One thing I’ve noticed about shoes is that there is a symbiotic relationship between the runner and the shoe, and one can’t really talk about shoes in a vacuum. Clearly, everyone is built differently, with a variety of body types, gaits, foot size and shape and running dynamics. So really, I can only share my experiences in relation to my own running. Hopefully, that will give you some perspective and reference point for my specific comments on each shoe and allow you to apply the right filter in relation to your own needs. This post has those gory personal details.
I’m 5’7″, 165 lbs (at this time), which puts me a bit on the high BMI side of things. I have a relatively long torso to leg length ratio, which is to say, I have short legs for my height. My inseam is 29″. I’m not a fast runner by any stretch – I’m 50 minutes for the 10k and 1:51 on the half-marathon. Using the Firstbeat formulas, my Garmin says I have a VO2 max of 48 mL/kg/min, which looks to be pretty good for someone of my age (42).
Perhaps unusually for someone of my ability, I’m primarily a forefoot striker with very neutral gait mechanics. My turnover is high – I maintain a cadence over 180 steps per minute without thinking about it, and will hit 200 spm during tempo and speedwork. I tend to wear shoes right under the metatarsals and don’t do anything weird like scrub off the front lateral edge. I hit the ground fairly hard and fellow runners definitely hear me coming. Due to my foot strike I do find that I’m sensitive to the amount of forefoot cushioning on a shoe and the balls of my feet can get calloused and sore with the wrong combination of mileage and lack of cushion. My landing will migrate backwards to midfoot and slight heel strike as the mileage increases. I find I can control how my foot lands fairly easily with ankle extension and dorsiflexion, although my forefoot strike “capacity” is limited by available calf strength and any achilles tendonitis.
My feet are 255mm in length, which means I fit into a 265mm shoe. This ends up being a size US 8.5 or 9.0 in most brands and models. I have a D-width right foot and E-width left foot, so I’m usually ok in the regular width (D), although I’m sensitive to narrow toeboxes and tend to wear thin socks as a result. I have Morton’s toe, which is a condition where the second toe is longer than the big toe. It doesn’t affect shoe fit or toe-off, as far as I’ve noticed. I have a high arch and tend not to notice different arch heights in shoes. I also have a high instep, so I’m sensitive to tight uppers and will often use a modified lacing pattern to relive pressure in the second-to-last eyelet.
In my running career, I’ve run for years in conventional stability shoes and then neutral shoes. I’m currently in 4mm offset shoes with some cushioning. The shoes in my current rotation are Brooks PureConnect (speed, tempo, races 5-10k), Saucony Kinvara 3 (tempo, steady runs and races 10k-half) and Saucony Cortana 2 (high mileage). I have grown accustomed to 4mm offset shoes and like that consistency in my rotation.
I look for shoes that have decent forefoot cushion and roomy toeboxes. I prefer flexible soles with 4mm offset. I tend not to have any arch or heel slippage issues in most shoes I try.
This should give some perspective on my comments about the shoes I test.