First impressions: Mizuno Inspire 14

First impressions: Mizuno Inspire 14

Last years best shoe in my opinion was the Mizuno Inspire 13, which I just love to run with. I still have it to this day, and use it on occasion when I want a shoe that just works and that I am comfortable with. It’s my safe bet.

This years shoe, the Mizuno Inspire 14, has now been with me for about 50k on gravel and asphalt. Has the Inspire improved?

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First impressions: New Balance 1080 v8

First impressions: New Balance 1080 v8

Before leaving for Australia I got two pairs of shoes to review, the first one was the New Balance Zante v4, and the second was the New Balance 1080 v8.

Last years entry into the 1080 line (v7) was one of the best shoes I tried in 2017. Not only did it give a softer ride than I was used to, but it also still had some responsiveness to it. So how well would the new version do compared to the old one?

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First impressions: New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 4

Just before I traveled to Australia I received two pairs of shoes that I would test while I was in Australia. One of them was the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 4.

Last year was my first introduction to the Fresh Foam sole in the 1080 v7. I loved the shoe and actually ended up using it too much. As I have said previously, changing shoes is no joke, and I decided to be more cautious when trying out a shoe from the Zante line for the first time.
I used this shoe on and off during the entire time I was in Australia, and also in the time after to be sure that I knew exactly what I felt about it. These shoes have not only been used for running, but also hiking and walking in the cities.

The fit

This is a very comfortable shoe to wear. It has become my go-to shoe not only for running but also when I just want something comfortable to walk around in. 
The upper is very different from what I have tried earlier, especially compared to stability shoes I have tested. The new Hyposkin fit snugly around the midfoot and makes for a secure and good fit, while the mesh material around the forefoot feels lightweight and nonintrusive. The added support in the mesh is not very noticeable. 
The padding around the heel is minimal compared to other shoes I have tested, but because the heel cap is noticeably thinner it doesn't take away any comfort when running.

Overall, this shoe fit very nicely on the foot and the sensation of free-moving feet combined with a secure fit feels very good!

Hiking to the Pinnacle Point in The Grumpians National Park

The stability

First of all, I would start off by saying that this is not a stable shoe. It is not meant to be either, but the lack of support in the upper mesh, the thinner heal cap and the softness of the Hyposkin makes this a shoe mostly for neutral runners. I am close to not being able to use it myself but have spent the last twelve months actively training stability in order to start using this category of shoes in the future.
As a fast interval shoe or maybe a race shoe this instability doesn't matter that much, the most important thing if you need stability, is to use this shoe for the really fast runs and let other more stable shoes handle the heavy workload. That way you'll have benefit from the lightness and responsiveness of the shoe, with a smaller chance of injury.

Overall, the stability isn't really there, so if you are looking for a stable and lightweight shoe there are better options out there. The new New Balance 890v5 has both a firmer sole and more stability features. If you are looking for a soft and less intrusive shoe, this is surely a good shoe to try out.

The feel

The Zante is a very comfortable to wear. The soft and unsupportive upper mesh combined with the Hyposkin makes for a shoe that feels like the cozy slippers you wear when you're home. It's also very light, and it is very easy to notice how lovely it is to run fast in.
Most of my runs with this shoe has been the faster and shorter runs, and I believe that this is the best use for this shoe as well. You shouldn't be put off by that though, as the feeling of this shoe has given me a new perspective of what a fast shoe should feel like. I would much rather have a shoe like this in my arsenal for intervals and races, than too many of the long distance trainers. 
Despite having used the same type of foam as the 1080 v8, the shoe feels a lot more responsive and a lot faster. The Fresh Foam in a thinner sole is also a little bit reminiscent of the Altra Escalante EGO sole, which is very flexible. This results in a good freedom of movement for every stride and it makes me feel like I'm flying.

6mm heel drop is the standard for many of the faster shoes from New Balance, but compared to the 1080, which is 8mm, I can't say that I notice the difference too much.

The grip of the shoe suits for running on dry gravel and asphalt. It doesn't have a deep pattern on the bottom sole, and looks to be more designed to get the most amount of surface contact for every stride. Running on wet or slippery surfaces could be a challenge.

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Overall

Overall this shoe should be used for faster, shorter runs as well as races. I will not use this as a long distance trainer, and would encourage people to add a bit more cushioning and stability if a longer run is planned.
The lack of stability features also excludes this shoe from being used when I run or walk in rougher terrain. My ankle will not be able to control the amount of looseness in the shoe in those circumstances, and I will thus not try to play with fate.

If you are looking for a nice and comfortable shoe for walking in cities these should do the trick superbly, as it would handle the abnormal amount of walking done during these types of vacation perfectly.

I am very happy that I tested this shoe, and I will be using it regularly in the months to come!

Do you have any questions to me about this shoe or any other? Comment on this post or write to me on Instagram

First impressions: Diadora Mythos Fly

Diadora came into the Danish running market last year with their new technology, BlueShield, an orthopedic top sole that would enhance the support underneath each foot. This made the shoe able to support overpronators as well as supinators to various degrees and make them run more neutral.

Last years shoe has been received well by our customers, but there were some issues that I hoped they would fix in the next generation. 

A week ago I got the Diadora Mythos Fly, a second generation BlueShield shoe made to be lighter and faster than their original Mythos. I have just finished 34k in them and it is, therefore, time to give my first impressions on the shoe. 

The fit

This is the main improvement! The last generation of Diadora shoes was based on a good foot shape, but it was a shoe that we were only able to sell to people with a taller midfoot or that needed extra vertical space in the toe box. We told Diadora this during our test phase and quickly got a response that this would be fixed in the next generation.
The upper has thus been changed completely, resulting in a lot tighter fit, especially in the toe box. Be aware though, that this is not a wide shoe, and it will not suit people with wider feet as well.
The grip around the midfoot and heel is like last year, good. The shoe is not overly padded in the heel like running shoes have a tendency to be now, resulting in a firm and good fit around the ankle that doesn't feel too soft.

It’s one of those shoes you forget is on your feet when you wear them.
— Lars Ivar Henriksen

Overall, this shoe is remarkably different from its predecessor, with a much more secure fit around the entire foot. It's one of those shoes you forget is on your feet when you wear them.

I ran to work every day last week with the Diadora Mythos Fly.

The stability

The initial test on a treadmill showed that this shoe is capable of handling some overpronation, but as it is the lightest and most flexible it also lacks a bit of stability compared to the to stiffer shoes in the Mythos line-up.
It's clearly not designed to be the most stable, but it is nice to see that the BlueShield inner sole can offer some support, especially for those with a weaker foot arch that could be in need of an extra innersole. Severe overpronators should look for a different shoe though, and this is where the other more stiff Diadoras would be possible options.

The feel

The first feeling when you put on this shoe is that it is comfortable. The BlueShield sole has an initial supporting feel under the foot, and as soon as the sole settles and forms to your foot, a softer sensation is replaced by a more responsive comfort. I've had no issues with using this shoe for longer periods at work, even though it was new and unfamiliar.

The Fly has roughly the same weight as the Mizuno Inspire and a little bit heavier than the Saucony Guide. It fits perfectly into the category of lighter long distance trainers, but has more similarities to a Mizuno in feel than it has to the softer Sauconys.
Responsiveness is the key here, as the sole is firmer it leads to a more responsive touch when you land. This is always the key aspect of how the shoe performs. Many brands hide behind high energy return numbers, but this can be because they have a soft shoe that feels unresponsive. The Diadora Fly feels rather fast for its type and it is a joy to run with.

Grip has so far not been an issue as long as there isn't frost on the ground. It's a shoe that could be used in different types of terrain as long as it's dry.

Overall

This shoe is one of those shoes that you put on if you want a higher cruising speed throughout your run, but still wants some cushioning. The firm midsole reduces energy loss in every stride and the orthopedic topsole gives a bit of support when the ankle becomes tired.
Everything from shorter to longer distances is something I would consider using this shoe for, as long as the goal is to run at a faster pace. When speed isn't a big concern though I would imagine myself using a shoe that has a bit softer ride.

The most important impression I have from using the Diadora Fly is that it feels like the Diadora brand really has started to find its way onto the running scene. It's impossible to make a shoe that can do everything, and this shoe is not an exception. But what it can do it does well, and it is ready to compete with the big dogs!

Do you have any questions to me about this shoe or any other? Comment on this post or write to me on Instagram.

Shoe Awards 2017: Best shoe

What I've noticed during the last year working in a running store is that deciding which shoes to run with is a very subjective experience. This is the reason why the running shoe market is so diverse, with so many different ideas and visions of how the perfect running shoe should be.

I have gotten a great understanding of how running shoes work by talking to all the different companies, but I've also realized that no matter how much I like or dislike a shoe it will still only be my subjective opinion that you only should consider as guidance and not fact.

This is my award for the best shoe I've tried in 2017.

Shoes I've tried this season

  • Saucony Guide 10
  • Saucony Hurricane ISO3
  • New Balance 1080 v7
  • New Balance Vazee Summit 2
  • Mizuno Paradox
  • Mizuno Horizon
  • Mizuno Rider 20
  • Mizuno Inspire 13
  • Diadora Mythos BlueShield
  • Diadora Mythos Racer Evo
  • Topo Fli-Lyte 2

Winner – Mizuno Inspire 13

I've had several Inspires in my earlier years, always feeling like it has been a good shoe, but it's only this year that I have been able to compare it to so many different good shoes that I have realized how good it actually is.

For many people, there is a compromise when using Mizuno shoes. They are generally firmer in the midsole than other brands, making the initial feel a bit more clunky compared to softer shoes like Saucony, Asics, Nike, Adidas or New Balance. Another point where they stand out is the heel drop, where Mizuno is still established at 10-12mm, compared to 6-10mm on other brands.
These differences make Mizuno the perfect second shoe for whatever other shoes you might have. The firmer sole and higher heel drop will differentiate the type of workload you'll get during runs, thus help minimize one specific workload over time.

The reason why I'm mentioning this is because most of the other shoe brands tend to go towards a softer feel, while I'm a much bigger fan of the firm energy conserving approach. The softer shoes hide behind impressive "energy return" numbers but lack to mention that the softer shoe also loses a lot of energy and momentum during the landing phase. Mizunos firmness is to be the perfect compromise in a shoe, and the Inspire is the pinnacle of what they have to offer.

It's a relatively light shoe compared to other long distance trainers but offers a speed and responsiveness that is similar to lighter interval shoes with less cushioning. Time and time again it proves to me that no other shoe I have is that fast. A zone 2 run is generally 5 or more seconds faster per kilometer than any other shoe, even the Mizuno Rider loses to its more stable brother.

Therefore, I crown my shoe of the year to be the Mizuno Inspire 13, a shoe I love so much that I struggle with choosing any other shoe every time I go out. 

Honorable mention - New Balance 1080 v7

The New Balance 1080 v7 is another favorite shoe of mine this year. For a slow cruiser, it's hard to find a better shoe with such a feeling of responsiveness despite being softer. During the first half of the year, this shoe impressed me so much that it was the only shoe I brought on vacation when attending the Escape of Alcatraz Triathlon.

What is your favorite shoe of the year? Do you have any question about any of the shoes I've tried? Write to me on Instagram or comment below.

First impressions: Saucony Triumph ISO 4

I just got the new Saucony Triumph ISO 4 in order to test out what Saucony has come up with. This shoe is the first of the flagship five from Saucony (Kinvara, Ride, Guide, Triumph, and Hurricane) who have implemented the Everun into the entire midsole of the shoe. Both Freedom and the newly released Lincoln do this, but among the top sellers (at least in Denmark) there has not been such a huge new development in years. 
The amount of Everun in the midsole will impact the shoe both in positive and negative ways, it's a heavy compound, more unstable, but offers vast energy return improvements over traditional EVAs.
These are my first impressions after 29 kilometers of using this shoe.

The fit

The ISO fit does as usual feel very light on the foot, but compared to the Hurricane ISO3 the fit is a little bit more snug around my foot. This is especially true around the toes at the front arch of the Saucony logo, where I actually felt it a little bit too tight after some hours at work (not related to running short runs).
This tighter fit makes the shoe fit better around my heel compared to the Hurricane, resulting in a comfortable ride overall on all the different runs I have tested it on so far.
Compared to some other brands this shoe is overly padded in the heel, making the fit very comfortable, but also very soft and less secure. I could imagine some people still having problems with the heel slipping sometimes, but have not experienced this myself.  

The stability

The initial test at work showed that the shoe holds my ankle despite my tendency towards mild overpronation. This was concluded after slow-motion videos footage at work. But curiously we also noticed that the ISOfit upper has close to no stability features around the arch and heel compared to other neutral shoes that I have tested. This has resulted in very tired muscles around the ankle and calf after both running and walking.

The feel

Running in this shoe is like running on a cloud. I run with both firm and soft shoes, and this is probably one of the softest soles I have ever tried. Every landing impact is reduced greatly, making the run very comfortable. The Everun technology hides behind very impressive energy return numbers, but I must admit that the shoe still feels very unresponsive, and I cannot stop thinking that the recent talk of energy return to being a marketing ploy more than an actual useful parameter for judging a shoe. Fast runs are thus not the best fit for this shoe. It seems better at slower Zone 2 runs where responsiveness is less likely to be a factor.

As an extra test, I used the shoe at work for an entire day and noticed that I got exceedingly tired in my calf, foot arch, heel and underneath the toes because of the extreme softness. I will not be wearing it at work again.

Overall

After these initial first runs, I will be focusing more on using the Triumph for slower and longer runs, as this is clearly where it is most capable. Both the narrow toe box and the arch support are issues I will follow up on and consider moving forward.
The Triumph ISO4 has both impressed me and let me down at some aspects. I will continue to use it for the months to come in order to get a better and more complete picture of what the shoe is capable of.

Shoe Awards 2017: Most Comfortable

The trend in the running shoe market seems to be very one sighted. Comfort is key, and it seems to have been that way for a long time. This is though merely my observation and thoughts based on working in a running store for a year.

The most comfortable shoe this year is not the best running shoe. My view is that comfort often can be over-celebrated. Firmer shoes are often overlooked just because they don’t feel as comfortable to run with, but once you get used to a firmer more responsive ride, the need for extra comfort can disappear.

But for the sake of people wanting a soft and cushioned ride, I have gone over the shoes I have tried this year and decided on a winner.

Shoes I've tried this season

  • Saucony Guide 10
  • Saucony Hurricane ISO3
  • New Balance 1080 v7
  • New Balance Vazee Summit 2
  • Mizuno Paradox
  • Mizuno Horizon
  • Mizuno Rider 20
  • Mizuno Inspire 13
  • Diadora Mythos BlueShield
  • Diadora Mythos Racer Evo
  • Topo Fli-Lyte 2

Winner – Saucony Hurricane ISO 3

Saucony Hurricane ISO 3 is a shoe that hides behind very impressive energy return numbers, despite being very soft. It feels like running on a cloud, but it sure doesn’t feel fast. This is because of Saucony's Everun foam, a very similar compound to Adidas Boost, used for its high energy return and soft feel.

The ISO-fit upper is soft and comfortable but lacks a bit of pressure compared to the new Guide ISO upper. The upper combined with the very soft padding around the heel cap results in a looser fit that feels very comfortable as long as your foot and heel is wide enough.
If the fit is correct though this shoe really feels light as a feather on your foot, despite its heavy weight.

An added benefit of the big weight is the amount of cushioning available. Running is this shoe is surely a very soft experience that can be compared to running on a cloud.

After about 10 kilometers I have noticed the softness of the shoe makes keeping a good pace very hard, as my legs have to work harder pushing off the ground. This has been my go-to shoe for long runs where I don't need to be fast. But it's not a shoe I would recommend for people aiming for a shoe that can do more than one thing.

Anyhow, the price for the most comfortable shoe goes to the Saucony Hurricane ISO 3, I can't wait to try the new Saucony Triumph ISO 4!!

Honorable mention

New Balance 1080 v7 is the second most comfortable shoe I have run with this year. The combination of fit, responsiveness, and comfort has made it my go-to shoe, not only for running but also for walking.
When we traveled to San Francisco in June, the 1080 v7 was the only running shoe I brought with me. It’s big, it’s heavy, but it also feels responsive when running. It’s in my mind a better shoe than the Saucony Hurricane ISO 3, but it’s just not as much like running on a cloud.

Do you have any question about any of the shoes I've tried? Write to me on Instagram or comment below.