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Posts Tagged ‘Kinvara’

Remember this?

or this?

Then there was this:

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and also this:

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I remember thinking, “Oh, Joe!  Oh, Wayne!  How the mighty have fallen.  Did you manage to mismanage your finances so badly that you have to shill for what is so obviously a ridiculous, lame product?”

The FTC realized it and Skechers was forced to pay $40 million in refunds.  To me, that is where the “Skechers as an athletic shoe”-concept would have come to a grinding halt, never to be attempted again…at least I would have thought so…

But then a couple of Monday’s ago, THIS happened:

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Meb Keflezighi WON the Boston Marathon, becoming the first American to do so in decades.

Here’s a closer look at his feet…more specifically, his shoes:

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Yes, those are Skechers.

Skechers on the feet of one of the fastest long distance runners in the entire world.

Skechers.

Ugh! Really?

Wrapping my brain around that concept was, well, difficult, because all I could think of when I kept hearing that Meb won in Skechers was Joe Montana and those ridiculous Shape Ups.

***

But it wasn’t just Meb.

Caleb Masland, better known as Coach Caleb, and the leader of Team Wicked Bonkproof, ran Boston in an incredibly impressive 2:32…also in…

Skechers.

Then in an online conversation, New England Ultra Marathoning Queen Maddy (you may remember she helped pace me at the end of my 100 last June) said, “everyone who’s worn them on the TWB [Team Wicked Bonkpro0f] team…LOVES them and raves abt (sic) em”

I was inching closer.

The deal was sealed when Pete, aka Runblogger, a runner and scientist I highly respect wrote this, “Luau, try them, you will be pleasantly surprised! Great people behind the shoes, been working with them for a few years now.”  If you have spent anytime on Runblogger.com, you know that Pete KNOWS running shoes.

That was it.  I was sold.

Even better, I found them on Zappos for only $79.

***

Upon their arrival, I was surprised at just how light they felt.  At just under 7 ounces, we’re talking a very light shoe.  For comparison, my Kinvaras weighed in at 9 ounces, while my VFF Bikilas come in around 4 ounces.  I was also a fan of the 4mm heel to toe drop – which is similar to the Kinvara.

You may be wondering why I didn’t just buy a new pair of Kinvaras.  After enjoying much success in the original Kinvara and the Kinvara 2s, I found the 3s to be extremely uncomfortable.  I ran a 200 mile relay in them, along with a marathon and a few other races, and they never provided the same comfort or support as the 1s or 2s.  To a degree, the 3s became a barrier for me to “get to” my run.  That being said, I will probably check out the 5s when they come out later this month to see if they have made any positive changes.

Putting the Go Mebs on my feet, they felt light and fast…for someone who hadn’t run a lot recently, this was actually not a good thing:

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 2.31.44 PMI was gassed by the fourth mile and I blame the shoes…because they are light and fast!  The fit, as mentioned in many online reviews, was a little tight in the toe box, but not so much that I felt constricted.  I’m not sure whether it was the suggestion on their website that Go Mebs promote a mid-foot strike, but honestly, it felt like I was hitting that mid-foot strike with every stride.  The chassis on the Go Mebs feels sturdy but flexible.  If you are looking for a full support, cushiony shoe, the Go Mebs are not for you; but I will say that, to me, I didn’t feel like I was running in a minimalist-type shoe.  My feet felt protected while maintaining a sense of being close to the ground.

This sensation of  being “close to the ground” is something that I feel has kept me relatively injury-free.  I have no scientific data to base this opinion on, but I have always felt that the closer my feet are to the ground, the more I can “feel” through my shoes, the more likely I will be able to react quickly should my feet hit a pothole or rock.  That being said, and despite not being a cushiony shoe, I never felt like my feet were “hitting” the ground.  Perhaps it’s the mid-foot strike the Go Mebs encourage, but my footfalls, whether going uphill, downhill or on the flats, felt soft.

A second run, at a purposely slower pace allowed me to focus on traction, which was just as one would want in a road racing shoe -neither slippery nor sticky.  I was also able to focus a bit on how my feet felt from heel to toe as I ran…or rather, how I didn’t have to focus at all.  Much like my experience with the original Kinvara, and exactly the opposite of my experience with the Kinvara 3, I didn’t think about my feet during my run.  THAT to me, is a sign that you are running in a shoe that is right for your feet.  If you aren’t thinking about your feet, you are better able to focus on breathing and pace, but even more importantly, you can focus on your race or training run.  Running should shoes be like the offensive linemen of running.  You only hear about offensive linemen in football when they give up a sack or blow a blocking play.  It’s the same with running shoes – as soon as your run starts, you shouldn’t have to think about them at all, despite their importance.

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As mentioned in the Facebook post above, these shoes are growing on me.  I think the thing that’s holding me back, preventing me from saying that I absolutely love these shoes is Joe Montana and the fact that they’re, you know, Skechers.

Time to get over it.

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You really couldn’t miss them could you? After seeing the pictures in my race report of the Smuttynose Marathon, many people asked me what I had done with my VFF’s (Vibram Five Fingers). You couldn’t miss the fact that I was wearing the bright radioactive orange Saucony Kinvaras for the marathon. Rest assured, I still have my Vibrams and I still use them.

Still, I know, it’s confusing. I’m “the Vibrams guy”. I’m the one who has been preaching the benefits of barefoot-style running. Every marathon I had run before Smuttynose, in fact every race save my very first, a 10k, has been in some model of the VFF’s.

So what gives? Why the switch?

Here’s the deal.  They don’t call the marathon a marathon for nothing.  It’s a long race.  I am still a novice at this running thing both in time and in skill.  Do I know more than the average Joe?  Sure.   Am I faster than the average runner?   Maybe a little.  But the bottom line is that my body and mind are still learning how to do this thing called running.

When running a 26.2 mile footrace, things start to break down, both mentally and physically. It can happen early or it can happen late, but inevitably, for me, it happens.  Somewhere along the course of 26.2 miles, my focus will wander and my form will break.  Old habits will kick in, and bad form will simply happen.

In shorter races (5K to Half-Marathon) I can get away with that. But at 26.2 miles, it’s hard to reel it back in.

What in the world does this have to do with the Kinvaras?

I love my Vibrams.  I do.  And I will continue to wear them and race in them at shorter distances. However, if I am going to be completely honest, I have to admit that in all three of my marathons where I wore the Vibrams, at some point, I was thinking about my feet.

Did my feet hurt? Not particularly.

Were there hotspots?   Definitely.

My problem was NOT with the Vibrams.   It was with me.  Physically and mentally, I am not good enough yet to maintain the focus and form necessary to run the way I want to for the marathon distance.

That’s where the Kinvaras come in.  They are Saucony’s entrant into the minimalist shoe arena. They are extremely light and have a minimal heel-to-toe drop (4mm I believe), and encourage a mid-foot strike.  They help you run the right way.

BUT they are soft underfoot. There is just enough cushion underneath to let you get away with bad form late in the race without encouraging it early on.  They are forgiving.  They also handle the road very well.  Tight turns or straight aways, the shoe has held up.

The one drawback of the Kinvaras may be that they want to go fast.  I found that from the moment I put them on the first time they simply wanted to go.  I initially struggled in keeping my pace down when I ran my long, slow runs.  I have since tamed the shoes somewhat, but I have discover that my perceived pace is actually much slower than my actual pace.  To have that feeling in a marathon is priceless, especially if you have the discipline to stay at your goal pace.  That feeling allowed me to have a nice kick at the end of Smuttynose.

I have found in the 8 weeks I have been running in the Kinvaras that I never, NEVER think about my feet.   As a runner, that is a huge luxury.  Even when my form began to break down at the Smuttynose Marathon, not once did I think of my feet.  My legs eventually grew tired, my energy ebbed, but my feet didn’t ask for attention at any point.

If you’re looking for a shoe that will encourage you to run with what I believe is proper form and let you forget out your feet, this is the one for you.  My personal favorite is the bright, radioactive orange, because you friends and family can spot you from a half-mile away.

The result at Smuttynose? The Kinvaras carried me to an 11 minute PR of 3:19:19.  An 11 minutes PR and a BQ.  A pretty convincing endorsement for a marathon shoe.

Team Kinvara at the Smuttynose Marathon 2010 - 3 PRs, 2 BQs

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