The Average Mark Shoe Review
Hi, I’m Mark, and I run. Does that make me a runner? Yes! Does that make me an elite runner? Far from it. I’m just an average Mark doing average things. I’ve never qualified for Boston and or racked up triple digit kills at a Ragnar Relay. The only thing I have going for me is that I am incredibly good looking and persistent. One of those statements is true, I’ll let the reader decide. So, if you’re an average Joe, Jane, or Mark like me then you might enjoy my shoe reviews simply because they are from the perspective of the tortoise, not the hare!
Here are the rules for the Average Mark Shoe Review. Rule #1 – I don’t use any fancy language. Rule #2 – I like to have fun when I write. Since there is no such thing as a sarcastic font, if something seems like sarcasm then it most likely is. Rule #3 – no more rules!
How could I resist reviewing the shoe that set the Ironman World Record? I mean, I’ve finished two 140.6 Ironman triathlons (slowly), so reviewing the Cloudflow is something I can’t pass up. Plus, On comes from Switzerland, and I’ve been wanting to write Switzerland all day. Now, where is my Swiss Army Knife from my childhood…
I was super excited to try my On Cloudflow shoes. I was told they were a lightweight performance shoe, which is my favorite kind of shoe to train and run in. I’m not a very complicated guy, and since I run pretty slow I can train in what I use for races. My go-to shoe for years has been the Saucony Kinvara. Then friends and I bought Red Rock Running Company and I’ve been exposed to a world of shoes I’ve never experienced before.
I don’t remember when I first saw the On Cloud, but I do remember thinking that it looked like the person wearing them was running with little pillows on his feet. They looked like comfortable shoes, but I wasn’t about to run to the store to buy a pair. I had 3 pairs of Kinvara’s to go through and I wasn’t in the market for a new pair of shoes.
All that has changed.
Let’s talk about a common fear for On. One of the great joys of living in Las Vegas is picking out the pebbles that get suck in the tread of your shoes after a run. Sometimes you feel the pebbles scratching along as you run, and you have to do a little slide kick thing to get the pebble to come out. When I turned my pair of Cloudflow’s over and saw the design I thought, “well, what I have here is a certified pebble collector.” It looked like I would be bringing home rocks from all around the neighborhood. I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive about that. I’ll get more on what happened when I talk about the run test. This section is about fit, and I haven’t talked about that once!
So, how does the Cloudflow fit? As discussed in previous reviews, I have phat feet. Not fat feet, phat feet. They are freaking awesome so they are fat – ph. But usually when I put on a new pair of shoes I have to loosen the laces up quite a bit. This wasn’t the case with the Cloudflow, which was a pleasant surprise. My phat foot slid right in and it felt great.
The next thing I noticed about the Clowdflow is the laces. They are much thinner than the traditional lace and seem to extend further down the foot. The laces didn’t come undone during the run, and that’s a good thing. I was worried about it, but I haven’t had an untied shoe once in the Cloudflow.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to stand up in the Cloudflow and feel those little pillows under my feet. I had visions in my head of bouncing around like I had flubber on my shoes. If you don’t know what flubber is, then shame on you. Google it. Anyway, I thought I’d bounce around free and with minimal effort, letting the magic pillows on my feet do all the work. I’ll admit I even looked up and wondered if our 9 foot ceilings could handle the bounce I was about to get out of these things.
Then I stood up.
Sorry to disappoint folks, but I didn’t immediately feel anything different, and I didn’t bounce through to the 2nd story of my house. I resisted the urge to throw the shoes away right then and there and decided that I had a dedicated audience who wanted to know about the Cloudflow. I should have known the bounce wouldn’t have happened because I hadn’t read any news about people bouncing around on their runs. Still, a guy has his expectations…
I had lots of toe room, which is good. I can do all sorts of neat things with my toes. Any dad can, actually. I mean, when my twins were little I could have a baby in each arm and still cook dinner, set the table, and wash the dishes using only my feet and toes. I’m pretty amazing. So I always do a little wiggle test to make sure my toes aren’t getting too close to each other, and the Cloudflow passed with flying colors.
The Cloudflow is neutral, but I felt some arch support. Those things aren’t exclusive, as a neutral vs support has more to do with how your foot lands vs arch support, but for a flat-footed dude like me, the arch support was welcome.
On my way out the door to the run I noticed the shoes felt a little loose. I didn’t think to much of it, but then I went on the run.
I’ve had the Cloudflow out on several runs now, and I can say that I approve. But like I used to say when I played Blackjack, you’ve got to get through the bad to get to the good. So first a tiny bit of bad (I promise it ends with good). The shoes were very loose, almost the point where my heels were sliding out. On that first run I stopped a couple of times and tightened the laces. I wondered if I had bought the shoes a size too big. I checked my big toe like my mom used to when I was a kid and I was satisfied that I hadn’t.
Then I had a brilliant idea. When I buy a pair of shoes the laces always seem to end one eyelet early. I looked at the Cloudflow and noticed that sure enough, there was an extra eyelet there that wasn’t being used. I stopped under a streetlight at about 4:50am and laced through the extra eyelet (is that even a word?) to see how it would feel. Sure enough, I had no more slippage and the shoes felt perfect. In fact, I’d wager to say that they were the most natural feeling shoes I’ve ever had on at that point.
At that point I had to start over. You see, the smile test is an important test and after stopping a couple of times and checking the laces I had to go back to see if I could get lost in the run and smile, not worrying about my shoes. I’m happy to report that I was. The Cloudflow felt great and ran light. I didn’t feel like I had ankle weights on, and while I still wasn’t bouncing around like the Absent-Minded Professor (seriously people, Google it), I felt good.
Now, back to the pebble collection that you’re sure I accumulated by running in the Cloudflow. Guess what? I didn’t bring a single pebble or rock back on that first run. Nor did I on the 2nd, and I purposefully ran next to the desert on that one. I did collect a pebble on my third run, but I’d say for Vegas that’s pretty par for the course in any shoe, and I’ve found that the Cloudflow doesn’t gather any more rocks than any of my other shoes. So all of you Cloud doubters need to apologize to your friends that wear Clouds immediately and rekindle that friendship! Seriously, I was just as surprised as the doubters, but it is a pleasant sort of surprise.
After run feel
Nothing bad happened to my feet or legs after wearing the Cloudflow. I’m happy to report that as of the time of this shoe review, my run streak has reached 530 days in a row. I’ve been lucky and blessed to stay injury free and healthy during this time. The Cloudflow felt great during the runs and I didn’t have any hot spots (other than the temperature rising when I enter a room, because I’m so hot, but that has nothing to do with the shoes) or other issues to report.
The Cloudflow passes the after run feel.
I don’t do fancy star systems or thumbs up or thumbs down. All I do is compare the shoe to a song and let you decide the rest. If the Cloudflow were a song, it would be “You Might Think” by The Cars. I almost said it would be the Weezer remake of the song, but I had to go with the original. “You might think I’m crazy,” but I really enjoyed wearing the Cloudflow. They compare favorably to the Saucony Kinvara or Freedom, two great lightweight neutral performance shoes. The Cloudflow has earned a place in my shoe/race rotation. I just hope the Cloudflow 2 (if/when it comes out) adds a little flubber to those pillows!
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