Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nike Terra Kiger Shoe Review


Like many runners I walk the fence on the whole "minimalist" debate that has been brewing over the last few years. While this debate has revolutionizing the shoe industry I believe it has also lead many runners to make foolish shoe choices, leading to injury. After much deliberation my official stance is this:

Runners should wear as little shoe as their biomechanics will allow for the distance and type of terrain they are running. 

What does that mean? Basically this; when you are out on a run you should be relatively unaware of your shoes because you have found the right balance of weight, support and cushioning. Too little shoe may not offer enough support, cushioning or protection while too much shoe could feel heavy, clunky or unstable.

That being said, my review is written through the filter of that perspective. I see no need to give the specs for the shoe as you can easily find everything you need to know at Nike's Website. Instead, I will focus on my initial impressions of fit, comfort and ride on various terrains. I hope you find my perspective helpful.


Initial Impressions

I've never been a Nike guy. I've always found their shoes to be too narrow for my foot but I've got to be honest; When I first tried on this shoe I thought, "This is exactly what I had hoped the KinvaraTR would be." This shoe sports a 4mil offset, wide toe box, soft upper, and a cushy, flexible midsole. The sock-liner, which is designed to allow the runner to wear the Kiger without socks, is luxurious and the burrito tongue helps the shoe to lock your foot into place without squeezing it. I was quite pleased with the way the shoe felt underfoot but I was a little concerned with how the shoe would perform with such a mild looking lug design and no rock plate.

On The Run

I could think of no better way to really test this shoe than to take it out for 8 miles on the gnarliest trails around after about 24 hours of nearly continuous rain. On this run I traversed steep ascents and descents, mud, wet sand, a stream crossing, large rocks and slippery, wet, wooden bridges. I felt that this run would offer a good all around experience with a solid understanding of how these shoes will perform under just about any condition the average trail runner might face.

My run started in a soggy wet field. The shoe performed fabulously which should be no surprise considering that Nike boasts about its lug design being derived from a XC shoe but what did surprise me was how at home this shoe felt on the trails. Being someone who has generally been drawn to a trail shoe that looks like it has a mud tire glued to the bottom of it, I was somewhat amazed at the Kiger's offroad performance. The shallower lugs helped prevent the shoe from collecting mud, increasing traction and preventing me from feeling bogged down by the extra weight of mud caked shoes. The absence of a rock plate makes the Terra Kiger feel nimble on even the most technical of terranes and the Zoom technology in the midsole provide more than adequate protection against roots and sharp rocks looking to pierce the bottom of your foot.

The sticky rubber outsole provided excellent grip on both the large rocks and the wet wooden bridges I traversed. I  often found myself running abnormally fast for this route, blissfully unconcerned with the varying surfaces beneath me and while I haven't yet tested this shoe on pavement, the mild lug design and the soft underfoot feel lead me to believe that this will be an excellent Door-to-Trail shoe.

The upper is a little more substantial than what I am used to and at first I was concerned that this shoe may feel too warm and not breath enough but those concerns quickly vanished as I actually began running. The shoe breaths quit well and boasts excellent drainage as well. While my feet did get rather wet on my run today, the Kigers never felt as if there was standing water in them. What came in seemed to exit the shoe just as quickly.

Overall Opinion

I am very pleased with these shoes. It is my intent to use them on my next 50k in just over two weeks. I expect this shoe will provide me with more than enough support, cushion and traction to traverse the course without any foot issues. I would recommend that anyone who has struggled to find a trail shoe they like and instead chosen to stick with a road shoe, check out the Terra Kigers! They offer that soft, flexible, light, road shoe feel without sacrificing performance on the trail. Ultimately, I find this to be an excellent, all around trail shoe and expect that this will be a staple for me from here on out.

So, until next time; train hard, eat right and live life to the fullest!  

The top half of one of the climbs

After running a 50K on some of the most brutal trails I have ever experienced I can say with confidence that I still love these shoes. They offered plenty of support and protection for the rugged terrain. The traction they provided appeared to be as good or better then the traction provided by the shoes that the other racers were wearing. And we're talking about some steep, long climbs and descents! Even without a rock plate, roots and rocks were not a problem and my feet felt adequately protected for all 32 miles. These are definitely going to be my go to trail shoe for every distance.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Facing Reality

Is it possible to change my registration from 100K to 50K? If so, I'd like to do that...

I read that last line of my email over and over. Maybe I can still do this. Maybe I should just hold out and try to get back on track. The race was still over a month out. maybe I can still do this... 

No, getting back on track was not an option. Since pinching a nerve in my back and missing 6 weeks of training, my longest run had only been 16 miles. 16 slow, miserable, painful miles. Getting back on track meant a 30 miler that Saturday. Cognitively, I knew it was impossible. And even if it were possible, covering that sort of distance in my unrehabilitated state would likely cause greater injury forcing me to drop out of the race altogether.

Yes, this was the right choice. But still I was struggling to hit the send button. Every time I read that line, I felt like it translated to, "I'm a big loser who can't finish what I started." I hit send and took a deep breath. I felt like I was letting myself, my family and everyone else who has supported me this past year, down. I felt like a failure and even said aloud to myself, "It's official. Now I'm just running a 50k."

It was more than a week after hitting send that it hit me. Just a 50k? JUST??? You're going to attempt running more than 31 miles on the toughest race course in Ohio less than 2 months after you couldn't walk 31 feet without needing to rest. Who do you think you are?!?! The very fact that you are running competently again is a miracle! Let alone the fact that you are running any sort of distance! You have forgotten who gave you this gift! It's time to face reality! If you finish that 50k it will be nothing short of an act of God! 

It was true. I had lost sight of why I run. I had taken for granted the fact that running is a gift. That not everyone is blessed with the ability to relentlessly move forward, swiftly, over rough terrain for distances in excess of 20 and 30 miles. I had become arrogant and maybe this injury was God's way of saying, "Son, you need to reevaluate." 

I've always said that every runner runs for their own reason and their goals should reflect the reason that they run. There is no point in comparing yourself to other runners since no two people run for the exact same reason. But in a way, I had begun comparing myself to myself. I had to beat my old distance, I had to do something far more epic than what I had done before. Running because I love the woods, the quiet, the beauty of it all wasn't enough anymore. It had somehow been overshadowed by this arbitrary measurement of distance. And letting myself be depressed because I was "only" going to run 50k was complete foolishness!

God willing, on September 28th I will spend most of the day in a national park, traversing 31+ miles of beautiful and brutal trails. It will be painful, and awful, and perfect. And I will finish this race with a smile because I have remembered the real reason I run. And I will honor the gift giver with every step. This race, quite possibly will be my most epic one yet!