Category Archives: running shoe review

The Reebok Floatride Running Shoe

The Floatride from Reebok

Today I will tell you about my experience and recommendation regarding the Floatride, the latest distance running shoe by Reebok, to be launched in India this coming weekend, on 1st April 2017. The last time I spoke about a running shoe here was almost 2 years ago, about the ZPump Fusion, and was, quite coincidentally, also for Reebok. This time too, I agreed to do it on the same condition – that I would speak independently, with no interference from Reebok or their agents.

If last time for the ZPump Fusion my overall conclusion was neutral-bordering-on-negative, this time, for the Floatride it is significantly positive. If you want to read no further, and are looking for a pair of new running shoes, then go away with the thought “Puru the Guru says it’s a shoe worth having”.

Packaging, Size and First Impressions

Good things in small packages?

The shoe comes in a pretty standard box, unlike the lovely drawer pull-push style of the ZPump Fusion box that I still use for carrying things in my check-in luggage when travelling. That aside, the size I had picked for this pair was 2 sizes bigger than the shoe shop measurement of my foot. I find that “1-size bigger”, the rule-of-thumb recommendation for running shoes, is not good enough for me, and I like the fact that there is an odd amount of extra space north of the toes. This specification works for me; please note, I am not suggesting you do the same with your shoe sizing.

 

The shoe is sold in only one colour for men and another for women. The blue colour for men is not terribly exciting compared with the recent trend of “very bright and colourful” in the running shoe market. The lime green women’s shoe is also not eye-catching. The primary reason for this is that the ‘black surface area’ takes up a significant proportion of surface area in the Floatride. With running shoes, I love ‘bright and beautiful’, but if you prefer ‘not flashy’, then you will like these tones. And, whether or not you like ‘bright and beautiful’, if you care more about functionality and performance like I do, then too you will appreciate this shoe.

Special Feature

The official press release says that the “precisely-engineered Reebok Floatride Foam is pressure set for a consistent cell structure that provides an optimal mix of softness and responsiveness to ensure the wearer can experience high-level comfort while pushing performance”. I explored that claim.

Weight

One of the features of the lightweight ‘foam technology’ is evident in the total weight of the shoe itself. It is noticeably lighter at 285g than the trail running Salomon XScream (7% heavier) that has been my current favourite. It is also much lighter than the Asics Kayano 17 (20% heavier) that I have always felt I struggle with. It is heavier than the superlight Asics Gel-Hyperspeed racing shoe, but, other than its colour, I am not a big fan of that Asics racing shoe. I have not compared the Floatride with the running range from other leading brands but I am told by a friend that it compares well with the Adidas Ultra Boost in terms of ‘feel and fit’ – he has both shoes!

within acceptable tolerance; could be measurement error

I did notice that the left shoe was 3g (about 1%) lighter than the right shoe. That difference is about the weight of a walnut you might eat. I do not think it is material for me and I will not dwell on it – I am reporting it because I measured it! {Although I took repeated measurements to avoid measurement error, the difference might still be attributed to the precise weight measuring method I used, rather than the shoe itself.}

Boys in blue!

Testing the Shoes

Getting to know the shoes

I like to warm up to a new pair of running shoes by first wearing them for other light intensity activities. After that, I typically wear my running shoes only for running. So, prior to my first run I wore them:

  • At the gym for a session of strength training
  • For a couple of walks, including jumping across rocks at the seaside
  • When cycling, which is my most common mode of daily Mumbai city commuting

The Runs

This is a serious running shoe, so the main test for me was when I ran the following:

  • A gruelling afternoon run on Mumbai roads, with harsh sun and hills
  • An easy paced morning run on the beach, on both, firm wet sand as well as on soft and unstable sand
  • A set of 1600m intervals on slightly undulating roads one morning

The Run Experience

I loved that 10 minutes into my first run I had to remind myself that I was wearing a new pair of shoes. That itself made me decide that the Floatride was excellent for me. There was no ‘getting used to it gradually’ phenomenon to have to deal with.

Captured by a friend who happened to be passing by

Often with shoes (e.g. Asics Kayano that I have run in for more than 10 years) I find that the upper rim of the shoe digs in around my ankle and causes some discomfort and even pain, especially when new. I had none of that with the Floatride. So, am I pleased? Yes, very pleased!

Optimal mix of cushioning and responsiveness

With regards to Reebok’s claim about their ‘foam technology’, I agree that on the continuum of softness (think ‘luxury sedan smooth ride’) to responsiveness (think ‘sharp sports suspension’) the Floatride does an excellent job of compromising between the two. Full marks there too!

Recommendation
This pair was handed over to me a week ago for testing and voicing my opinion. I can see myself racing in the Reebok Floatride soon. I recommend it.

 

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Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.

Poll Dancing with Puru

This is not Poll Dancing

This is not Poll Dancing

Over the last 10 months I have asked you questions in various polls that accompany my articles. And there’s another one at the bottom of this article. Sometimes the topic of the poll is directly related to the article, at other times it is not. I promised you a few months ago that I would give you the results of those polls and so now today I am going to do just that.  There are 10 of them, and I present them in chronological order with the oldest one first.

  1. Your experience with Pacers at SCMM-2015
  2. Your primary motivation to register to run in a race
  3. What you do with your pair of running shoes
  4. The happiest memories of your life are from…
  5. Do you think the popular running races in India are fairly priced?
  6. Your number hours of TV (incl news) or movie watching per week
  7. Given a choice, you would prefer to spend a weekend in…
  8. Vitamin-D blood tests and you
  9. The biggest improvements in your health are from…
  10. Running, Beautiful Bodies and You

Now, remember, a few thousand readers like you have been the respondents, and so the results are not representative of the general population. (Not everyone is wise, talented, fit and beautiful like you, right?) So extending the conclusions to the general population might not always make sense. Nonetheless, with each, I comment very briefly about something that strikes me as interesting or odd. Here goes…

Your experience with Pacers at SCMM-2015

Your experience with Pacers at SCMM-2015

In a previous article I had advised that pacers ought to be placed at frequent intervals with the same profile as the finishing times of the running population. Therefore, the results of this poll did not surprise me. There is a lot of brouhaha about pacers in a race but, in practice, only a small fraction used pacers in this particular race.


My primary motivation to register to run in a race is

My primary motivation to register to run in a race is

Now, remember that you were allowed to choose only one response. It is interesting that so many of you use the races as motivation to run regularly. I would like you to think about whether you really do need a public race to motivate yourself to run to stay fit. I was hoping that a much larger percentage saw races primarily as events to meet others whom they would not normally meet when working out.


When I buy a pair of shoes to run in…

When I buy a pair of shoes to run in…

I bet this ratio has reversed over time as recreational running has become a serious part of many people’s regime for staying fit.  With running shoes getting dearer by the day, I can see the numbers becoming even more polarized.


The happiest memories of my life are from…

The happiest memories of my life are from…

This is one of my favourite polls, and I will write about this again soon. Notice how half of you had your best days (so far) before you got into employment! It is not surprising then that the first job does not come with the happiest memories despite a manifold increase in spending power!


The race registration fee for the most popular races in India

The race registration fee for the most popular races in India are

If you are in the business of running events please pay attention to this. Note that “Expensive” is always relative to what is offered back in return for money.


My typical hours of TV (incl news) or movie watching per week are

Typical hours of TV (incl news) or movie watching per week

This one disturbed me a lot! As many as 1-in-6 of you spend more than 10 hours a week watching a TV screen! And almost half of you watch more than 4 hours of TV a week! These are all self-reported numbers so many of you could be way off the mark in terms of the true (unknown) number. I would have also loved to have the equivalent “number of hours per week on exercise” for each respondent but asking that in the same poll would have biased the self-reported numbers away from TV and towards exercise.


Given a choice, I would prefer to spend a weekend in

Given a choice, I would prefer to spend a weekend in

About half of you live in neither Mumbai nor Delhi. From that, almost 3 times as many prefer to spend the weekend in Mumbai, rather than Delhi!  Are you listening, Mr Prime Minister??


Vitamin-D blood test

Vitamin-D blood test

In recent years there has been a lot of hype about Vitamin-D and deficiencies. Is it really possible that almost 4 out of 10 of you are deficient in it? And, what about the remaining 5 out of 6 who did not take a test (perhaps because it was never prescribed?)? Are they better off not knowing about a deficiency that might not really be a deficiency? Hey, I’m just asking!!


For me, personally, the biggest improvements in my health are from

For me, personally, the biggest improvements in my health are from

That most of you appreciate the importance of both exercise and diet is encouraging. And, so I am not so happy that almost 1-in-5 think that it is mostly exercise that will give you big improvements in health. You are what you eat! Do have a look at these.


Running and Beautiful Bodies

Running and Beautiful Bodies

This question was accompanied with my chat about why you need not run and so you might have been swayed in your response. As many as 4-out-of-10 had thought that running would deliver beautiful bodies. A third of those changed their opinion, and two-third continued to believe it would. And, do we really see a quarter of those who only run for exercise presenting beautiful bodies in the course of time? Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beer holder!

Save the last dance at the poll
Those were the polls so far. Thank you for participating in as many as you could. If you want to see the full video of the event when I was at that pole on a ferry, here it is, just pump up the volume!

And now, if you are not fed up of poles or polls, I’d like your (anonymous) opinion please?


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Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.

The Reebok ZPump Fusion Running Shoe

Hey! There’s a simple question for you at the end of this, don’t forget to scroll down and click on your choice!

The ZPump Fusion from Reebok - eye catching!

The ZPump Fusion from Reebok – eye catching!

Most people who have met and spent some time with me might have noticed that I am the marketing man’s living nightmare. It’s almost impossible to sell me something I don’t need, let alone want. However, one of the things I pay attention to are my running shoes… but even with them, I’m functional more than fashionable.

Shoe Review
I have reviewed other running shoes before, as private requests, but this is the first one that I have been requested to make public. I insisted that I would express my own opinion objectively, so here goes…

First impressions
The ZPump is being advertised on TV I’m told. I don’t own a TV, so watching TV ads is a rarity for me. I had no idea what I was expecting but I was excited by the idea of a new running shoe experience, a pair of shoes “that wraps nicely around your feet”. The cardboard box the shoes came in were different from the normal coffin style open-close. I liked the cabinet drawer style open-close. I think I’ll hang onto this box for carrying the shoes in my suitcase when I travel.

Shoe Sizing

No half sizes?

No half sizes?

When choosing a pair of running shoes, it’s important to check your size and fit in the second half of the day (our feet are slightly more voluminous then!) and to pick a half size bigger than what the measurement scale says. I specified in writing when replying to the company that my shoe size was US 9.5 and so when the box that was sent to me said US 9 I was quite disappointed. Even for my favourite pair of running shoes the company does not have the half sizes in India so I have to source them from abroad. But, surely, sending me a US 10 (erring on the side of caution) made more sense for a shoe that claims to wrap around your foot! Anyway, I decided to continue my review without letting the size be an issue.

Toe Room

Lot of toe wiggle room

Lot of toe wiggle room

It’s very important for me for my shoes to have toe room to wiggle my toes up and down – in that regard, I like this pair. They can end up looking rounded and globular at the toe-end, like your grandfather’s shoes, but functionality trumps style here.

Style

Font size gazillion

Font size gazillion

Typically, I hope that the last thing a person will look at when they see me are my shoes. But, if that is what must impress them, I’m not sure the Reebok ZPump Fusion is going to cut it.  I like the bright red (or lime green) on black and the vertical reflective (night safety) strip at the heel, but to have “pump” in font size gazillion across the shoe, is a bit too loud for a man who usually sticks his nose up at apparel brand labels.

"p" for Puru - notice the reflective strip

“p” for Puru – notice the reflective strip

The reason I don’t mind it too much is because mostly what you can see from either side is the “p” – one of my nicknames!

Don’t get me wrong, if you like to wear shoes for their attention value, this pair will do quite well.  Just don’t look at them from right above or you’ll be reminded of grandpa during your workout! I also wore them to my gym for a strength training session and had curiosity driven questions from a trainer there and a couple of members. I don’t watch TV but I think they had seen adverts there for it and wanted to know what I thought of it. The pump and the air release buttons are definitely eye catching.

Air Conditioning

Visual definition of "not sexy"

Visual definition of “not sexy”

If you have seen me run, you know I like my total body air conditioning. I like my running shoes to also have a decent amount of air circulation too. Given the pump technology and the need for an airtight bladder, this model of shoes fails quite badly I feel when it comes to allowing your feet to breathe. On the other hand, it’s not a heavy pair of shoes implying that there’s been a good choice of rugged but lightweight material. I just wish the sections of the shoe that were not constrained by the pump and bladder technology had better air flow vents.

Sole

Although I am a proponent of minimalist running, I prefer ‘normal shoes’ myself. The pair I normally wear to train and race in have flexion from front to back. The Reebok ZPump Fusion has very good grip but also allows twisting much like a pair of minimalist shoe. I’m not sure I like the combination.  The sole is quite thick but at the same time I can literally feel the smaller variations in road surface. I am extremely nimble, never having injured myself when running on uneven surfaces (Mumbai roads!) but if you are relatively new to running or sports that require agility on an uneven surface, I advise you to be aware of this feature.

Be aware of the twisting - does it work for you?

Be aware of the twisting – does it work for you?

Also, the twisting feature is great if you are a front foot strike runner, like I am, allowing you to take advantage of the rebound spring action in your arch. But if you are flat footed or unsure about the resilience of your arch just be careful as you migrate gradually to this pair from your other running shoes.

The Pump Technology

Eye-catching pump

Eye-catching pump

One reason I am not a cakewalk for a salesperson is because I can usually see through most gimmicks. The pump technology has been around since 1989, I’m told. Not being someone who runs in Reeboks usually, I was excited about exploring the possibility of this improving my running experience. Oddly enough, the box contained no information about how to use the pump and I had to search on the internet for clarifications.  I could feel the pump action make the shoe wrap around my foot up to the middle of the arch. I’m glad it does not wrap around the toe area, allowing sufficient wiggle room. At one point I felt the bladder inside push into the underside of the front of my foot when my walking gait was a bit off – felt much like a pair of socks that had ridden down the foot. Other than that, the closer grip between heel and arch section felt like a good option to have.

Comfort

How important is air-conditioning to you?

How important is air-conditioning to you?

In my regular running shoes, I often find the rigid material pressing into my foot to a point of pain all along where the natural contours of my feet don’t match the top rim of the shoe around the ankle. What I really liked about the ZPump is the softness in the shoe. Perhaps some might say it’s too soft with too much give but for me it’s nice to have at least one pair that is comfortable along the dimension of softness!

Price
There’s a fair amount of confusion about the pricing. I’m told by the company, and the box confirms it, that the retail price in India is Rs 15k. But anyone who would normally afford that budget for a pair of running shoes would typically also have access to overseas markets where it’s clearly retailing at about half that price! Anyone Googling this shoe brand/model will come across the international prices. Not sure how that will pan out for Reebok India.

Conclusion

Yes? No? Perhaps? Depends?

Yes? No? Perhaps? Depends?

I’d give the Reebok ZPump Fusion a thumbs up for attention catching, grip, comfort and conversation value. I’m neutral about the cushioning and wrap-around feature. And, I’d say I’m negative about the not-cool look when viewed from above and the sky-high retail price in India. Overall, I’d say, “Go into the store, try it on, if it makes you feel good, and the price doesn’t matter, it would make an interesting pair to migrate to for your runs or other workouts”.

 

And now, I’d like your (anonymous) opinion please?


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Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.