In Which Jenn WANTS To Love UA Running Shoes, But…

Tape and sneakers

You know how sometimes you jump into a series of love affairs but just end up getting hurt? Yeah, that’s me and Under Armour running shoes.

Before we start, I want to make it very clear that I am not disparaging UA or their products. They make great stuff. I love my long sleeve Baltimore Marathon tech tee with the thumbholes and my polarized sunglasses and the pair of running pants I tragically tore a hole in. Pat likes my rain-resistant jacket so much he bought one of his own. But for whatever reason, I just can’t make the running shoes work for me – and what’s more, every time they don’t work for me, I turn around a try again.

Round 1: I get the original Sonic Hovrs. I LOVE THEM. They make me feel speedy! I get two pairs. But I notice after a 17 mile run that my inner knee bugs me the next day. Not the same day as the run, but the next day. Huh. It happens again after the National Capital 20 Miler. It is worse. I have a marathon coming up. I am nervous. I switch to my tried-and-true Brooks Ravennas and make it through okay, but it’s a close one. I sadly give up my speedy Hovrs.

Round 2: UA comes out with the Guardians, which are support shoes. While I have one neutral and one support foot and have run in both types successfully, I think – maybe the Hovrs were too neutral? Or something? Maybe their support version will work?

And maybe they do, but it’s hard to tell – I never run more than 10 miles in them, because I discover that after four miles I am increasingly at risk of developing a blister on my inside right heel instep (this is my neutral foot). So these seem to be a bit too supportive. In addition, the Guardians just feel kinda stiff and clunky to me. I am not a fan. I never run a race in them.

Round 3: UA debuts a NEW version of the Sonic Hovr – and they come in PINK! (They call it peach, but whatever; it’s pink). Perhaps this latest iteration corrected whatever it was about the first edition my knee didn’t like? 

I buy a pair and once again, I love them! So speedy! I run a race in them, and it goes pretty well. A couple weeks later, I start experience heel pain. Weird. Then I go visit family for a couple weeks. I’ve only packed a pair of the Ravennas since I don’t anticipate any long runs, and indeed never go above four. The minimized mileage, I figure, will let my heel… heal. Heel heal. Yeah.

It works! I come back home and do some long runs, several of which are in the pink Hovrs. The heel pain comes back…? I do a little research and it seems to be the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Weird – I’ve never had that problem before! It waxes and wanes, seemingly unrelated to mileage… until after an embarrassingly lengthy amount of time, I finally figure out that my heel flareups correlate to long runs in the Hovrs.

Damn.

They’re so cute, too.

Oh well. It was nice while it lasted. But I think I’m gonna have to break up with the Under Armour running shoe line. If you can trust me saying so – I’ve gone back on my word before. Heck, just a few weeks ago I said I wouldn’t be picking up any Nike Vomero 14s and now I think I might because I like to have at least two models of shoes in rotation. I hear it (ha!) helps prevent injury.

John Mulany

All the same, if you see me tweeting or whatever about buying some UA sneakers again, make like the other drunk girl in the bathroom and yell “DON’T DO IT!” I’ll thank you later.

P.S. I look forward to writing the post in the future when I say “I know I told you guys I’d never do this, but…”

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Reviews The Under Armour Sportsmask

The first step in reviewing any product is to remember to bring it with you for its intended activity. I was out of the building and halfway to the gate before I realized I had forgotten to don my new Under Armour athletic face mask for my morning run. Therefore this review comes at the expense of approximately 6 minutes’ lost time. Please read it!

(Also, for the record, I bought it with my own money in anticipation of potentially needing it for a race. Despite my average running performance, unpopular blog, and minuscule Instagram following, UA mysteriously has yet to offer me a sponsorship.)

Don’t forget to cut the tag out before you use it.


The Under Armour Sportsmask
will set you back $30, which is a bit steep for a mask, but in exchange it promises enhanced comfort and breathability using high-quality, antimicrobial materials. It’s also allegedly water-resistant. It’s recommended that you hand-wash it but machine-washing is supposedly okay too.

This is my good eyebrow side.

First impressions: it was indeed a comfortable material, and seemed to fit reasonably well. There’s a wire bit at the top so you can mold it across your nose. I liked that there was enough space at the middle and bottom that I didn’t feel like I was playing Suck and Blow with the fabric. (Is that a real thing or did Clueless just make it up?) 

I did not, however, feel cool – my hot breath was definitely winning that game.

This is my bad eyebrow side.

Then I took it for a quick 5k. Let’s compare my experience against the selling points one by one:

  • “Made with high-performance UA materials, designed to be worn all day & when playing sports” – It was comfortable enough. I was able to zone out and forget I was wearing it now and again. I did occasionally feel like it was sliding off my nose but every time I reached to check it was still fine. I have a S/M and I don’t think this was a function of needing a smaller size.
  • “Structured design sits up off the face & lips for added comfort & breathability” – As the run progressed and my breathing got a little more labored, I found that the fabric did hit my lips during some inhales, but it wasn’t too bad. 
  • “Water-resistant outer shell features smooth, breathable spacer fabric” – It didn’t rain during my run so I’m not sure how that would work out. I definitely sweat, though, and the mask retained its shape.
  • “Anti-microbial treatment on the inside layer to help keep mask fresh” – I noticed no funky smells. It’ll definitely need a wash every time, though.
  • “Polyurethane open-cell foam lets air through but makes it hard for moisture & sweat to pass” – I never felt like I was struggling for air, nor did any sweat drip out of the bottom of the mask.
  • “UA Iso-Chill fabric on interior lining & ear loops feels cool to the touch for as long as you wear it” – I guess. Look, I’m running in Puerto Rico in September, so we’ve already set the dial to 11 in terms of heat and humidity. The fabric never felt super hot, but it didn’t feel expressly cool either, even when I first put it on. And I definitely sweat underneath of it. 
  • “Fabric is soft & smooth for next to face comfort & moves moisture from your mouth to the insert layer” – The fabric next to my mouth never felt soggy, so that seems to work, yeah.
  • “Built-in UPF 50+ sun protection” – I can’t wait to add weird facial tan lines to my weird runner’s tan!

Obviously the ideal mask situation while running is no mask at all in a world where there’s no pandemic. But as long as we have to wear one to keep everyone safe and race (fingers crossed it actually happens), I think the UA mask is perfectly serviceable. I wasn’t blown away, but I don’t dread potentially running 13 miles in it. 

Pro tip: if you want to potentially take it off to drink water or wipe away sweat for brief periods during your run, make sure you put your headphones on BEFORE the mask. Otherwise you’re taking both off every time and it’s annoying.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Tries New Running Shoes

I read an article a couple months ago about how it’s best to have several different pairs of running shoes. As the thinking went, each individual shoe affects your foot strike, gait, muscle use, etc. in subtly different ways. Therefore, if you’re on a shoe cycle, you’re less likely to suffer injuries from overuse.

I don’t know how much hard scientific data there is to back that theory, but I know I don’t want any more overuse injuries, so I’m trying it!

The difference this time: I’m not going to store to be fitted.

See, I read another article in Runner’s World stating that some studies show that your level of comfort in an individual shoe can indicate a good choice, even over someone watching your stride and making recommendations. So I’ve been branching out and making some purchases on my own.


First up is my consistent love, the Brooks Ravenna (right). I’ve strayed before, but I vow now to keep it in my rotation forever. It has brought me back from many a poor sneaker decision.

Next, the Brooks Ghost (left). I got an email that it was on sale and it promised a lot of cushion, so I took a chance. And boy howdy, does it deliver on that cushion – this baby is soooooft. Which is nice! But doesn’t make me feel speedy. When this pair wears out I’ll likely investigate other options.

Finally, the wild card: the Under Armour Sonic Hovrs. I don’t see UA bandied about much in discussions of running shoes. But I have a friend on the inside – my buddy A works for UA, and when he told me a special company meeting was convened just to announce their new running shoes, I decided to give it a go.

AND WE HAVE A WINNER! These sleek, sexy sneaks have less cushion than the Ghosts but enough to keep me from feeling like I’m slamming my joints around, plus the delightful bounce I enjoy from the Ravenna. They’re labeled neutral, but for my undecided feet (one neutral, one stability) I’ve been having great results. I used them to run my recent 14 miler and they were faaaaabulous. Love!

One note: they’ve got a sizing quiz thingee to help you select a size based on what you wear in other sneaker brands. I wear an 8 in Brooks and was told to get a 7.5 in the UA. This was a lie; I could use the extra half size. Oh well; I’ll know next time!

That’s my current shoe rotation! Do you use multiple kinds of shoes? What should I try next instead of the Ghosts?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!