If you want great road shoes, look beyond the mainstream brands
Posted on October 03 2018
There was a time when choosing road running shoes easy. What's your focus?, racing or training?, over what distance?, and do you need support for pronation issues?. .... adidas, Nike, New Balance, Asics, Saucony, Brooks, Mizuno, and a couple of others, had something that would fit.
The best shoes claimed technical credibility backed by race experience and shop staff explained the product and why it was right for you. Some smaller mainstream brands still try but the big brands saw the lure of a mass market, where fashion dominates and "AthLeisure" happened. Nothing wrong with expanding to customers wanting a healthier lifestyle but somewhere the focus on capability and performance has been lost.
At Gone Running we want to bring you road shoes with meaning, that will suit your needs and understand why a particular model can help. The models we carry, we carry for a reason. When we expand the selection we do so carefully and there are new kids on the block that have earned their place through credibility. Here we share what we believe some if the models we carry bring to the party.
We cover three categories:
Competition - for those race sessions and speedy workouts
Training - for your everyday training, keeping you injury free
Support - when you need a helping hand.
Clicking on the image takes you to the product page, in most cases we have men's and women's versions available
COMPETITION - when you want lightness, responsiveness and pace
New Balance - Fuel Cell Impulse ... 232g, nitrogen infused TPU foam and sock like upper, fast transition and with slightly more cushioning than an out and out racer. Great for the track, fast workouts and races up to marathon distance. Neutral arch support and 6mm drop. Fast and responsive.
Altra Escalante/Escalante Racer ... If you like the zero drop and the wide toebox of Altra, you can consider the Escalante or the lighter Escalante Racer. 220g and with a stiffer midsole in the racer, the shoe becomes fast and responsive. Transitioning to zero drop needs attention but Altra point to the injury reducing benefits of the more midfoot/forefoot footfall.
ON Cloud X If you want pace and lightness but wary of limited cushioned racers, the ON Cloud X provides light, but well cushioned comfort. ON is a Swiss brand with innovative cushioning designed to providing good energy return. 229g and an almost 11 mm drop and a full length plastic "speedboard" running the length of the shoe just above the "clouds" gives a very responsive feel. The CloudTec Elements provide a light and responsive ride. Great for speedy interval session and all road race distances.
TRAINING - banging out the hard miles, day in, day out
New Balance 1080 v8 & 890 v6. v8 of the 1080 and v6 for the 890 says it all, these two have been around a while, and for good reason. The 1080 was named best cushioned shoe of 2018 by Runners World.
A neutral arch cushioned shoe which can handle the punishment of the long run, the fast tempos and the recovery runs. 318g with fresh foam cushioning. The 890 is a bit lighter at 251g and a solid performance trainer.
Both of these shoes will give you miles of solid support as you grind out the miles. The 1080 and the 890 have an 8mm and 6mm drop respectively and if you looking for a somewhat more responsive shoe the 890 would be the better of the two but with a different midsole cushioning feel.
The FreshFoam of the 1080 is a bit harder, than the RevLite of the 890 and the preference will come down to own personal choice. New Balance shoes do tend to have a wider fit which appeals to many people. Overall two very capable daily trainers.
Hoka Mach - the Clayton successor .........Hoka have made their name on the trails with maximalist shoes but their road offering is getting better and better... The Mach is an incredibly light, 5mm drop, well cushioned road shoe. At 229g it easily has the best weight to cushioning ration. Mach is a more refined update of the popular Clayton with a slightly narrower fit. We have customers who have been long time road runners raving about the feeling this shoe gives them. Smooth, comfortable and super easy on the legs when you are pounding out the miles. Support in the upper comes from varying density in the mesh and this does help hold your foot firm.
Altra Duo - carrying the Wide Toebox and Zero Drop to the road. It may not look like it but the Duo is Zero Drop like all of Altra's offering. Your heel sits low in the injected foam midsole giving a cossetted enclosed fit. They look big but are incredibly light at 238g especially amazing with its 31 mm stack height. For HK running the upper is very breathable. The toe box is one of Altra's signatures but the shape looks less "duck like" than on some of the trail shoes. If you have wide feet or just like your toes being free to splay, which Altra claims is a much more natural action for them, then the Duo could be your high mileage training shoe. Remember though that transitioning to Zero Drop does take a period of adaption so build the volume slowly.
SUPPORT - hardly anybody has perfect bio-metrics and running pleasure often means getting a helping hand.
If you suffer a little from over-pronation, wearing unsupportive shoes can lead to injury. If you suspect you have overpronation or suprination (inward rolling or outward rolling) of the foot during a normal running action, it is always good to have a proper gait analysis done. Motion control shoes and/or some form of shoe insert such as orthotics can help counteract natural running challenges. Here are a few shoe suggestions that will help.
New Balance Vongo v3. The Vongo is the flagship stability shoe of New Balance and the only one to carry a FreshFoam midsole. Of course being a stability shoe you would expect a bit of a trade-off between support and nimbleness. The midsole medials extend upwards to provide the necessary support for overpronation and it has a relatively low 4mm drop. Despite the amount of protection the FreshFoam means these weigh in at just over 300g which is pretty reasonable. The trend to sock-like uppers continues here and this allows good support around the foot.
ON CloudAce - This is how ON describes the shoe ""The objective was clear: deliver the ultimate cushioning sensation without slowing you down. The sole of the Cloudace is the result. Our most advanced application of CloudTec® delivers the smoothest ride you've ever felt. Experience extreme heel comfort and protection thanks to rear Zero-Gravity Clouds and still get an agile push-off thanks to the rubber landing zone in the forefoot." The shoe weighs in at 329g and is the heaviest in the blog but for that you get a very well engineered support shoe. 7mm drop and an external heel counter which provides the support to control the overpronation. Similar midsole construction to other ON shoes with the CloudTec elements attached to a plastic Speedboard that runs the length of the shoe.
This by no means covers our entire range, but we wanted to provide some guidance when you are thinking about your new road shoes. Some traditional choices mixed with exciting, innovative products. We will provide the advice and support you wont find elsewhere. As ever we look forward to your feedback and our range will continue to develop.