Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Look at me, blogging multiple days in a row. First things first, I got my new shoes today. They're Saucony Kinvara 2s. When I walked into the store a few weeks ago and asked about my minimalist versus traditional shoe dilemma, I got some good advice. Ultimately, the guy recommended a traditional trainer but he also showed me a shoe that was more neutral. I took this into account and did some deliberating. While the idea of a neutral shoe was attractive, he mentioned that the sole on the neutral shoe was much less stiff and therefore less durable. A pair of those would have lasted me approximately 200 miles whereas the traditional shoe he showed me would have lasted closer to 350.

When I walked into the store at lunch on Friday, I fully expected to just try on the traditional ones, find my size, buy them and be on my merry way. But once I walked in and took a second look, I just thought they seemed really heavy. At the same time, I was still cognizant of the fact that the other shoes were significantly flimsier. So I browsed a little bit. After awhile, I saw one that caught my eye and I picked it up, intrigued that the top part of the shoe was very sheer. The sole seemed sturdy, but overall, the shoe was very light. I then pulled out my handy iPhone and googled the shoe to find some reviews. They were all very positive, and I learned that the shoe has a lower heel to toe ratio in terms of thickness. I like this because I think it encourages mid-foot striking.

Whether or not mid-foot striking is good or bad is a discussion of science that I'm unprepared to have. But I maintain that I've benefited from a change in my running form and/or stride. As a subdiscussion, let's talk about minimalist running shoes. There are lots of arguments for and against them and I think both camps make good points. In my experience, I've found that Vibrams are great for distances 5 miles or shorter. In my first four mile race after running in them for a few months, I maintained an 8:07 minute/mile pace. That's a full 1:10 minute/mile improvement over my previous best pace. This speaks well to their performance, but I won't deny that they have downsides. When I race in them, I tend to get very large blisters at the sides of my feet. Additionally, the tops of my feet begin to hurt occasionally, at which point I have to wear regular shoes for a week or so to let them recover. In fact, my friend Meghan recently suffered a stress fracture because she did too much running in her Vibrams (correct me if I'm wrong!). What's the bottom line here? While I don't intend to make Vibrams an integral part of my racing strategy, I do believe they've changed my stride and form for the better and I still plan to do the occasional short run in them.

So back to the original discussion. I like that I'm now more of a mid-foot striker than I was before and I wanted to maintain at least some of that even once I switched to regular running shoes. The Saucony Kinvara 2 model appeared to be a good candidate. As a sidenote, they're less than 2 ounces heavier than Vibrams (6.7 versus 4.8 ounces).

This was further proven today, when I went for my first run in them. I ran 4 miles in 31:38, a pace of 7:54 minutes per mile and the first time that I've recorded a pace faster than 8 min/mile. They felt amazing. It was like running on clouds. Alright, that's a little dramatic, but you get the idea. They were exactly what I was hoping for. This is what they look like:

Stay tuned for a summary of my first Ironman training session with Jared!


  1. The stress fracture is a result of the Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove. But same basic idea. Minimalist = bad. (for me, and for more than a few miles. in my opinion.)

  2. 200 miles? 350 miles? I've been running in my shoes for 778 miles now! Those salesmen are lying.

    Congrats on the sub 8.