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Review: La Sportiva “Anakonda”

I’m about to burst your bubble….

Did you know that there were others shoes for OCR besides Inov-8 and Reebok?

anakondaSome of them are cleverly disguised as, wait for it, mountain running shoes.

Yeah, I know there are a few more, but the aforementioned companies seem to be the most recognizable, and more of the go to OCR shoes than say, the La Sportiva Anakonda, which I am about to introduce you too.

I had read tons of reviews on a variety of mountain running shoes and of course saw Inov-8, Salomon and other names, but I hadn’t heard of La Sportiva and their name kept popping up. After much research I wanted to test out the Anakonda as they sounded like they would transition perfectly to OCR. A fair amount of mountain/ trail runs are wet, muddy, etc so why not right?

ropeI got them in the mail and was pumped, they were black and, my favorite running sneaker color, yellow! Yeah, that has no bearing on anything but I like it so… pfft!

I started checking them out and they seemed pretty diesel, I figured they’d weigh a ton, yet as I got them out of the box I was surprised at their weight. They only weigh in at 10oz, which again, was a shock because these things are built and the lugs on bottom are serious business.

Speaking of lugs, and the outer sole, it’s made from La Sportiva’s own material which they call FriXion XF. It’s a sticky, very grippy product. At the races I’ve used them in, some of the walls that were slippery and other folks were struggling with, I was able to get right over with great grip. It also helped quite a bit with rope climbing, that’s not to say I got up each one, but that’s not the shoes fault… I like the design of the lugs, they are not just squares or triangles. They are rounded, kind of like a crescent shape, and seem to really dig into mud and dirt.

rsz_log2I prefer running in minimal shoes, and until these, I had run solely (not a pun) in Vibrams. At 4mm of a drop, these are still considered minimal as that’s barely a fraction of a drop, but they add just enough to give your foot a bit more support. At least I found that they felt a bit natural with that tiny bit of additional drop. In the front of the foot there is an insert to protect from rocks and roots, which I never felt in any of the races I ran with these.

The tongue is gusseted so it keeps out most of the dirt and pebbles that you might get in the rolling mud obstacle, or running in a stream. Speaking of mud… With mud comes water and the Anakonda do a great job shedding that water.

One thing that threw me for a loop before wearing them the first time was the extremely rigid heel cup. I thought for sure it would make things uncomfortable. It did not. Once laced up the fit is tight enough there is no rub on the heel, which was my concern.

fireAt this point, these shoes have taken me through a full Spartan Trifecta and a Superhero Scramble. They have seen time on trails by my house and then some. I’ve asked a lot of these shoes and they continue to give and give. They have many more races in them and show no major signs of wear. They wash off great and look like new each time.

Ladies, these do not come in your sizes. That said, Leah tested out a model for women called the Bushido. They are designed just like the Anakonda and are just as phenomenal. Not only has she used them for races, trail runs and more but has worn them out and about for long periods of time and hasn’t had even the slightest amount of discomfort. She agrees with me on the grip, the water shedding and just about everything I said above.

Like the shoes mentioned at the beginning of this review, these are not cheap. But then again, you get what you pay for. One of the most important elements in running an OCR is having a shoe that you can rely on. I have relied on these many times now and they have yet to fail me.

Product info: http://www.sportiva.com/products/footwear/mountain-running/anakonda

Rating: 5 Stars!

Review: X Racewear Bib Shorts

xraceToday there was a post on the page reminding me I had to get going on this review. Between classes for my job and now being enrolled in an online school I had spaced this out, now here it is.

Robb, from FIT Challenge, happened to talk to a rep at X Racewear about their products and told them I did some reviews here on our lil Spahten page, so they sent him a shirt and shorts for me to test out. Normally, at races, I wear a standard pair of black Asics running shorts. You know, the kind that have the built in undies?! Yeah I am not a fan of them either, specifically the Asics pair I have, but they allow me to run smoothly so that’s why I still wear them.

These also have the built in undies but they feel a bit more comfort as the elastic is less, umm, restrictive. They were very comfortable as far as wear goes. Outside of racing I do like longer shorts, ones that are either at or below my knee. When I race though I prefer them to be a bit shorter. I have found that with my short legs, if the shorts are to long sometimes they get caught on my knees and I fumble a bit. So, for me, these are the perfect height as they are just above the knee but not to short to worry about “exposure”.

Most of you are reading this though to find out about the pouch, and honestly, that’s what these shorts are for. X Racewear got into the market to save your race bib. You know, the one you lose as you crawl low to the ground through the mud? I’ve had it happen, as I’m sure many of you have too, that moment when a pin opens and you get jabbed in the gut. It not only hurts but now you’ve lost a safety pin. Soon enough, it’s going to be the bib you lose. What better way to protect it then to put it in a pocket, right? The idea in and of itself is great if you like saving your bibs, which I do. I lost one in the mud in Georgia and really wanted it, the race was epic so I wanted that darned bib!

xrace2I wore these at MuckFest and my bib was shown for most of the race, until the end when you had to leap into the water. After I crossed the finish line I noticed my bib was in a crumpled mess. BUT it was ok and I flattened it out and now I have my memento.

I have yet to wear the tank they sent at an actual race yet, but have worn it running. It’s comfortable enough, lightweight and dries quickly. Having a somewhat stiff area around the belly I thought it might be a tad uncomfortable. All seemed well, but like I said, I did not run with a bib in the pocket for the tank so I can’t specifically say whether or not it would chafe or anything like that after running with it for a  while or dealing with the rigidity of having a bib in the pocket. I don’t believe it’d do any damage though, it felt very comfortable.

From here on out I will be wearing the shorts at all OCR’s, I really like them and the comfort! They don’t hold onto water and even when they get wet they are not super heavy. Like mentioned about the tank, they are lightweight as well. The inseam, for me, fit well and I didn’t have any discomfort from the built in undies. The bib is very visible, so if that is a worry than let it pass.

Would I recommend them? Absolutely. From what I understand their customer service is fantastic, so I say give them a shot!

X Racewear: https://www.xracewear.com/

Review: Wreck Bag

rsz_jeff_wreckoriginally posted on nespahtens.com

For those of you at FIT Challenge this past weekend you already know what a Wreck Bag is. You either love them or they were the bane of your existence on one of the most brutal carries up and down a hill on the course. I’m pretty sure most of you love them though, right? I mean, Kevin from Unleashed carried two of the 50lb Wreck Bags when I saw him out on the course, if that’s not love than?

Wreck Bags are the brain child of the folks at Lindon Fitness, a locally owned and operated company. They come in two sizes, the 25lb Wreck Bag or the 50lb bag. They were definitely more convenient as far as being able to carry them, more so than just a pancake, mainly because they have straps. Because they are long they sit comfortable on your back and shoulders, mighty convenient!

Not only were the bags there on the course but they had a tent in the vendor area. There were folks there to show you ways to incorporate them into your exercise routine. A little birdie told me that one of our own is working on some workouts for Lindon using these bags, yeah Spahten’s leading the way!!

wrecknateYesterday I crushed a short workout with my 25lb bag and today I am feeling it. I did some high intensity interval training, including squats, thrusters, military presses and a few more. I love it’s versatility. The only negative is I see the 25lb bag becoming light very quickly. I’m not a huge gym guy lately, and do most of my workouts and runs at home, so the 25lb will do the job as most of what I do is body weight stuff, but maybe a 50lb would come in handy at some point.

If you have not seen a Wreck bag, or put your digits on one, now is the time! They are priced extremely well at $30 for the 25lb bag and $50 for the 50lb one. The price per pound is hard to beat. Like I said already, they are extremely versatile and I can’t wait to see what comes out as far as routines and exercises to do with them. I mean, it’s not hard to figure out what to do with them, but it’s going to fun to do some thigns that might be outside of the box. Check out Wreck Bag at http://www.lindonfitness.com/ and support and awesome local company who is really awesome at getting in touch quick-like!!

Review: SwiftWick Compression Socks

logo-swiftwickoriginally posted on nespahtens.com

Wow! First and foremost, what a GREAT company SwiftWick is to work with. My initial contact couldn’t have gone easier. A whole pack of socks arrived; not only to be reviewed but to be used as a giveaway to members of the team. AHEM, I’m still looking for those community reviews for those that received some socks!!

After picking up a new “dread“-mill, I put some of the calf length socks to the test along with some others. First impression is the sock felt lighter on then they did beforehand. The seemed like they had a bit of weight and density but once slipped on they were extremely tight. Not in a bad way, I mean tight as in the really held the calf region together well.

I’ve been trying to use more of a mid to front foot strike in my running and with that I have had a ton more soreness below my calf in the soleus muscle. It not only hurt quite a bit during runs but afterward, for days, I would be in near agony. Ok, well not in agony but it sucked to walk let’s say that. Because of the compression in the Swiftwicks both the soreness while running and after was alleviated quite a bit.

aspire-twelve-black-compression-socks-9650larI would leave them on after runs, I even slept in them one night in hopes of being able to work the next day. Besides the fact I had just started getting back into running more per day and had changed my stride, I was pleasantly surprised at how I felt the next day. There was still some deep muscle soreness but overall, for once, my soleus did not feel destroyed and I was able to work a normal shift with minimal limp, haha!

They also sent some ankle compression socks to test out and I wear them all the time. I am a stinky, sweaty foot kind of guy, so being able to wick away the moisture is awesome! My son who has inherited the same sweaty, stinkiness wore a pair one day on a run with me and commented on how dry his feet were afterward. That was after prerunning the F.I.T. Challenge course with lots of snow and wetness, yet our feet were surprisingly dry. The stink? Well, Swiftwick can’t perform miracles, can they? The wicking in both the ankle and calf socks are great is what I’m saying.


One thing that always concerns me about wearing such a light sock is that they will slip around a bit in my shoes and cause blisters and such. This did not happen with these, my foot stayed put and were good to go! They were put to the test at our recent Unleashed training where we were jumping, running, climbing, etc. Again, there wasn’t any slippage and after 2 hours of a grueling workout and an hour of open gym my legs felt great.

Overall I am extremely pleased with these. I definitely prefer the calf socks be a little thicker, but these were quite a bit more tight so I felt like that may have helped more. I’d recommend these 100%. Check out their site at http://www.swiftwick.com/

And don’t forget, those that received socks you owe me a community review!! 🙂

Review: Pro Compression Marathon Socks

blueprocompressionoriginally posted on nespahtens.com

I haven’t had a ton of experience with compression gear, but have been told many times by those who use it that I needed to try it. A few weeks back I got a pair of blue marathon socks from Pro Compression in the mail and off we went.

I’ve done research here and there on the benefits of compression gear, and for some out there the jury is still out. For many though they swear by it. Back in the day, compression products were mainly made for diabetics, or for those with poor circulation. Over the past few years though athletes from various sports have been using them for recovery and for better runs and performance, especially in the endurance field.

I haven’t been running a ton lately, mainly because of the hill I live on and the fact the town refuses to do anything about snow/ ice removal. But, I did recently get a treadmill and have been crushing some miles on that.

I’ve run with these on and did notice that soreness I normally felt in my shins was a lot lighter, if there at all. Having not run a ton, I wore these for a while after the run and noticed less soreness in the days after. Are either of these solid reasons that the socks work?  Enough so that I have worn them religiously since then, on and after runs. Is that scientific? No, but who needs that nonsense when the proof is something experienced?! Am I right or am I right?

At this point I have tried a few different compression socks, and have to say I enjoy the thickness of this sock. Some of the others felt light and sheer. That said, I am hoping they don’t get uber hot come summertime, but we shall see when we get there, it’s still arctic here in certain areas of New England.

I’ve even worn them on a full shift at work. Eric said too! Ok, that’s the guy that started the company I assumed you guys knew by now, sheesh! Anyway, he’s an avid golfer and kind of has this like sock fetish or something. Hey, he said it not me. Anyway, I was comfortable in them and made it through my 10 hour shift without much sweat and itch, which my normal cotton socks get all sweaty and stinky. I did notice a bit of stink, but that’s the boot and not the compression socks fault. I mean I wear the things everyday and they just get… Well, you know…

Did I tell you yet that these guys, Pro Compression, are the official compression gear company for the Ragnar Relay? Yeah that’s really cool! You got that race coming up and don’t have any compression gear to rock? Well, it’s your lucky day! They are hooking us up here… Go to http://www.procompression.com/products and load up your cart. Use the code SPAHTENS at checkout and not only do you get free shipping but they are hooking you up with 40% off! Yeah, that’s friggin huge right? If you want other deals just scroll to the bottom of their homepage and sign up for the sock of the month club which offers a bunch of different deals. Make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter too, they always have cool stuff going on.

I love these socks and now need to make an order for a couple other colors!!