This could become an ongoing subject. Over the first 10 or so years of my running and triathlon career I had run in 1 or 2 different kinds of trainers, either Nike Marathoners or Mizuno Waveriders. I’d occasionally dab into a different brand but then return to one of the above.
2 ½ years ago I started to settle for something new. The trigger was returning to running from having shin splints. I stopped using the Mizuno’s in favour of just using the Marathoners (a race flat) allowing me to strengthen my feet and my calves with a more minimalist running style.
In September 2011 I decided to replace the Marathoners (after more than 2000km of service) with a pair of Saucony Fasttwitch (another race flat). This pair only lasted around 300km (the inside of the toe box had ripped open), well below any normal factory recommendation, so I returned them to the shop and replaced them. The new pair I got was a pair of Brooks T7s (again a race flat). I got to like the T7s immediately. They felt similar to the Marathoners. The difference between the T7s and the Fasttwitch was that the T7s fitted like a glove and allowed me to feel the ground – something I struggled to do with the Fasttwitch.
In January I replaced my trail running shoes. I had a pair of Inov-8 Roclites which I had run in for several years. I got 2 different pairs, with a view of having a replacement pair for half way through the West Highland Way race. I left the shop with a pair of New Balance MT 101s and a pair of Adidas Adizero Trail shoes. I took an instant liking to the MT101s taking them for a 10 mile and then a 38 mile run in their first outings. I used the Adizeros once successfully and then seemed to always get a pressure point on my left ankle. The Adizeros became a shoe I’d use for walking but not running – they found their way back into running life 6 months later – either my foot had changed or the shoe.
I did my trail runs in the MT101s and all my road runs in the T7s. The MT101s died during May (toe box broke through again – apparently a common problem with them) after around 400 miles of running. They could have lasted a bit longer but I replaced them with the same shoe as I liked them and didn’t want to change ahead of the West Highland Way race.
The T7s died a few weeks later (the little cushioning they had in the fore/mid-foot area had gone, making anything off road very unpleasant). I replaced the T7s with a pair of Brooks Pure Connect – same brand but a more minimalist shoe with only 4mm heel to toe drop. With the T7s no good anymore to run in I didn’t spend a long time breaking the Pure Connects in. They felt a bit odd to run in but I thought I would get used to it. It was the first time I had run in a 4mm shoe (except for the Vibrams which are 0mm), so thought feeling strange in them would make sense.
I didn’t get used to them though. They felt too narrow in the midfoot area and too long overall. Technically they were too big for me but with them being narrow the foot was stable. It was only when I did a run in the MT101s after the West Highland Way race that I realised that I didn’t feel right in the Pure Connect – or better: I realised how good I felt in the MT101s.
I returned the Pure Connect to the shop and got a pair of Saucony Kinvaras which also have a 4mm drop. They feel a lot better as they have a wider base and are shorter. They are though bulkier than the T7s and I feel there is too much cushioning between foot and ground.
Out of the shoe choices I have made over the past 12 months the New Balance MT101s and the Brooks T7s are my favourite. I’d also happily go back to a pair of Nike Marathoners. Out of the 3 though the MT101s are a standout shoe at the moment as it is a great trail shoe but thanks to the soft nobbles works really well on the road too. What all 3 shoes have in common is that they give me great ground contact, especially in the fore/midfoot area.
The Saucony Hattoris have been suggested to me. They are next on my list and after recent experiences may be the road shoe I am looking for. They have a 0mm lift and have very little cushioning so should have a lot if the elements the T7s and the MT101s have without the drop.
The other shoes I have tried merely didn’t work for me. I have come across many runners who rate them highly, but if a shoe works depends highly on the shape of the foot and the style of running.