Something special happened to me the other week. I got two new pairs of running shoes in two days. Christmas, two days in a row!
I was away interstate and I forgot my running shoes. In a mad rush (I couldn’t bear the thought of staying in Sydney CBD without running the harbour), I managed to find a reduced pair of shoes I’ve been wanting to try for ages. On my return home, there awaited me a pair I’d ordered online a couple of weeks earlier.
This affords me the rare opportunity to compare, from NEW, two pairs of kicks; an opportunity that I do not intend to allow you to miss, dear reader…..
New Balance – Minimus Ionix 3090
The New Balance minimalist range has intrigued me for some time. It’s a low drop range, but there’s knobs and buttons going on all over the place, and I’ve always wondered if it’s a case of “trying too hard”. I found out.
To walk around in, these are very comfortable shoes. The foam sole is thick enough that it provides some ride, resulting in what I’d say is a less than minimal experience. Once running though, I find the experience to be less enjoyable, and the issues is the “knobs”.
The entire sole of each shoe is covered with a series of foam half-balls. It is these that contact the ground and support each stride. This translates (at least for me) as feeling like I’m running in a soft pair of old-fashioned footy boots. The kind with screw in stops. I can feel each nodule as it presses up into my foot.
I don’t know if this is by design, and it’s not something that makes me want to rip the shoes off (it doesn’t hurt), but I find it distracting, a barrier between me and the ground.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll have a chance to get used to the feeling, and this is an appalling shoe in terms of resilience.
Take a look at the outside sole edge.
This is my strike point. A 4th/5th metatarsal strike point is very common in fore-footers and although there’s an additional layer of more resilient rubber covering the foam sole in certain areas, it’s missing from this exact spot. Incredibly, this pair has less than 80kms on the clock, and the sole at that point is close to stuffed. This does not bode well.
A Google search reveals many complaints about the construction of this model. I’m in two minds about persisting with these for running, or making them a casual everyday shoe. This decision is being made easier, because of the OTHER pair of newbies adorning my lower extremities.
Adidas – Adipure Gazelle
Back in “the day”, I had one running shoe rule. Buy Nike. Crap rule as it turns out, but I was (at that time) convinced I needed a big soft chunky shoe, and other brands (I especially avoided Puma and Adidas) didn’t do that as well.
These days, the pursuit of “form over foam” has opened me up to a whole new range of options as I leave my prejudices behind. Enter the Adidas Adipure Gazelle.
This is a minimalist shoe in every regard. It’s flexible, almost seemless inside, and provides a low (6mm) drop with a great “feel”.
Although garish enough in colour to have attracted some non-too-kind words from my mates, I love my red pair. Here’s a picture of the same spot on the sole; my strike point.
Note the shape and position of the red, resilient rubber tread, formed around the most common forefoot strike points. After the same number of K’s as the New Balance pair, these shoes bear not a hint of wear in that area.
The marketing claims that the shoe is actually designed to promote forefoot running so it’s no surprise, but damn, they’ve done a good job!
The thin, flat sole allows a responsive road feel, and the elasticised upper embraces the foot lovingly, caressing the toes and instep with each stride tenderly, so so gently (sigh)……
Suffice to sy, I’ve taken to the Adipure shoes a little more. I’ll continue to wear both, but I know where my love lies. I adore you Adipure Gazelle. Sure, I like the NBs, but only as a friend.