I have always heard good things about Saucony – in fact, one of my good friends who runs cross-country in college told me that her coach only recommends Saucony and ASICS running shoes. Therefore, I was excited to try out Sauconys for my next pair of running shoes. I ran the Chicago Marathon in October of 2010 in Mizuno Wave Creation 11’s, and they were absolutely the best shoes for the job. Throughout my training and the 26.2 miles of the race, I never had foot or knee problems. I never had any toe bruising, and none of my toenails fell off, which is a common problem for marathoners. After my excellent pair of Mizunos, I was skeptical that any shoes could live up to their high standard.
The Saucony Progrid Kinvara delivered.
When I first picked up the Kinvara, I could immediately feel the lightness of the shoe. The Kinvara only weighs 6.7 oz., as opposed to my Mizuno’s 10.4 oz. At first, I thought I would be sacrificing the cushioning of the Mizuno for a lightweight shoe. However, I was proven wrong. When I put on the Kinvara, I could barely tell where my foot ended and the shoe began. As soon as I started moving, I could feel that not only did this light shoe allow my foot to move naturally, but it also provided cushioning throughout my stride. The flatter midsole of the shoe allows for this dual cushioning and natural mid-to-forefoot strike. The shoe was also very flexible. I had never tried minimalist running shoes, so I was interested to see how my feet would handle this new type of running feel.
As an added bonus, I was blown away by the color of this shoe. I chose the Kinvara in bright orange, and the shoe I pulled out of the box was a flashy, almost neon orange. This bright color was exactly what I was hoping for, since bold-colored running shoes are so popular right now. The Kinvara supplied a combination of performance and color that I was eager to test.
On my first run in the Kinvaras, I noticed a lot of people staring at my shoes as I ran by. One guy I ran past even said, “Nice shoes!” Of course, the first mile and a half of my run was down a busy sidewalk in Chicago, so there were plenty of opportunities for people to see me out running. As soon as I got on the Lake Shore path though, I was all business. I really wanted to see how these shoes would measure up to my heavier marathon shoes. The first thing I noticed was how easy running seemed with the Kinvaras on my feet – I was excited to discover that my feet felt at home in these minimalist shoes. Still, I could tell that the shoes were providing cushioning, though not as much as the shoes I wore for the marathon; the added weight on those shoes comes from the extra cushioning. As my run continued, I knew that I was really going to like these shoes. The outside of the shoe is very breathable, which kept my feet cool throughout the run. I finished up my five mile run that day feeling great; sprinting at the end of my run felt easier than ever in these lighter shoes.
Over the next few weeks, I varied my running distance in the Kinvaras. The shoes, and my feet, seemed to hold out, even after eight- and nine-mile runs back-to-back. However, I did notice that my knees were taking more impact than with my marathon shoes. I don’t know if this is because my knees have lost some strength since the marathon, but I could definitely feel the difference. However, it never got to the point where my knees hurt, and I love still love running in the Kinvara’s. I’m not sure how well the shoes would work for full marathon training, which requires long, difficult runs, but I would definitely use the shoes for everyday running, 5K races, 10K races, or even a half marathon. I want to run another full marathon next summer, so I might try a pair of Kinvaras for training to see how my body handles the shoes. I would love to be able to use them for training, since they are so light and make running so easy.
Overall, I would have to give the Saucony Progrid Kinvara a straight A. I would recommend them for the average runner who runs three to six miles per day. I would also definitely recommend them for 5K, 10K, or even half marathon races, since they are cushioned enough to handle the distance, yet light enough to add speed and keep your feet feeling fresh throughout the run.
Available now: Saucony Progrid Kinvara
*Performance Review shoes provided by Eastbay*