Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Shoe Revolution

 Shoes are an important. Period. People love looking at shoes, commenting on shoes and certainly buying shoes. Over the last handful of years, running as a wide spread activity has grown tremendously and with the rise in running there has been an evolution in the type of running shoes available to the general population. People are spending time researching which shoes are best for their running performance. It is astonishing to me because as a former collegiate track and field athlete, running was always looked down on as a brutal way to maintain and increase fitness levels. It was the last resort for many people in the population. Now, it is many people's first choice not only fitness, but for recreational challenges such as mud runs and adventure runs.

Recent running shoe history has focused on taking advantage of the rise in running in the general population. A few years back the big craze was the barefoot running based shoes such as the Vibrams. These web/glove like shoes have focused on getting people as close to possible to running barefoot. I used to see so many people wearing these, but lately I have noticed less and less people wearing them. What I am seeing is shoe companies coming into the covered shoe minimalist phase. This phase is focusing on zero drop technology or standard based running shoes that are extremely light weight with lots of heel support. While many companies have entered into these technologies, one company has really begun to shine in my opinion in how they focus on the new style of running shoe. Saucony, which has been around for many years, has done an excellent job in recent times focusing on the runner market.

Saucony's latest shoe running shoe offerings are closer to the type of shoes I believe are best for running performance. As a current exercise professional and avid exerciser, the type of shoes I wear are important to me and my clients. Recently, Saucony, in conjunction with Fitfluential, selected me to test out their new running shoe, the Kinvara 4's. In one of my recent blog posts titled "Its Gotta Be the Shoes," I was able to review one of Saucony's other new releases, the Virrata. In my opinion the Kinvara 4's are a step above those and that is saying a lot because I really enjoy the Virrata's!

The Kinvara 4's are not only a bit more stylish (love the shiny red color for men), but also better for running performance. While the Virrata focuses on the zero drop technology which results in a solid yet more minimalist shoe (think less heel support), the Kinvara 4 focuses on increased heel support with a comparable lightweight feel. As a runner, I always look for heel support and these accomplish that. I ran both outside and on the treadmill in addition to wearing them during group exercise and when I did personal training with my clients. I believe it is important to test your shoes out in a variety of settings and experiences and the Kinvara 4's were excellent each time I wore them. When I ran I felt light with each foot strike over a long period of time. I also noticed that these shoes were comfortable in just wearing them around for work. This was key to me because many running performance shoes are really just for running. They normally are difficult to wear when working all day, but the Kinvara 4's functioned well in exercise and non-exercise activities which I believe make them the ideal recreational and performance shoe.

So, where the shoe revolution will lead us next is going to be exciting. I believe we are continuing to head back to shoes that provide more support and comfort, but that also utilize increasing technologies to achieve that. Time will only tell what will stick for people, but I believe these Kinvara 4's are headed in the right direction for both running performance and activities of daily living. Plus, who doesn't love the Kinvara 4's awesome packaging that says "Warning, Contents May Activate Your Kickassimus!"

Disclosure: I received a free pair of shoes as part of being a Fitfluential Ambassador. I was not compensated and the viewpoints expressed in this blog are my own.

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