October 19, 2011

Saucony Racing Flats Comparison

Choosing the right shoes for racing seems like it should be an easy decision, but sometimes it can actually get a little complicated (when you have several good options!). This is a quick breakdown of a few models of Saucony road flats and our opinions on them. All of the weights have been measured on my kitchen scale [I wear a men's size 11, Andrea wears a women's size 10 (10.5 for the FastTwitch)... so the weights may be a little lighter for you if you have smaller feet than us].

Saucony Type A3
[ 7.1 oz mens, 6.2 oz womens, 20mm heel, 8mm toe ]

Jake: This has been the flat I've worn for most races this year. I was trying to decide on what shoe to wear for the Utah Valley Marathon, and ended up picking the A3 (and this was an unbiased choice as we were not yet sponsored by Saucony at that time). I wore them for a 10K race and a few workouts and was very pleased with how light they were. They held up really well in the marathon, and I've continued to wear them for all of my road races this summer (everything from a road mile to a half marathon). My opinion is that the A3 is probably the best all-purpose racing flat out there. Its light enough to be a great 5K/10K shoe, and if you are an efficient and lightweight runner, it will do the job for 26.2 miles as well. The upper has a nice glove/sock like feel to it.

Andrea: I love this shoe for shorter distances. I feel very comfortable running in the A3s in races up to 15K. The shoes feel so light on my feet and grip very well to surfaces. They are also flexible. I tried them out for a downhill half marathon over the summer, and there was not quite enough cushion for me to handle the distance. Jake's feet are obviously more resilient than mine (his 130+ mile weeks versus my 75+ mile weeks during hard training cycles) which is probably why they still work well for him in the half marathon.

For us, the sizing for the Saucony A3s was the same as for most other brands of shoes.

Saucony Type A4
[ 6.8 oz mens, 14mm heel, 10mm toe ]

Jake: I got a pair of A4s earlier this summer, but kept them in the box for a while because I was having success with the A3. However, a few weeks ago I decided to give them a shot. Their first run out of the box was a 10K time trial on the track in which I ran a PR. I wore them again for a workout a few days later, and then for a 5K track race. The feel of the A4 is actually a bit different than the A3. I almost think it could be an entirely different model, as opposed to just being the newer iteration of the A3. It has a noticeably lower heel, and greatly reduced heel-to-toe drop. I feel like the A4s really make me get up on my toes, which is good! The bottom of the shoe also feels a bit "grippier" (if that is a word). I really like that as well - especially for shorter races. I wore these for the Long Beach 1/2 Marathon last weekend, and other than a little soreness on the "pads" of my forefoot (which is completely expected when running all-out on concrete for over an hour) they did the job. That being said, I don't think I'll use them for the Philadelphia Marathon. The A4 will be my go-to 5K to Half-Marathon shoe from now on.

Saucony FastTwitch
[ 8.8 oz mens, 7.9 oz womens, 17mm heel, 13mm toe ]

Andrea: I just completed my first race (Long Beach Half Marathon) in the Saucony Fast Twitch 5. I was very pleased with how they felt throughout the race, despite only running a total of 4 miles in them before the race. I had enough support and cushion, but not too much as to add a lot of weight. I am planning to wear this pair in the rapidly approaching Philadelphia Marathon. A word of caution - I had to order 1/2 size up. I typically wear a size 10 (in Asics, Adidas, and most other Saucony shoes except Kinvaras which are also 10.5). The 10.5 fit me in this shoe. I have seen some reviews that the toe box is narrow for the model 5 (which worried me because I have long toes). However, the larger size fixed this and I had no problems. The shoe also has that greatly reduced heel-to-toe drop similar to the A4s that really encourage midfoot striking.

Jake: I've worn these for 2 workouts so far - a track session where I did 2 x 5000m + 8x200m, and then a 10 mile tempo run on the roads. I'm thinking this is probably going to be my marathon shoe for Philadelphia. I hate giving up almost 2 ounces (compared to the A3) per shoe, but to be honest I would barely notice the difference if I hadn't weighed the shoes beforehand. The Fastwitch feels "smooth" at faster paces, and the extra cushioning / support doesn't leave my feet feeling beat up after a longer, harder effort. In fact, after the 10 mile tempo, my feet and legs felt great! If I do run as fast as I hope to in Philly, I'm going to have to turn around and run the Olympic Trials 7 weeks later, so wearing the Fastwitch seems like the best option at this point, as the damage I inflict on my lower body will be greatly reduced. My only criticism of this flat is the small amount of medial posting (not sure why that needs to be there)... although it could potentially be helpful in the later stages of the marathon if your form starts breaking down.

1 comment:

  1. GREAT REVIEW! I used the A3's for two marathons and absolutely loved them. I loved Andrea's use of the compression sleeve for her upper leg ha! Great 22 miler!