Top Running Shoes Compared - The Shoemaker Review
by Jarrod Shoemaker, 2008 Olympic Triathlete
The first thing to know about shoes: picking shoes is a very personal decision. What your friend or brother likes does not mean it will work for you. SwimOutlet.com sent me 4 pairs of shoes to compare for a 2015 Spring Show Review – the Saucony Kinvara 5, the Mizuno Wave Rider 18, the Asics Gel Cumulus 16 and the Altra The One. The first three are cushioned shoes for daily training, and the last one is a tempo or racing shoe.
It is important to check the soles of your shoes and see when they become worn down, an old pair of shoes can actually cause injuries. One way to check is to put your hand into your shoe and press on the midfoot and forefoot and see if there is any cushion left. If the shoe is dead you will feel that the cushioning has been compressed and it will feel hard. Once you have pressed into a new shoe and an old shoe, it is pretty easy to tell the difference between the two.
Most shoes should last 300-400 miles. So let’s say you run 3-4 miles per day – that means your shoes would last 100 days, or about 3-4 months. But each person wears shoes differently depending on how they land. Make sure that you are not wearing your shoes too long, or even better is to find two pairs of shoes you like and alternate days running in them. This will make the shoes last a bit longer, as it will allow the cushioning to rebound a bit before you run in them again.
One piece of advice is to look at the bottom of your old shoes and see where you are landing. Heel? Midfoot? Forefoot? It is good to check this out on each pair of shoes you wear through. People don’t do that enough. The wear on your shoe tells you a lot about your gait and how your foot lands.
Onto the specific shoes and remember that picking shoes is personal. These shoes are all well-built shoes and your feet will enjoy any of them.
Quicktake: Saucony’s original goal for the Kinvara was to make something flexible with cushioning and 4mm drop. The shoe has changed a bit since it first was introduced and some of the big changes have made it a better all-around shoe. Saucony added more rubber to the bottom that increases the lifespan of the shoe, while keeping the upper loose and flexible. This shoe will not last as long as other shoes as Saucony uses a softer rubber to get a lighter more flexible sole of the shoe, but overall it is a great shoe.
- Light, flexible shoe
- 4mm heel to toe drop is less than most shoes on the market
- Softer foam in the bottom makes the shoe light, but also wears out faster
- Flexible upper makes the shoe feel better on the foot
- Might not have the longevity or durability of a few other options.
Quicktake: Mizuno’s wave system increases cushioning by dissipating the forces via a wave instead of a flat plate. It also creates rigidity to keep you from over pronating. This shoe does not has as much flexibility as a Saucony Kinvara, but is still a responsive cushioning shoe.
- Wave system provides a stiffer shoe from heel to forefoot
- Hard heel cup
- Good cushioning makes it a durable shoe
- Features a narrower toe box which might not work for those with wider feet
- Priciest shoe of the bunch
Quicktake: Asics is one of the leading running shoe manufacturers out there and their Gel Cumulus line has been one of their best lines. The Cumulus is a fairly neutral shoe with good cushioning. It has a great feel on the foot and is well built. The cushioning is thick and will not wear down too fast. Out of all the shoes I tried, it definitely was the thickest shoe with the most material.
- Great cushioned shoe
- Well built shoe with good sized toe box.
- A shoe that Asics has generally kept similar from year to year
- The shoe’s cushioning also means it’s on the relatively heavier side coming in at 10.6 ounce, or about 35% heavier then the Kinvara 5 and 20% heavier then the Wave Rider 18.
Quicktake: Altra is a brand new shoe company with one goal to their brand – zero drop. Zero drop means your heel is not higher than your forefoot, or the way you walk around barefoot. There has been a movement towards less drop in running shoes recently and Altra has built their brand around this. The One is Altra’s racing or tempo shoe. It has essentially no cushioning, so it’s half the weight of our heaviest show in this comparison test (Asics Gel Cumulus). Also it has a very wide toe box, so your feet can fall naturally. One thing you will notice in Altra shoes is that they feel comfortable because your feet are not squished at all. This shoe was by far the most comfortable of all the shoes when I put it on, my only issue with it was that I could feel the arch in the shoe.
- Extremely comfortable and fits great
- Zero drop and wide toe box make it feel different than any other shoe you have worn before
- Built for tempo or racing effort, not an everyday training shoe – so more limited use
- Certainly looks a bit different than most running shoes which might be a pro or a con depending on taste.
I really liked all of these shoes in the 2015 Spring Shoe Comparison and have put good miles into all of them. I prefer the Kinvara’s for softer surface running, as I find they feel better on trails and also do not wear down as quickly. The Gel Cumulus and Wave Rider I prefer to run on the roads, as I like the cushioning on them with harder surfaces. The Altras I wore mostly on shorter runs off the bike, where I had a bit of speed work and felt really good.
You will not go wrong with any of these shoes but hopefully some of my suggestions will point you in the direction of one of the pairs that suits your needs and preferences.
Enjoy your training and make sure to SMILE while you train!
Win a pair of running shoes of your choice from the above Spring Shoe Comparison! To enter, just tell us what race you plan to run this year in the comments below, or if you’re not doing a race, tell us your favorite running location. [One winner selected at random. Only one entry per person, all entries must be received by 11:59pm on March 6, 2015.]Email Address Invalid. Please enter an email address in the format: email@example.comBrian
6 years ago.I'm running the Hershey 10K this weekend in Hershey, PA!Jason
6 years ago.My first race this year will be the Martian Meteor 5K in Dearborn, Michigan in April.Jim DuBois
6 years ago.Rockman Challenge Watertown Wisconsin Tri Sprint!!todd w
6 years ago.Favorite running location is the indoor track located outside of my college pool!joti
6 years ago.running a 5k trail raceAndy
6 years ago.Knox SIS Try in Vincennes, INBecca
6 years ago.I'm hoping to run a couple of 5k's at my local Parkrun and also my first color run in the summer. It should be fun!Eden
6 years ago.I love running in the hills of Oakland and Berkeley, California starting in cool redwood groves and working my way up the ridges to great look outs where I can see all of San Francisco, the golden gate bridge, and east over the rolling green hills and blue reservoirs.Ariana
6 years ago.I plan on running a 5k trail race called the rider rattler at rider park. It will be my first one ever!henry kirkpatrick
6 years ago.Dirty spokes fort yargo duathlon in GeorgiaHeidi
6 years ago.Corvallis Half MarathonArt
6 years ago.I plan to run in my second Fifth Third River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, MI on May 9th of 2015. Looking forward to it. They host the largest 25K road race in the country - the USA 25 km Open Championship and 25K wheelchair / hand-cycle divisions! There is also a 10K & 5K race. I will be running the 25K or 10K (depends on how my training goes these next two months) Runners can always use a new pair of quality shoes like the ones compared by Shoemaker. I'll cross my fingers.Scott
6 years ago.I plan on running in multiple triathlons, including a local one that my brother has one for the past 3 years!Aimee
6 years ago.First ever 5K this Saturday!! Get Your Rear In Gear! 5K Raleigh (7March2015) and 3rd time for Ramblin Rose Woman's Triathlon (Raleigh 17May2015).
Up until last year, I had never done anything athletic.
Last year (2014) I did two RR Triathlons (May & October).
During training for the 1st, I had never ran outside before. No joke. Treadmill a few times.
I realized last year that I'm lucky ... I can move - walk or run or crawl - and there are others out there who only wish they could do the same.
I have no reason to not get out & move.
I'd love to have good shoes to get it all done with ;)Emily
6 years ago.I plan to do the walk to end diabetes in April!Bill
6 years ago.The Marine Corps Marathon--again!Tonya
6 years ago.Canyonlands Half Marathon, Moab, Utah. My first half and nearly 10 years to the day after an accident that broke my femur in two places and left me without a knee cap. I'm excited to complete this run!Jenn
6 years ago.I plan on running in our local 4th of July 5k for the first timeLA
6 years ago.Running around the park near my houseChris Donlon
6 years ago.Crescent Moon Tri in Aurora CO and Lifetime Tri in Oceanside, CAjan
6 years ago.great ankle supportMichelle
6 years ago.I would like the Asics gel cumulus shoes. I like to run at the local park around the pond. Thank you for your excellent review and the chance to win a pair of shoes.Colleen
6 years ago.My neighborhood hosts a mini-tri every Labor Day. I have always done just the swim but think I am ready to try running 3 miles to take a break from teaching and coaching in and at the pool!Tyler
6 years ago.My town's 5k and down the bordwalk is my favorite place to run!Maddie
6 years ago.my plan is to do my first splash and dash with my family, which involves working up enough cofidence in myself and in them. I am eyeing the Big Kahuna splash and dash in Santa CruzAdd a Comment
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