Monday, May 4, 2020

April - The Month of On Running (Cloudflow Review)

So I was contacted by our local On rep to ask about trying out one of their shoes for a bit then giving my impression of them. That chat was recorded when we did an Instagram live chat and I think is still on my Instagram IGTV @ianloughead.

First off On Running is a Swiss company that started making shoes about 10 years ago (they now make a full range of sport clothes as well). They wanted to be different and came up with the concept of the pods, or as they say running on clouds. The idea behind the pods was that they would allow a runners unique gait to work with the shoe and not be fighting against it.

I was told to look at the shoe options and choose a shoe that seemed like something I would buy. I chose the On Cloudflow as it's description seemed on par with the type of running shoe I like and it seemed to fall between my Saucony Freedom and Brooks Launch (lightweight neutral trainers). Retail price point is basically between those two as well.

So I jumped right in with this shoe. First off it should be mentioned that I adapt to new shoes really quickly. It doesn't mean I always like them, but I can usually run in most shoes without issue if they fit. 

So how was the fit? Well, I found it was true to size. I got my standard size of 10.5 and slipped it on and it felt fine. The shoe appears fairly narrow but for me fits as well as my Saucony and Brooks shoes. In fact at first I found it was a little loose feeling, but realized that the upper is very forgiving and stretches quite well. So I had to snug things up more than I normally would. If you try these shoes, don't be afraid to tie things a little tighter than normal.

So off I went on run one for an immediate speed session of 400m repeats. I had to play around with the fit a little on my warm up to get them dialed in. Once I got the laces set up well, they seemed to hold that position for the rest of my trial. The rest of the run went well.  

You don't really notice the pods per se. What I did feel on this run and on all of my runs was a responsive toe off when running fast and more forefoot and a slightly cushioned feel as you slow down and start to fall back on your midfoot / heel. You can read all the fancy tech stuff on the On website but suffice to say that when you want to go fast with the Cloudflows, they feel fast and they feel comfy when you need to slow it down. 

Usually I run in a different shoe most days, rotating through 2-3 pair at a time. I started this because the foam in shoes needs a little time to rebound to get back to 100% and give you the cushioning you should have. Newer shoes though, like On, are using newer types of foam and in On's case the Helion foam is supposed to not suffer from this break down. I will say that running in these daily for over two weeks and doing lots of hard efforts, my muscles are tired but in no way sore the way they usually would be in racing season. And I have run 5 race efforts in these shoes, plus intervals and long runs in this time.

Over the years I have heard of On and heard of their rep for picking up shoes in their unique soles. This is supposed to be much better now. So I ran through gravel on most of my runs. I picked up 1 rock in all my runs. So that is good news. I pick up that much gravel in my New Balance 1400s. 

What I didn't like? Well, the only thing was the laces. They aren't bad and they work just like laces do. They don't seem to untie (cough cough Brooks) easily, but they are very thin and narrow and just hard to work with. It is a small concern, but not a major one. They do give you a little elastic loop to put the laces in though, so bonus!

Is this the shoe for everyone? Nope, it certainly has to fit your foot. Should you try this shoe? Oh yes. These are light weight yet supportive and while neutral, they offer a really good amount of support after a long hard run. As well, the shoe seems to not transmit as much force through your body, helping reduce fatigue in muscles.

For me the On Cloudflow will likely become part of my shoe rotation and will almost definitely be a race day shoe for longer races like 10K and Half Marathons due to their low weight and support.

On sells a full range of shoes from street, to trail, to track (no spikes) and even waterproof. They come firm to cushioned, though all with a good amount of give. I look forward to trying other varieties out. 

It was great doing an Instagram live chat with Max from Quebec and I would love to share more about these shoes as well, but ultimately try a pair on at your favorite running store. I don't think these shoes are really aimed at any specific runner. New, seasoned, small, large, as long as it fits your foot, it is worth a try.