For whatever reason the last 12 months or so I have become a running shoe junky – or perhaps just very picky. I don’t know why, but I have. I thought I would post my impressions on the shoes I’ve tried over the last year.
New Balance 904 – I’ve run in every NB 900 shoe since the 900. The 904 was definitely my favorite: firm, responsive, easy to get on, durable. I really enjoyed the blend of firm cushioning the shoes provided, but the forefoot was thin enough that I still had a nice feel for the ground. My favorite shoe of the NB 90X series. Rating: A
New Balance 905 – Same as the NB 904, but with a slightly different tongue that made the shoe difficult to get on in transition. New balance also made a slight change to the placement of the laces holes that made it difficult for me to dial in my lace tightness. Rating: A-
Zoot Ultra Tempo 3.0 – On a whim I decided to get a pair of Zoot shoes a try. Since I prefer to run sock-less, and have always had issues with moisture build up on long runs – I figured these were worth a try. Compared to the NB 90Xs – these felt a little like boats, but overall very similar feel of the shoe. My biggest complaint was the availability (or lack there off) and the lacing system. I really had a tough time getting them cinched tight enough. Rating: B
Saucony Kinvara – A friend (who works for Newton) – convinced me I should come to the running store he works at to give a pair of newtons a try. I ended up walking out with a pair of Kinvaras. Initially, I was a big fan – so much so that I immediately bought two more pairs to have a 3 pair rotation. After a few weeks though I began to get really annoyed with the squishiness of the shoe. They didn’t have nearly the responsiveness that the NB 904/905 of the Zoot had. I had major problems getting the lacing right – too loose or too tight – I just couldn’t find the right “setting”. Rating: B
Saucony A4 – Despite the things I didn’t like about the kinvara – I was really drawn to their weight, and the flat insole (4mm drop). I decided to give the A4s a try. Everything I read seemed to indicate that they were much more responsive then the A4s, light, and had a flat insole. I’ve only done a handful of runs in them, but I really enjoy them so far. I have yet to run longer then an hour in them, but I will shortly. On the plus side – it was very very simple to get the lacing dialed in. Rating: A
New Balance 1190 – I was disappointed that New Balance dumped the 900 series – which really lead me on this journey of new shoe testing. After growing annoyed with the Kinvara – I decided I’d pick up a pair of 1190s and give them a shot. Like the A4s, I only have a handful of runs in them (mostly long runs) – and to this point I have to say I’m pretty disappointed with the changes. New Balance lowered the insole a few mm’s, ,but kept the drop consistent with it’s predecessor. Compared to the A4, the 1190 is much softer to run in, and the heel is HUGE (compared to the Kinvara/A4). My biggest complaint is the lacing (are you noticing a theme). I’ve had a really difficult time getting the lacing right so the shoe feels like it fits. I also don’t like th heel cup of the shoe. Despite a summer of barefoot running and reinforcing my callouses, my first barefoot run in this shoe results in a huge blister on my heel. Yuck. Moisture is a big problem as well – this shoe is like a sponge. A definite step backwards from the 905, and a huge step backwards from the 904. Rating: C
I’m going to run the A4s out and probably pick up another pair. I may also give something ike the Asics Piranha or Addias Rocket a try – we’ll see. I’m definitely digging the low heel drop, but I continue to be plagued by the lacing and moisture problems. We shall see.