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Foot Files: Reebok ZigCarbon Review

Posted Apr 28 2013 10:10pm

I am very much a brand loyalist when it comes to the things I love. Among my favorite running related companies in the last year are Sparkly Soul for their glittery, comfy, slip-free headbands; Lululemon, for providing me with overpriced jackets that I typically don’t even wear while running, because I’d rather them not stink; and Erica Sara Designs for her sporty-chic vibe. These are the brands I tend to go back to over and over again. When I’m in need of a last-minute piece of pre-race gear or a gift for another runner-savvy friend, I pretty much know where to look and who to call.

I also believe, however, that it’s always a good idea to try out as many different brands, products and pieces of fitness equipment as we runners can. Not only is the market constantly flooded with the newest and greatest sneakers, sports tops, headbands, watches, etc. (you name it, and they probably make it), but once a product is released onto the market, the brains behind the brands are likely already formulating ways to improve on their beloved designs.

I truly believe that, as athletes, we owe it to ourselves to try every item we can. Not only is it kind of fun to wear-test high-tech swag, but, perhaps more importantly, we deserve to be informed. Knowing how what we wear affects how we perform is part of that very simply yet crucial equation.

It’s for that reason, and that reason alone, that I was stoked to try out Reebok’s new Zig Carbon sneakers — the ones that so truly fit their zig-tastic name, with their wavy soles and light-bright hue.

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Bam. Now that’s what I call in-your-face awesome.

Because I planned to spend Saturday outside of the city, relaxing for my birthday, Friday morning adopted my designated “birthday run” honor. And what better occasion to test a hot pink pair of futuristic sneakers than one’s annual birthday run? I can’t think of a more worthy excuse. Can you?

So there I was on Friday morning. The sun was shining outside my window and, as it often does, Central Park was calling my name.

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Unlike my runs of late, I felt energetic and motivated on Friday morning. I had no desire to pull the covers back over my head. No, I wanted to get out and do something with my time. I also definitely wanted to see what the ZigCarbon sneakers were made of.

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The bonus: I was also able to test out the fitted  Reebok PWR leggings  from the ONE Apparel Collection – a major upgrade from my old American Apparel pair that I usually recycle as “workout clothes” once they’re too see-through to wear to the office.

IMG_4006 Fortunately, these were sturdy and fantastic — and not transparent at all! It’s been a long time since I’ve worn a pair of authentic athletic leggings, and the difference did not go unnoticed. I loved the compression-like feel, and the nylon-lycra blend allowed for maximum flexibility for the length of my workout.

Plus, wearing the ZigCarbon sneakers and PWR leggings at the same time made for a pretty bad-ass combination if I do say so myself.

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A little background information on Reebok’s new ZigCarbon:
  • Synthetic/mesh upper for comfort, fit and durability
  • Low-cut design for mobility with removable PU sock liner to cushion and accommodate orthotics
  • ZigCarbon outsole is designed for energy return with a full-length carbon fiber plate for flexibility through the forefoot and structured support in the midfoot
  • Forefoot and heel foam pods for excellent cushioning and shock absorption
  • High abrasion rubber outsole for increased durability

Key Material Technology Information:

  • WEIGHS LESS THAN 7.5 OUNCES
  • Duel-density ZigLite sole with a  prominent flex groove allows the carbon fiber plate to do its work
  • Maximized support adds structure while maintaining light weight
  • 180 degree heel-cup construction
  • Unique military-grade 100% carbon fiber plate
  • Nylon fused to open mesh upper for breathability and lightweight support

Sidenote: They look hilarious with pink tie-dye socks. Game on.

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Now, admittedly, Reebok as a brand is not necessarily known or revered for their running prowess; but what they lack in presence in the running world, they make up for with their positioning in the realm of CrossFit and many other a strength training regimen. While CrossFit is something I’ve been wanting to check out for a year now, I was nevertheless drawn to seeing what my new pink puppies could do on pavement. Running shoe or not, sneakers all generally serve the same purpose for me: to fuel my body through an hour of sweaty fun, and to do so in a safe and comfortable fashion.

With that in mind, I set out to test their skills.

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As usual, the first mile of my run was dedicated to waking up my body and mind. I was slow, tired, still shaking off the bottle of wine, the creamy French sauces, and the oodles of fancy desserts I’d scarfed down just the night before. (Um, it was my birthday weekend. America’s gotta live!)

Surprisingly though, it didn’t take long — at all — to warm up. All of a sudden, I found my legs moving faster than they had in weeks, and even stranger, they stayed that way for most of the morning.

There are a ton of reasons why it felt as though I were running as fast as a cheetah on Friday.

1. During those last 48 hours alone, I managed to eat 4 desserts from 2 top quality restaurants. All of them consisted of multiple scoops of ice cream, 2 of them heavy whipped cream, and none of them fruit or anything considered “nutritious.” Maybe, that was enough to fuel my feet.

2. Half a bottle of red wine the day before. You know how that gets me going in the morning (for some sick, twisted reason).

3. I’ve had comparatively horrible runs lately. Maybe my body was just in dire need of a pleasure-filled excursion.

4. Or maybe – maybe – it was the sneakers.

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Now, I’ve been running in the same pair of sneakers since winter began, meaning I’m also probably due for a new pair. In case you haven’t gotten the memo, we’re now well into spring.

Flat sneakers don’t typically breed speed or pain-free runs, but as most of you probably know, it can also be difficult to tell when you’re in need of new kicks until you’ve hit rock bottom. Sometimes, that’s in the form of shin splints or some other overuse injury. Other times, you just feel like your feet are literally touching the floor.

The first time I slipped my feet into Reebok’s ZigCarbon model, I wasn’t entirely sure what to think or expect. Having worn the same pair of sneakers for months now, it at first felt awkward and wrong. The exterior design of the ZigCarbon is so intricate and wacky that I guess I was hoping that the inside of the shoe would feel equally cushy and fun. Instead, it had more of a minimalist feel — not what I had anticipated at all.

By mile 2 of my run, the sneakers suddenly began to feel oh-so right. With speed on the brain, I began weaving through early morning commuters on my route to Central Park. For once, I wasn’t the one being passed by fellow morning runners; I was doing the passing. I tried to soak it all in.

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By the time I got to Central Park, I was so inspired by the events so far that I decided to spice up the run even more. Rather than my typical daily route (otherwise known as one lap around the lower loop of Central Park), I began by wandering around the pathways that hug the park’s entrance. This lasted just a quarter-mile or so. Nothing crazy. But it was a really nice way to change my routine before, you know, hopping back onto the loop.

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This is my favorite time of the year to run in New York City, as the trees become bulkier and less and less of the Manhattan skyline is visible from within the confines of Central Park. The views, once bleak and branch-filled, are now lush, green and soothing. It’s an environment that, once you’re in, can be truly hard to tear oneself away from.

But then, reality calls.

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As I rounded the lower loop of Central Park on Friday morning, my legs, my feet, my body continued to feel strong and steady. My pace wasn’t slowing either. I actually remember thinking to myself, could it be the sneakers? Nah, must be the wine. Right? 

Like I mentioned before, as runners and athletes, it’s vitally important that we keep an open mind when approaching new pieces of equipment that could improve or hinder our performance. At the end of the day, I’m not winning any races; let’s be honest, I’m not even in the first wave. But I do value my ability to work out almost every day of the week — almost every day of the year. And to get the most out of these efforts, I love knowing the best ways to achieve my goals.

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Would I wear the Reebok ZigCarbon’s again on another morning run? Absolutely. Going forward, these will likely prove to be more effective for the times I decide to strength train in my apartment — or for when I finally pull the trigger and sign up for a CrossFit class. Knowing that they were such an asset to my Friday morning run though makes me more likely to turn to them again in the near future. If not for their jet-pack-like capabilities, then certainly for their aesthetic appeal. They’re pretty damn sexy, after all.

  • What is your personal policy for trying out new fitness equipment or running gear?

Reebok did not pay me to write any part of this review, however they did provide the product for free. All opinions are my own. If you’re interested in the ZigCarbon sneakers, you can check them out for yourself here  and watch this cool video on their underlying technology here .


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