Saucony Shoe Love – and a sneak peak at the Mirage 3

It is no secret that I have a thing for Saucony shoes.  My feet are just HAPPY in them.

And when my feet are happy, I’m happy.

happy feet in the Saucony Kinvara 3

I started running in my first pair, the Kinvara 2, a little over a year ago and pretty much fell HARD for every pair that I tried after that.  When the Kinvara 3 came out, I was nervous because they made so many changes to that shoe (you can read my review here), but as it turns out those changes were improvements that made me love the shoe even more (thank goodness!).

I’ve found a Saucony shoe to meet the purpose of every kind of running that I do, and I even love the old school shoes for life when I’m not running (the Bullet and the Jazz are my favorites).

true shoe love

I’m a neutral runner, so the ones that have typically worked best for me are the Kinvara (for track workouts, tempo runs, occasional long runs and all races from the 5k to the marathon), the Ride (a great trainer, this shoe is a neutral shoe with an 8mm drop and some cushioning) and the Triumph (another excellent trainer, also neutral with an 8mm drop, but with a little more cushioning than the Ride).

Saucony Ride – love.

I tried the Cortana in the late summer and loved it – this shoe has a 4mm drop, an element of stability and LOTS of cushioning.  I turn to it frequently for recovery runs, some long runs and days when my legs are just feeling a little more tired than usual.

hello Cortana, you have a place in my heart too

Lately I have been exploring the trails and discovered the Kinvara TR and the Peregrine.  I took the Kinvara TR out for 10 miles last weekend and guess what?  I loved them.  I’m going to write a more detailed post about them soon.  They are amazing and make a huge difference when slogging through mud or traversing over rocks.

Kinvara TR.  Maybe the happiest place for my feet is in the mud.

And then there is the Mirage.  This shoe is AWESOME.  It’s got a 4mm drop like the Kinvara, but has more cushioning and is also a stability/motion control shoe.  It feels great on my feet.

colorful and happy in the Mirage 2

You might be wondering why in the world a neutral runner would put herself in a stability shoe and call it love?  I’ll tell you … the simple fact is that even the most neutral runners will get tired after running for a long time.  And as we get tired, what changes?  Our stride.  It is inevitable.  The element of motion control in the Mirage really makes a difference to me in the later miles of a long run and feels great on a recovery day.  The shoe is lighter in weight than a trainer but has a 4mm drop like the Kinvara.  It has a purpose in my training and I have really grown to love it.

Saucony is getting ready to introduce the Mirage 3 on February 1st.  I’ve heard that they are making some major improvements to it just like they did with the Kinvara last year.  This makes me excited because my experience with the 3rd generation of Kinvara was such a positive one.  But, as we all know, any time a running shoe goes through major changes there is a *chance* we will be disappointed or it just won’t work for us any longer.  I have been crossing my fingers (and shoe laces) in hopes that the Mirage 3 changes would make me happy.

As it turns out, last weekend when I met up with some good friends for a 16 mile long run – my friend Maddie and I were both INCREDIBLY LUCKY to be loaned a pair of the Mirage 3 to test out (thank you Jeff!!!).

Can you tell how happy our feet are!  So excited.

Before I even put the shoe on my foot, I knew I would love it.  I could already tell it was lighter in weight and I loved the sleeker design elements.  The shoe felt incredible from start to finish, and the miles just flew by.  We ran an average pace of 7:34 with very even and consistent splits and my feet felt like wings.

Mirage 3: 16 miles of perfection

My sneak peak of the Mirage 3 only made me more excited to get this shoe on my feet again.  To say the least, it was not easy to hand them back to Jeff after the run!  There is no question that the Mirage 3 will hold a special place in my heart as one of my favorite shoes of all time.

Once again, Saucony has me head over heels in love with a new shoe.  If you are a fan of the Mirage 2 like I am, I am sure you will not be disappointed with the upgrades in the Mirage 3.

This shoe is AMAZING.

Do you have Saucony shoe love like I do?  Which ones are your favorites?  Are you excited about the Mirage 3?  Are you a neutral runner who sometimes wears a stability shoe? 

The Saucony Kinvara 3

In December of last year I fell in love.

The object of my affection was my new pair of shoes – the Saucony Kinvara 2.  I wanted to start working my way into a more minimal shoe as I began training for the Rock n Roll USA marathon. A shoe that I could wear for speed work at the track, for tempo runs and for shorter races.  I wanted a “fast shoe” – something light and with a lower heel drop.  Something that would help encourage more of a mid foot strike.  A shoe that would aid in improving my form and efficiency.  I had read so many stories about runners who got injured because they switched to a minimal shoe too quickly and I wanted to be careful not to join their ranks.  I wanted to show up to the start line injury free and was concerned that running in a more minimal shoe would cause me more harm than good if I wasn’t smart.

The Kinvara 2 was the perfect shoe for me – it had the 4mm drop I was looking for (compared to the 10-12mm drop of the more traditional running shoe I was in) but provided more cushion and support than most of the other minimal shoes on the market.  From the second I put those shoes on my feet, I was in love.  My feet felt right at home.  It was a match made in heaven.

From the moment I started running in them I understood how people got injured in minimal shoes so frequently – it is hard not to wear them all the time because they just feel SO good.  I tried to remember the big picture and was careful about how I built my mileage in these shoes.  I kept track of my mileage and wore them at first just to the track once a week.  As the season progressed I spent more and more time in my Kinvaras and toward the end of the training cycle I found myself in them for more than 30 miles a week, wearing my traditional running shoes (the Asics Cumulus, at the time) only for long runs and recovery runs.  My traditional running shoes started to feel like big boats to me – heavy and clunky and pillowy.  I really could not imagine wearing such a heavy shoe for my marathon.  The decision was made – the Kinvara was going to be my marathon shoe.  It was an excellent decision.

When I found out that Saucony was updating the shoe and making some changes, I was EXCITED but also nervous.  How could they improve a shoe I loved SO much?  What if the changes didn’t work for me – would I be back at square one searching for the perfect shoe all over again?  Everything I had read told me I had nothing to worry about – that the changes were all thoughtful improvements that would only result in me loving the shoe even more.  I couldn’t wait to find out for myself.

You can only imagine how excited I was when I was asked to try out a pair of the new Kinvara 3s a few weeks ago, before they are available to the general public in May.  I was BEYOND thrilled.  When the box arrived the mail last week, I could not wait to put those shoes on my feet.

I ran in them a few times last week and then raced in them over the weekend – setting a new PR in the 10 mile distance.  These shoes do NOT disappoint.  Not even close.  Saucony did all they said they did – they took a GREAT shoe and made it even BETTER.

Here’s what I love most about the new Kinvara 3s:

They are more durable – Saucony made changes to the bottom of the shoe, adding more rubber to the mid foot and toe-off areas.  They will last longer and hold up to more mileage as a result.

They look cool – The Kinvara 3 comes in an awesome variety of super bright, happy colors.  I would love a pair in every color combination, please.

[source]

More flexible and lighter up top – The upper of the shoe uses a technology Saucony calls “FlexFilm.”  The material is light and sleek and flexible.  SO comfortable.

There really isn’t anything I don’t love about this shoe.  It is everything I love about the 2 — and MORE.  The Saucony Kinvara 3 is my new fast shoe.  Every single time I put them on my feet I am going to run my best and FIND MY STRONG.

Here are some great links where you can learn more about this awesome shoe:

Saucony explains the Kinvara 3

Believe in the Run: Saucony Kinvara 3 Review “Three is the Magic Number”

Running Shoes Guru: Saucony Kinvara 3 Preview


A Runner’s Blog: Saucony Kinvara 3

Average Guy Hits the Road: The People’s Shoe

* Disclaimer: The shoes were complimentary, but the opinions expressed are my own. *

shoe love

Here is the story of my shoes.  It is a very boring story until now (and you may actually argue my story is still boring, but I personally think things are getting quite exciting around here).

When I started running back in the year 2000, I found myself in the Asics Gel Cumulus, a neutral shoe with cushioning.  I wore the same shoes for close to 9 years.  I would try other shoes on every now and then, but just kept going back to the Cumulus because it felt good and I had no problems with injury or anything.

Then, about three years ago, I made a very silly (because it was mindless) decision and switched to the Asics Gel Nimbus.  This is also a neutral shoe but with a lot more cushioning.  I think I wanted a change, and this felt like a safe one?  Or I switched to it because my sister was wearing it and it cost more money and I thought it must be a “better” shoe if it is more expensive?  I honestly have no idea why I switched, but I did.   I shudder at the thought of it now … what a dummy.

Anyway, thankfully the Nimbus worked just fine for me and I had no problems wearing it.  Until this past training cycle.

I started to develop this weird little bump, almost like a cyst, on the front of my ankle.  I only noticed it when I put on the Nimbus – I seriously would not even feel it if I was wearing any other shoes or if I was barefoot.  I noticed it in early September and bought a new pair of Nimbus a few weeks later, thinking maybe it was just because it was time to get new shoes, that pair had enough miles on them.  But no such luck, my “bump” (I don’t know what else to call it) was still bugged by the shoe.  It was totally tolerable, more of an annoyance than anything, but it irritated me and I knew that after MCM I would be shoe shopping.  It was time to say goodbye to the Nimbus and find a new shoe.

And then I started thinking through it more and realized I didn’t want just one new shoe.  I wanted a new shoe that would be good for longer training runs and I also wanted another, lighter shoe for my tempo runs and track workouts.  I’ve been intrigued by all the lighter, lower heel drop shoes out there and feel ready to give them a try.  Ready to start easing my way into a more minimal shoe, carefully and patiently.

So a couple of weeks ago I met with Meghan Ridgley at =PR= and she spent some time with me talking SHOES.  I ran on the treadmill in the store and we determined that a neutral shoe was still the way to go for me, but that I did not need quite the amount of cushioning that the Nimbus has (surprise, surprise).  I tried on several shoes from various brands and in the end guess what I wound up with?

Brace yourself, this is a shocker ….

The Cumulus!

ta-da!

My feet are so happy in this shoe.  I really think we were made for one another.  And though I do not buy shoes based on the colors, I was truly happy when I saw all the pink on the newest model.  I love them.  And also, it is very nice that the bump on my ankle is not bothered at all when I wear this shoe. I can tell it has less cushion than the Nimbus – it feels lighter on my feet and very comfortable.  It will be my shoe for all of my longer training runs (for now).  Decision made.

So …. for the lighter shoe.  I tried so many shoes on and found myself torn between two shoes I really love:  the Saucony Kinvara and the New Balance 1400.  I brought both pairs home with me.

Today I did my tempo run on the treadmill in the Kinvaras.  You guys, I have a CRUSH on these shoes …

That is the best way for me to describe my current relationship with this shoe – a CRUSH.  I want to be in this shoe all the time, but I know if I do too much with it too soon, I will regret it and get hurt.  I want this relationship to last – and I even have thoughts of the romance becoming long term and think eventually it could replace the Cumulus.  I want to run a marathon in this shoe some day.  But I know I have to be careful because the lower heel drop and less cushioning is new for my body and I need to ease into it to avoid injury.  I am going to do this right though.  I love this shoe.

And the New Balance 1400?  Well, that shoe just makes me happy.  They are more of a “fling” than a crush.  I won’t ever have any intention taking this relationship much further than the track or a few fast miles.  When they are on my feet I feel fun, I feel light and I feel free.  I haven’t taken them out of the box yet, but plan to give them a spin tomorrow.  I have 5 easy miles planned on the treadmill and am going to wear them for just 1 mile of the run.  I really REALLY need to be careful in these – they have basically no heel drop and practically no cushioning.  They will cause me a lot of trouble if I do too much too soon in them.

 

Okay, so my shoe story is riveting, right!?  That is all I have for now.  I’m excited to be trying new shoes and to be mixing it up a bit.  Tell me what you have on your feet!  Do you wear the same shoe for all of your runs and workouts?  Have you tried out shoes with less cushioning and lower heel drops?  I would love to hear about it!