Saturday, August 23, 2014

Altra Lone Peak 2.0 - A Comparison Review

Altra Lone Peak 2.0 on the right...1.5 on the left (picture in the driveway...but both have seen extensive trail time)
The Altra Lone Peak 1.5 has been one of my daily trainers this summer.  One of the reasons for this is that it’s one of the shoes in the Altra lineup that still has the firm/moderate cushioning that I prefer.  They replaced my beloved original Instincts, as I couldn’t find them anymore, and after putting probably a ton of miles on my last pair of Instincts, I finally retired them.  So it is with some excitement and also some anxiety that I ordered a pair of the new Altra Lone Peak 2.0 for comparison.  I was excited in that I thought it might be more comfortable for longer distance.  What made me anxious was that I thought they might be as super-soft as the Instinct 2.0, which I did not like.  This review will be a comparison of the Lone Peak 1.5 and 2.0 to see how they stack up.
Lone Peak 1.5 insole laying on top of the Lone Peak 2.0 insole
The fit is about the same when comparing the two shoes.  If you look at the insoles, they have about the same footprint.  If anything, the 2.0 has a bit more space at the big toe and small toe areas. 
Lone Peak 2.0 has a softer and more padded heel collar and softer upper overall
The uppers of both shoes are different and affect the fit and feel of both shoes.  The material of the 2.0 is relatively soft and flexible as compared to the 1.5.  The overall result is that the 2.0 feels very comfortable on my foot.  That softness can feel great when running on flat, non-technical trails.  When I hit more technical trails, I find myself wanting the tighter weave of the 1.5 upper to hold the foot in place.
Altra Lone peak 2.0 - midfoot "straps" from the midfoot eyelets that go to the base of the shoe - grey part near my thumb. 
A neat feature that somewhat makes up for the looser feeling upper on the 2.0 is that the laces run through some mid-foot straps that go all the way to the footbed of the shoe.  That seems to secure the mid-foot a bit, although I had to tie my laces pretty snug to get this effect. 

Altra Lone Peak 2.0 outsole on the left, 1.5 on the right
 The outsoles of both shoes are about the same.  If anything, the 2.0 has a little bit more tread.  I prefer more of a hybrid outsole, so this isn’t really a big deal to me.  For those who really like an aggressive outsole, the 2.0 might give you a little more grip. 
Altra Lone Peak 2.0 on the bottom, 1.5 on the top - much more cushion
The new midsole is the major change in this update.  The 1.0 and 1.5 both had a more “minimal” feel but ran like a bigger shoe.  In other words, even with a relatively low stack height, I would feel comfortable running on just about any surface in those shoes.  The 2.0 not only has a higher stack height, but also has a softer feel compared to the previous version.  This will probably frustrate those who were in love with the earlier versions of the Lone Peak, but I bet it will be welcomed by most.  For me, the main downside for the change is a slight loss of agility and balance from being up higher on the softer platform.  As someone who does longer trail runs though, I can appreciate the extra cushion.  My feet felt much less fatigued after a recent 5 hour training run, and I didn’t feel like I sacrificed a lot in the way of running form.  

If you think the previous versions are the greatest shoes in the world, you might want to stock up now because the Altra lineup seems to be trending towards more cushioned shoes.  Overall though, this is a good update that I think will appeal to many people who like the zero drop, foot shaped approach but didn’t want the more minimal cushioning of the previous versions. 
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Praying and Running

The last couple of weeks have been a little tough….not “how am I going to feed the family” tough or anything like that.  It has just been one of those periods where things start to add up, and I become a grouchy person to be around.    You know…work stinks, the house looks like a dang construction area, some folks are driving me batty, it’s 97 degrees for weeks on end, and I’m trying to find time to get in a long run, etc… 

Remember this guy?

I’m grateful that my wife, Sonya, has been patient.  She has put in a couple of thoughts about my grouchiness, but that’s OK.  I needed that.  I certainly do the same for her.  That’s one of the ways we serve one another.

The telltale sign that I’m not coping well is cynicism.  What better way to revel in my misery than to deny the sincerity of your actions?  And if I can throw in a little subtle sarcasm, I can even pass it off as light humor, right?  HA, HA!  Some other signs include general jerkiness, brooding, and long, prolonged sighs (as opposed to cleansing breaths).  Where does it get me, really?  No where.

For some reason, I always seem to neglect the two things that help me most during these times – prayer and running.  My prayer life is liturgical in nature and includes reading the psalms.  I can easily fall into a quick read on the “Prayer Express” if I’m not careful.  The running can go the same way.  I’ll default to just getting in a quick run here and there, rather than going on a long run to clear my mind or trying to maintain the focus required of my hill repeat workouts. 

What I miss out on during the “Prayer Express” is a real conversation with God.  I jump past those important listening moments.  Why do these few words in particular get my attention?  What does this passage mean for my current situation?  How can I pray about the meaning of this?  I recently remembered some words of wisdom from a wonderful Franciscan Priest I met named Father Francis – “Don’t try to overdo it or get all fancy with what you do.  Find out what works for you, and try to do it first thing in the morning.  The point is to spend time with Jesus.  Spend ten minutes with Jesus every day, and that’s a good start.”  Good advice…

Many people have written about how running can be addictive.  If it was a drug, I would classify it as an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication with a hint of something to add a little focus.  It may seem strange and even kind of pathologic to say that I use running to cope sometimes, but I freely admit it.  It seems to smooth things out when I’m feeling anxious.  It gives me a jolt of energy when I’m feeling down, and in a world that seems to lack focus, it is one thing that really helps me bring focus back in my life.  If I have something on my mind, it’s a time to block out the many distractions in life and collect my thoughts.  Often, the results have also been some of the most moving prayer experiences I have had.  What better way to spend my ten minutes (and more) with Jesus?

By the way, Oscar was just misunderstood.  He really just loved trash...

If you can't see the video (click here)I