Friday, October 8, 2010

Saucony ProGrid Kinvara – First Impressions

I decided to risk straying from my usual support running shoes and try a more minimalist shoe. After a lot of research and several recommendations, I chose the Saucony ProGrid Kinvara.

As you can see, I opted for a little flare.

I was unable to find a local source for this shoe, so this was also the first time I ordered shoes online. I ordered them from Running Warehouse for only $65 after a 15% discount (thanks again Jim). That great price even included free 2 day delivery.

My current favorite shoe is the Asics Gel 1150, classified as a support shoe. I was fit for these using the traditional treadmill gait analysis for pronation and they have proved reliable and comfortable. I was happy enough with them to buy a second pair. With well over 300 miles in them between the two pairs I have no complaints, but probably like most runners, I can’t help but wonder if there is something better out there.

The Kinvaras are classified as performance neutral. They are very light, weighing in about 4 ounces under my Asics. That is the first thing you notice when you try them on. They offer some cushioning, but noticbly less than my Asics. They also are much flatter with a smaller heal rise (4mm as compared to 10mm on my Asics).

I think this shoe runs a little narrower than my Asics. The fit was a little snug wearing my usual thick Thorlo running socks on my size 11 dogs. When I switched to thinner Experias, the fit was perfect. The Experias could become my new favorite sock if they prove to be as durable as the thicker Thorlos.

I wore the Kinvaras for the first time on a 4 mile run this morning. There is a lot of hype about these shoes online, and about minimalist shoes in general, but I tried to keep my expectations reasonable.

I was very pleased with the feel of the shoe while running. My online buddy and fellow DoppelLaufer Virtual Racer, JimDo64 from the running forums, described the sensation as being able to “feel the roadness,” eloquently stated and I don’t think I can improve on that description.

Will these shoes automatically improve my running form? Probably not, but the shoes did make me feel more aware of my form. It was easier to feel my footstrike and to therefore make adjustments. I didn’t miss the extra support at all, but time will tell whether this will still be true during longer runs.

I ran the first two miles at a fairly comfortable 9:00 pace and when I pushed that up to 7:41 for the third mile, the shoes performed really well. The faster pace did seem easier, but that could be equally attributable to cooler temperatures. Still, I’m excited to try these in a race.

I am looking forward to testing these on longer runs and if they work well, I may even wear them for the Daytona Beach Half Marathon at the end of the month.

More to come.


  1. how do you define minimalist? weight? lace holes? My Asics seem like cloth slippers compared to my New Balance.

  2. you hurt your knee a month ago and now your changing shoe types in the middle of marathon training? I don't get it. Good luck.

  3. @ Andrew To some extent it might be in the eye of the beholder. In my mind it means a neutral shoe as opposed to support or motion control; a flexible shoe with less cushioning so your foot sits lower to the ground and you get a better feel for the ground, a level shoe with little or no heel rise that encourages a mid or forefoot landing instead of trying to cushion a heel strike. There are better examples out there than the Kinvara. Pete Larson of Runblogger described the Kinvara as a shoe that could be used to transition toward true minimalism. I was intrigued enough to give it a try.

  4. @ Anonymous I know. I’m hopeless. Somewhere I heard or read that it’s a good idea to run in a variety of shoes and that struck a chord with me. It could be bunk for all I know though. The good news is that I had no knee pain during or after my long run this weekend (I wore my Asics). Now if I can just get my cool weather back. We had 2 blessed weeks of cool temps and now the highs are getting near 90 again

  5. They look fun! I'm yet to try a more minimalist shoe myself. It'll be interesting to see how these work for you in time.
    & yeah, Running Warehouse is amazing. I feel bad not giving my local business the business, but Running Warehouse usually has my size & color preference in stock, you can't beat the 2 day shipping either.

  6. your not hopeless, just be careful, you know your body best. It was nice this morning again, about 67 in Tampa. I'll take that any day.

    Have a good weekend.