My Take on the Saucony Progrid Kinvara 2
When I first started running late 2010, I didn’t have a clue what kind of shoes to get. To cope with the plethora of choices, I relied on some reviews in Runners World magazine to weed out the best one for me (you know you’re serious when you start buying RW mag). After reviewing with a friend I finally settled on a pair of Reebok Verona KFS II which at the time was a relatively new shoe. After trying them on at the store I decided to get them as they were cushy enough to support and inspire running motion in a beginner like me and had a fit that was comfortable for wide feet like mine. I have since put many miles on them and ran a few races, too.
Fast forward a year and a half later, I had just finished the 11km race at Brooks Half Marathon and was just done gorging on watermelons when I felt a flapping sensation on the tips of my right foot. I looked down and lifted my foot to check out what was happening. The glue had finally come off the sole tip of my Veronas. Even though glueing it back on fixed it, I knew the shoes would never be the same. It was time to reassign them for walking and get a new pair of primary kicks.
Again, the daunting task of selecting a new pair of shoes was upon me. Which one to choose?
By this time I had already possessed more knowledge about running and how shoes affect your strikes. I knew I wanted to transition to a more minimalist-type of shoe so that I could go from heel-striking to mid-foot, a running form that is arguably physiologically better for you long term. My priority was also going for a shoe that was lighter, as light as I could get it. I had just then been very curious about an American shoe brand called Saucony because it wasn’t a very common name in Malaysia (at least amongst budding runners), but nonetheless it was making its way into the stores like RSH. Long story short, my triathlete friend Isaac on Twitter recommended me to check out the Saucony Progrid Kinvara 2. And I can tell you I am very glad I did.
The Kinvara 2 is the sequel to the older Kinvara and prequel to new Kinvara 3 (which is just out this year but still priced high), touted as the ideal transition shoes for people wanting to go from the traditional running shoes bearing thick heels to less shoe without the shocks into going into something drastically bare like the Vibram 5-Fingers (which always remind me of gorilla feet). Weighing in at about 190g (light!), the Kinvara 2 has a heel-to-toe drop of 4mm, which I basically understand as the height difference between the heel and the mid-foot; in “normal” running shoes this height can be as much as 12mm. Because of this lower heel-to-toe height in the Kinvara, the shoe is supposed to make mid-foot striking inevitable and favorable.
Curious to try them out, I went to a mall near my house and was delighted to see that the sports shop carried the Saucony Progrid Kinvara 2. I tried my usual size, the ladies size 7 first but found the toe box cramping up my toes. So I went half a size bigger and found the 7.5 to be just nice. So it is true what the reviews online said about having to buy half a size bigger. After confirming my fit, I calmly put the shoes back on the shelf and went home. I bought the shoes online instead because it was easily half of what the retail price is here in Malaysia! Isaac commended me and told me that’s how smart shoe shopping is supposed to work. 🙂
Just as a side track but totally related to this post – I had also checked out Skechers GoRun shoes a few weeks earlier while I was window shopping in KLCC. Those shoes are also marketed as encouraging mid-foot strikes, and although I’m a huge Skechers fan I didn’t quite like the GoRun because the heel was designed in such a way that it tapered upward towards the back and made for an awkward walk should I ever want to go shopping in them or whatever. The shoes were however crazy light and could be contorted in all kinds of direction (they had a picture of the GoRun wrung as though you were squeezing water out of wet laundry, just to show how flexible they were), but the GoRuns were just not for me.
The Saucony Kinvara 2 did not have such a dramatic design, in fact the sole is almost sensibly flat and has the qualities of a good everyday walking shoe. I selected the white-magenta version and within a few weeks I had them in my hands. I inspected the shoe and found the white modestly-protruding V-shape lugs on the striking magenta bottom to be intriguing. Isaac said the shoes were “light and responsive due to the lugs, you will feel that energy is being pushed back to your legs.” I didn’t quite understand what he meant till I had put in a few kilometers in them.
Most new shoes require a period of break-in but with the Kinvara 2s, I had no problem running in them immediately as though they were my older pair of shoes – they are that comfortable and agile. The mesh surrounding the shoe was thick enough to protect my feet yet acceptably thin to be very breathable – one of its many highly-praised qualities. In fact the shoe is so comfortable that running sock-less in them was not a problem, I could even feel the wind caressing and cooling down my feet as I ran because the mesh was that thin! I don’t normally run without socks but I enjoyed running in the Kinvara 2 so much that I ran my 10k race at SCKLM this year without socks – and not a blister in sight. Bliss! However I have gone back to running with socks, albeit thinner socks, just because I feel a bit more comfortable with that. My favorite sock companions to the Kinvara 2 are the Nike Dri-Fits, size 21-24cm – they optimize the cooling down of my feet and almost feel like I am not wearing socks.
Transitioning to midfoot strikes with the Kinvara 2 was intuitive and feels comfortable and efficient to me. When running at higher speeds I began to fathom the statement Isaac made about how the shoes would channel energy back to push me off the ground, it really felt easier to sprint than with my older heel-dominant Reebok shoes. Although the Kinvara heel drop was lower than my Verona, I did not have painful calf issues to deal with after my runs. I am not sure if it’s because my calves were already toned up to deal with minimalistic shoe running (thank you, stairs, trail runs and hills!), or that the Kinvara 2 design was so awesome that it flicked off calf muscle pains like a nose booger. At any rate, I felt like a champion.
I also noticed a detail on the shoe which I have not yet seen in others, and that is the Saucony logo imprinted on aglets (the plastic ends of the laces). I thought that was a cute touch, to which a friend commented perhaps it’s small tell-tale sign to differentiate real from fake Sauconys. Could be. (Wait, do they even make fake Sauconys?)
So – have I convinced you that the Saucony Progrid Kinvara 2 is the way to go? Well everyone has their own feet type and the right corresponding shoe to choose from, and these delicious babies just happened to work out for me. These awesome soles were certainly an investment that I have completely fallen in love with and hope to break a few personal bests with, and then some. Plus they come in a bevy of attractive colors, so I really am fighting fruitlessly to avoid buying more of them in varying shades!
P.S: I am also eyeing the shoe sibling to the Kinvara for trail – the Saucony Progrid Peregrine. Oh, shoe shopping can be so delightfully sinful.
- Runblogger’s review of the Saucony Kinvara 3
- Official Saucony Kinvara 2 website
- Heel-Toe Drop Offset: What Does It Mean in a Running Shoe?