Friday, March 15, 2013

The Saucony Virrata...its like strapping cheetahs to your feet

Be warned, this ain't gonna be a short post. I take running shoes seriously and plan on writing a review that I would want to read before I go out and drop $100 on a pair of running shoes.

Let me start off by saying I'm a Saucony guy. I've found that the Kinvara and Hattori have become my shoes of choice. While I only use the Hattori for 5ks and below, the Kinvaras have become my "workhorse" shoe I use to train and race at all distances. I've tried other companies minimalist shoes and been disappointed, so when I heard that Saucony was coming out with a minimalist/zero drop shoe of their own I was chomping at the bit to run in a pair.
All you need to know at a glance
Lucky for me, a pair of them landed on my doorstep for me to tryout. Now, before we even get to the shoe, can we talk about the box? I LOVE the fact that rather then get the plain brown box that has the shoe brand and maybe shoe type/size on it, which leads you to have to ask someone at the store about the shoes and whether they're right for you (by the way, does the 18 year old kid working in the shoe department of Dick's or Sports Authority EVER know anything about shoes?), Saucony has taken the extra time to explain what the shoes are right on the box. In a glance, you can actually see which shoe it is, a description of the shoe, its weight, its "type", the offset AND the heel to toe height! Way to go Saucony! Everything I need/want to know is right there! I'm sure it costs a little more for this type of packaging, but when it informs the user its totally worth it. I know most people wouldn't get excited about a box but when you've been buying running shoes for decades, its finally nice to see someone actually take the time to make packaging for the runner customer!

Okay, so onto the shoe. You know that shows can be fantastic, but if they don't look cool then you're probably just not going to
buy them or wear them. I was sent the black/red/green pair...and they look awesome! The first time I wore them out for a run with a group of friends, everyone literally stopped to ask me what cool new shoes I was wearing.The shoe has a great color combination with the matte and shiny accents and reflective details. The shoe is eye catching in all versions of color combinations.A nice addition I like is the shoe's "name badge" right on the side of the shoe for all to see. There's nothing I dislike more than looking at shoes and other than being able to tell the manufacturer, having no idea which "type" or "version" they are. The internal bootie construction with the breathable mono mesh not only makes the shoe comfortable (we'll get to that in a bit) but makes for an attractive sublimated color-look as well. Saucony, even the Russian judge will give you a 10 for style points on these kicks!
The shoe bends naturally with your foot
 Now lets talk about the shoes! The Virrata is Saucony's lightest (6.5 ounces for men, 6.0 ounces for women) and most flexible shoe. For the uninitiated, let me explain what the big deal is about "weight". The heavier a shoe, the more work you have to do in order to pick it up and put it down with every foot strike. Over time and mileage that will lead to fatigue With a lighter shoe, there's less weight on the end of your legs, which should lead to a quicker turn over. A quicker turn over means means speed...speed equals good.

Don't worry, I bought this pic

The midsole and outsole is made almost entirely of EVA+ material (a strong, durable foam). There are 24 independent EVA+ "pods" on the bottom of the shoe to make contact with each foot strike and each pod is deeply cut out allowing the show to bend and flex...naturally, like your foot would. What does that mean to you? It doesn't feel like you're wearing a shoe at all. The lightweight shoe and flexible "pod" sole, feel like an extension of your foot. The shoe doesn't "tell'' your foot where to strike, rather the shoe works with your natural stride and foot placement. The upper (top of the shoe) is comprised of a mesh covering and interior sock-like bootie which not only reduces weight but provides a snug fit without restricting the natural movement of your feet/toes during foot strike. An added benefit? Because I run in the snow, mud, wet environment of New England, I find the upper dries out quickly which really helps to keep my feet dry and from freezing on long runs. So, the combination of the sole and the upper makes...dare I say it...a plush feel for not only a shoe but a "minimalist" one to boot! Even for a heel striker like me the shoes feel fantastic. To be honest, I've found that because of the lighter weight and quicker turnover I've become more of a "mid foot" striker. Thus far I've taken them out on 5, 7, 9 and 10 mile training runs and have had no issue. I wore them for the Celtic 5k last weekend, (yes, I bought the image, relax Capstone) and I didn't think about or feel any pain in the feet, ankles, knees or hips...which sadly left me plenty of time to focus on the pain of turning the first mile on a 5:40 (I still owe a race report for that race...I'm getting to it I promise). Rarely do I tell everyone I know that "you should really try this shoe"...but this is that time. I think once you strap on a pair of'll be a fan of them like I am.

You can find out more about the Saucony Virrata and order you own pair from the Saucony store here. Now I'm off for a run!

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