S-LAB Sense 4 Ultra SG

Posted on February 08, 2016 by Cyrus Hartsough | 0 comments

I went for it, and I'm so glad I did!  These shoes did not let me down.  I don't want to put the expectations too high, but the S-Lab was far superior to any other trail shoe I have had.

I put them on this morning, and the first thing you notice is the fit.  The upper hugs your foot perfectly, and the quick lace makes it so easy to feel snug right away.  It is a bit of a narrower fit, but in a comfortable way (I don't have an extremely narrow foot).  The only thing I noticed is that my left heel (smaller foot) began to slip a couple kms in.  I just tightened it up more than the first time, and didn't have the issue again.  So I wouldn't be shy to go snug from the start.  It feels a bit tight, but it is not constricting and you don't realize it is tight shortly after.

The other thing you don't realize, is that you are even wearing a shoe.  Yes they are snug, but so light that you can have a quick cadence and feel almost like you're floating.  Yet you still have amazing grip.  Going up the hill was great, of course.  Light and aggressive on the toes.  Descending was also a treat, though, with confidence in cornering after gaining trust in the shoe. The Sense SG is good option for those who don't love the fit of Speedcross or the extra high heel feeling in the 11mm drop, but want the aggressive outsole.  The 4-6mm drop on these make it feel like a more natural run, closer to the ground.It is definitely made for the trail though.  The brief road time was not too great, of course.  Felt a bit like a cleat.

Only con - I don't want to wear any other trail shoe now.

Overall, a screaming buy.  Fast, light, great fit, and looks cool too!  Racing red!  Now I am looking forward to hitting the trails even more!

Written By Michael Serani

Posted in News, Reviews

Ground Rules

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Greg Lehmann | 0 comments

With our focus on this new habit gaining traction and the ultimately "sticking" of our new habit, this post will deal with some general rules/tips/suggestions to gently nudge you toward success.  There are some obvious pitfalls as we embark on this journey.  The easiest thing to do at every turn is non-action.  Let's work together to flip that on its head.  Fall in love with running and your week will seem incomplete and utterly unbearable if there are an deficit of kilometers in your training log.
Tell your mom....tell your best friend....tell your therapist.  Start talking about your running aspirations.  Human nature as it happens to be will do its best not to make you a liar.  Keep your dirty little running secret to yourself, and its much easier to convince yourself it isn't the best day for a run.
The Best Laid Plans
Your running needs to be included in your schedule for it to succeed.  Don't "hope" to have time to fit in your run.  Guess what?  It won't happen.  If your day appears to have "no time" to workout....well....make time....prioritize....get up earlier.....make it happen!
Gear Goodness
It is not just about looking good, but there is gear for all conditions which works to eliminate the elements from your laundry list of excuses.  If I go into any more detail, you might see this as a well placed ad for Play....suffice to say we have the goods to get you out there!  Weather be damned.
You can go as high tech as GPS enabled watches linked to apps like Garmin Connect or Strava, to a well constructed spreadsheet, to scratching lines in a concrete wall like a common inmate.  Whatever you opt for, the trick is to do it.  You would be amazed at the "reward" you feel when making your daily workout entry.  Do what works for you.  Track routes, distances, times, how you felt, what you wore, how many potholes you jumped over.
Play in Nature
Nothing derails a well intentioned workout plan than boredom.  And nothing leads to boredom quicker than just working-out inside.  Yes weather can sometimes drive us inside, and that's fine once in a while.  But conquering the elements adds yet another layer to your neighbourhood mythology.  Before you know it you can smugly be known as "that runner" whom seems impervious to mother nature's worst.
Buddy Up
Much like the accountability point, finding a running friend can quickly take you from "maybe I should run today" to "no way am I going to let Jimmy down".  Along with the accountability aspect, a good running friend comes with the benefits of camaraderie, performance gains, and someone to laugh at your mid-run flatulence.
Become Run-Rut Free
Cross train.  Sprinkle other workout options into your routine.  This let's you schedule well needed running-free days, and still fills your "need to sweat" checkbox to complete your day.  Bike, yoga, weights, swim.....figure out what works for you.  The obvious benefit of a well constructed cross-train component will be injury prevention due to the working of complementary muscles, and resting of your run-specific muscles and joints.
Variety Is the Spice....
Tough to get bored of something the routinely changes.  As much fun as your normal 10km effort might be....take a different route, hit the trails, climb some hills, dabble in the world of fartleks.
Pat yourself on the Back
We're human, we like being rewarded for a job well done.  This journey is no different.  Make sure your detailed plan includes some well defined and achievable rewards.  Only imagination will limit you in this department.  I'd love to hear what some of you come up with!
Accept Stumbles and Move Forward
For new runners, or runners getting back into the game, there are going to be setbacks......guaranteed.  You might get hurt, you might be slower than you hoped, real-life might get in the way.  it happens, and always will.  Accept it and move on.  Don't dwell on what happened and what you "cannot do"....rather focus on learning from the downturn, refocus your goals, and aim on what you are "going to do now".
I want to re-iterate that any feedback is eagerly anticipated (might even find out I have a reader or two), and that we are starting the recruitment for the inaugural Learn to Play running group.  Fire off an email to with feedback or interest in joining our running group.

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Setting the table.....

Posted on January 10, 2016 by Greg Lehmann | 0 comments

Building on the thoughts of the first article in this series, let’s focus on that successful plan, and the implementation of it.  In an attempt to remain concise, my direct audience will be those that are quite new to running, or returning from a long hiatus.  Many of the suggestions will be applicable to all levels of runners, but might just need some tweaking (I hate that word…can’t help but think of my aging hamstrings when I type it).

Anyway….that goal.  It is necessary to set.  And has to be done with success in mind.  It should be specific, relatively short term, with some sort of measurable progress and finish line. 

The Good

  • Running my first 5km race
  • Running 4 days per week for three months
  • Getting one hour of exercise 6 days every week for four months

 The Bad

  • Run three ultra-marathons
  • Get faster
  • Lose weight

The Ugly

  • Get fit
  • Start working out

The “good” ones are very specific, easy to measure and track, achievable, and have a very specific endpoint.  Of course we will want to immediately set another goal once this first goal is achieved, but that bridge will be contemplated later.

  • After setting that goal, list the specific steps you will need to implement or accomplish, state how you will know that milestone has been reached, and set a target date for each step.
  • Who or what can you use as a resource?
  • Is there an organization that provides coaching that would be of use to you?
  • Would it help you to have rewards or reminders along the way?
  • It is often helpful to make your goal “public”
  • Do you need to plan "breaks" along the way to avoid burnout or stagnation?
  • What is your process going to be if you find yourself getting distracted by something else, or "falling off the wagon" completely for a bit of time? Or what if success takes longer than previously expected?
  • How will you get yourself back on track? Or stay motivated?
I’ll stop there….it does seem to be a lot of rules for a “simple” plan, but let’s face it.  Life is busy….obstacle are numerous…..and humans are weak.  I realize some of this will be overkill for some personality types.  Take all of this with a tablet of salt, and make it work with you.  Next week will be an actual goal setting project.  This is where I will need our help!

I would LOVE to have some of my you join me on this journey.  Play is starting a “Re-Learn How to Play” running group starting very soon.  If you are interested in participating please email me at  The details are slowly coming together, but will involve a very motivated and encouraging running coach, information sessions, and of course some awesome Play gear. 

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Happy New You!!

Posted on January 04, 2016 by Greg Lehmann | 1 comment

Now that we've crossed over from the season of indulgence to the season of regretting said indulgence it is time to be inundated with articles and commercials urging you to change your life....or more specifically your shape.  It is a noble thought, but the "New Year's Get Fit" message has become a little watered down over the years.  Everyone says it....few do anything about it - or at least long term

I am not about to claim to have some sort of magic advice on how to achieve that elusive target.  The primary failure of achieving any goal is not having a clear enough goal, or clear enough steps on how to achieve the goal.  The "getting fit" goal is no different.   What we need to do differently is focus on a non-moving, concrete target.  Over the next few weeks, I am going to try to inspire a different way of helping you "get fit".

The focus of Play, is well....Playing.  We want everyone to get out and have fun in the playground that we call home.  The over-scheduled world we all live in has a nasty way of making sure that everything else takes priority over "playing".  This pattern of thought and behaviour has to change, which is the message I am hoping to convey.  Stay tuned for regular updates, ideas, and hopefully inspiration for all of us to get out and play....resulting in the natural achievement of that elusive "get fit" resolution


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The North Face....The Thermoball...The Future

Posted on November 16, 2015 by Greg Lehmann | 0 comments

Not one to be caught up in the fun and camaraderie of hyperbole, I can't help but start spreading the word of The North Face's newest insulation marvel.  It is Thermoball, and it is fantasti.  Unlike traditional jacket insulation, which has typically consisted of continuous filament structures - fancy words for warm, but bulky, Thermoball consists of small round PrimaLoft synthetic clusters.  They were attempting to take a page from the classic "down"'s playbook.  Those balls serve to trap heat within small air pockets - you wear it, you generate heat, that heat is not lost but rather stays close to your body thereby keeping you toasty warm in your outdoor pursuits.

It is so lightweight, that there has been more than one customer thinking I'd suffered a blow to the head when I try to tell them that it is actually quite warm (think 600 fill down for you goose fans out there).  It is so lightweight and non-bulky that it can actually be packed into its own pocket...a wonderful feature for travelling, when we are mortgaging our houses to bring an extra bag on our Alaskan cruise.

Thermoball doesn't stop there.  One of the major downfalls of traditional down is that when wet, well, it stops being warm and becomes more of a liability.  Not so with Thermoball.  It laughs in the face of water, maintaining its warmth generating capabilities.  I was reading a blog post of a gear tester who actually submerged his jacket in water (which actually proved difficult to do) put the jacket back on in -5 weather and instantly felt the jacket start generating heat again.  He continued his hike and although the jacket had a layer of ice forming on the outside of it, he felt none of that cold seep in.  I can think of one or two situations where that characteristic might come in handy.

Come see these garments for yourself.  At Play, we've stocked jackets, vests, hoodies, and the uber-hipster shacket all of which boasts these little balls of warmth in some pretty glorious colours!


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Layers...a beautifully necessary concept

Posted on October 23, 2015 by Greg Lehmann | 0 comments

As the calendar progresses past Halloween, the morning are getting a bit chillier leading to the need to dress a bit warmer for our outdoor pursuits.  The question of dressing warm, but not too warm comes up in the store quite often.  Fortunately we live in the Okanagan so, gearing up for a 30 below run is not something we normally need to contemplate.  The ultimate goal of gearing up for outdoor exercise should be being warm, but not too warm.... and dry is nice too.  If you step outside for your workout, and you are immediately chilly... that's OK - that should be the coldest you'll be for the duration of your excursion.  The body has this bizarre adaptive warming technique which will make that initial chilliness a distant memory.

I moved from Winnipeg a few years ago, and missed very few runs during the winter, and although not an "expert" I do have some experience behind these ramblings.

LAYERS - that's the secret!!  For pretty much any activity you are about to enjoy, if you build your outfit in layers, success is almost certainly assured.  Each of those layers can be done well or poorly.... let's see if I can clear up some confusion here.

Base Layer

At the very least, having something which fits close to the skin is a bare necessity.  This can serve to provide some basic warmth, but more importantly should function to move moisture from your body and back to the great outdoors.  The longer you can stay dry the better, especially if the activity you are doing involves some downtime where you aren't intensely moving around.  Rule number one will be to leave your cotton garments in the drawer next to the PJs.  Cotton will get wet quickly and will stay wet.  It will likely kill you.  I wish I were joking, but I would never joke about things like dying.

At the very least, a synthetic base layer which provides at least a modicum of moisture management is definitely a must.  It will work to keep you drier longer, making sure that if you do stop moving, you won't immediately get cold.

BEST would involve a merino wool based layer.  We here at Play are absolutely NUTS about Icebreaker and Smartwool base layers.  The moisture management properties of merino wool are second to none.  These base layers actual begin moving moisture from the skin and regulating temperatures before you actually start sweating, thereby extending the time you remain dry.  In addition to this, merino wool is naturally anti-microbial..... It doesn't stink as bacteria just cannot find a home on the merino fibres.  If you saw the amazing creatures this fabric comes from, you would also conclude it is pretty amazing.  The wool comes from merino sheep which call New Zealand home.  Their wool has to keep them alive in a pretty significant range of temperatures (30 below to 30 above).


This layer is all about warmth.  A mid-layer all depends on what you are doing and how cold it is going to be.  It can range from a light layer to a much more significant thicker fleece-weight garment.  Going for a run during the day when it is 3 degrees, might not require a mid-layer at all depending on one's tolerance for the cold.  As temperatures plunge though, a cozy mid-layer could take a workout from fine to sublime.  This where you have to be careful not to over do it though. If you walk out the house and your reaction, is..."hmmmm... nice warm morning today".... turn around.... you've dressed to warmly.

Similar rules apply to the mid-layer as the base-layers.  NO COTTON.  Synthetics good.  Natural fibres such as wool or down, better and best.  Many of the clothing lines we carry at Play go out of their way to ensure that if they are using natural fibres (wool or down) that they have done so with the animals best interests in mind.  There are humane ways to harvest these insulators, and we encourage consumers to ensure the products they purchase have taken this into consideration. Many of the garments we sell have passed stringent certification standards which ensure this is the case.


Again, this is very activity specific.  This is the protection layer.  Is it going to be wet?  Is it going to be windy?  Grab a layer that is going to protect you from the elements.  Just make sure that the layer you grab here will stand up to the elements.  If it is going to be REALLY wet, make sure you bring something water PROOF rather than just water RESISTANT.  You might not be aware of the differences, but trust me, PROOF (although more expensive), means DRY in even the harshest of conditions. Waterproof/resistant garments all have rating systems - come into Play...we'll help you make sense of these.

If precipitation is not expected, you would be surprised at the benefits of a wind layer. Garments that are rated as having a wind blocking property can be really light, but in blocking the wind it can provide an incredible amount of extra warmth without any appreciable bulk.


Again, this is personal preference, and condition-based.  My hands get cold... therefore, I wear mittens - and there is a difference if you choose gloves.  I love the coziness of a toque, so a merino wool winter cap joins me on every bike ride or run once the calendar passes October. This may be repetitive, but avoid cotton here as well. It's not that I hate cotton, I just don't invite it on my runs.  Just like I enjoy the company of my great-uncle Pete... but his penchant for gin and inactivity would make him a horrible running partner.  

That's your intro to layers... there are many options, come into Play and check out how we can make your next outdoor adventure the best and most comfortable you've ever experienced.




Posted in News

Why We Run

Posted on October 02, 2015 by Greg Lehmann | 0 comments

Ahhh, the age old question (I suppose)...why do us runners do what we do?  The numerous alien cultures that are no doubt studying us from afar must be baffled by the myriad of habits the population of earth routinely participate in (lawn waterers I'm looking at you....but that's for another post).  One such group would be runners.  What exactly are we trying to accomplish....what exactly are we running from or towards....what the what?

There is no easy answer, unless of course you are one of the increasing members of this planet that have been bitten by the running bug - then all that is required is a knowing nod as we apply vaseline on our nipples so they don't bleed during our long run.

The answers to this question are plentiful.  For as many running shoe styles that exist, there are just as many reasons why we put one Saucony clad foot in front of the other on a daily basis.  For health, for joy, to forget, to remember, for habit, to be a better mom/dad/brother/aunt/etc.....the list is endless.  If you think of it, it has to be.  

Runners, as with any "cultish" behaviour, can be seen as odd.  Pre-dawn runs, treadmill sessions, running through obvious injuries, exquisitely designed training plans, running past the point of our bodies telling us to stop, watches that tell us how far/fast/strong we've performed that day, hiring people to make us faster, discussing the minutiae of heel drops, sock thickness, lacing techniques, the virtues of gel/foam/air cushioning, the evils of gel/foam/air cushioning, 

Then there is the community that pops up across the world every weekend as events from turkey trots, 5k's, milers, and half/full/ultra marathons are commonplace in every city.  Participating in those events is truly something special, and brings runners together in what can be almost described as a religious experience for some.  Watch the finish line at any race and tell me that this stuff isn't important to people.  In a world where we are trying to make sense of a myriad of ugly behaviours and events, the joy of watching someone cross the finish line in their first 42km effort is something to behold.  

That might be the root of it.  We've made life serious business.  After a certain age, society tells us that play time is over and we have to get on with saving money for a house, dentist bills, university, death.  Deep within all of us there HAS to exist a child just wanting to re-emerge, to experience joy, to run barefoot in a dewy grass field.  Running is a gift we give ourself, to that inner child.  It is a reward in a world of negative reinforcement.

Sprinkled throughout these blog posts, I will endeavour to explain "us".  Perhaps we don't want to be understood, as there is no great way to answer the question of "WHY?"  We just do, and when we don't, we cease to be.  Come into Play any day of the'll find your community there waiting with open arms.


Posted in News

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