Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Weapons of choice for the road


Inov-8 Road Xtreme 178’s – setting the standard on the road


The Inov-8 Road Xtreme 178’s are certainly my go-to shoes for all racing on the road, be it from 5km right through to 50km ultra-marathons and beyond.

I have been racing over the past 12 months in the Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s which have been extremely comfortable and fast for the Hobart Marathon, the Centennial Park Ultra 50km and Penrith Lap of the Lake Marathon and am a huge fan, but the Road Xtreme 178’s are just that bit lighter and have become a favourite for me now that I have performed well in the Canberra 50km ultra-marathon and the Great Ocean Road 45km.

The Road Xtreme 178’s are a minimalist and lightweight running shoe, which are marketed as “next to ground performance shoe…to get you through your CrossFit workout and give you grip and support for that 5K run…quick drying, highly breathable mesh upper for a supremely comfortable environment”. I agree with this but feel you can stretch that 5K out a few more km’s!

Inov-8 details that the shoes have a “Met-CradleTM webbing ensuring a secure lock down over the footbed, while maintaining natural metatarsal alignment… and heel pull loop for an easier on and off…contoured heel cup for added comfort.

Details from Inov-8…

Heel/Toe Offset: 9 mm/6 mm (differential: 3 mm).
Sticky and Fusion rubber outsole materials deliver exceptional traction over hard packed surfaces.
Meta-Flex™ groove on the outsole is aligned with the metatarsal to maximize forefoot pliability.
Anatomic™ fit is based on the foot's shape, making for the most comfortable, relaxed fit.

I totally agree that these features provide excellent grip and comfort for racing on road surfaces and after two ultra-distance events, they are holding up extremely well – (both uppers and sole), certainly a durable last that will hold up well for a few more ultra’s!

In the past, I have needed to strap my feet with tape prior to races to ensure no unwanted blisters pop-up during the later stages of races. Due to the minimalist nature, lack of seams and no unwanted rigid toe-box, this is now no longer a necessity my feet have not screamed at me and my toenails have remained on both feet – quite unique in the ultra-marathon running community!

 

Weapons of choice for the Canberra Ultra 50km…


In the past, I have needed to strap my feet with tape prior to races to ensure no unwanted blisters pop-up during the later stages of races. Due to the minimalist nature, lack of seams and no unwanted rigid toe-box, this is now no longer a necessity my feet have not screamed at me and my toenails have remained on both feet – quite unique in the ultra-marathon running community!

The Road Xtreme 178’s are a shoe that has enabled me to ‘fly’ around the courses during my most recent ultra-marathons. I was able to make a smooth transition to the 178’s after 12+ months of re-training my running technique which has involved plenty of barefoot running, training in minimalist shoes, strengthening exercises and making a conscious effort to practice a mid-to-fore-foot strike. This alteration to my running technique, assisted by these minimalist racers have ensured I have remained injury free, without leg soreness and have been able to back up in two ultra-distance marathons within a month!
I would highly recommend the Inov-8 Road Xtreme 178’s as a minimalist shoe for road racing from 5km to any distance upwards! But, to ensure maximum benefit, running training dedicated to ensuring an optimal foot-strike is necessary to avoid injury and disappointment.

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