Finding the perfect running shoe is sort of like dating. You can have a great time with something young, new, light and nimble but really when you get down to it you just want something ( or someone ) that knows you; something with curves; something dependable; something that doesn’t wear out after 500 miles.
Well after a season of dating the girls with all of their curves, I finally decided to change things up and get with someone a little more slimmed down. While I’ve always been a HOKA fan – it just breaks my heart that they still haven’t yet made a shoe that is wide enough to support my toe box. I have high hopes for the Clayton and Tracer platforms coming out soon – if they finally have the mix of cushion and wide forefoot I’ve been looking for then this could bring me back to the fold.
I’ve being running trail races lately in the Salomon Sense Mantra 3 – one of my favorite trail shoes. Not only does it have all of the normal Salomon goodness (internal sleeve, quick lace, etc. ) but it also can be found at severe discounts for as low as $50 if you hunt and poke – such a high quality shoe for this price can’t be understated. It’s a hybrid and works well in mixed terrain ( including road ).
The X-Series (now replaced with the Sonic) was another hybrid shoe (though they claim it’s a pure road, I don’t buy it) – but the real selling point for me was that it was light – 7.7 oz. It’s fast. It’s nimble – and man they make every other shoe feel like a tank. The question is: will it stand up to serious miles? Let’s find out.
Barefoot. Maximal. Minimal. The pendulum swings in so many times. I find it’s good to have a fast, quick shoe in your arsenal and this shoe just screams. I’m not a fast runner but this shoe really does hold up over the miles. Not only is it made from highly durable materials but for a 3 hour training run you start to notice that you’re carrying 1/2 pound less weight on your feet. This adds up and it was a joy to have something fast and light. Pure joy.
The single biggest factor in picking a shoes is really quite simple: comfort. They should be comfortable. That’s it. While it’s true that more padding can help with shock absorption the dirty little secret, the secret that shoe companies don’t want you to know is this: if your BODY is strong then that’s all you need. It’s hard to get a strong body. I don’t mean strong feet, although that’s important, but a strong core, a strong back, strong ligaments and tendons, built up over time to withstand the increase demands and training loads we’re asking of ourselves. With a strong body you can get away with minimal shoes – or no shoes probably. I’m convinced it takes YEARS to get there – and like most things, everyone wants a shortcut – sorry old chums, no shortcuts will be given.
So, the X-Series is awesome. Sonic is probably also awesome. Here are the key points if you are interested in this shoe:
- Quick-lace system: the laces use Kevlar (you know, from bulletproof vests) so they are pretty solid over time. I’ve found though it pays to run a bit before a race as they do have an initial break-in/sizing period. Still, better than re-tieing laces mid-race.
- Endo-fit: the internal sleeve is a great piece of tech. Now, it feels a little weird but what it does best is prevent your foot from slipping forward. This is KEY in a long race – there is no point having space in the front of your foot as your foot swells IF you just keep slipping forward and banging your toes anyway.
- Contra-grip: the grip is really great on the roads. Tight corners will be taken. Trails they also work but I wouldn’t recommend them for muddy slop. Mostly groomed trails will get the most out of these shoes.
- Upper: light, smooth and minimal stiching. zero hot spots. WIDE forefoot. The width is a shocker for Salomon as most of the SLAB’s have more narrow platforms but these are the exception that makes you appreciate the rule.
- Price: they are expensive. Sorry. Blame Europe.