Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Review Nike Lunar Tempo: Fabulous Racer Trainer with Very High Cushion to Weight Ratio.Comfortable Any Speed Ride

Nike Lunar Tempo

The Nike Lunar Tempo is versatile trainer and long race shoe which provides a tremendous amount of decently stable cushioning and upper at an impossibly light weight:  6.8 oz 192 grams Men 9, 5.9 oz Women 8. Retail Price $110.  It has a 8mm drop with a 26mm heel, 18mm forefoot stack. These are similar overall stacks to the Brooks Ghost and Launch, Mizuno Wave Rider, adidas Energy Boost but... at a weight 2-3.5 oz lighter!  Of course cushion to weight  ratio is not the only factor to consider yet Nike has carefully crafted a lightweight blend that hits many checkmarks for me:

  • Very high cushion to weight ratio but also not mushy cushioning, particularly in the heel. It is the best such ratio (add heel and forefoot stack and divide by weight) of any shoe in my collection except the Hoka Clifton (review) whose heel I found too soft and angled. Lunar Tempo has enough cushion, as I generally like at least 18mm in the forefoot and 26mm in the heel in a training shoe or for marathon racing.
  • Very firm, responsive but not overly extensive outsole rubber over the soft cushion. I know it's there but I can't "feel" a hardish landing I do in, for example, the Saucony ISO Zealot (review) and Triumph(review)  or the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante (review) heel or the somewhat stiff toe spring push off of these shoes and the Adios Boost (review).
  • A minimal and light upper yet one adequately supportive with Flywire cable support around light mesh "fabric". Part of the price to pay for such a light overall shoe. I'm OK with this tradeoff
  • Smooth running, not too stiff. I like toe spring for shorter races but find shoes such as the Adios Boost and Zante tire and sometimes cramp my forefoot after longer miles. No such issues during my 20 mile run in the Lunar Tempo.
I have run 40 miles to date in the Lunar Tempo. These runs included a 20 mile run with middle 9 miles at marathon pace (8:30/mile) on a flat route. I did not experience my usual hip weakness and lack of drive and the run left me with no soreness anywhere, unusual and this after several weeks of back and hip issues. Lunar Tempo will be my Boston Marathon shoe this year replacing my trusty 10oz Energy Boost. 

Fit and Upper
The only structure to the upper is provided by the Flywires, there are no overlays of any kind except the Swoosh. The light engineered mesh fabric and Flywire seems to be a big factor in the light weight of the shoe.

There was talk online about the very front of the engineered mesh at the toe being low. It is and is also somewhat firmer and denser weave. So, I sized up half a size. I shouldn't have as the rest of the forefoot is not so much very wide as quite unstructured due to the light fabric-like mesh. 

A somewhat thicker trail weight sock solved some sloppiness, in comparison to the snug front fit of for example the Zante and Adios Boost. The low very front of the toe has not been an issue but could for sure a bit wider and higher as I had a bit of irritation on my big toe calluses after the 20 miler, often an issue on long runs. This said I also need to take care of the build up before Boston, my bad. 

The mid foot is well held by the Flywires but the Tempo does not have the snug well supported and a bit tight under the arch for me wrap of the Zante or the overall directed snug upper of the Adios Boost 1.
Nike Lunar Tempo (left) New Balance Zante (right) Note wider mid foot arch area upper of Tempo 

The Flywires, the visible yellow cords, run on top of the upper near the laces then below between the upper and the liner fabric. They are not noticed during the run and have caused me no irritation despite being easy to feel through the liner on the inside. 

Nike Lunar Tempo

The Lunar Tempo has a bit of a heel counter and cup but it really only be described as firmer fabric as opposed to any heavy plastic. This minimal counter also contributes to reducing weight. The heel hold is fine for me.  The very back lower center of the heel cup is usual heel counter firm for about an square inch, some kind of insert.

Midsole and Outsole
The midsole is made of a single density layer of Nike Lunarlon foam. I was not able to get a very good durometer reading but believe it is similar in firmness to the Zante. It is soft at the heel landing and forefoot push off without being mushy.
Nike Lunar Tempo



The outsole patches are firm BR1000 carbon rubber.  I measure these as comparable firmness to the NB Fresh Foam Zante and Boracay which have full coverage outsoles and thinner and less firm than the Saucony ISO Zealot and Triumph's more extensive patches particularly in the heel which for me has a rslightly over firm landing. 

In comparison the  ride of the Tempo is a bit less harsh overall than the New Balance and Saucony, more flexible, a bit less responsive on push off but with a very pleasant feeling of smooth light cushioning and flexibility. 
When compared to the Zante and I ran the Zante and Lunar Tempo side by side, one on each foot, the Lunar Tempo is definitely a bit softer due to its patch outsole design vs. the full firm rubber coverage of the Zante. When compared to Kinvara I find the firmer and more extensive outsole patches and especially at the forefoot of the Tempo, where they are square and not Kinvara's triangular provide a more stable front of the shoe ride for me, yet also with a more unstructured slightly less supportive upper than Kinvara.  But... Tempo has 4mm of additional heel cushion and weighs almost an ounce less than Kinvara... Think about this...

Ride and Recommendations
The Lunar Tempo is a joy to run in. Having such a light, flexible shoe with great cushioning at a super light weight is a most pleasant experience. It is clear lots of careful decisions went into this category defining shoe to achieve the right balance of very very light weight, cushioning, and adequate if more minimal upper support. Lunar Tempo is Nike's big shot across the bow of the Adios Boost and Boston, New Balance Zante and 1400, Saucony Kinvara, Brooks Launch, Mizuno Sayonara, Skechers GoRun and GoRun Ride Hoka Clifton among others in the light trainer racer category. 

40 years ago I ran and tested many of the original Nikes but in recent years except for a few pairs of so-so Vomero 8 years ago and a race flat, I have not been wowed. I am impressed with what Nike has achieved here. While not "looking like" a Hoka Clifton, for some a good thing, it seems to me Nike is evolving the concept of lighter more highly cushioned shoes in new and very exciting ways.
When comparing the ride to Adios Boost, Zante, and Clifton I would call Lunar Tempo more "slipper-ish": soft comfortable, somewhat unstructured especially in the front upper, flexible and light. 

Certainly Lunar Tempo is a fast shoe and for me I think an ideal marathon shoe but also a shoe just as able and suitable to be a daily trainer for runners like me who prefer decent cushion day in day out. As with other shoes with patch outsoles rapid wear may be a concern but this said the rubber is decently firm, we'll see. Some with pronation issues may not find them supportive enough. Many runners will do everything in them: tempo, long, intervals, races. I will use them for daily training and marathons and will for now stick to the Adios Boost for shorter races but who knows...

Highly recommended and in the running for my Road Shoe of the Year.

The Lunar Tempos were a personal purchase at retail. The opinions herein are entirely my own.

The Nike Lunar Tempo is available at Running Warehouse, now:  Men's here Women's here  All your Running Warehouse purchases at these links support my blog. Thanks!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Run Tech News: Strava has a New and Far Better Add Pictures to Runs or Cycle Approach. Apple Watch to Learn Speed and Stride?

Strava
Just saw the latest Strava update allows you to upload pictures from your phone camera after the run or cycle instead of relying on the clunky Instagram interface used before. Tried it today and it works great, even locates the photos on the route map!

Strava Add Photos
Photos are located on the map based on comparing photo time stamps to Strava time stamps

Apple Watch

Many runners have said that they would not consider the Apple Watch because it did not have GPS on board, as it relied on the iPhone for GPS. I usually run with my phone... for pictures but for sure in races, indoors, or treadmills and many days would like to leave it behind. I also figured that Apple would have a trick up its sleeve in tuning the iPone built in pedometer function based on accelerometers to actual stride and speed, automatically, by combing GPS run data with pedometer data.  iSmoothRun my current favorite run app makes use of the iPhone pedometer but does not appear to have an auto tuning function. It is not bad but not as accurate as GPS in my experience.

Well it appears Apple has a way to auto tune the Apple Watch learning runners' stride and speed and lessening its dependence on the iPhone for accurate run data, according to this MacRumors article  thus "becoming more independent from the the iPhone.  Can't wait to test and see. I am also guessing Apple Watch apps such as Strava and iSmoothrun will be able to also use this approach.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Trail Shoe Roundup- Pre-Review First Runs: Montrail FluidFlex ST, adidas adizero XT Boost, adidas Adistar Raven Boost, LaSportiva Mutant, Hoka One One Challenger ATR

Yesterday, I ran 16 miles on smoother trails at Antelope Island, UT in the Montrail FluidFlex ST, 9.2 oz/266 grams, a good value at $95 including from Running Warehouse here .  Really enjoyed the stable ride due to the  Fluid Foam which mixes different densities of the same material into a single midsole layer the Fluid Frame, the firm but decent cushioning, and a very supportive upper with decent toe room.  A shoe with mild pronation support,and I usually cannot stand support or stability shoes, I did not notice the firmer mid sole mid foot and welcomed a bit of extra support there on the trail. Very flexible at one deep groove towards the mid foot. Front of that, towards the toes, less flexible, stiffer due to firmer EVA in the mold serving as a rock plate, a bit awkward feeling on moderate climbs but felt great on steeper climbs, downhills, and flats.

Pardon my trail dust!
Montrail FluidFlex ST

Montrail Fluid Flex ST

Did some shoe testing/comparing this morning on the indoor track. 40 easy minutes, 20 in the adidas adizero XT Boost, coming 8/1 and then 20 minutes in the LaSportiva Mutant. I like to get a feel for shoes on a consistent surface before taking them out on the roads and trails. Update: since I have raced in the adizero XT Boost and done 2 trail runs in the Mutant.
LaSportiva Mutant (yellow left) adidas XT Boost (right)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review-adidas Ultra Boost: An Experiment on the Soft and "Natural" Side. A Shoe for LSD: Long Slow Distance. Comparison to Energy Boost.

The adidas Ultra Boost is a 11.4 oz (323gram) , 27mm heel 17mm forefoot 10mm drop shoe (according to Running Warehouse's description). Available now.  $180!  I am calling it a 2nd generation Boost "training" shoe for slower miles and for those seeking great cushioning, a very comfortable stretchy upper and a sort of "natural" ride on the road.  It is packed with innovative features, some that work for me, others not so much, particularly the overall softness of the ride. The Ultra Boost was a personal purchase. It fit true to size.
I first read about Ultra Boost through my friend Frederic Brossard, a mighty fine blogger over at  runners.fr. I attempted to translate his impressions from the original French here.


The Ultra Boost features:
  • adidas Boost material, 30% more of it in the midsole and no firmer EVA layer at the toe and as stabilizing ring around the outer perimeter just above the insole as in other Boost runners such as the Adios Boost and Energy Boost,  
  • an innovative incredible comfortable single piece and stretchy PrimeKnit upper, some will be able to run without laces,
  • instead of a full heel cup, two plastic heel wings leaving the achilles supported but not pressured, 
  • a new outsole, the Stretch Web a soft conforming layer on the road,
  • The Boost stabilizing Torsion plastic is embedded in the midsole instead of placed just under the outsole under the midfoot and there is none in front to support the forefoot as in other Boost shoes such as Adios Boost, Boston Boost, and Energy Boost.
This adidas promotional video illustrates the construction of the Ultra Boost and calls it "The Greatest Running Shoe Ever". I am not so sure it is the Greatest for me but in terms of innovations it is packed with them, more a platform to show off several new technologies.


All of "it", the technology innovations, add up to one relatively heavy shoe at 11 oz plus (1.4 oz heavier than the Energy Boost). Ultra Boost is soft under foot on the run particularly the forefoot:
  • considerably more flexible than the Energy Boost without the distinctive snap flex.  
  • less responsive than Energy Boost, my go to marathon race shoe (review here)  or Adios Boost my 2014 Shoe of the Year (review here), or the well cushioned and smooth New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay (review here).
The details and what I thought about running in the Ultra Boost click on Read More

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: Salomon S-Lab Sense X-Series- Salomon Hits the Road without Forgetting the Trail

The Salomon S-Lab Sense X-Series is a 7.7 oz, 218 gram, 19mm heel/11mm forefoot $160 racing shoe that adapts the Sense mountain/trail racing platform towards a mix of roads and smoother trails. Salomon calls the X-Series, a shoe for "urban" racing, for varied terrain including trails and pavement. I think many will run and race these in the mountains  as well as the road. They are that versatile.


An incredible amount of versatility is provided at a very light weight. Think about it this is a very capable trail and road shoe that weighs about the same as the Kinvara 5 or Fresh Foam Zante (review)  and almost half an ounce less than the Adios Boost 1 (review)

The craftsmanship and care put into the design and construction,as with all the Sense shoes, gear, and apparel is outstanding, a work of shoe art! Salomon's S-Lab Sense line was my 2014 Innovation, Gear, and Apparel of the year (article). I have not run much in conventional Salomon shoes for years as the narrowness under the arch made them a non starter for me. No such issues with the X-Series understanding it is still snug under the arch and all over as a race and trail shoe should be in my opinion.

The  Sense X-Series is a trail road hybrid. My running in them to date, road and treadmill due to our 6 feet of snow on the ground, tells me that their "ideal" use will be for fast running on a mix of smooth trails and pavement where the lugs of the other Sense models: Sense, Ultra, and Ultra Softground are not required but a snug supportive upper, stable platform, and a bit of forefoot rock protection is called for.