I am a creature of habit. For example, there’s a little place I grab lunch at least twice a week while I wait for the kids. There are tons of other places around, but I end up there. Always. And not only that, I always order the same thing. I want to be different, I really do, but I tend to be in a hurry, hungry, and I know what I like. They make it, so why mess with it?
That’s why product trials work on people like me. I won’t spend $140 on a pair of running shoes I am not sure of. However, if Asics sends me a pair, why not try it? And that’s exactly what happened. They were spreading the running love, and I had a code to go shopping at their website. I looked around and went to the Gel Kayano. This was my first running shoe ever and is known for its support. Since I am training for Ironman Arizona, I use mostly a shoe with support so this seemed practical enough. I had left the Kayano’s some time ago when another shoe company sent me a demo of their stability shoe. Hmmm. I think I see a pattern here.
Then I stopped on my tracks, and for once decided to be different. I already have two pairs of shoes I do long runs in. Why get another? I thought, serious runners have different shoes for different types of runs; yet I have been running for years and I always stuck to one type of shoe: with support. I told myself: “what the heck, I am going to try something different.” Tempted as I was to go to the Kayano page, I looked around and found the Gel NOOSA Tri 9, a triathlon shoe. I didn’t even know it existed. I dug around a bit more and learned Noosa is actually a triathlon race in Australia, and the shoe is not new at all.
Triathlon specific running shoes? That could be an alternative. The first thing the description talks about is the mesh top which allows for greater breathability, especially when your feet are wet. Running in sloshy shoes, as if you just ran through a puddle, is one of my pet peeves. So much so, I am not the runner you will see cooling off in a mist shower just so that I don’t add water to my already wet and sweaty shoes. I know, it’s disgusting, but I sweat so much my shoes end up wet after every run. The last thing I want is to add more water from a mist, wet towel or melted ice.
The NOOSA also comes with both regular and elastic laces to make putting them on and off easy. And what finally closed my decision to try them was that though lightweight they still have some support for over-pronators though it’s not a stability shoe. “Alright,” I thought. “Let’s do it.”
I then had to choose a color. Holy cannoli. It took me forever to decide as the NOOSA has a wide array to choose from. Most are bright and colorful, by wearing them your feet scream “I AM BOLD AND I AM NOT AFRAID TO SHOW IT.” But that’s not quite my style. I tend to be more conservative and quiet so I went for the blue, the only color that didn’t seem to YELL. Plus, it matches my Wolfpack Tri uniform so there.
I took the NOOSA Tri 9 out for a six mile hill repeat workout. In Miami this translates into bridge repeats. I would run a quarter mile up the bridge as fast as I could, and recover on the way down. Then do it again … for four miles worth of ups and downs. I thought this speed workout wasn’t a long run where I would need a lot of support so why not try out the NOOSA?
Just as I got to the base of the bridge, it started to rain. I waited for a bit inside my car and inspected the NOOSA. They felt very light, and looked pretty cool. It wasn’t screaming, but different enough. When I finally began to run it was drizzling, and in less than a minute I had stepped into one of the many puddles left by the rain. I won’t tell you the shoe didn’t get wet, it got soaked! But it wasn’t sloshy and soggy with that feeling of carrying an extra pound on each foot. It continued to feel light and fast throughout the whole workout. Plus, the NOOSA Tri 9 has a sock liner that also helped drain the moisture.
Yet as much as I liked the NOOSA, I didn’t feel it was cushioned enough for the marathon I will be running at Ironman Arizona. Not that I felt the concrete, but my fore foot tends to dig into the sole of my shoe and I don’t think there is that much cushion there thus risking an uncomfortable long haul.
I went to Instagram to get feedback and was told by several people they felt the same. They were die-hard NOOSA fans for shorter distances, one guy mentioned up to 15k. But for longer distances, a shoe with more support and cushion, such as the Kayano, might be more comfortable.
Personally, I will use the shoe for my brick workouts, where I ride the bike and then have to quickly change into running shoes for a short run. The NOOSA Tri 9 will be perfect for those. They would also be great if I were racing a Sprint or Olympic triathlon; much better than what I currently wear as I train for Ironman. Why carry around all that extra weight of both support and water (because there are no dry feet in triathlon), when you have an alternative like this?
So thank you Asics, for the shoes and for giving me the opportunity of trying something different. It was very uncharacteristic of me, but as the saying goes “you won’t get somewhere different if you always choose the same route.”
How about you? What are your go to running shoes for short and long distances?