I spoke briefly of my foray into barefoot running back in March. Actually, it was one of my most popular posts. Clearly the somewhat controversial topic motivates people to comment. In any case, I haven’t really given up on the minimalist concept. I’ve done all of my barefoot runs on the beach. I live about 20 minutes from the beach and though some people would kill for that kind of proximity, it’s just not practical for me to waste 40 minutes round trip in commuting to the place I’m going to run on a regular basis.
All of my usual “out the front door” running routes are primarily pavement. As a sort of compromise, I’ve been training a lot in my racing shoes. Those of you who have my official Topps trading card (I jest) will know that I raced in the Saucony Grid Fastwitch 3 last year and have now upgraded to the Saucony Grid Fastwitch 4. The 3 is a delightful shade of orange, but the 4 is bright yellow with black tiger stripes. Richie was quite fond of them when I debuted them at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and kept referring to me as “Mr. Saucony” and making tiger claw motions pre-race.
As a result of my great experiences with my Saucony racing shoes, I had been toying with the idea of phasing my 5 pairs of Adidas Supernova Sequence training shoes out with something by Saucony. I was also looking for something lighter and thinner at the bottom. I really like the way my racing shoes allow me to feel the road while still feeling soft.
Shortly after the Race for the Cure, I received an out of the blue email from the Saucony PR people with a press release about the ProGrid Kinvara, which recently won the “Gear of the Year” award from outside magazine. Delighted, to hear about it, I asked them to send me a pair and it arrived a week later:
At first look, they’re pretty sleek. They sit obviously lower to the ground than the traditional training shoe. I wanted the bright orange, but it wasn’t available. The black and red is still pretty cool, though. It is a training shoe after all. I should really show restraint and save the bright colors for race day.
The first thing I noticed when I slid the shoes on is the roominess of the toe box. This is very important to me. In my many miles of running, I’ve never experienced black or lost toenails and I’d really like to keep it that way. Freedom for my toes is a must.
I took the shoes out for an easy 6 mile spin. I felt a little floppy for the first mile or so. I think that was because this is my first pair of neutral cushioned shoes and I’m used to a little more rigid support. After about a quarter mile or so, I got into a good rhythm. My right foot felt great, but my left ankle had an itchy, bordering on painful feeling. It kept getting worse so I figured maybe I had laced the left shoe a little too tight. I stopped after about a mile to retie the laces and that’s when I noticed a giant mosquito bite on the outside of my left ankle. I can’t really fault the shoe for that.
After a few miles, even the mosquito bite stopped bothering me and I floated along rather easily. In the end, it was a pretty comfortable 6 miles. The second run was a scheduled 4 miler with Meredith, Scott and Britt. After about a quarter mile, Meredith and Scott had to pee so they picked up the pace. We quickly dropped Britt and sped through the first mile and half to the bathroom at about 8 min/mile pace. After the bathroom break, we slowed the pace down a bit, but the initial warm-up had my adrenaline pumping and I was chomping at the bit to let loose. The shoes felt great. My leg turnover was rapid and everything felt pretty effortless. In the last mile, I thought about speeding ahead, but held back. Finally, I was so giddy that I couldn’t help but speed up. Scott stayed with me and we averaged 6:45 min/mile pace over the last half mile. I finished wanting to run another two miles.
I’m especially impressed with the shoes’ traction. I accelerated through some sharp corners and the shoes held the ground firmly. It was like they were sticky in the corners and springy the rest of the time. I’m really excited to be trying these out, but I’m also a little wary as to how they’ll affect my body over the long term. We shall see, but so far so good!
***Disclaimer: The shoes were complimentary, but the opinions are solely mine. I’m not saying they’re the perfect shoe for everyone, but I sure do like them. If I didn’t, I’d tell you that.***