Mea culpa: I am a running geek. I am a shoe junkie. I am addicted to pounding pavement and running trails, sometimes 40 miles of training in a week. I am hardly the fastest runner I know, but I am committed: marathons and long-distance trail events are on my calendar, and I run year-round, hot sun to bitter cold.
Indeed, more than any other activity, running — which I can do daily — has slowly evolved into my sporting area of expertise. As such, running shoes have become crucial pieces of gear, and every year I review a dozen or more models made for road and trails.
A recent shoe that has stood out, the Saucony ProGrid Kinvara is light, fast and fun. The $90 model, which I have put 100+ miles on over the past few months, has slowly risen to the top in my closet as a favorite for mid-distance road runs.
The shoe is a “neutral” design, meaning it is fairly flat inside and there are no features included made to direct your stride. It is a running shoe that allows your foot to land and push off as it naturally would without a shoe on.
Like many “barefoot”-style shoes in its ilk, the Kinvara has minimal midsole construction. It is low to the ground and flexible in the sole.
All around, the shoe is light and fast. The uppers are mainly mesh. The sole is unique: It is skimmed down to just the essentials, with an exposed mold of EVA foam that is dotted with triangles of carbon rubber outsole for durability and grip.
On my scale, the Kinvara weighs 9.3 ounces per shoe (in men’s size 13). This is lighter than any “normal” road runner in my closet. Sure, there are specialty race shoes and running flats that are lighter still. But the Kinvara isn’t in that category. Saucony has found a design that is comfortable enough for mid-distance (5 to 10 miles) training days, though also as fast and fun as some shoes made only for racing.
If you’re a dedicated runner — or perhaps a bit addicted like me — the Kinvara comes highly recommended. The lightweight shoe with built-in support rides a thin line between speed and support, a place where daily training and race-speed minimalism can finally meet up. $90, www.saucony.com