Saucony Kinvara 4

There is no question that the Saucony Kinvara holds a very special place in my heart.

The Kinvara 2 was the first shoe I ever fell in love with.  It was my first “fast shoe.”

The decision to wear that shoe marked a huge turning point in my journey as a runner – it symbolized my courage and my belief in myself – not only in the runner I was at the time, but in the runner I knew I could eventually become.

Happy in my Blue Kinvara 2s!

For a long time (as in years and years), I wore the same shoe for all of my runs – no matter how fast or how far I was going, no matter where I was running.  It was a neutral, high cushioned shoe with a 10-12mm heel-to-toe drop.  When I was pregnant with my third baby the running shoe world was coming out with lots of new shoes boasting lower heel drops that would encourage better running form and therefor improve runners’ efficiency and speed.  I was very curious and thought the concept was really cool, but I did not at all consider it for myself for some reason at the time.  It just seemed risky to me – it seemed like something “real runners” would do – and sadly at the time I didn’t consider myself a “real” runner.

*Side note: The me of today would really like to go back and hug the me of a few years ago.  Not because I feel bad for her, but because I think she was pretty freaking awesome to eventually come around to the realization of “why the hell not think of yourself as a real runner?!” along with many other stand-up-for-yourself moments.  Why not be the person you believe you can become?!?*

When I decided I was ready to push for a BQ time (after having missed it by less than 2 minutes), I entered into that training cycle with this gut instinct that there were some changes I would have to make in order to see improvement in my running.  One of the tools I could turn to was putting myself in a lower drop, lighter shoe for track workouts, tempo runs and shorter races.  I was a Nervous Nelly (where does this term come from?  I am going to have to look that up).  I talked with coaches and runners and experts I trusted (primarily my good friend Meghan who is a badass runner and a mom and a truly amazing friend).  I tried on every shoe possible at Potomac River Running Store — until I stepped into the Kinvara 2.

don’t step on my blue awesome shoes

Right away, I knew that the Kinvara was the perfect shoe for me.  It was neutral, super light and also had a 4mm drop.  My initial hesitation about a 4mm drop shoe was that I wouldn’t have the self awareness or patience to ease into it properly and that I would get injured by doing too much, too soon.  The Kinvara 2 fit me perfectly and had so much more support and cushioning than a lot of the other 4mm drop shoes on the market at the time.

I felt “safe” in that shoe – yet I also felt like I could run faster and stronger in it.  I wore them with pride and confidence.  Any time I doubted myself when I was on the track or pushing myself in a tempo run or a race, I would look down at my feet and be reminded that I was right where I needed to be.  That all the hard work I had done got me here was earned, and that there was no limit to where I could go.

Yes, I really do feel that passionately about the shoes on my feet.

I wound up wearing that shoe for my first ever Boston Qualifying marathon.

First BQ in the Kinvara 2!

Not long after that, Saucony announced that big changes were being made to the shoe with the launch of the Kinvara 3.  I was concerned at first – how in the world could they make a shoe I loved SO much, a shoe that was completely perfect for me, better?  What if the changes they thought were improvements made it so that the shoe no longer worked for me?  This is always a possibility after all.

But, thank goodness, the Kinvara 3 was awesome and I loved it just as much as I did the 2.

In fact, I grew to love them even more.  The shoe was everything I loved about the 2, only it was more durable, more flexible, lighter and (in my opinion) looked cooler.

Kinvara 3 – I heart you

I raced every one of my races in 2012 in the Kinvara 3, including the Hood to Coast Relay and 3 marathons.  This shoe is amazing.

And then Saucony announced they were coming out with the Kinvara 4 this Spring.  I have to admit – this time I wasn’t nervous about the changes.  I believed with all my heart that the improvements Saucony would make would suit me.  I trusted that this company knew what they were doing.  They are just that awesome.

I received a pair of the Kinvara 4s in the mail a couple of weeks before Boston.

hello amazing

From the second I opened the box, I was swooning.  Before I even put them on, I could tell I was going to love them without a doubt.

I wore them a few times before Boston and literally felt faster in them – not kidding.  I decided that I would race Boston in them as well – I felt like this was a “safe” decision given that the changes were pretty subtle even though they were huge improvements.

In my opinion, this shoe is the best rendition of the Kinvara yet.  Here are a few of the reasons I feel this way.

Improved Durability.  The cushioning in the Kinvara has always been a huge selling point for me.  It is a light and “fast” shoe but is hardy enough to withstand the rigors of a long run or marathon.  I think Saucony has improved the cushioning with each version of this shoe, and the Kinvara 4 is most certainly the most durable of the three versions I have tried.  My understanding of the reason for this is that they upgraded the quality of the foam they use (using their ProGrid technology) – keeping the same structure as the 3 on the bottom of the shoe, but just enhancing the quality of the materials used.

More Responsive.  One thing I noticed right away about the Kinvara 4 is that I feel so connected to the earth or pavement beneath my feet.  I am really able to feel and use the power and energy generated from my feet hitting the ground.  The level of cushioning protects me from a bad “pounding” sensation – the shoe is just perfectly responsive and really enables me to dial into my strength and efficiency as a result.

Sleek & Airy Upper.   This isn’t just about looks, though I think this shoe looks amazing and is the most attractive of the three versions.  The shoe is super light and the fit around the upper is HEAVENLY.  I really feel like it hugs my foot in the best way and that my feet are just at home and so comfortable in these shoes.  The mesh in the forefoot is very breathable yet fits around my foot securely.  Saucony added some of their FlexFilm technology to the upper, making it feel like an almost seamless fit, super secure yet super breathable.

Long story short – I LOVE this shoe and am so pumped up about it!  I’m grateful that Saucony continues to improve already amazing shoes with these upgrades!

ready to kickassimus

For more information on the Saucony Kinvara 4:

Runner’s World 2013 Summer Shoe Guide.  The Kinvara 4 won the Best Update award!  There is a great video review on this link:

Saucony’s sneak peak on their blog.

Holabird Sports Kinvara 4 review.

Are you a fan of the Saucony Kinvara?  Have you tried the Kinvara 4 yet?  What do you think?

Are you thinking about transitioning into a lower drop shoe?  If so, I think you would love the Saucony Kinvara 4!

9 thoughts on “Saucony Kinvara 4

  1. Love your review, Jessica! I feel the exact same way about the 4 as you do. The upper really does hug my foot in all of the right places and I can't exactly put into words how responsive it is (the pounding feeling you mention is definitely not there–and that's been an issue of mine in other brands' shoes). To more PRs in your Kinvaras! 😀

  2. I got my first pair of Kinvaras last October – I came across a pair of 3's on sale and couldn't resist as I'd been wanting to transition to a lower heel drop for a while.
    I loved them. I transitioned easily and now all my runs are in low heel drop shoes – but I reserve my Kinvaras for the speedier runs like you.
    I”m SO SO excited to get a pair of Kinvara 4s soon! Thanks for the review!

  3. I am actually trying these on this weekend. I am currently running in Newton Motions (also a 4mm drop) and a hodge podge of older shoes, but unfortunately I am not loving the Newton lugs as much as I thought I would.

  4. Yes, I started with the 2's about a year ago and have since been wearing the 3's. I just got a new pair so I will probably have to wait a bit before I can justify the 4's. I am glad to hear that you have worn them for full marathons. I will be doing my first full in December and was worried about wearing them once my distance goes over the half marathon mark. I was thinking about trying the Mirages. Thanks for the review!

  5. Back in January I heard about the Kinvaras for the first time and after trying them on I got them because I was ready for a lower drop shoe. I was having some crazy foot pains and I figured I would give them a try. Not sure if it is the shoe but my foot pain is gone and I love how the K3 feels. Going to have to check out the K4. Thanks for a great review!

  6. Right on!! I am with you on Saucony Kinvara 2 and on love. I'd never worn Saucony in my life until my trusted runner shoe dude made me try them on in the LRS late summer 2011. Unreal. So glad I did. Guess what? Don't tell anyone, but I got my Boston-specific Kinv4s in the mail the day before I flew to Boston…so I packed them, did my Sunday shakeout in them (3 miles), then ran the marathon in them. PERFECT without a single problem. Amazing!! I will be purchasing a few more pairs of Kinv4s, most notably the purple… 😉 Thanks for this review!

  7. I have the 2 and 3 and SOOO want the 4 before I run my first full marathon in Maui. I've tried them on and I'm convinced they are the shoe for me in my races. I've been training in newtons to improve my running stride and I've worn them now for 2 half marathons and they are not cutting it in the long run. Now if my running store would only carry the color combo I want for the Saucony 4 I've be in the store tonight. I'm watching and hoping they add more colors in Aug. or I'll have to spend more money than I want to get the right color for this race but they will be worth it. I'll keep training in my Newtons but I'm racing in Kinvara!

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