Narrowed the Choices Down to 5 Running Shoes

I knew this day was going to come, it is the bane of most runners – my current running shoes are wearing out. We know that when we buy running shoes that they have a limited life expectancy. When our primary shoes have 200-300 miles on them, we usually need to start to thinking about what our next shoe is going to be. My Saucony Peregrines reached that mark a few weeks ago and unfortunately I had to start to think about new shoes then.

Here are my earlier posts in this series:

I have researched many shoes over the past few weeks, thought about what I want/need in a shoe – a lot, looked multiple shoe company and running store sites, blogs and reviews about different running shoes. Based on everything that I have learned while doing this research, I have come up with the following list of 5 Running Shoes that seem to meet my requirements for running this spring, summer and hopefully into the fall.

First my Background and Requirements

My requirements for new shoes are:

  • I just went over 30 miles a week and would like to be running 40 – 50+ miles a week consistently by the summer. My goals this summer are to race a sub 20:00 5K and possibly run in a 1/2 marathon (we will see how that goes), which are very different goals, with different training needs.
  • I am still working to change my running form back to being a forefoot runner. I liked the Peregrine’s 4MM drop (no injuries) and would like to stay with a zero to 4 MM drop in my new shoes. This style seems to be working a lot better than other shoes have for me.
  • I do a lot of running on both tar, dirt roads and during the spring, summer and into late fall, I will be running non-technical trails 1-2 times a week.
  • No treadmill running, strictly outdoor running.
  • Cost – Unfortunately, I have a limited budget for running related items and cost is a limiting factor that I have to consider when purchasing a new pair of shoes.
  • The last thing is that I would like them to last longer than a couple of months.

A tall order for a single pair of shoes, everything from roads to trails, to include eventually running 50 miles a week.

I am not asking very much of my new shoes am I {sarcasm}.

Narrowed the Choices Down to 5

I have narrowed the shoes down to which shoes that I am going to learn more about:

1. Altra – Instinct – From everything that I have read and watched they seem to be a shoe that meets my requirements, but looking at the outsole design, I wonder how they will work for me on the non-technical, but hilly, rocky and roots strewn trails that I tend to run on. Other than that question, they are neck and neck to the Newtons in how interested I am in them.

Altra has been very active on the Internet and answered questions for me when I have asked them, when other companies have ignored my inquiries. Also in a Twitter conversation the other day, some people I really respect, without prompting – talked very highly of these shoes in response to my blog post, which to me is a very important consideration. Altra seems to focus on function over being “pretty”, which is pretty much who I am. However, the price tag, while competitive is at the top of my price range.

1A. Newton – Momentum Trail Guidance Trainer – This shoe appears to meet all my needs very well. I really like the idea of a shoe that promotes forefoot striking, which I think either of these shoes would help me improve my efforts in this direction – significantly and still be able to run on trails with them. The reviews that I read were mostly positive and the negatives were more about the person’s running style than the shoe.

However, for a guy on a fixed income and a small budget, they are simply out of my price range, but you never know, there might be a closeout sale that I can scoop a pair of these or another Newton model for less. Unfortunately, the price of the Newton shoes is a real tough piece for me to get by TheWife, who thankfully reigns in my needs versus wants.

3. Brooks – Pure Flow – I am very impressed with the looks and reviews that I have read/watched about the Pure Flow. Some of the people who I talk with on Twitter, really like these shoes and I take a lot of stock in what they have to say. The soles look similar to Saucony’s Propel Plus, which I have used in a variety of running situations, with acceptable results on the trails that I run on. Which means that I could probably use these as a hybrid shoe with good results. The sole looks as though it would last fairly well and I haven’t had heel wear problem with Brooks shoes.  I am slightly concerned about the reported narrowness of the forefoot, so this is one that I would really want to try on. The price is comparable to the Kinvara and Instincts.

4. Saucony – Kinvara – I really, really liked the Peregrine, until the last week or so, which is the sister trail shoe to the Kinvara. If the wear in the left heel hadn’t occurred, I would have been very tempted to just get the Peregrine again. For trail use I have used Saucony road shoes with the triangular lugs which the Kinvara’s do have on my non-technical trails with very good results, so they could be a very good hybrid shoe.

One thing that stops me from looking at the Kinvara differently is that between 200 and 300 miles, I have worn a hole in the left heel of the last 3 Saucony shoes, which eventually leads to blisters on that foot. It is unfortunate, because I was very impressed with the Peregrines until this happened and would have put Kinvara ahead of the Pure Flow except for this issue. I do have some concerns about how long the shoes would last, due to the  reports that have the soles of the Kinvara 2 wearing relatively quickly compared to other similar shoes.

However, when I was looking around yesterday, I could have bought a pair of Kinvara 2 for $59.00 on closeout. With the close-out pricing, they are much more reasonable than the ones ahead of them, but if I waited for the Kinvara 3, they are in the same range as everything, but the Newtons.

5. Mizuno Ronin – This was a lot of a surprise, when I started this research I had never heard of the Ronin, but the more I read about it and the way that some of the reviews talked about the Ronin, the more impressed I became. I have owned one pair of Mizuno shoes and while they were a nice shoe, the WaveRider was a motion control shoe and wasn’t what I wanted from a shoe. I am concerned a little about how the sole will wear, but otherwise the shoe sounds bomb-proof. One of the reviews I read really had good things to say about how it worked on trails, which really got me to thinking about this shoe as a possibility. The Ronin is a shoe I would have to see before I make a decision, but it intrigues me. The pricing is similar to the others, except of course the Newtons.

Honorable Mention: Adidas – Original Blue Marathon Trainer with Dillinger Web – I would love to find a pair of these shoes again, they are after all the shoes that have come the closest for me to being the “perfect shoe”, see my post on “In Search of the Perfect Shoe”. A guy can dream can’t he. 😉

Why Not More Minimal

I am still only months removed from my knee surgery last May and I want to make sure that the shoes that I use have enough padding to protect me from myself – when I get tired and revert to heel striking, which I still do – all too often. I don’t want to have that knee hurt any more than it has too. Therefore shoes like:

  • Merrell – Trail Glove, Road Glove
  • New Balance – MT101 or 110
  • Saucony – Hattori
  • Vibram  – I really want to try the Vibram Five Finger shoes, but am concerned about the amount of time it might take me to get acclimated to the shoe and if I decide to do longer distances, would it have enough support/cushioning for me to be successful in them. To be honest – I am rather scared to pull the trigger on this one and not have other shoes to run in, if they don’t work for me.

These more minimal shoes were taken out of consideration, due to the lack of cushioning this time (I know heresy for a budding minimalist), but I don’t believe that I am ready to move to running in this level of minimal shoe at this time, especially as my primary running shoe (who knows maybe I will win a pair in one of the many contests that I have entered).  I am being conservative and cautious in my approach to moving down the minimalist shoe ladder, but I would prefer to go slowly, than move too quickly and not be able to run for an extended period again.

The reality is that

I am going to try to milk my Peregrines through the end of this month, which gets me out of the worst of the winter running season and gives me time to research these 5 shoes more. I just hope they hold up for another 90 or so miles that I need to get out of them, without blister issues.

A Road Trip

This means at some point after March 1st that I am going to have to go down to the Maine Running Company in Portland (yes I know there is one in Brunswick), try these shoes on, to see what fits me best and what I will end up with for a new shoe to run around Back Cove in (at least one lap).  However, all bets are off as far as the timing, if my Peregrines begin to cause blisters on my foot, then I might have to make an emergency trip south or stay local and get a shoe on special.

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18 comments on “Narrowed the Choices Down to 5 Running Shoes

  1. Great choices! I tried the Kinvaras this week and have crossed them off my list. The material comes up really high and left me bruised on the tops of my feet where the feet rammed into the shoe. No good! Looking forward to your final choice.

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