Sunday, September 5, 2010

Early fall running and shoe review

This weekend reminded me of how much I always enjoyed fall running, and how glad I am to be running this September. It definitely made me think of a couple of seasons as collegiate runner, when the weather began to cool off, the training would start to come together, and a promising cross country and track season was on the horizon.  I missed out on September last year due to having to sit out the whole month with a foot injury. Combined with my self imposed exile from serious running (and life in general, really) that lasted many years prior, it is not surprising that I almost forgot what a good fall run feels like. 

This afternoon I went out for a planned easy 10 miles. It was a beautiful afternoon, with the temperature in the mid 70s and very little moisture in the air. I expected to feel tired from a difficult threshold workout the day before, but I was pleasantly surprised when my legs were loose and comfortable, and I was effortlessly clicking off 7:30 miles. 

I also wore a pair of  New Balance 801s for the first time ever. After 10 miles in the shoes, first my impression is positive. The 801 is very light, yet feels as protective and well cushioned as the Asics DS Trainer, a more substantial shoe by probably around 3 ounces. Of course, the DS Trainer has some mild stability features, whereas the 801 feels just about as flexible and as a racing flat. In fact, this is probably a good description from the 801: a well cushioned flat. There is definitely no foot strike "correction" of any kind in this shoe, and as a result it feels very "natural" to run in. I love how it feels, but whether this flexibility is good, bad, or irrelevant for my legs remains to be seen. 

I can also compare the 801 to another pair of shoes I run in regularly, the Saucony Kinvara. I would say I actually like the 801 better. The weight is very similar, thought the Kinvara may be a bit lighter due to a more minimalistic upper. The 801 looks much more durable, and it fits me better. I find that the Kinvara has a bit too much room in the toe box for me. Also, the Saucony product has a bit of a spongy feel. Not as bad as Nike lunar shoes by a long shot, but still a tad annoying. So far, I am a happy customer.

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