A First Run: Kinvara


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Wow, the Saucony Kinvara feels amazing.  It feels almost like a slipper when you put it on.  The mesh upper is quite comfortable, felt snug, but also felt like there was still support.  I think the sole is solid – firm but not overly stiff or with too much extra padding.

On my 3 mile run, I was able to experience a few different surfaces – concrete, asphalt, dirt, and gravel. I didn’t feel any rocks poke through the soles, like you might expect from a minimalist shoe.  The neutral shoe felt really good through most of the run.  I say most, because at around 2.5 miles my right leg started hurting a little bit.  Now on any given run a random pain could show up, so I’m not gonna blame the Kinvara’s for that on this run (but I’ve not had any pain on my right leg before or since). Other than that it was like going for a run in my older shoes.

I really liked the fit and feel of the Kinvara.  I was focused more on how the shoe felt than on my footstrike.  I ran a new route but my time was several minutes faster than a 3 mile run in the past week and one of my faster runs in the past month.  Again, I don’t want to give too much credit to the shoes specifically for that, because a lot of factors could play into running faster on any given day.  But several minutes is fairly substantial without any noticeable difference in effort.

Overall my first run in the Kinvara actually went better than my first run in a new pair of ASICS – GT 2150 which is a stability shoe of the same ilk as I’d been wearing. My feet didn’t hurt, the didn’t seem to mind the lack of support found in the stability shoe.

The biggest problem, which I expected, was later in the day and the next day my ankles hurt on the sides of the achilles tendon.  I’ve had this problem before with Saucony.   I ran in Saucony a lot and bought a trail shoe to use for running and hiking for a summer in Yellowstone. Part way through the summer I strained my achilles and I’ve never been able to run in Saucony since.  I actually traded my Saucony’s that summer with my roommate.  Oddly, I was able to race in a Saucony flat, but never a trainer.  Needless to say, this made me a little nervous about trying the Kinvara’s out and I wasn’t surprised when the sides of my achilles hurt.  Fortunately, the pain went away by the end of the 2nd day.

Final Thoughts: I plan to give the Kinvara at least one more shot.  I know to truly have an opinion about a shoe I need to give them a few tries, but that will all depend on the achilles. I will test them out on another short run and see how things go.  I’m not sure if the achilles pain is something that will get strengthened over time or not.  But I think that if I just add the Kinvara into my shoe rotation that I might be fine.

Just a reminder that I received my Kinvara’s free for the purposes of reviewing.

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13 thoughts on “A First Run: Kinvara

  1. carter

    i bought a pair of these monday. i ran four miles in them monday no problem. i liked them so much i ran three miles in the tuesday. wednesday at work, both my achilles were sore…

    i'm thinking about returning them. be curious if you learn anything or find a way to make these work for you…

    1. crossn81 Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Carter. I hope to get out in them tomorrow. What type of shoe do you normally run in? I'd be curious to hear how your feet feel after taking a break from them and then running again. I hope to run in them again tomorrow and will report back my findings, can you do the same?

  2. carter

    yesterday both my achilles were quite sore with the occasional burning sensation…i had gotten carried away and did some speedwork in the shoe…

    i searched the web exhaustively, and it seems like lots of folks have no problem with the kinvaras…

    anyway, i've cleaned off the rubber treadmill marks, and they're ready to be returned…

    lately i've been running in a pair of cheap adidas since they've given me the least trouble…

    i've only been running two years and have increased my mileage recently from 20 mpw to 30 mpw.

    1. crossn81 Post author

      Carter, it seems like you might have been a little too aggressive with a new style shoe. Anytime you make a major change in shoe style (especially going to a minimalist shoe) it is good to take it slowly. Switching to a minimalist shoe you need to let your feet build up strength. My run yesterday in the Kinvara went well and I didn't have any achilles pain. Given the little information you provided I would say that your achilles might flair up just from the increase in mileage and doing speedwork in a shoe that you were already nervous about. Good luck returning them.

  3. carter

    thanks for your update on the kinvaras and your healthy achilles…it inspired me to run a two mile treadmill warmup in the kinvaras this morn.

    then i went on my planned 13-mile long asphalt run in the adidas.

    happy to report, no tendon issues.

    i'll probably keep the kinvaras. they are comfy, and they were probably not the primary reason for my issues early this week.

    i'll just rotate shoes, which is probably not a bad idea as the kinvaras may (or may not) wear down after 200-300 miles…

  4. carter

    30 miles in the Kinvaras, no problems.

    I picked up some Brooks Adrenalines to alternate with, but they're like boots after wearing Kinvaras.

    If the Turkey Trot 5k doesn't get cancelled, they'll get their first race.

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  7. steve

    the achilles pain is probably a result of weakened achilles, lower calf, and anklie muscles. after spending a lot of time in a stability shoe, the lower calf, ankles, and achilles get slightly weak from having alot of the work done for them by the shoe. by switching to a minimalist shoe, you are forcing them to start working again, so it will be sore for a little while, but then it will get better, and you will be a better runner for it

  8. crossn81 Post author

    Thanks Steve for the insights. The previous problem I'd had with Saucony was back in the days before I paid attention to what type (stability, neutral, etc) of shoe that I wore. I totally expected some types of pain from switching to a minimalist shoe.

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