PRODUCT REVIEW: Saucony Progrid Kinvara 2 running shoe

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I’ve been brought up to only throw things away if they fall apart. Whilst my Kinvaras look like they have life in them, they died during the Robin Hood Half, on Sunday.

Dealing firstly with the negatives, I’ve run 601km in them (373.4 miles), and I’ve easily had over 500 miles with other runners. My old Sauconys, which are still usable if I only use them sporadically, have logged over 700 miles. These running shoes aren’t going to last the distance; this could be due to the style. Kinvaras are natural, barefoot, or minimalist shoes,meow ever you like to call them. When I bought them, I was swayed more by the fact that they are lightweight, and not for the barefoot running reason. To be honest, I really hadn’t thought about the barefoot running side, and the website I bought them from didn’t go there either. I bought them because they were on sale, with a massive discount (they were an old model), and I like Saucony running shoes.

A note of caution – these running shoes may not be suited for you. It is recommended that you “transition” into a style like this, again something not mentioned on the website I bought them from. What you are looking for is something called the “heel toe drop”. It’s the difference in height between the heel and the toe. This pair of Kinvaras has a 4mm drop, a whopping 12mm lower than the pair that they replaced! If you’re used to running with a more padded shoe and bigger drop, then you may find that your calves don’t like the new shoes. I had no such problems; I wear flat shoes most of the time, and I love my Converse, which are one of the flattest shoes in existent, and I believe that I am lucky my legs are used to it. What I should have done is to have worked my way down to a 4mm drop.

Oops.

The other downside is that when they died, they died big time. On Sunday, I may as well have run barefoot. Literally. I could feel every stone, crack, and bump in the road. It’s a good job I have a new pair ready to go, because there is no way I could have carried on in them whilst waiting. I knew they were losing a bit of bounce, but I’m used to a gradual decline in performance, not a sudden “nope, we’re done with this running lark”. I was lucky I only had three miles left, and it wasn’t the first three miles! This is totally new to me.

I’m also used to a lot of mileage from my runners. It might be a build thing, but I’ve had 1,000 miles from some shoes in the past! Before buying them, I had read some reviews, and there were comments from blokes who claimed to be “big boned”, that they weren’t as robust as other shoes. I ignored them, as I’m not a big boned bloke. Unlike some of the comments that I read, even when my Kinvaras gave up, I may have felt stones, but they didn’t pierce my shoes, either.

This is where the positives come in. I’ve found my Kinvaras to be quite robust, for the weight. They’ve withstood road racing, and off-road routes with thorns, nettles, twigs, and thistles, and they have help up fine.

I haven’t had any problems with the low heel toe drop. Until they wore out, they were well cushioned. But most importantly, they were really, really light. I’m not saying my recent form improvement is down to them, but I think that lightweight shoes certainly help.

Overall, I’ve liked these runners. I would buy another pair, but Saucony have moved on several models, and I have been told that the later ones do not feel the same. The heel toe drop caution will apply, if you’ve not been trying to move down, regardless of which version you buy. I would suspect that the newer models have a similar lifespan; it would be interesting to compare, and to see if they suddenly go like the 2s. It might be advisable to have a spare pair on hand, after a couple of hundred miles. You know, just in case. My next shoes are New Balance, so it will be some time before I find out, but Kinvaras are definitely one I will consider running in again.

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