New Shoe – New Goals – My thoughts around the Saucony Freedom ISO

Edward Walton – Black Men Run CMO (Chief Motivation Officer)As I like to say…run hard, run smart and keep running.

This is my first write-up for a shoe in long time. I am generally loyal to a brand and shoe once I find something that works for my current running situation. I generally change shoe brand or shoe model within a brand to address changes such as

  1. Changes in my long term running goals such as training for a marathon or deciding to focus on short speedy races generally below 15K.
  2. Recovering from injuries or having to run with a minor injury
  3. Weight gain or loss.

Once I find a shoe I like I like to get two or three pair just in case the manufacturer decides to change or discontinue a model that I like. For a shoe to make the cut it, I will give it two weeks to pass the following criteria.

  1. It must be comfortable enough for speed work (generally around 4 – 5 miles) in a tempo run on the road.
  2. It must be light enough to do track work when running 400M, 800M and sometimes 1 mile intervals.
  3. It must stand up to a medium-long run (12-15 miles) at a pace that is about 60 to 120 seconds slower than my race pace and not have my legs feeling fatigued because the shoe wasn’t good at absorbing the shock.
  4. It must allow me to feel safe running downhill if for some reason I need to start heel striking in a race.
  5. It should give me confidence. (I don’t really know how to measure that but you know confidence  when it there or it isn’t)

When I got invited to test out the new kicks from Saucony and I decided sure…. this is a good a time as any since, #1 I was coming off an injury and was finally getting my stride back, #2 – I am turning 50 years old this year and decided to run a marathon (my first in 13 years) and get qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon and #3 – I heard good things about the shoe from other runners whom opinion I trust and respect.

I very rarely buy any running shoe sight unseen, meaning, not trying it on in a store before buying or at least seeing it in person. I can say that right of the gate Saucony got it right. The shoe came 2 days earlier that that predicted delivery time and it was right on time for my next training cycle.

Right out of the box the shoe is NO NONSENSE.  It came is a very plain black, white and red box, (My favorite colors).  I took the shoe out and noticed the it was black on black on silver on white. YES. Once again, NO NONSENSE. So, let me break down the items that I rate:

  1. Laces…thin but not like dental floss that some brands come with and the eye holes were in places that made sense, not too close but not too far apart and just enough holes to get the job done. It wasn’t laced in the tongue and I like that too.
  2. The sole of a shoe is the soul of a shoe…. this shoe has SOUL. I was fascinated by the clear rubber sole. It reminded me of a high-performance tire. I spent the next 5 minutes squeezing it and thinking…. yeah this might work. I like the tread pattern…. doesn’t mean that it will help performance but it made me like a bad ass. The outside of the sole had a black and silver pattern that speaks…I came to run…you came to have fun.
  3. The uppers were the last thing that got me on board. My feet are two different sizes. Most people are the same as NO person is 100% symmetrical on both side of their bodies. I bought at size 10.5 to account for my LARGER foot. I loved it…. well love is a strong word. I really really liked it. It feels like I bought a 10.0 and 10.5 shoe and it works…. didn’t have to wear thin socks on one foot and thick socks on the other foot.

Ok time to get at it….

Run #1 – First Date- I went for a slow jog to get some sweat in the shoe and see how it handles. It passed. It stayed firm…but it was still new so you really don’t know yet. I ran a dating 4 miler…. cause me and the shoe were still dating.

Run #2 – Time Trials. – I always put my shoe on the road first with up’s and downs. So, this run was a 4-mile tempo run. I did a 1 mile warm up…. then 4 miles at my race pace and then a 1 mile cool down. The shoe performed like I thought it would with one exception. It felt like the shoe on my smaller foot was about to come off when I took the pace below 6:30 per mile. I finished up my run and looked. I had the lacing the same for both feet and didn’t notice. I adjusted the lacing for my smaller foot and got prepared for my next run.

Run #3 – Long Run and look at the flowers – I ran an easy 15+ miler and the shoe felt great. I did have an issue once again with the lacing and the footing but decided to leave it alone. I felt that around mile 5 that I had my stride and strike dynamic in sync with the shoe and didn’t notice my heel try to come out of the shoe feeling anymore. I finished the run and felt good enough to go back out for another 3 miles.

Shoe passed the long run test.

Run #4 – Track Work – Plain and simple. 800 meter intervals. The BEST shoe I have ever run on a track with. I know the old saying “when the rubber meets the road”, but this was like when the “rubber meets the rubber”. I am a former track guy from back in my younger days so running in racing flats and spikes isn’t foreign to me. This shoe was different from spikes because it didn’t feel like the physics of step, anchor, push, dis-anchor, repeat. That is sprinter talk. It also didn’t feel like a racing flat that feels like it is about to come apart at each step. Shoe passed.

Run #5 – Shoe Breakup – This run was to find reason to say, “it’s not you, it’s me”. Here are the short comings of the shoe but not enough to dump it. It isn’t the best shoe in wet terrain. I had to shorten my stride on a run beacue I felt like I was going to slip or slide off the road. Once again think “performance tires”.

I can’t really tell if the shoe has a problem of drying out from the sweat after a run. I think it was damp after a run because I left it in a damp place. If you are going to be my main squeeze for a shoe you must be ready to go each day rain or shine. One more thing,  I don’t really know if the rubber will absorb heat…rubber tends to do that. I did run in 85-degree weather and the shoe stayed cool at 8 miles but let’s see at 20 miles.

My conclusion…. buy the shoe. Run in the shoe. Let the shoe love you first and then love the shoe. Love is such a strong word.

Get the black shoe as that shoe makes you  feel like a bad azz….

One thing to note…I have NOT competed in the shoe…. I will follow up in my next blog to see if the shoe is ready for prime time or will get stage fright.

That is all.

Edward Walton

CMO – Black Men Run