This past fall and so far this winter, I have been able to do a lot of running using some of my old favorite shoes. And more recently, I purchased a few new pairs to try.
In November, I migrated down to the desert southwest and spent the next two and a half months enjoying the near perfect running and adventuring conditions in the Sonoran desert. Four different pairs of shoes made the journey with me:
- Hoka Bondi B
- Skechers GOrun
- New Balance MT10
- Montrail Rogue Racer
When I got back to Montana, I was hungry for some new running shoes and took advantage of some end of season sales and picked up three new pairs to try:
- Nike Terra Kiger
- New Balance 1400
- Skechers GObionic Trail
Following are some brief thoughts about the merits of these various shoes, old and new.
Hoka Bondi B the Stiff Sponge of the Running Shoe World
The Hoka Bondi B has been serving well as my protective trail shoe. For the desert, where it is normally dry and free of mud and snow, the Bondi works just fine, offering good traction and protection. The oversized sole may even offer a bit of extra flotation on sand.
My main complaint with the Bondi is that they are very stiff flexing. The last couple years, I have developed a form of Achilles Tendinitis that manifests as a tenderness at the back of my heels – especially when they are contact pressured. Shoes that are stiff flexing tend to increase the pressure on the back of my heels. As my foot tries to flex, stiff shoes will resist this movement. The result being my heel tends to move back and tries to lift up inside the shoe. This action pressures the back of my heels. This becomes even more of a problem going uphill where my foot tends to slide or shift back inside the shoe jamming my heel against the back of the shoe. After an hour or more of this in stiff shoes like the Bondi, my heels get darn sore and I will have very tender heels for the next day or so.
Skechers GOrun for Road Running and Track Training
When training during my southwest adventure, I did all my road running and training on the track in the Skechers GOrun. I hadn’t used the GOrun all summer as I was mostly doing trail running. So it was a treat this fall and winter to put in lots of road and track miles in the GOrun – kind of like rekindling an old familiar friendship. I had forgotten how much I liked these shoes and how revolutionary they are. For running smooth surfaces like paved roads or tracks, I have not found anything better. The interior is so smooth and comfy that I never wore socks when running in the GOruns. The infamous hump in the middle gives my foot something to spread out around and grip – preventing my foot from sliding back in the shoe – even with the shoes laced very loose. Essentially, I can run in the GOruns with my heel barely touching the back of the shoe! The GOrun is the only shoe I have been using lately that does not aggravate the tender back of my heels.
Unfortunately, the GOrun does not have enough protection for running trails or for that matter gravel roads. Skechers has a GOtrail model that I tried last winter. But I was disappointed with it. Skechers has a new extra cushioned version of the GOrun called the GOrun Ultra. I have not tried it, but it looks promising. Since I got back to Montana, I have purchased the GObionic Trail and it shows some promise. I’ll talk about it later in this post.
Be aware that Skechers has modified the GOrun since the original that came out in 2011. The later generations have less of a hump in the middle and are a little lighter. The later generations do not have the finish quality of the originals. So they do not have the smooth interior of the original and are more prone to causing blisters and irritation when not using socks.
New Balance MT10 the Perfect Car Driving Shoe
I need to mention that I used the New Balance MT10 as my driving and just knock around shoes. They are like protective socks or moccasins. They give great feel of the pedals when driving a car, unlike Hokas. But they just do not have enough cushion for running at anything more than a pussy foot pace. So I did not do any running in them, but during my desert sojourn, I probably spent more hours wearing these shoes than any of the others. I wore the MT10s for everything except running and trail hiking. The MT10 are extremely high quality (the interior is like a fine Italian dance shoe!) and they are such a comfortable shoe that I just plain love wearing them. I just do not love running in them!
Montrail Rogue Racers for the Short Haul
I did not use the Rogue Racers for much other than a desert 26K trail race in November and a Half Marathon road race in January. They worked fine, but left my feet feeling pretty dead and beat up by the end of the races. After my experience using the Rogue Racers in the November 26K trail race, I later did a similar 26K trail race in December using the Hoka Bondi B. I did much better in the second race and the soles of my feet did not feel so battered using the Hokas.
Perhaps my Rogue Racers are getting worn out as they are a few years old and have experienced a lot of miles and a lot of races. For me, the Rogue Racers are not suited for anything longer than a half marathon and a half marathon is pushing it. My pair of Rogue Racers is worn and ready for retirement. There are better shoes out there, so I will not likely buy a replacement pair.
Nike Terra Kiger an Odd Marriage of a Stiff Sole and Mushy Upper
At first glance the Kiger appears very similar to the old Nike Zoom Trail that I have used so much on the Ridge Run. It is about an ounce lighter, but the main difference is the Kiger’s upper is much softer and less supportive. The outsole has the terrific gripping sticky rubber. The Kiger’s midsole is protective but stiff flexing. Compared to the old Zoom Trail, the Kiger has a more level sole profile and less cushion – especially in the heel. The soft upper allows my foot to mush around and not feel firmly attached to the sole. This is not a problem on gentle terrain, but on steep side hills and uneven footing, this is a problem. I was hoping the Kiger would be a lighter, improved and modernized version of the Zoom Trail, unfortunately it suffers from a stiff sole that seems mismatched when teamed with its mushy upper.
New Balance 1400 a Plane Jane Lightweight Road Shoe
When I see a running shoe on sale for $30.00, I have a hard time resisting buying them. The NB 1400 is not a shoe I would normally buy, but for $30.00, I figured I could do something with them. They are a conventional light weight trainer or road racing flat. And for that purpose, they work just fine. For a road shoe, they are moderately light at 7oz for a size 10. They flex easily right where they should – the ball of the foot. And they feel good. The sole is much thicker and cushioned at the heel than the ball of the foot. This lends to more of a heel strike gate. Adding a metatarsal pad adds some needed cushion at the ball of the foot and also levels out the effective profile improving the ride.
I could see alternating the NB 1400s with the Skechers GOrun for training on the track or the road. It would be a toss-up choosing between using the NB 1400 for a short road race or the GOrun. For someone that prefers a more conventional shoe than the Skechers GOrun, the NB 1400 is a perfect light training or racing shoe. They may also work well on dry trails where traction is not an issue. I wish I would have had these instead of the Montrail Rogue Racers for running that January road half marathon.
Skechers GObionic Trail – Easy Flexing Protective but Humpless
This is the best new trail shoe I have tried recently. For a trail shoe, they are light at 8 ounces for a size 9.5, easy flexing, protective and offer good traction. The lugs on the out sole are spaced out more than and not as deep as the lugs on the Skechers GO Trail. The result is they do not pick up rocks and get caked with mud as much as the old GO Trail. The sole is oversized and offers lots of cushion; borrowing some Hoka attributes.
My only complaint is; I wish the GObionic Trail had the pronounced rocker midsole profile of the original GOrun. The GObionic trail is fairly conventional and does not have the hump in the middle. Consequently, my foot tends to slide forward inside the shoe when going downhill and slide backward when going uphill just as it does in most conventional shoes.
The GObionic Trail would be a good lightweight shoe for the Ridge Run. It feels like an easy flexing, more nimble, lighter weight version of a Hoka Bondi B. It offers less protection from rocks than the Hoka, but it is adequate for running in the Bridgers.