That said, I still buy most of the things I review retail. If I am provided a shoe or product free of charge by the manufacturer, it will say so at the end of my review. If it doesn't say that, assume that I bought it with my own petty cash. Otherwise, I will be very clear about everything. In some cases manufacturers provide steep discounts for gear testers, essentially charging cost for the reviewer to get their hands on the kit they want to test or review. I will let you know when that is the case as well.
So, given that I mostly buy my own stuff or work directly with a manufacturer I admire or want to work with, you won't find many scathing negative reviews here. I don't buy stuff I know I won't like, and I rarely try and get kit from manufacturers that I would not consider buying myself. I will occasionally have a few negatives to point out, and I will also provide follow up reviews and will definitely point out what doesn't work for me over the longer haul. In other words, take everything I say with a rain of salt...I am just one guy with an opinion. I write mostly about what I like and buy or would buy myself. Depending on the product, my "reviews" may be more like recommendations than anything, but I refuse to formally use that word because we are all so very different in our running, our form, and our physiology, etc.
Product Review Stage 1: Initial Analysis
My reviews come in two stages. First, I start with an initial in-hand review and analysis. The Initial review and analysis is designed to give the reader an idea of what the product feels and looks like in-hand. In these posts I will provide technical information, describe the materials and construction, weight, stiffness and flexibility, give you high-res, annotated photos, and generally try and put you right there as a reader. I may have a few miles on the product at that point, but don't take anything I say there as law...any post that is labeled as an initial review and analysis is just that, preliminary and based solely on in-hand review.
|A typical annotated photo from an initial review and analysis post|
Product Review Stage 2: Wear Test
Second, I will follow up with a wear test review. This may not come for hundreds of miles, or may come as quickly as 10 miles if I know for a fact that the product won't work out for me. I don't put extra miles on things that I don't like, and if I fear injury I will hang it up altogether and let you know. Mostly, wear tests will come after 100 miles or so, and will be updated later on as I get more and more miles or if I observe something I think my readers should know about.
There are a lot of technical and non-technical terms applied to running, and especially to the newest wave of running knows as barefoot/minimalist/natural running. I prefer to use the term "natural running" of these three, because I rarely run truly barefoot, and I think it adequately describes what is going on. What is going on? Well, to me natural running is running the way you would if shoes were not in the way. This could be barefoot or with shoes that have a few characteristics that allow you to run as you would barefoot. Those characteristics are: a level sole (often called zero-drop), a wide toebox, and flexible construction. Some folks will call these shoes "barefoot" shoes, but I prefer minimal shoes. That is just me, your mileage may vary. I won't get into the philosophy or technique of natural running here, I often describe it in my posts or I link you to other excellent resources online. Usually, though, I am reviewing or describing a product or technique in this natural running camp, as that is my own preferred method of locomotion.