2016: In the Words of Running Shoes
Posted on January 14 2017
Every running shoe model is not made the same. One may be good for long slow mileage, the other may be good for 5k-10k races. One may be good for you, but may not be for me. Ideally, I would rate shoes according to their intended purposes, speedwork, long run, easy run, 5k, 10k, half and full marathons. However, contrary to popular belief, I don’t own many shoes. Therefore, I will rate them in general. Only shoes that I bought in 2016 make the list. In 2016, I only bought 5 shoes, (in chronological order) adidas adizero adios Boost 2, Nike Lunartempo2, asics Hyperspeed 7, adidas adizero Boston Boost 5, and Nike Zoom Streak 6.
(1st) Nike Zoom Streak 6
A lot of hype around this shoe way before it was being released. It received its first exposure when Eliud Kipchoge’s insole slid out of his shoes during Berlin Marathon 2015 which he still won. It was said he was wearing a prototype that was later refined and named Nike Zoom Streak 6. Malaysians had to wait months before it was sold in Malaysia after its US release. I usually wear US7.0 but I had to half-size up. It was due to the narrowness of the shoes around the arch. Having said that, this shoe may not be suitable to those who have wide feet. Months of anticipation was worth it. This shoe ticked most of the boxes that I wanted in a shoe for marathon. Nike Zoom Streak 6 was easily my numero uno shoe in 2016.
(+) Ample Cushioning/Awesome Ride
Don’t get me wrong. This shoe is meant to be raced in. It’s nowhere near Kinvara, Kayano’s plush. It is still a firm shoe. What makes it standout though is its heel. When the legs are tired at latter stages of a marathon, when we are starting to lose form, when we tend to heel strike more often, the heel provides ample cushioning to accommodate such situation.
I have already run more than 400 kilometres in this. While the last is still holding up, the upper is not. The one-layered hyper-thin flymesh upper is used to reduce weight and improve breathability, but susceptible to wear and tear. The ‘patterned holes’ around the toe area makes it worse. I poked a hole on the upper barely 200 kilometres in. Since, I had to handle the shoes with care. Every time I run in it, I have to bear this in mind and try not too apply much pressure at the area to ensure that I do not rip the upper apart. Apart from the toe area, the medial side of the shoe is susceptible to cuts as well. I have read about this particular problem in running shoes forum. So this is not an isolated case. I only notice this after I have run close to 400 kilometres. The probable cause is because the friction between the internal arch strap and the upper. The sharp edges of the internal arch strap eat the upper bit by bit from time to time. Actually, the same problem is present in Zoom Streak 5 too although the previous iteration uses flywire cable instead of internal arch strap. One may argue that 400 kilometres for a racer is actually a good deal, but I have already punctured the toe area when the mileage is barely 200 kilometres.
(-) Narrow Last
This shoe is definitely not suitable to those with wide wide feet. Even my narrow feet are a bit wider than the shoes, especially during impact when my feet spill over sideways. The feeling of my feet sitting over the edge of the last is prominent during first few runs but kind of disappear afterwards. It is still there though, only it becomes unimportant when I am enjoying the ride.
Number of cons outweigh the pro, but why do I rate this shoe as my shoe of the year? It is because of how it rides. It rides so good that I forget about all the shortcomings that I have mentioned. It reminds me of my favourite running shoes ever, New Balance 1400v2. They are two different shoes, but the sensation I get whenever I am running in them is the same. Any day that I lace up Nike Zoom Streak 6, is a good day.
(2nd) asics Hyperspeed 7
This purchase was unplanned. I walked in to Pavilion’s Stadium outlet one day, and saw this garish shoes on display. I did not know what shoe was it. The colour was so bright that it got my attention. I lifted it from the rack and was taken aback by its lack of weight. Indeed, this shoe is the lightest running shoe that I have ever run in. While the colour got my attention, the design is meh. It reminded me of badminton shoes. Old-school mesh upper with cheap bits of plastic here and there to make up the structure of the shoe. I looked at the heel area, it read ‘Hyperspeed 7’. Hot damn. This is Ryan Hall’s shoes, and I was sold regardless of the colour.
(+) Hyper Speed Hyper Light
I am still perplexed how on earth this shoe can be so light. It only weighs 146g for US7.0 that I am wearing. It defies physics and logic. Thick old-school mesh, plastic strips. Surely, plastic strips are heavier than film overlays. I am not sure how do Asics achieve this. It must be in the midsole. If I am to cut out the midsole, I may probably find a huge void.
(+) Oooohhh Cushioned
Cushioning to weight ratio is off the chart. It is so lightweight but it is so cushioned (read: not plush). However I am confused by the intention of the shoes. To me, this shoe is for the rare occasions when I need to go fast, like speedwork, 5k-10k races. But due to the cushioning, I feel kind of detached from the ground. I prefer shoes with a lot of ground feedback for speedworks and all-out races (5k-10k).
Perhaps, it is not designed with solely speed in mind. It is actually a superb shoe that caters for a lot of kind of workouts. I find myself wearing this shoe for speedwork due to its lightness, as well as easy and long runs due to its cushioning.
I have put in more than 700 kilometres in this shoe. It is such an amazing feat as it is a hyper light racer and it is not meant to last more than 400 kilometres. But here I am, 700 sweet kilometres in the shoes. The upper is good as new. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Probably that’s why Asics stick with old-school mesh. It works without any fuss. But after 700 kilometres, the outsole has finally given up. I have worn down the rubber outsole at the lateral side (I am a supinator).
(-) Not a Marathon Shoe
It is light, it is cushioned. But why is it not suitable to be a marathon shoe. You may find I am contradicting myself. Yes, it is cushioned, but it is thin. It sits close to the ground. The amount of cushioning may mask the feeling for the first 20 kilometres or so, but from that point onwards, the ground feeling will be substantial. I certainly need more protection. While Nike Zoom Streak 6 is a lot firmer than Hyperspeed 7, the greater distance between sole and the ground does a tremendous job in protecting and keeping my feet fresher during later stages of a marathon.
So many plus points for Hyperspeed 7. The only shortcoming is that it is not suitable for a marathon, for me at least. But if you are an elite, with good biomechanics, there won’t be any issue to run a marathon in this. A lot of Asics elites choose Hyperspeed 7 as their marathon shoes. Sadly, I am not an elite. I mainly run marathons over 5k-10k, and this is the reason why it has to settle second behind Streak 6.
(3rd) Nike Lunartempo 2
This shoe needs no introduction. I wrote a full review of it in a different post. This is a shoe that I initially hated. It grows on me from time to time though. I have now run more than 500 kilometres in it. This is currently my go to easy/long runs. While the rubber outsole is showing great wear and tear, the upper is holding up well. I expect to put in another 200 kilometres before retiring it. Who knows? Perhaps, there is still life in it after 200 kilometres. The downfall of this shoe is really the sockliner. When it is wet, its sockliner starts to slide around. This happens to on a number of occasions. This problem is exaggerated as my feet sweat easily. Consequently, the shoes become wet often. I shall expect the problem to arise when the mileage starts to pass 20 kilometres.
(4th) adidas adizero adios Boost 2
This was my Tokyo Marathon shoes. Leading to Tokyo Marathon, I wore this shoe at least 95% of time. From easy runs, long runs, speedworks and the marathon itself. It is a fast shoe. It needs to be run fast to make it fun. That’s the reason why it took me about 300 kilometres before liking this shoe. I know many are wearing this shoe (and adios Boost 3) for most of their runs. To me, it feels cumbersome when it is run slow. To truly enjoy this shoe, it needs to be run fast.
Among all the shoes that I have ever run in, probably this shoe has the best upper. It snugs my feet really well, like what a racer should do. I feel fast already by putting my feet in the shoes.
Among the five, this is the most responsive shoes of all. It begs to be run fast.
It is a racer so it should be firm. Sadly, too firm to me. I am not biomechanically-gifted so I need more underneath my feet.
(5th) adidas adizero Boston Boost 5
I am not too sure about this shoe. I was torn between Boston Boost 5 and Nike Pegasus 32. Both were on sale,but Nike Pegasus 32 was a tad bit more expensive. I regret my decision to not spend a bit more for the Pegasus.
This is the single biggest reason why this shoe is down the pecking order. adios upper is stiff, and it is great. Boston upper is less stiff, but it is everything wrong about it. I have to take minutes to fit my feet in the shoes. The heel counter is not that stiff so it is not it. Perhaps it is the lacing. And the tongue. I am not too sure why adidas beef up the tongue. To provided padded protection? I only feel hotspots occasionally due to its bulkiness. adios tongue is nearly-perfect, so why it does not get trickled down to Boston. I think adidas need to take cue from asics. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
In adidas line, Boston Boost 5 sits behind adios Boost in term of raciness and firmness. Boston Boost is marketed as a trainer while adios Boost as a racer. Somehow, I find Boston is firmer than adios. I tried to like it but after more than 250 kilometres in it, I still can’t find a reason to like it.
Silver lining for Boston though, when I run out of shoes to run in (which I am soon), when Lunartempo 2 has finally come to the end of its life, whether I like it or not, I am going to have to utilise with what I currently possess which means that I will be running in Boston more.
There you have it. Ranking for five shoes that I bought in 2016. Apart from Boston, I like all other shoes. adios is fourth but by no means is a mediocre shoe. Before I splurge on any running shoe, I will look up for reviews online beforehand. I do my research on all shoes before pulling the trigger. But different people, different feet, different preferences. I read only rave reviews about Boston online, and even in my circle of running friends, most rate Boston highly. It is just not for me. For this reason, when somebody asks me to recommend them shoes, I ask them to try the shoes out first. A good place to do so in Malaysia is at The Marathon Shop, Running Lab, Asics, Brooks, and Nike outlets.
Those with narrow/normal feet, I would suggest to give Nike Zoom Streak 6 a try. It is a special shoe. We can base our assessments on numbers but at the end of the day, the feelings that we get from the shoes are what matter most. I am looking forward to any day that I get to wear Nike Zoom Streak 6.