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Saturday, March 18, 2017

I tried all the shoes

This winter, in a quest to find a good backup shoe to my Kinvaras, I bought enough pairs to shod the Roman army and ended up returning most of them.

1. New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo

Type: Cushioned stability
Rating:NO, NO, NO, NO, NO
Well, this is NOT THE SHOE FOR ME.
In my endless search for shoes that fit well, I'd hit on the Fresh Foam Zante, which felt great on but didn't provide quite enough support. The Vongo was surely a similar fit, being in the same line, and the next-level of support up, so I bought it. Less than half a mile into my run, my calves were so painful I had to walk home. The shoe has too little flexibility for me. They went back.

2. New Balance Vazee Rush

Type: I could never figure out what NB was marketing this now-discontinued shoe as.
Rating: NO, NO, NO
There is no cushion in this shoe at all. None. It's kind of stiff and cardboard-like, and flat as a pancake. Back they went.

3. Nike LunarGlide

Type: Cushioned, light stability
Rating: I'll never know
I tried to order these from Jack Rabbit. Remind me: never again. They never sent the shoe, although they charged me; I had to contact them ten days after my order and they were like, "Oh, yeah. I guess we ran out of that shoe. We'll reverse the charge." I had to email again to have them actually reverse it, though!

4. Altra Instinct 3.5

Type: Moderate cushioning
Rating: Meh
I got these at the expo for the RnR marathon. It was a risky purchase: they were out-of-the-box and non-returnable, but at $59, a bargain. But far be it from me to take just "a bargain". I wanted a BARGAIN, capital letters, almost free, so I talked them down to $49 (no one wants to leave an expo with unsold merchandise. If I buy at expos, I buy on the last day, and I always bargain). I don't hate the shoe. It's a heavier shoe than I like, but for easy runs, that's ok. There are two problems with the Instinct: one, I developed top-of-foot-pain while wearing them. Perhaps they weren't the cause - I had other potential causes that week - but that makes me nervous. Two, I just don't love the shoe. I find myself skipping over them and grabbing other shoes. I'm not sure of their fate just yet. I may keep them specifically for rainy and muddy runs, because they're really good for slippery surfaces. Or I may sell them on Ebay, since I only got a few miles on them.

5. Nike Free RN Distance

Type: Cushioned - soft, flexible
So, who am I? I, who swore off Nike shoes after a pricey pair didn't last at all? In love with a Nike shoe? I just can't help myself! The squishy luxury is just too wonderful to resist! Now, I think a lot of runners would dislike the thick, soft soles on these shoes, but I love cushion. The first time I wore these I slept through my morning run and decided to do a quick 3-miler in the afternoon. But the shoes felt so good that I ran almost nine. That never happens to me. I can't remember ever extending my run because I felt great!

My go-to shoe is still the Saucony Kinvara, and probably always will be, but I think having a solid back-up shoe is important. It extends the life of both pairs of shoes, since the foam has time to bounce back before the next use, and allows you to use different muscles a little bit. Despite some fit issues with the Nike Free RN Distance (I went up half  a size for greater width, but they're still a little narrow and yes, a little long now), I am very happy with my new shoes, and hope they become a standby!

What's your primary, everyday shoe? Do you wear a backup pair? Are you loyal to one brand, or do you shop around?


  1. It's still Kinvaras (or Brooks Launch) for me for long, slow runs & marathons, but more & more I'm finding that for shorter or faster runs, I prefer a little less weight & less cushion. My current favorites are Saucony Fastwitch, New Balance 1400, & Mizuno Ekiden.

  2. You run a lot so I can imagine you go through tons of shoes! I feel like the altras would be good for lifting (especially squats) but can't imagine running in them. I tried some on at a group run once, just not for me. I have also tried on those New Balance Vazee shoes at a group run, not for me.

    I like the Fresh Foam Zante for speedwork and races and the Brooks Launch for easy days and long runs. If you haven't tried the Launch you might want to look into those. Or, just buy a few pairs of Kinvara's and rotate them, don't buy the same colors though!

    1. I haven't tried the Launch, but many people love that shoe!

  3. I will only run in Mizuno Wave Riders. I've tried other shoes but nothing compares to them. They work so well for my super high arches!

    1. I have high arches, too! Maybe I should give them a try!

    2. I haven't had Mizuno Wave Riders in a few years but am looking at purchasing a new pair when I start training again post-injury. I'm occasionally wearing an old pair of 18's to the gym and for general walking around. I really loved some of the old versions.

      The Mizuno Wave Riders tend to be a pretty firm shoe, so it'll feel different than the Saucony Kinvara, but I have heard that the latest one (version 20) is the softest yet. You might like it.

  4. Ah, it's too bad you never got your Nike Lunarglides. They are my favorite! I wear them for my long runs and some easy runs. For speedwork I like the older models of the Mizuno Sayonara.

  5. I like the New Balance Zante... but for half marathon distance or shorter. I wore them for CIM and they are just not cushy enough! I am in the market for a "longer distance road" shoe... soon. I have a few more pairs of Newtons to wear out and then I'm moving on!