Ed Sean Gets a Cool Surprise

Ed Sean Falconer received a very cool product-drop this week from Under Armour, as we were introduced to the much anticipated Iso-Chill range. After all, it’s not every day you open a package with dry ice in it, ‘smoking’ away!

The new Iso-Chill range expels heat immediately from the body when touched, making it the perfect gear for running and training. Specially designed fibres lay flat against your skin to evenly disperse heat, so it literally feels cool to the touch. With added titanium dioxide to absorb UV Energy and quickly move that heat away from your body, the tech is proven to increase your comfort and output, even during those high-pressure runs on really hot days.

Sean will be putting the gear through its paces – indoors for now, as we wait for Cape Town to unfreeze – and reporting back in the the mag. In the meantime, if you want more info on where to get hold of this amazing product range, check out the button below, or the very cool insert we have running in our latest Modern Athlete Mag!

UA Ambassador Tatjana Tells Us More!

“Every season you feel like you need to take it up a notch, which is a challenge considering that swimming is a very technical sport and requires a vigorous training regime,” says Under Armour ambassador and Olympic Champion Tatjana Schoenmaker.

“I wouldn’t be cool and calm if I knew I was skipping sessions or not giving 100%, because it’s the constancy of your training and constant ability to strengthen your mental muscle that helps you stay on course. Also, having the right training gear is crucial and can have a major influence on your performance. The UA Iso-Chill gear keeps me cool when training, helping me boost my training performance.”

The PUMA Run XX NITRO is for HER

PUMA recently sent us the women-specific Run XX NITRO to wear-test, and our Marketing Director Roxanne Martin has been putting the shoe through its paces.

First Impressions

Before taking them out the box, the Run XX NITRO tells you that it is made for women who run – the name is derived from the female double X chromosome in DNA sequencing – and in line with PUMA’s RUN FOR HER motto, the design takes a woman’s needs into account, but more on that later.

The shoe’s design catches your eye the moment you look at it. The colour is bright pink with touches of purple, making it stand out. It’s bold, and in my opinion, a good-looking shoe.

Now, whenever I try a new running shoe, I like to wear it for at least three days before I attempt any running. I find that this gives the shoe a chance to ‘soften’ a bit, allowing me to wear it in before I hit the road. Doing a couple of days of walking always helps me to get used to the shoe, and how the shoe will adapt to my running style.

Straight out of the box, the shoe was a firm fit, but after wearing it for a few days, the upper had a chance to stretch a bit, and I had a chance to get used to the way the shoe guided my foot. Naturally, the sole design of a shoe has a massive impact on this, and in the case of the Run XX NITRO, it really feels that it is designed with running in mind.

Running in the Shoe

The Run XX NITRO is marketed as a women-specific neutral cushioned shoe, so being a female runner, I was understandably excited to give it a wear-test. 

When I read up on the shoe, I found that PUMA says the following: Featuring an updated fit that hugs a woman’s foot at the heel, instep and arch, the shoe’s new, firmer NITRO midsole is the perfect balance of durability and lightweight cushioning, while RUNGUIDE promotes proper alignment and increased stability for longer distances.

The first thing I noticed was that the front of the shoe was wider than other PUMA shoes I have run in. I am always appreciative of this, as the front of my foot needs some breathing room, and this ties in with the fact that women often have wider forefeet and narrower heels than men. With the wider fit upfront, my foot can hit the ground more evenly, making my running feel more stable. Meanwhile, the back of the shoe holds my heel nicely, while I run, especially around my ankle. Having weak ankles and a bunion by my big toes, I really appreciated these design elements, as it’s not often that a unisex shoe will cover these bases.

The second thing that I felt when running in the shoe was that my arch felt supported the entire time. Again, women-specific shoes usually have a more built-up arch, as women’s feet tend to be quite different to men’s, and I really felt the benefits of this in the Run XX NITROs. This also makes the shoe incredibly cushioned throughout your stride pattern, but with a terrific springiness that makes you feel like you are ‘springing into action,’ with just the right amount of give and take between putting your foot down on the ground and lifting it again, giving you even cushioning and smooth rebound.

Things to Consider Before Buying

Women often have wider hips than men, causing our legs to naturally pivot inwards at more of an angle, so many women will require anti-pronation shoes for running. When designing women-specific shoes, designers bear this in mind, adding more support in the arch, but keep in mind that this still a neutral shoe, so take that into consideration before buying.

The easiest way to understand what shoe will fit your running style is to have a gait analysis done. This measures how your foot hits the ground and how far it rolls inwards as you move forwards. The good news is that this does not need to be an expensive exercise, as you can simply pop into your local Totalsports, which coincidentally also stocks this shoe, for a free gait analysis with one of their Run Specialists.

Another thing to remember is that most running shoes are made to be unisex, meaning the men’s shoes are simply down-sized for women, and not specifically made for women. However, with this specific shoe, I found the fit is slightly bigger than normal, and I needed a size down from my normal choice, so I suggest you first try on the shoe to make sure you have the correct fit.



Would I Buy this Shoe?

After running in the shoe, my answer is a definite yes! Thanks to the women-specific features and tech built into the design, I think PUMA has done its homework well to come up with a shoe that really addresses the needs of female runners, and I really enjoyed running in them. If you want to check the Run XX NITRO out, you’ll find them at your nearest PUMA stockists, selling at a recommended price of R3199.

Even Better Than Before

The lightweight, neutral PUMA Velocity Nitro 2 is a slight upgrade on what was already a really good shoe, offering a cushioned, responsive and comfortably smooth ride. – By Sean Falconer

In 2021, PUMA made the running world sit up when it introduced its Nitro range, featuring new nitrogen-infused NITRO foam midsoles. These immediately proved popular because of their cushy, soft feeling, but still with a snappy, responsive ride. The Deviate Nitro Elite garnered widespread attention that year when US marathoner Molly Seidel wore them as she won the bronze medal in the Olympic Marathon, and another popular model in the range was the Velocity Nitro, a budget-friendly neutral trainer designed more for recreational runners. Now with the Velocity Nitro 2, PUMA has managed to enhance the performance of the original shoe.

Targeted Cushioning

As much as NITRO foam has proven popular, some runners have found that the softness of the NITRO can start feeling a bit sluggish as your legs tire and you tend to heel-strike more and ‘sit’ lower on your heels. In other words, they wanted a bit more structure in their shoes, not just out-and-out soft cushioning, and that’s where PUMA has tweaked the design to improve the shoe’s performance.

The Velocity Nitro 1 featured a midsole made predominantly of NITRO, but with a heel plug of firmer EVA foam and a stabilizing plastic shank in the heel. In the Velocity Nitro 2, PUMA has extended the layer of EVA foam, which now runs the entire length and width of the shoe and sits underneath the NITRO layer. This provides more stability for the NITRO, allowing it to do its cushioning job without compressing too much and becoming sluggish. At the same time, PUMA has reduced the EVA foam’s thickness in the heel, and increased the NITRO foam’s thickness there, while eliminating the heel clip. The heel stack height remains the same at 33.5mm, with a 10mm drop to the forefoot.

These changes are responsible for a softer feel in the heel and a smoother, snappier toe-off, but that plusher heel is obviously of more importance to heel-strikers, especially with that 10mm heel-drop. That said, because I am a midfoot striker and like running lighter and faster, more up on my toes, I still found the midfoot and forefoot provided great cushioning and a most enjoyable ride, with a noticeable feeling of forward propulsion as you transition to the forefoot. I therefore found these shoes ideal for faster tempo runs and speedwork, but I could definitely still do long runs in them.

I also found that the PUMAGRIP rubber outsole coped well with several different surfaces I ran on, including tar, gravel and grass, as well as wetter surfaces, and the treadmill. The Velocity Nitro 2 features more outsole rubber than the original, but more importantly, the new triangular lugs on the outsole provide exceptional grip. I felt really sure of my footing these shoes. Oh, and at just under 250 grams per shoe, these shoes are light, but they also ‘feel’ really light, too.

Comfort Ensured

I don’t mind admitting that I have really soft feet, and thus I like a bit of cushioning around the heel area. Otherwise, shoes can rub my Achilles up the wrong way… That’s pretty much the only reason I was not the world’s biggest fan of the Deviate Nitro plated shoe last year, and also why the original Velocity Nitro was criticised. Happily for my heels, this new Velocity Nitro 2 ticks all the boxes in this area, with a well-cushioned and comfy heel collar, and I had no problems with slippage, because it’s not too bulky to prevent the heel being locked down securely. 

The shoe’s new seamless mesh upper proved comfy, too – not quite the stretchy sock-like fit of other shoes I have run in, but still very comfy. I particularly liked the toe box area, which is unstructured and allows my toes room to wiggle. The tongue is now also slightly thicker and more cushioned, for extra comfort.

What My Feet Said

The key to this shoe is its NITRO midsole, providing exceptional shock absorption with energetic rebound, but that grippy outsole and comfy upper are also big plus-points. Meanwhile, the women’s version has been created with specifically for the female foot, with a narrower heel, lower in-step and sculpted arch.

In terms of fit, I have wider feet and found the half-size did the job in giving my feet enough room, while my usual 8.5 UK sizing seemed just right – the thumb-width of space in front of my toes is definitely a thumb-width. However, some reviews I read said that testers found the shoes a bit on the longer side, and thus recommended trying a half-size down. This is one of those situations where you will only know if you go into a PUMA stockist and try the shoes on for yourself. As they say, if the shoe fits…


The PUMA Velocity Nitro 2 retails for a suggested selling price of R2799 at PUMA stores, Totalsports, Sportsmans Warehouse, Superbalist and selected retailers, or you can order the shoes online at puma.com.

So Much More Than Just a Watch!


Avid trail runner, open water swimmer and photographer by profession, Barbara Cole, was more than willing to test the new HUAWEI WATCH GT Runner and share her views on it with us.

Unboxing & First Impression

The watch really has a super-premium look and feel, and it really struck me how light it was when I first took it out the box. Wearing it around my training crew only reinforced my first impressions, with so many comments of how slick it looked, and again, how light it was. You don’t realise you are wearing a watch until you look at your wrist. The only wish-list item I would ask for is that the watch came with interchangeable watch straps, so you can change it to match different looks, and add some colour, but that’s just me.


The watch looks great, but it is still tough enough to handle some proper wear and tear, showing that it is manufactured using premium and robust materials. I love that you can tailor-make the face of the watch with multiple faces that you can download off the app, and I had a lot of fun with this feature. I also love that one of the watches features like your heart rate analysis are a simple touch away off the main screen, while your current heart rate is shown all the time.

The only problem I experienced, which is more of a pet-hate for me, was that I had to deliberately lift my arm every time I wanted to see the time. Personally, I would prefer an option to show the screen all the time, albeit on a dimmer light, but still playing around to see what I prefer.

User Experience

I absolutely love the user experience of the watch in terms of the touch screen. It’s amazing, and makes it so easy to navigate between settings, as well as being super responsive, too. With one button on the side of the watch to access the main menu of options, it was super easy to navigate between all settings. You very quickly get used to how the touch screen operates. And if you’re like me, you aren’t a manual reading type person, you will still easily be able to find your way around the watch.

I found the set-up incredibly easy, downloaded the app to my phone, and linked the two easily. The only issue I did have was linking the device to my Discovery App in order to track my activities for Vitality, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s a Huawei issue.

Workout Modes Used

I’m currently nursing an injury, so not actively running, and thus I used the following modes:

  • Indoor Swimming
  • Indoor Cycling
  • Open Water Swimming
  • Outdoor Walk

What I loved

I loved the open water swimming mode! It picked up my heart rate so quickly and read it accurately, even in the water. What was super interesting here was that it recorded my distance in steps, too, adding to my daily step goal, so I’m definitely not complaining! I am concerned about long-term wear and tear from the salt water, but this watch seems to be built for it.

The detail in terms of each session that you can look at on the watch after a session is incredible, and then the extension into your app on your phone is there if you want to find out more, giving you a wealth of stats and figures after a workout. The options in terms of workouts available is also pretty impressive, with just about every activity I could think of.

Battery Life

This was excellent! They say you’ll get 14 days on the lowest energy mode, and on average my battery life was around 10 to 12 days, including workout modes, which I used most days. So, using all the features of the watch, still got me to just under two weeks. What was also great is that it charges very quickly, going from 5% to 95% in an hour on the wireless charger.

Health Integration Features

Sleep Tracking: I really like this feature, and although I am not one to sleep with my watch on, when I did so, the watch was very accurate in terms of sleep time and patterns. It was also insightful for me to see the level of detailed feedback you get from the watch when downloaded into the app, explaining sleep cycles and how much REM sleep versus Deep Sleep you get, and what this means.

Stress Management: This is not really a feature I would normally pay much attention to, but it was interesting to see that it did correlate to times where I was more stressed. I think the extension of this is how you then manage your stress levels, so that your Central Nervous System is not stressed continually at a level that is detrimental to your health.

GPS Accuracy: The watch supports five satellite systems, which should make it very accurate, but when I did compare it, in one open water swim, to another watch, the readings were slightly different. That said, the Huawei does recalibrate all the time, so I would imagine it would be more accurate overall, and the important point to note here is that it did accurately track the route I followed.

Fun Features I Enjoyed

  • Barometer
  • Compass

Last Thoughts

Overall, I really love this watch! The one obvious drawback, though, is that it’s not supported by STRAVA, and I think that’s pretty important, particularly with who their target market might be in terms of being performance-driven. Hopefully this is something that is addressed in the near future. The other drawback is that some features don’t work with an apple iPhone system, and the watch is better with an Android system.

On the whole, I think a watch like this can contribute to one making better decisions for yourself in terms of your health, as well as being more aware of how your body is reacting to daily situations, and what steps you need to take to counteract any negative impacts on your health. If a watch was a motivator to get moving, this would be it!

Best Trisuit I’ve Ever Used!

I already knew the great reputation of 2XU products, but I was still blown away by the new 2XU Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit. Here’s what I found after putting it through its paces, in swim, bike and run tests. – by Alistair Cronk

You don’t just claim to be the World’s Best Technical Sportswear brand for nothing… and the latest Trisuit from 2XU pulls out all the stops! The Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit has all the features a triathlete could ask for, and nothing has been spared to provide athletes with the best possible trisuit on the market. The manufacturer has used an array of different fabrics to give you the best possible fit, feel and comfort while still providing you with a world-class product!

The 2XU brand, pronounced Two Times You, has been around since 2005. Launched in Melbourne, Australia and starting out as a specialist run and triathlon brand, 2XU is particularly renowned for its compression wear, but all its technical gear is top class, and thus I was really excited to be asked to test this new trisuit.

At First Glance

In life, I have always believed that if you look good, you feel good. Holding this trisuit in my hands for the first time, I could just feel the quality. The entire suit has been designed and manufactured to the highest standards, and I could not wait to try it on.

I will admit that I was a little sceptical about the compression at first, wondering how I was going to get into the Trisuit, but boy, what a fit! It feels instantly comfortable thanks to its panelled cut and flatlock stitching. Also, it’s supportive without being restrictive, and offers more freedom of movement than you might expect. With the jacket top and full zip, it makes getting the suit on and off even easier, especially for those ‘nature breaks.’

The Suit Essentials

Part of the Trisuit is made of Swiss Vent fabric, which was designed and created in accordance with 2XU’s testing by RMIT University. This material’s matrix knit allows the Trisuit to breathe while using Coldblack technology to offer protection from the sun on those hot South African race days.

Italian SBR Vent fabric is used on the suit’s arms and chest, designed to provide cooling while still being aerodynamic, with elbow-length sleeves that also give extra protection from the sun. When worn under a wetsuit, I found little to no difference to my stroke, with no pulling on the shoulders giving you that restricted feel. There are two easy-access open pockets on the back that will hold your race-day nutrition.

While the top is already enough to blow your mind, it’s when you move down to the shorts that the real difference comes in… The breathable, aerodynamic material selection is complimented by the added feature of compression, provided by the latest 105D Power Mesh, which allows for greater power output and less muscle oscillation, and thus reduced muscle fatigue during all three legs of a triathlon.

Secondly, the pad is always an important element of a trisuit, especially on those longer races, and the inclusion of the PRO LD Chamois, which is a multi-layered design with low water-absorption foam made in Italy exclusively for 2XU, gives this suit still better performance!

Put to the Test

I was impressed with the Trisuit in the water, both with and without a wetsuit. There was no feeling of drag and hindrance during the swim, and the compression around the legs in the water opened a whole new world, allowing me to deliver a stronger kick. So, when those races with the “no wetsuit swim” come round, this trisuit will deliver, allowing you to glide through the water without the usual feeling of drag or speed-loss.

On the bike, I found the pad to be comfortable for those long sections while on the bars, and although the compression felt a little restrictive at first while in this position, it soon loosened up a little to allow me to perform at my best. On my runs – and once again I can’t stress this enough – the compression around the legs made me feel like I can go harder for longer.

Testing it during the hotter days of early spring, I found the Trisuit kept me cool, and I have no doubt that it will be great to race in it during our hot summer days. I know this because I tested the suit in the heat of the day, and found that I never experience that overheating feeling, but if you are one of those athletes that runs a little on the hot side, the full zip allows for extra cooling.

The correct size of suit is always important, and I found this snug-fitting suit to have no flapping, but it still felt comfortable at the same time. Furthermore, the cleverly designed panelling makes this suit both fast and comfortable. Chaffing was non-existent, as the suit panelling, stitching and the soft edges of the pad and all designed with the athlete in mind. I am not saying you should throw the ‘speed grease’ away, but test the Trisuit for yourself and you’ll see how smooth and comfortable it is.

My Takeaways

I have raced both long- and short-course races, full and half Ironman events, and I have not come across a suit to top the 2XU Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit. This is by far the most comfortable and rewarding trisuit I have tried. Of course, in order to properly review a product, you do need to point out any downsides, and the only one I could find was that I think the pockets on the back could be a little bigger, especially for the brands that offer bigger gels.

But after having tested the 2XU Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit, I would not hesitate in recommending this trisuit to all levels of triathlete. The 2XU diehard fans have probably got their Trisuit on order already, but for those looking for a new trisuit, this would be the one. With its technical and protective fabrics, the comfort and outstanding compression performance across all three legs, the 2XU Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit is one of the best trisuits on the market, ideal for all long-course and short-course athletes, and will be one less thing to worry about on race day.

Get it Here

The 2XU Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit retails at R3499 and can be ordered at https://2xu.co.za/collections/trisuits/products/mt5516d-mens-compression-full-zip-sleeved-trisuit

TicWatch GTH – A Smart Buy

With a market flooded with smartwatches at every price imaginable, it has become hard to discern between a cost-effective option that gives you the functionality you need, versus a gimmicky, cheap product that ends up frustrating you more than helping you, but our recent test session with the new TicWatch GTH showed us that you can get value for money entry-level options. Our Marketing Director, Roxanne Martin, put the watch to the test.

When it comes to smartwatches, I have tested and played with quite a few, from all the big sports brands, so I have a fair idea of what to look for when a new one lands on my desk. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the TicWatch GTH, because its price of R1999 points to it being very much entry-level, but sometimes one can be pleasantly surprised.

The Setting Up Ritual

It doesn’t matter who you are, first impressions last, and there is always an element of judgement when you receive a new product. Taking the box out of the plastic courier bag and seeing it for the first time plays a big part in forming your initial opinion, and in a review piece these things matter, so here’s what I thought:

  • The first thing you see is an image of the watch on the front of the pull-over sleeve around the box. It is sleek-looking, all in black, exuding style, and you actually feel like you are unboxing something that costs a whole lot more. Turning the box over, the printed info gives you your first glimpse into how many features this watch offers, and the promise of 11 key features had me intrigued. Would it live up to the initial excitement?
  • Next was the unboxing… simple and understated, the watch immediately stood out, square face, slightly bigger than the iWatch. The black strap means it is versatile and can be worn with a large variety of colours, but it doesn’t fade into the background, it commands attention and stands proud. I was impressed.
  • Taking it out the box, I was surprised that it was so light, and when you put it on, the only way you know you are wearing anything is when you look down and actually see it on your wrist.

I immediately started setting the watch up, which proved to be really simple. In fact, this was probably the most straight-forward smartwatch I have ever set up. Turning it on, a QR code appeared on the screen, which I scanned on my phone. That took me to the app, which I downloaded and synced the watch to my phone. I was seriously impressed with this, because I have an iPhone, and this step usually requires some form of admin, as not all systems are compatible with apple, but this watch made it all smooth, quick, and easy. I was set up and ready to go in less than a minute. The only little tweak needed was syncing it to apple health and Strava… because, you know, Vitality goals are important!

Features and More Features

I love versatility, and this TicWatch GTH offers a lot. For starters, you can measure your temperature, and I was really keen to test this feature, as we have all had the experience of thermometers at a shop entrance that tell us we are actually dead. I mean, 32 degrees Celsius would mean I was close to rigor mortis, but I digress… The watch is also waterproof, which I find handy, as you can go about your daily life without worrying about it getting wet – a real saver when you want something you can wear all day.

It also has the ability to measure your SpO2 (saturation of peripheral oxygen) level, which in layman’s terms means it can measure the oxygen level in your blood. Why is this important? Well, with the global COVID-19 pandemic, people infected with the virus need to monitor this level closely, because when it drops below 80% it usually signals the need for hospitalisation and to be put on oxygen. As a result, every community WhatsApp group and their aunty is selling oximeters now, but with this watch, you won’t need that, because it has you covered. I just happened to have a doctor’s appointment for the dreaded winter flu a few days later, and when she tested my SpO2 level, I asked if we could compare it with the watch, and the good news is that the watch matched her measurement. So, in my books, that is quite handy!

The watch monitors your heart rate (HR) to give insight into your stress levels, and your sleep, so in terms of health it gives you an overall picture of how you are doing. I wore it for a week, and compared with my current watch, it was pretty accurate in what it told me. It gives you time of sleep, if you woke up, deep sleep versus light sleep, so a good overall picture. In today’s world, it’s important to be able to monitor these things, as anxiety has never been higher, and sleep poorer, so by being able to monitor those aspects of your daily life, you are able to identify potential problem areas, and better yet, give your doctor accurate information that can go a long way to treating you for anxiety and sleep problems!

Time to Get Sweaty!

Gym and exercise have changed a lot since we went into the lockdown period, with many of us following exercise regimes online, as our ‘normal’ just wasn’t available. That has seen us using digital platforms such as Zwift, for instance, which offers both running and cycling as disciplines. I only use the cycling element on Zwift, and it is a good way to test a sports watch, as I can see my HR on screen via a HR strap and compare how accurate the TicWatch GTH is. So, the watch and I got on to the indoor trainer and began riding.

With all watches that I have tested, I have found that it takes a few minutes to read the HR correctly, as wrist measuring seems to need a bit of moisture to get it reading correctly, and it was no different here. The one negative on the first go was that it did take longer than normal to give a reading, but the simple trick of wetting my wrist with a little water and then putting the watch back on sorted that out.

My first workout with the watch was tackling a dreaded interval session, and the watch tracked the ups and downs accurately. Offering 14 workout modes, it gives you a wide choice – whether you are running, walking, cycling, swimming, or hiking, it has you covered. However, as it does not offer GPS tracking, I was more interested in the heart rate monitoring… but saying that, as soon as it picks up that you are elevating your HR, it asks if you want to start a workout, and running after my almost-four-year-old son ‘earned’ me a few such notifications! So, if you’re like me and sometimes need a reminder to put work aside and hand the energetic toddler to Dad for a while so that can get in your daily workout, this watch will do it for you!

Now, for me, there is something that I have to have when I work out, and that is music. This watch is great for that, giving you the ability to skip tracks, stop and play, etc. It actually synced seamlessly with my iPhone in that regard, which was an important tick in its favour from me. Lastly, the important question about battery life, and here again I was impressed. I tested it for a full week, and the battery lasted the entire time. It requires a somewhat lengthy charge time of two hours, but since you will only be doing that once a week, it won’t impact much on your workout time.

Things They Could Improve

No product will be perfect for every user, and I found a few small things I did not enjoy. For starters, the font for the messages was a bit hard to read when doing quick looks, and the watch face reactiveness wasn’t always great – sometimes I would have to turn the watch towards my face a few times before it finally woke up, whereas it would sometimes light up at inopportune moments, like when I was asleep and turned over. Suddenly a bright light would shine up from my wrist, causing my light-sleeping husband to mumble a few choice words in my direction. Apparently, he doesn’t enjoy discussing the features of smart watches in the early hours of the morning…

I also had a few issues syncing to Discovery, but to be fair to the watch, I think that is more down to the Discovery app and the maze of trying to connect apps, and not the watch itself. Lastly, getting back to the watch face, I just found that there were way too many options. I acknowledge that this is very much a personal preference, but I would say in this regard that less is more… because I am indecisive at the best of times, and giving me a million options isn’t always a kindness!

You Can Get It Here

At R1999, the TicWatch GTH comes in at a really great price point for the features that it offers, and I would highly recommend it for someone looking to get their first smart watch, and who wants something that offers sport features and all the cool gadgets that we need in our modern lifestyle. You can get the watch at a Vodacom store, or order it through Takealot, Agent Zero or TechnoMobi.

Energy-saving Rocks!

It’s not often I liken a running shoe to a rocking chair, but that’s such a great way to explain the new Asics MetaRide, which is designed to help you run longer by helping you save energy. – BY SEAN FALCONER

I’ve said this before, and I will likely say it many times yet in my career as a running journo, but when a shoe brand sends me a new model to review accompanied by a media release that starts with something along the lines of “Brand X is redefining running,” I tend to be a bit sceptical. That’s because I’ve been receiving releases like that for nearly 20 years now… and no doubt will continue to receive them until I retire.

That said, I was rather intrigued by the latest arrival from Asics, which read, “Asics today turned the world of running on its head as it revealed a completely new concept in run efficiency, Metaride. One of Asics’ most important innovations in seven decades, and as part of Asics’ ambition to help all runners to win the long run, the shoe was designed with one purpose in mind, to make running longer distances easier.”

My first thought was, I hope this new shoe lives up to the claims of the media release, because I’ve heard this kind of thing before… but when I looked inside the shoe box, I could immediately see what the people at Asics mean. The new Metaride model is certainly eye-catching – and I’m not just talking about the black, red and gold colourway, although I would like to mention here that these shoes hit the spot with me in terms of looks! No, it was the clearly rounded, built up outer sole that immediately caught my eye, and I knew I was indeed looking at something different here.

Saving Energy
Asics says this new technology has been two years in the making at its Institute of Sport Science in Japan, and they believe they have found a way to minimise ankle movement and thus save you 19% of energy expenditure when running. For those not so good with the maths, that’s one-fifth of your energy expenditure, which would really make a difference when running longer distances, as we are rather fond of doing here in South Africa.

It boils down to the science behind shifting your body weight forward, from landing to toe-off, and that’s where the curved GuideSole comes into play. Basically, it’s designed to rock you up onto your forefoot easier and quicker, using less energy to do so. Think of a rocking chair, with its curved rockers. This shoe mimics that… although the Japanese designers say it was actually inspired by a rolling wheel, but i prefer my rocking chair analogy.

The shoe’s midsole is built out of three layers to create this ‘rocker’ sole. The one level of midsole rubber is FlyteFoam Lyte, for cushioning and structure, while the other layer is made from FlyteFoam Propel, which gives you extra rebound in the toe-off phase. This combination has already featured in other recent Asics models, such as the Kayano and Cumulus. Thirdly, there is a visible Rearfoot Gel insert to add extra cushioning when your foot strikes the ground. That gives the shoe the traditional squishy landing that so many runners love about Asics models.

Stacked Midsole
The midsole has a 30mm stack height, and a zero drop from heel to toe. Whereas most running shoes have a higher stack in the heel and drop a few millimetres down to the forefoot, this shoe does not drop. Instead, it has a prominent upward curve in the forefoot that simulates a drop as you pivot forwards, but without putting you in an unnatural toes-down position in the first place.

The midsole feels most substantial behind the ball of your foot – you notice it when you first put them on, but you soon get used to it. The whole point here is to place your centre of gravity towards the back of the shoe, thus helping your foot swing through each stride quickly and easily. This is because instead of pushing you on to the forefoot instantly, as most running shoes try to do, this design makes you sit on your haunches a split second longer, then slingshots you forwards instead of dropping you forwards. That’s about the best way to describe the concept.

The shoe is thus rather firm – much more so than normal running shoes – and you will not be able to bend it with your hands, as you often see runners doing when looking at a new shoe. This goes against many of the design trends of recent years, with most shoes featuring more or deeper flex grooves in the forefoot to increase flexibility and allow a more natural toe-off, with the foot given freedom to flex more. In contrast, this shoe provides a more rigid rocker motion to help rock you forwards, instead of making your muscles do all of that work alone.

Putting it to the Test
I took the MetaRide for a few runs at different paces, both slow and fast, and I definitely noticed the rocker kicking in as I transitioned forwards on to my toes. I rather enjoyed the ‘helping hand’ I was getting, but I did find that the rigidity of the shoes took some getting used to, given that most of the other models I have run in for the past few years have tended to have super-flexing forefeet. As a result, when I tried to go faster in the shoes, in a time trial type of run, then I really noticed – and appreciated – the rocker motion, and to be honest, I preferred them at speed versus the long, slow stuff, purely because I am used to super-flexing lightweight models. That’s a personal preference, not an indication of the merits of this shoe.

I am therefore of the opinion that you need to put some serious mileage in with these shoes to really feel the effect of the energy-saving rocker motion, when your feet and leg muscles are tired. As I am not running those kinds of distances at the moment, I cannot tell you if the shoe delivers on that promise, but the good folks at Asics report that their wear-testers have indeed reported this to be the case.

These shoes are admittedly pricey at R3500 a pair, but if they can save you 20% of your energy expenditure over the long run, I’d say they’re worth the investment. I mean, just imagine getting to the last third of Comrades or Two Oceans, and having 20% more energy than usual. Now that would be something!

GET IT HERE: The new Asics MetaRide sells at a recommended retail price of R3500, and is available in limited quantities from ASICS retail and online stores and specialist run outlets from 28th February. Stockists: ASICS Canal Walk & Mall of Africa, Sportsmans Warehouse, The Athletes Foot, RUN, Run-Away-Sport, The Sweat Shop, TotalSports and Brian Bands Sports.

Modern Athlete Club Coach Ray Orchison and the first lucky draw winner.

Running while Riding

It may look strange at first, but the ElliptiGO combines the best of running, cycling and the elliptical trainer to deliver a low-impact, high-performance workout, and added to that, it’s a lot of fun to ‘ride.’ – BY SEAN FALCONER

The first time I saw the ElliptiGO, I thought what the heck is that thing? It looked like the ‘rider’ was running at the same time as riding a bike, with a swinging leg action similar to the elliptical trainer at the gym… It did look a bit odd. At first. Then I tried riding the ElliptiGO myself and within minutes I was sold on the concept.

To begin with, you need to learn a few tricks, like how to mount the bike – you do it much like a bicycle, putting one foot in a foot platform and pushing off with the other foot before swinging your leg over. You also need to get used to the elliptical pedalling motion, but I found that my balance came easily – it really felt like riding a bike! Steering is easy with the conventional bicycle/scooter-style handlebars, as is changing gears (up and down triggers) and braking (normal front and back brake handles on either hand-rest), but one snag I personally picked up at first was when cornering. I kept trying to lift my inner pedal by ‘back-pedalling,’ as you would do on a normal bike, which almost made me fall a few times. Other than that, I found it easy to ride and soon cranked it up to the highest gear, and before long my quads were talking to me. More like pleading for mercy, actually, because I was getting a damned good workout!

The bikes come in three models with three, eight or 11 gears. I found the eight-speed quite adequate for my training needs, whereas the three-speed offered too few gear options for my liking and was better suited to flatter surfaces with only minor climbs. Other bonuses are that standard bicycle accessories are usable on the ElliptiGO, such as water bottle holders or a bike computer, and you can purchase stationary attachments for training indoors. Also, it folds down to a more compact size, so can be transported inside a SUV or larger car, and fits on some conventional bike racks.

The ElliptiGO is the ideal cross-training device for healthy runners, and an excellent replacement for running for injured runners. Various people can use the same bike, too, with minimal adjustment (start with height and rotation of the handlebars), plus adjust the toe-straps on the foot platforms, which are big enough to handle any size foot. Best of all is you can wear your running shoes – no need for expensive cycling cleats. Then the crank arms can also be adjusted to give you a shorter or longer stride length, and I found the longer option better, as it was then closer to my running stride length and thus felt more natural and powerful.

But the ‘million dollar question’ I wanted to answer when I set out was how well does it climb hills? Well, let me tell you, I flew up the hills! After all, just as you would stand on the pedals of a conventional bicycle on a steep climb, with the ElliptiGO you’re already standing, so you just gear down and keep going. It is actually smoother than on a bicycle, and I found it easy to put a bit of sway into my arms to ease my legs through the extra workload.

It only took a few test rides on my borrowed ElliptiGO to convince me that I want one for myself. Yes, they’re expensive, but they’re awesome – and they give you a great workout!

Get it: The ElliptiGO 3C retails at R26,000, the 8C at R33,000 and the 11R at R47,000. The first two models are available in a choice of three colours (red, lime or black), but the 11-speed only comes in black.

More info: Go to www.elliptigo.co.za to find your nearest dealer in SA and place an order, or contact Uday Raniga on 084 477 2343 or uday@ellitigo.co.za.

Better Late Than Never

Vibrant Health PureGreen Protein

Plant proteins have historically been poorly suited for human use, because most lack one or more essential amino acids needed by the human body to build muscle tissue. However, by combining a variety of plant proteins and adding a few select free amino acids, it is possible to create a purely vegetable protein with an amino acid ration that surpasses egg albumin and whey proteins, which is what Vibrant Health has done in PureGreen Protein. Protein from peas, rice, spirulina and alfalfa are joined with four select free amino acids to create the first all-vegetable protein ideally balanced for human consumption.
Available from various health stores, 447g tub (R299 to R345) or box of 10 x 28g sachets (R199 to R240), with natural, vanilla and chocolate flavours. More info: 021 852 3021, info@naturalvibrance.co.za, or www.naturalvibrance.co.za.

Comrades Marathon: The Ultimate Human Race
The Comrades Marathon is not just the world’s largest ultra-marathon, it is also one of the oldest and has an incredibly rich history, filled with inspirational and interesting characters, and stories of incredible courage, sportsmanship, camaraderie, glory, heartbreak and humour, all interwoven with the history of South Africa over the past 90 years. This new hardcover book chronologically describes every race in detail, from the first Comrades in 1921 to the 85th in 2010, telling not only the compelling stories of the legends like Newton, Ballington, Hayward, Mekler, Robb and Fordyce, but also the stories of the backmarkers, those ‘ordinary runners’ behind the front-runners. Written by John Cameron-Dow, a Comrades permanent number holder and author of several books, notably The Two Oceans Marathon Story and Bruce Fordyce: Comrades King, it is a must-have for anybody who loves the Comrades Marathon
Available from Exclusive Books and other leading book stores at R280.

Yunnan Baiyao “The Chinese Spray”
Yunnan Baiyao is a totally natural pain relief product, imported from China, where it has been used for over 100 years for the relief of painful joints, arthritis, muscular pains, sprains, strains and bruising, and can also be used to stem bleeding and for the healing of cuts and grazes. It is produced from various wild herbs renowned for their healing powers, which are found only in the Yunnan Province, famed as China’s kingdom of medical herbs. It is the widest used medicine in China, including being used by the Chinese Olympic team and issued in all Chinese armed forces medical kits. It has a strong smell at first, but this soon dissipates and becomes unnoticeable.
Available from Dis-Chem Pharmacies and Clicks Stores nationwide, select Pick n Pay stores in the Western Cape, and several local pharmacies, at R89 to R99 per box. More info: 021 555 4549, yunnan@spinealign.co.za or www.yunnanbaiyao.co.za.

Hi-Tec Brown Soft Shell Jacket
At home, in the street or on any mountain, the Brown Soft Shell Jacket from Hi-Tec is a great addition to any outdoor girl’s cupboard. The stylish jacket has chest and waist pockets, is fleece-lined, has an adjustable elastic hem draw lining as well as adjustable sleeve cuffs. The jacket is functional but also stylish, and you can wear it to a night out at the movies or when doing what you love most whilst outdoors.
Available from Due South and Hi-Tec factory outlets at R599. For more info, visit www.hi-tec.com/za.

The Incredible Schalk

adidas CC Ride

These shoes have been developed specifically to keep your feet cool on the run. The minimalist upper lets air flow from all angles, utilising ClimaCool? material and offering 360-degree ventilation to open the air channels with every step you take and giving you all-embracing breathability. The technology in this shoe should reduce the moisture in your shoes by 20% and your foot temperature by 12%. Furthermore, the unique sole construction ensures the ultimate in full-foot flexibility and freedom of motion through unique soft technology and full-length cushioning system. The CC Ride also features a perforated sockliner for increased breathability and a non-woven fabric lining for additional comfort. But it doesn’t only feel cool, it looks cool too! They are available in fresh pink, intense green, sun yellow, radiant gold and red, and they are miCoach compatible.
Available from adidas retail stores and Total Sports.

Falke Active Men’s Boxers and Briefs

The Falke Active Men’s Boxers utilise the unique Drynamix Moisture Mangement System to provide the ultimate in coolness, all-day dryness and freshness. The front panel mesh lining optimises ventilation to help keep you cool and dry while the wide, soft brushed elastic bands will minimise friction for a more comfortable fit. The flat seams and longer legs mean no chafing or riding up, and the rear offset seam will help you step out in comfort every time.
Available at Sportsmans Warehouse and selected Cape Union Marts.

Footdisc Performance Insoles

FOOTDISC insoles use several technologies to not only absorb harmful shock, but also create a more efficient force transfer, meaning less fatigue. The sensor gel beneath the heel absorbs shock but also releases this energy again to optimise the propulsive phase of your gait. The 3-D Behavioural System provides arch support to the common foot types, highlighting the differences in arch profile, cushioning and stability needed. It has been designed to redistribute pressure evenly and stabilise excessive movements that can lead to injury, such as overpronation. The DryTek top sheet is hard-wearing and designed to wick moisture away from the skin, and the Freeflex mid-layer is a memory foam enriched with bamboo charcoal, which adapts to the contours of your foot, improving comfort and preventing blisters, while the bamboo charcoal reduces odours.
Available at specialist running stores in Gauteng and Eastern Cape.