Thursday, December 24, 2015

Saucony Guide 9 Review

   Despite my love for Saucony, I have only kept to their 4mm drop shoes. The Kinvara, Mirage, Fastwitch and Type A series have worked well for me but I have not had a great deal of success with the traditional trainers.  I tried the Triumph many years ago but found the forefoot fit to taper too quickly for my liking.  Recently I tried a previous version of the Guide but also found the fit to be narrow and not suited to my tastes.  Finally with the addition of the EverRun, Saucony's new topsole material, I decided to give the Guide 9 a try.  I was pleasantly surprised with both the fit (much better) and the ride of this shoe.  Having also tried the Triumph ISO 2, I can say that Saucony has made huge leaps in improvement over the last year and I am very excited to see how they continue to apply the ISO and EverRun technology to their shoes.  In terms of the Guide 9 here are my thoughts:


Sole/Ride/Drop: As with Saucony shoes, the ride of the Guide 9 is on the firmer side.  The EverRun and EVA sole do not lead to an overly soft ride like most Adidas Boost shoes.  I actually did not notice the EverRun until I started running.  This "topsole" material (located above the midsole) really shines the longer you get into a run.  I feel like EverRun primarily helps disperse force as my feet and legs have felt a bit less beat up than normal.  However I also feel that the ride is a bit more bouncy than previous iterations of Saucony Trainers.  The Guide 9 still feels firm but forgiving without being soft.  The firmer ride works well with the dual density posting/support in the medial heel and midfoot.  I did not find the support to be intrusive at all, instead it is integrated very well with the sole and guides the foot well (pun).  The Guide 9 is definitely a moderate level stability shoe that provides plenty of support for those who need additional help.
    The drop is listed at 8mm and that is exactly how it feels.  The moderate drop contributes to a relatively smooth ride regardless of where you land.  Never once did I feel like the heel was getting in the way of my stride.  The EverRun also contributed to smoother ride along with improved flexibility in the forefoot of the shoe.  Saucony put deeper flex grooves in the shoe which vastly improved the ride from the midfoot forward.  Previous versions of the Guide have had an extremely stiff forefoot and while the Guide 9 is not the most flexible shoe (and I personally found the forefoot to still be a bit stiff until after 100 miles of wear), it is much better.
 

Fit/Feel/Upper: The major issue I have had with prior Saucony trainers has been the narrower forefoot.  That issue has been fixed with the Guide 9.  I did not try the Triumph ISO 1 but found a similarly good fit in the Triumph ISO 2.  The Guide 9 has a flexible forefoot mesh that combined with a wider toebox creates a comfortable and accommodating fit.  If you have extremely wide feet I would suggest getting the 2E version.  For most, the normal width will be just fine.  The heel and midfoot hold the foot very well and although I use a special lacing technique to help hold my heel in all my shoes, I don't think it is necessary in the Guide 9.
   In terms of sizing, the Guide 9 fits very true to size.  Size 10 is what I usually wear and that fits me perfectly in this shoe.


Weight/Responsiveness: As expected, the Guide 9 is a traditionally supportive, +10oz trainer.  As I alluded to earlier, the EverRun topsole does not provide explosive energy return.  Rather it provides a little extra rebound and shock absorption that I noticed especially on longer runs.  On my 16-20 mile runs, I could still feel a little bit of pop from the shoe toward the end where I normally start to get dead legs.  Additionally, despite being a traditional trainer with a >10oz weight, this shoe does respond to pick ups in speed.  It felt good to do strides at the end of runs in this shoe, which may be some minor energy return from the EverRun, but they are not the shoe I would choose for workouts.  At most I would consider doing an uptempo run in them, but I much prefer racing flats, marathon racers (Adidas Adios, Nike Streak, NB 1400) or lightweight trainers for even tempo runs.  The Guide 9 is a shoe meant for logging miles in during normal training and long runs.


Thoughts as a DPT (Student): I am very happy that Saucony kept their supportive shoe on the firmer side.  As I have discussed in previous posts, a firmer surface is inherently more stable.  Think of walking on concrete vs a water bed.  Shoes that combine soft midsoles with stability do not make sense to me.  A prime example of how not to do this is the Brooks Transcend (at least version one.  I have not tried version two because I hated the first one).  I found that shoe to be extremely soft and although I found the guide rails attempting to push and guide my foot, the overly soft midsole created an unstable ride.  A gait analysis by a colleague further confirmed my feelings and suspicions as my legs collapsed and moved all over the place throughout stance phase bilaterally.
   The EverRun Topsole, unlike the Adidas Boost, does not lend to a super soft ride.  This is likely due to the fact that Saucony decided only to use a little bit in the shoe rather than filling large portions of the midsole.  I do like being able to feel this material right against my foot on top of firmer EVA.  Adidas does the exact opposite with firmer EVA on top of Boost.  Which means your base is soft and unstable.  The Adidas Adios Boost series is probably one of the few shoes in their line that can get away with this because of the extended torsion system into the forefoot that helps with a stable, firm and snappy ride (that shoe also has less midsole in general being a marathon racer).  I do like Boost and the new TPU midsoles coming out.  I just think that they have to be applied appropriately.  And as someone with highly flexible feet, I do not respond well to very soft midsoles.  Other individuals with more rigid lower extremities and feet will enjoy them because the shoes provide the shock absorption their bodies struggle with.  It all depends on the person.


Conclusion: I was pleasantly surprised by many qualities of the Guide 9.  The upper fit is more accommodating and has a better shape than previous versions.  The ride can feel moderately lively with the addition of the EverRun topsole and the support is integrated very well, making for a smooth riding moderate stability shoe.  I am extremely impressed with the shoes Saucony is putting out recently. I hope they integrate full length EverRun into their racing flats, because I believe that is where that material will truly shine.  Word on the street is that the Type A7 will continue to be a full EVA midsole, but hopefully the Type A8 and Fastwitch 8 will get those upgrades.  In the meantime, if you need a moderate support stability trainer with a great fit and ride that will keep you going for long miles, take a look at the Saucony Guide 9.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to Tack On!

These shoes were a provided for free after winning the 2015 Megan's Wings 5k from Fleet Feet Rancho Cucamonga.  I put at least 100 miles on every pair of shoes before I review them (except racing flats which I put on at least 50 miles).  Currently I have 215 miles on my pair.

As always, my views are my own.

-Matt Klein, SPT

9 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Good review again Matt. I haven't run much in any Saucony's and only currently have the Fastwitch 7. Do you prefer the Guide 9 or Triumph ISO 2 for the new shoes with full length Everun in them (I usually don't go for stability shoes, but not completely opposed)? I haven't tried the Kinvara since version 1 believe it or not, but likely will try to get my hands on v7. I've been in the same boat with the toebox fit, but good news is it looks like Saucony's newer shoes are trending towards a little less pointedness.

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    1. Putting miles on the Triumph ISO 2 now. The Guide 9 feels like a nice thin layer of Everun without turning the shoe into a Boost shoe. Definitely still on the firmer side (as are many Saucony shoes). The Triumph's Everun is extensive. There's a ton and it feels very cushioned and responsive. That shoe you will definitely notice the everun material. The Kinvara 7 will most likely be similar to the Guide 9 in that the new material compliments the sole, whereas in the Triumph ISO 2 it completely takes over.

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  3. Matt,
    Quick one for you, as a first year, "competitive" runner in the 50-54 age grp could you please touch on the reasoning for having a racing shoe versus a training g shoe?
    I have had two pair of Saucony, (zealot/ISO triumph) and have transitioned from the zealot to the triumph.
    I was under the mindset of just transitioning from shoe to shoe as the mileage built up. I have not considered two separate shoes for training/racing.
    Thanks

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  4. Matt,
    Quick one for you, as a first year, "competitive" runner in the 50-54 age grp could you please touch on the reasoning for having a racing shoe versus a training g shoe?
    I have had two pair of Saucony, (zealot/ISO triumph) and have transitioned from the zealot to the triumph.
    I was under the mindset of just transitioning from shoe to shoe as the mileage built up. I have not considered two separate shoes for training/racing.
    Thanks

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    1. tcole, since you've not had a reply yet, I thought I'd give you my view. Typically the idea behind having a racing shoe is that it will allow you a faster run. Generally they are lighter, not as cushioned, so you can run faster. Running the volume of your training miles in a more cushioned and protective shoe, will keep you in good health. Then run your races in the lighter, more responsive shoe. There's no requirement that you use a different shoe for races than training though. If you are happy with your daily trainer, by all means, run your races in it. If you choose to use a racing shoe, make sure that you do at least some of your training runs in it so you have it broken in and are used to it. Take care. Lew.

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    2. Lew that is a great answer. Thank you for taking the time to answer tcole's question!

      Racing shoes are designed to be lighter, less cushioned and less supportive to allow you to run faster. They are generally used during races and harder workouts (to get used to them for races) to run at faster paces. Training shoes on the other hand have more cushion and protection (and thus more weight) to take the edge off of the majority of high mileage/easy runs with the idea being to keep you healthy and allow your body to recover from the hard workouts/races or to protect it from longer miles you do when not racing. As Lew said, the idea that many competitive and elite runners have is do the majority of their higher mileage and recovery runs in a training shoe, then race and do workouts in a lighter, more responsive shoe. They are carrying less weight with the racing shoe so they run faster. This is not a requirement though. If you enjoy racing in your training shoes, by all means go for it. Every person is different. Some people do not like the lightweight racing shoes, prefer more cushion/protection and race in shoes others consider training shoes.

      In your case, you could do the majority of your miles in your triumph and race in the zealots (which are lighter). In my mind since everyone is different, I don't think you have to get a specific pair of shoes that others label as "racing shoes."" They could be anything lighter than the shoe you do most of your miles in. I do think it is helpful to change up the shoes you run in so your expose your body to different impact forces, levels of stability and more to help avoid overuse injuries and vary the stimulus on your body. Personally, psychologically it helps me knowing I have a lighter pair of racing shoes on at a race. And if you are competitive, why not use every legal and safe mean to give you an edge? That said I have seen many competitive (and even national level), use shoes I would consider training shoes and win events. It just so happens that we are all different and one person's training shoe may be another person's racing shoe. So for you training in the triumph, if you want to stick with Saucony, the Zealot, Kinvara or Type A series would be lighter options to use on race day if your main goal is to not have anything weighing you down to run as fast as possible. It is also not necessarily about finding the lightest possible shoe, but finding the one that is most comfortable that you can still handle the race or workout distance in. I used to race in sub 5 ounce shoes for everything but have had more success in 7 ounce shoes (Skechers GoMeb Speed series) recently as that is what works for me at this time.

      Apologize for the delay in answering. Hope that helps!

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  5. Hello there! Great blog, it's been helping a lot!
    I'm a newbie at running and I mean, I've ran before but not taking it super seriously. Because of that, my shoes have always been pretty but not the real deal. I'm currently running with a Nike Flyknit Lunar but since I decided to go for a Half Marathon in September, I figured it was more than time to invest in a good and responsible shoe. I just bought the Everun Guide 9 but I'm a bit insecure with the choice. Since I'm used to the very light trainers this ones seem a bit too stiff, obviously. On the other hand the last thing I want is to get my knees injured. What's your opinion? Do you think it's worth giving it a try and slowly get used to the 'new concept'? Thank you so much! Keep it up :)

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    1. Hey Nataliasicsu! Thanks for reading!

      Having a light shoe is NOT a bad thing and transitioning to a heavier and more supportive shoe is NOT going to prevent injuries. The most important thing is finding a good shoe that is comfortable to you. If you find that you do need additional arch support and the guide 9 fits you well, then by all means keep running in it. If it feels heavy, clunky and/or uncomfortable, stop running in it. Additional arch support is not necessary if you don't need it. If you have had success in the Nike Flyknit Lunar stick with it unless you want to try something new. The Saucony Guide 9 is a VERY different shoe. It is a heavier duty, stability shoe. So if you like your new Guide 9s, know that your body will take some time to adjust to the heavier ride.

      Again, a heavier, more supportive shoe is NOT what will keep your knees healthy. That will come from good strength, mechanics and APPROPRIATELY training for your half marathon. That means building up your mileage slowly, taking time to work on strength, flexibility, etc and not increasing any new stress too quickly. Injuries come from sudden huge stimuli (like going for a 12 mile run when your max previously has been 4 miles), overuse (running on broken down shoes with poor running mechanics and certain muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc have to compensate for your weaknesses) or trauma (fall).

      Running does not cause injuries. Running with poor mechanics, lots of weaknesses and a poor training plan will cause injuries. If your shoes are comfortable and up to date you will be fine. If you're looking for a Saucony shoe similar to weight to the Nike Flyknit Lunar, take a look at the new Knivara 7, Zealot or Breakthru.

      Hope that helps!

      -Matt Klein, SPT

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