It’s time to get connected in the running world, and in the case of the HOVR Infinite from Under Armour that means digitally tuning-in to a high-tech shoe with embedded sensors which enable you to track your pace, distance, duration and speed. These veritable Bobby Dazzlers do catch the eye and despite a bulky appearance – the sole has the thickness of what our Rock ’n’ Roll-loving forefathers called ‘Brothel Creepers’ – they’re actually comfortably lightweight and well cushioned without feeling clunk
That doorstep depth of the base and the ‘Infinite’ title emphasise the fact that this edition of the HOVR range is a shoe built for the long haul. As such I took it for a few endurance sessions along the Thames towpath to test the feel and try out the techie fixtures and fittings.
But the relatively mild winter conditions to date mean it’s hard to say for sure how the breathable mesh upper will perform in the wet.
The USP of this UA shoe lies deep within – and that component has its Pros and Cons. An accelerometer (movement sensor) in the shape of a 30g transmitter the size of a 10 pence piece is fitted in the midsole of the right shoe. The data it records is beamed, via Bluetooth, to the MapMyRun app. (But not to STRAVA – which is one of several down-sides to this otherwise adventurous and innovative product.)
These shoes will also only ‘talk’ to the map app when it’s on a smartphone – though plans are reportedly afoot to eventually sync it with Garmin and Apple watches.
Those who can tune-in to this future of footwear will reap the rewards of a shoe that records and stores running metrics as well as giving feedback on cadence and stride-length via real-time readouts. The sensor battery lasts as long as the shoe and – according to the makers – isn’t affected by pounding through puddles.
On the plus side, syncing the shoe with MapMyRun takes mere moments and the range of HOVR tech on offer includes a lighter Velociti version for speed and tempo runs.
Under Armour is certainly breaking new ground with the technology these shoes employ. But one’s own sensors are picking up on the fact that there are technical restrictions and consumer choices in apps and hardware that’s counting against them.
MR talks to SKINS expert Nick Morgan about the benefits of compression clothing and just why runners should be wearing it
How has technology moved on in compression wear?
Fabric properties continue to improve in terms of quality, durability, stretch-recovery, whilst additional thermoregulatory properties added to the fabrics have also moved on. Integration of wearable technology is slowly looking at compression as a vehicle or partner and some garments have looked at sensors that might help measure physiological variables related to performance. How practical these garments are remains to be seen. Perhaps the most interesting technology is the integration of different fabrics linked to strapping and therefore creating more injury prevention products and/or more “stability” (exo-skeleton) related products. Ultimately, all of this is exciting but perhaps one of the most important aspects of any compression garment is quality of fit – if it doesn’t fit it doesn’t work and therefore all of this “new” stuff brings complexity to design and in doing so it is paramount that manufacturers continue to do the basics right in level of compression, and quality of compression over time.
Has this changed the key benefits? And what are these?
Not really, or certainly not beyond the evolution of compression from traditional blood flow related benefits to more support, structure, stability, proprioception. Compression has always been known to influence these variables but they are perhaps more interesting to more (or new) exercisers given the types of exercise they do or maybe even more specifically, their “goals”. For example, many people are new to exercise, or returning, or only exercise a few times a week so feel like they need extra support and stability – so the benefits are more about continuing to exercise, supporting exercise than truly “performance” (lower PB). I think as compression improves its relevance, structure and support is more relevant
Is compression wear pre, during or post exercise? Where would runners feel the most benefit?
It supports all three, such as helping to support a good quality warm up and skin temp before, energy expenditure, stability and rate of blood flow during, plus reduced DOMS and markers of damage post. Realistically most people don’t buy three garments, nor hygiene wise would they wear throughout the whole process, or maybe not after. The majority of research is actually in recovery and perhaps where many will say the strongest benefits are. But there is good evidence to wear during and if you include the psycho-physiological benefits, “during” would be the primary time point.
In a nutshell, what’s the theory behind the science?
There is a number of key papers that discuss blood flow and more recently reduction of energy expenditure. There are, of course, papers that don’t find a response but very few if any that report anything negative. The force applied to the skin/muscle by compression though is key for support, structure and stability and the influence on proprioception can be quite profound, so that is quite strong. The difficulty is not necessarily in the benefit, but the long-term consistency in the research in terms of the breadth of end variables measured, the different subject groups and the variation in garments used and pressures applied. Compression has good evidence but it needs to be credibly communicated to ensure that the best evidence is well reflected.
How can compression evolve? What are manufacturers looking at in terms of future proofing garments?
I think there remains more work to be done on education so more people appreciate the role they can play. I think integrated strapping is interesting, whilst more choice of fabrics lends itself to more distinct products for different environments or physical demands. I also think there is a huge occupational need for compression and there is more research evolving in this area. Running specifically, I believe more people just need more opportunities to try compression to appreciate the support it provides. Most of us (me included) love to exercise (run) and want to keep doing it without the frustration of niggles. This is where I benefit most and believe many more people can so should it be niche or elitest – on the contrary, it has probably more impact on the non-elite but these are the exercisers perhaps most cynical
Runners are a cynical breed – what’s the elevator pitch that will get them to change their minds on compression wear?
Good question – I’m the scientist not the copywriter, but if we could better communicate the benefits to injury, support, running efficiency rather than just “performance” it would help. Whilst runners love to talk “times” not many are necessarily trying to shave of seconds. The benefits of compression are important to those with prior injuries, current injuries or even the paranoia of running.
• for the full SKINS range of products, click here
At Men’s Running, we’ve become somewhat of a headphones snob. That’s partly because we love running to music, and partly because we just love music. This makes headphones something of a key purchase.
The sports Bluetooth headphones market is a competitive space with brands like Bose and Sennheiser all producing quality products. But, at the top of the tree for us, is Jabra – and when the brand asked us to test its new Elite Active 65t wireless earbuds, we jumped at the chance.
Jabra’s research shows that the daily usage of headphones by frequent users focuses on calls (58% of users each day), music (53%) and voice control (35%). The Elite franchise is designed to meet the needs of these users who want great sound quality while listening to music and voice quality when making calls.
In addition to excellent sound quality, the 65t is packed full of nifty features. It includes one-touch access to Siri®, and Google Now, new integration for Amazon Alexa on-the-go and has up to 15 hours of battery life (with cradle).
The earbuds have enhanced grip, through special coating, integrated accelerometer for tracking features and IP56 sweat, water and dust certification.
This is what our tester thought:
Out of the box
Initial impressions that they were a bit bulkier than expected. However, once on, they fitted perfectly inside the ear.
Truly excellent. The sound quality is brilliant but, at the same time, you don’t feel that they block out ambient noise, which is important when you’re running.
Used for a mix of running, gym workouts and general walking. Really liked the fact that they are intuitive to the extent that they control music or programmes (when connected to an iPad) when you put the bud back in to the ear.
They charge within the unit and automatically disconnect when you put them back which means don’t have to keep connecting – or accidentally leave them on. Almost always connect to multiple devices within a few seconds.
A great set of headphones that deservedly gets our Editor’s Choice badge of approval.
Take a look at these four shoes in our mini-review
Asics Roadhawk FF
Heel Drop: 8mm
First up, this is a neutral shoe and definitely not for those who over-pronate. The Roadhawk FF weighs in at a lightweight 245g and still provides plenty of plush cushioning (thanks to the Flytefoam midsole). The other noticeable feature is the comfort of the upper – very few seams, soft fabric, and a sock-like feel. We used the shoe for a variety of sessions but it ultimately performed best during a hard interval workout.
New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knit
Heel Drop: 8mm
If you are looking for a casual looking shoe to double up for a bit of running, the Fresh Foam Cruz could be the answer. Cushioning is provided by the popular Fresh Foam compound, whilst the blown rubber outsole gave decent grip. The knitted upper won’t be to everyone’s liking as it is fairly minimal but does have a “natural running” feel to it.
Salomon Sense Ride
Heel Drop: 8mm
This is one of best all-round trail shoes which we have seen for some time. The Contragrip outsole gives great traction on nearly all surfaces whether they are wet or dry. The lugs aren’t quite deep enough for thick mud but handle the majority of other conditions well including some road running. The cushioning and fit is just about spot on, and combined with the grip gives you confidence that every foot strike will be comfortable and secure.
The North Face Ultra Cardiac II
Heel Drop: 6mm
This shoe from The North Face is not the typical hardcore trail shoe which we have come to expect from them. The sticky outsole is made from Vibram but resembles a road tread rather than a conventional lugged version. The result is a shoe whose grip feels at home on the roads, but just as happy on lighter trails too. Overall, this is a good solid, no-nonsense shoe which fits well too.
Want to improve your recovery and performance? Try compression wear. MR talked to Cindy Liu, General Manager of Merchandise – Compression at 2XU and James Broatch, Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Sport, about just why you should dress to compress
MR: How has technology moved on in compression wear?
CL: Muscle support remains a key benefit of all 2XU compression but more recently we have moved to technology that targets key muscle groups used in certain sports and activities with even greater power, yet without making the product significantly heavier or compromising comfort or flexibility – this technology is featured within our MCS (muscle containment stamping) compression range. We’ve also added reflective options to improve runner safety in low-light conditions, and included advanced pocketing options to meet every runner’s needs – a centre pocket for a smart phone, a small open mesh pocket for nutrition and gels, and a zip pocket for keys and cards. Understanding a runner’s needs and supporting these via intelligent design are just as important as continuously advancing our technology.
MR: Has this changed the key benefits? And what are these?
CL: 2XU’s MCS (muscle containment stamping) compression has further enhanced the existing benefits of compression, such as reduced muscle fatigue and soreness, by providing more targeted power and greater support to key muscles.
MR: Is compression wear pre, during or post exercise? Where would runners feel the most benefit?
JB: Most of the benefits of compression are seen during exercise and in the post-workout recovery period. As confirmed by research conducted at the Australian Institute of Sport, compression benefits specific to runners include 19% reduced muscle movement, gains of up to 10.6 seconds over a 5km repeat run performance, 4.8% increased blood lactate removal, 47% reduced muscle soreness, and reduced thigh swelling by more than 1cm when worn during the post-exercise recovery period.
MR: In a nutshell, what’s the theory behind the science?
JB: A lot of the benefits associated with compression relate to an improvement in blood flow, including both the delivery of blood to the exercising muscle and the return of blood back to the heart. As a result, compression is thought to improve the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscle to improve performance, and aid in the removal of waste products after exercise to improve recovery. Other benefits include reduced muscle oscillation (or muscle movement), greater proprioception (or body awareness) and reduced muscle damage and inflammation post-exercise.
MR: How can compression evolve? What are manufacturers looking at in terms of future proofing garments?
JB: From a research perspective, the Australian Institute of Sport will focus on three key areas over the next few years. These relate to the effects of compression on 1) blood flow and the effect this has on exercise performance and muscle recovery, 2) reducing the stress associated with long-haul travel and 3) joint awareness/proprioception and how this relates to foot placement during running. The AIS researches and endorses 2XU compression, and the research we undertake is used by 2XU to advance its compression technology and inform future product development. There’s still a lot we can learn about the benefits of compression in sport, which is really exciting.
MR: Runners are a cynical breed – what’s the elevator pitch that will get them to change their minds on compression wear?
JB: Considering the plethora of garments available on the market, often the science to support the use of sports compression is lost. In the past 25 years, hundreds of research studies have been published regarding the effects of compression. When considering these findings as a whole, there is overwhelming evidence to prove that compression helps athletes both during and after exercise. Additionally, research has shown that compression is beneficial for participants of all abilities across many different sports and activities, from endurance sports such as running to high-intensity training and team sports.
Men’s Running in partnership with ashmei
Be Cool In Wool – your chance to win some seriously cool ashmei run gear
ashmei has long been a champion of the incredible performance benefits of Merino wool. This season, premium British run and cycle apparel brand has teamed up with The Woolmark Company to extol the virtues of wool as the ultimate performance fibre across the full range of climates and temperatures.
To celebrate the new Be Cool In Wool campaign, Men’s Running has teamed up with ashmei to offer you a chance of winning a very cool run package worth almost £250.
As featured in the short film, the Classic Short Sleeve Run Jersey boasts the brand’s signature Merino fabric which offers great natural thermo-regulation and enhanced wicking and drying properties. The material was developed to help maintain a constant temperature for runners and therefore includes a larger percentage of superfine Merino wool. After all, this is the best fibre for keeping you cool in the summer yet warm in the winter.
Maintaining the film’s theme, we have a pair of 2in1 Shorts up for grabs – where style and functionality come together beautifully. Our semi-compressive shorts are so called because they feature a Merino inner liner working in total harmony with a lightweight nylon outer. The interior of the shorts is crafted from Terry looped Merino wool. Ultra-stretchy and comfortably soft, the fabric is a winner as it is so efficient at thermo-regulation.
To complete the look, we are offering the brand’s highly-awarded Dot Merino Socks. At 6″, the Dot Sock is a slightly longer cut than the norm and performs as beautifully as it looks. This is all down to the design detail. The hand-linked toe seam makes for a flush finish, which in turn makes for a more comfortable run. Where it really wins out though is in the choice of fabric. Our signature Merino blend provides the sock with excellent heat management and wicking properties – crucial around the feet where hot spots and blisters can form.
To enter the draw simply enter your name and email address and the closing date is October 1 at 23:59. Good luck!
When photographing an endurance running race such as BAM Racing’s Great Glen Ultra you have the opportunity to capture the emotions and stories of the runners whilst showing off the beautiful and often rugged scenery.
The key to success is to plan your spots meticulously. Scour the maps looking for viewpoints, high points, areas of rough or rugged terrain and note these down.
If you can, get out and recce the course beforehand. Be prepared to cover some distances and push yourself hard during the race to get to as many different locations as you can. The shots I work hardest for often turn out the best.
Below is a run through of ten images from the Great Glen Ultra this July.
1. Tell the full story
Nikon D750, 35mm 1/80 sec f.2.8
Running any race is always a nerve wracking thing, especially if your starting in the middle of the night like you are on the Great Glen Ultra. As a runner you’re thinking about the route, making sure you have everything you might need and trying to rest and conserve energy for what’s to come. Capturing this pre race moment is really important for a fully rounded coverage of the event.
2. Dial your camera settings
Nikon D750, 26mm 2.0 sec f.5.0 (Tripod used)
The initial rush from the start line always has a great buzz and it’s an image that you only have one shot at capturing, so you need to make sure its right. I had worked out my composition and settings earlier in the evening so that I knew I could nail it quickly. Long exposures with headtorches work nicely to show movement whilst also showing off the spectacular start point of the Great Glen Way and the race.
3. Get flashy
Nikon D750, 17mm 1/50 sec f.2.8 (Tripod used)
Shooting runners in the dark is hard. Head torches give a lot of contrast and the movement means that longer shutter speeds create blur. A good option is to use an external flash. They allow you to light a scene and freeze movement. Manually focusing the camera is a good tip too, and using a tripod takes away any risk of blur in the background from camera shake.
4. Hunt soft light
Nikon D750, 25mm 1/200 sec f.5.6
Just before the sun comes up, the light is really soft and in the summer you often get mist inversions which help create an atmospheric image. Think about the rule of thirds with these shots and get your runner off to one side.
5. Shoot into the sun
Nikon D750, 17mm 1/500 sec f.4.0
As the sun starts to rise higher don’t be afraid to shoot straight into it. Shooting in forests or darker places works nicely to contrast against the sun. And again placing the runner off centre but prominent means that your eyes will focus there first.
6. Blend the runner into the background
Nikon D750, 35mm 1/500 sec f.4.0
Sometimes its nice to have to search around before you can find the runner in an image. Placing the runner ‘deeper’ into the shot adds a sense of scale to the landscape. Using the natural line of a trail to guide the viewer’s eye around the shot works nicely.
7. Get some Flare!
Nikon D750, 22mm 1/500 sec f.4.0
As the sun rises higher still, rather than fighting the light, use it to your advantage. Take off the lens hood to get flares and shoot straight into the sun. Try to make sure the subject is off to one side to draw the viewer’s focus.
8. Do your homework
Nikon D750, 17mm 1/640 sec f.7.1
Having pre planned where the ‘beauty spots’ are you can be sure you aren’t missing any of the best locations. Asking the Race Director or Course Planner for their opinions on the best places to head is always a good idea. But, generally speaking, if you want to capture those panoramic views, the higher altitude the better. Get down low in these places, and try and get some foreground interest to help better set the scene.
9. Keep it fun
Nikon D750, 17mm 1/640 sec f.4.0
Image 9. Make sure you don’t get too caught up in the arty shots. It’s always good to have some shots of runners just having a good time. After all thats what it’s all about!
10. Enjoy yourself
Nikon D750, 17mm 1/1250 sec f.2.8
Most importantly go out and enjoy yourself. With a stream of happy runners passing you at each of your chosen locations you have plenty of chance to nail each shot. If you’re smiling and encouraging and having a good time behind the camera, it will show in front of it.
Since reading that listening to music can increase your athletic performance by up to 15%, The Poser’s life has had a constant soundtrack. Piped directly into his ears via overpriced cans, the music keeps him in the zone and pushes him past the self-imposed boundaries that stop us mere mortals achieving greatness. The branding suggests he’s listening to some cutting-edge Bashment or Trap but in reality he’s got
Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl’ on repeat.
Too much tech
Our man knows that training these days is all about the tech, which is why he’s constantly updating his wearables. One for steps, one for calorie burn and one for… what’s the other one for? Never mind, he’s got more data Bluetoothing its way to his phone than Strava on New Year’s Day, despite the fact he won’t look at any of it. He also wears a chest strap (even though all his devices have an in-built heart-rate monitor) to show that he’s super-serious about this running lark. Is it actually paired with one of his (many) devices? Who knows, certainly not The Poser.
If the hours The Poser has spent in the gym have taught him anything, it’s that there’s no gain without pain, which is why he doesn’t mind wearing ill-fitting sunnies that will induce a tension headache as well as damage the bridge of his (perfect) nose. He may not be able to see anything himself but at least everyone else can see the branding.
The Poser is a generous type; he’s not about to keep his gym-honed body to himself. No, he wants to share it, with all of us, which is why when he does venture away from the weight rack he refuses to take a top with him. Never mind that technical fabrics are so advanced it’s more beneficial to wear a breathable wicking top than to not, for our man it’s all about maximum absposure.
Mistaking the Breaking2 project as an attempt to achieve a lower single-digit body-fat percentage, The Poser has invested in some of the most expensive trainers on the market. Dismissing a gait-analysis, their lightweight nature is likely to do him more harm than good and certainly won’t be improving his running or fitness generally. But hey, they look great, which for our man is what it’s all about.