke, and I decided to be more cautious when trying out a shoe from the Zante line for the first time.
I used this shoe on and off during the entire time I was in Australia, and also in the time after to be sure that I knew exactly what I felt about it. These shoes have not only been used for running, but also hiking and walking in the cities.

The fit

This is a very comfortable shoe to wear. It has become my go-to shoe not only for running but also when I just want something comfortable to walk around in. 
The upper is very different from what I have tried earlier, especially compared to stability shoes I have tested. The new Hyposkin fit snugly around the midfoot and makes for a secure and good fit, while the mesh material around the forefoot feels lightweight and nonintrusive. The added support in the mesh is not very noticeable. 
The padding around the heel is minimal compared to other shoes I have tested, but because the heel cap is noticeably thinner it doesn't take away any comfort when running.

Overall, this shoe fit very nicely on the foot and the sensation of free-moving feet combined with a secure fit feels very good!

Hiking to the Pinnacle Point in The Grumpians National Park

The stability

First of all, I would start off by saying that this is not a stable shoe. It is not meant to be either, but the lack of support in the upper mesh, the thinner heal cap and the softness of the Hyposkin makes this a shoe mostly for neutral runners. I am close to not being able to use it myself but have spent the last twelve months actively training stability in order to start using this category of shoes in the future.
As a fast interval shoe or maybe a race shoe this instability doesn't matter that much, the most important thing if you need stability, is to use this shoe for the really fast runs and let other more stable shoes handle the heavy workload. That way you'll have benefit from the lightness and responsiveness of the shoe, with a smaller chance of injury.

Overall, the stability isn't really there, so if you are looking for a stable and lightweight shoe there are better options out there. The new New Balance 890v5 has both a firmer sole and more stability features. If you are looking for a soft and less intrusive shoe, this is surely a good shoe to try out.

The feel

The Zante is a very comfortable to wear. The soft and unsupportive upper mesh combined with the Hyposkin makes for a shoe that feels like the cozy slippers you wear when you're home. It's also very light, and it is very easy to notice how lovely it is to run fast in.
Most of my runs with this shoe has been the faster and shorter runs, and I believe that this is the best use for this shoe as well. You shouldn't be put off by that though, as the feeling of this shoe has given me a new perspective of what a fast shoe should feel like. I would much rather have a shoe like this in my arsenal for intervals and races, than too many of the long distance trainers. 
Despite having used the same type of foam as the 1080 v8, the shoe feels a lot more responsive and a lot faster. The Fresh Foam in a thinner sole is also a little bit reminiscent of the Altra Escalante EGO sole, which is very flexible. This results in a good freedom of movement for every stride and it makes me feel like I'm flying.

6mm heel drop is the standard for many of the faster shoes from New Balance, but compared to the 1080, which is 8mm, I can't say that I notice the difference too much.

The grip of the shoe suits for running on dry gravel and asphalt. It doesn't have a deep pattern on the bottom sole, and looks to be more designed to get the most amount of surface contact for every stride. Running on wet or slippery surfaces could be a challenge.

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Overall

Overall this shoe should be used for faster, shorter runs as well as races. I will not use this as a long distance trainer, and would encourage people to add a bit more cushioning and stability if a longer run is planned.
The lack of stability features also excludes this shoe from being used when I run or walk in rougher terrain. My ankle will not be able to control the amount of looseness in the shoe in those circumstances, and I will thus not try to play with fate.

If you are looking for a nice and comfortable shoe for walking in cities these should do the trick superbly, as it would handle the abnormal amount of walking done during these types of vacation perfectly.

I am very happy that I tested this shoe, and I will be using it regularly in the months to come!

Do you have any questions to me about this shoe or any other? Comment on this post or write to me on Instagram

First impressions: Diadora Mythos Fly

Diadora came into the Danish running market last year with their new technology, BlueShield, an orthopedic top sole that would enhance the support underneath each foot. This made the shoe able to support overpronators as well as supinators to various degrees and make them run more neutral.

Last years shoe has been received well by our customers, but there were some issues that I hoped they would fix in the next generation. 

A week ago I got the Diadora Mythos Fly, a second generation BlueShield shoe made to be lighter and faster than their original Mythos. I have just finished 34k in them and it is, therefore, time to give my first impressions on the shoe. 

The fit

This is the main improvement! The last generation of Diadora shoes was based on a good foot shape, but it was a shoe that we were only able to sell to people with a taller midfoot or that needed extra vertical space in the toe box. We told Diadora this during our test phase and quickly got a response that this would be fixed in the next generation.
The upper has thus been changed completely, resulting in a lot tighter fit, especially in the toe box. Be aware though, that this is not a wide shoe, and it will not suit people with wider feet as well.
The grip around the midfoot and heel is like last year, good. The shoe is not overly padded in the heel like running shoes have a tendency to be now, resulting in a firm and good fit around the ankle that doesn't feel too soft.

It’s one of those shoes you forget is on your feet when you wear them.
— Lars Ivar Henriksen

Overall, this shoe is remarkably different from its predecessor, with a much more secure fit around the entire foot. It's one of those shoes you forget is on your feet when you wear them.

I ran to work every day last week with the Diadora Mythos Fly.

The stability

The initial test on a treadmill showed that this shoe is capable of handling some overpronation, but as it is the lightest and most flexible it also lacks a bit of stability compared to the to stiffer shoes in the Mythos line-up.
It's clearly not designed to be the most stable, but it is nice to see that the BlueShield inner sole can offer some support, especially for those with a weaker foot arch that could be in need of an extra innersole. Severe overpronators should look for a different shoe though, and this is where the other more stiff Diadoras would be possible options.

The feel

The first feeling when you put on this shoe is that it is comfortable. The BlueShield sole has an initial supporting feel under the foot, and as soon as the sole settles and forms to your foot, a softer sensation is replaced by a more responsive comfort. I've had no issues with using this shoe for longer periods at work, even though it was new and unfamiliar.

The Fly has roughly the same weight as the Mizuno Inspire and a little bit heavier than the Saucony Guide. It fits perfectly into the category of lighter long distance trainers, but has more similarities to a Mizuno in feel than it has to the softer Sauconys.
Responsiveness is the key here, as the sole is firmer it leads to a more responsive touch when you land. This is always the key aspect of how the shoe performs. Many brands hide behind high energy return numbers, but this can be because they have a soft shoe that feels unresponsive. The Diadora Fly feels rather fast for its type and it is a joy to run with.

Grip has so far not been an issue as long as there isn't frost on the ground. It's a shoe that could be used in different types of terrain as long as it's dry.

Overall

This shoe is one of those shoes that you put on if you want a higher cruising speed throughout your run, but still wants some cushioning. The firm midsole reduces energy loss in every stride and the orthopedic topsole gives a bit of support when the ankle becomes tired.
Everything from shorter to longer distances is something I would consider using this shoe for, as long as the goal is to run at a faster pace. When speed isn't a big concern though I would imagine myself using a shoe that has a bit softer ride.

The most important impression I have from using the Diadora Fly is that it feels like the Diadora brand really has started to find its way onto the running scene. It's impossible to make a shoe that can do everything, and this shoe is not an exception. But what it can do it does well, and it is ready to compete with the big dogs!

Do you have any questions to me about this shoe or any other? Comment on this post or write to me on Instagram.