Friday, May 18, 2018

The 5 Best Light Performance Trainer & Road Racing Shoes of 2018, So Far!

Article by Sam Winebaum

2018 Racers and Light Performance Trainers are not left out of the general running shoe trends towards more comfortable yet secure uppers and lighter, more dynamic and cushioned midsole materials. Increasingly rare, and not included in this article, are classic “racing flats”, close cousins of track spikes, those often very firm, highly responsive shoes with tight even painful uppers. Races and speed work are never easy but at least your feet and even your legs can be less the worse for wear than in these fast choices, weighing no more than many of those flats. In fact, for many, these foot and leg friendly high-performance shoes can be used for races and your faster training, not what could always be said about those classics.

Nike Zoom VaporFly 4%
Weight: 6.5 oz. US 10M, US 11.5W
Stack Height: 31 mm/21 mm (10mm drop)
$250. If you can find them!
The VaporFly is the shoe of Nike’s Breaking 2 project , and for the rest of us a shoe to break four hours in the marathon and everything in between. The most radical design and priciest shoe on the list, it has a very light, soft and energetic Zoom X foam midsole with a full length, embedded carbon plate. The plate stabilizes the rear of the shoe and keeps your heel from sinking to far too fast, then it plunges at mid foot to sit just above the outsole upfront providing track spike like rebound on toe off. We found that it becomes effective and fun to run at 9:25 mile pace or faster. The leg saving cushion and dynamic ride have delivered a series of consistently faster than expected race times at all distances from 5K to the marathon for us. We have had “fresher legs” to the finish line, and others including Shalane Flanagan report the same, and then after races considerably easier, faster recoveries. The dense engineered upper has almost no overlays and for a race shoe it is roomy and accommodating. We have had no blisters or foot issues whatsoever during over one hundred miles of racing.
RoadTrailRun's full review here

Reebok Floatride Run Fast
6.6 oz. US 9M
Stack Height: 25.5mm /17.5 mm (8mm drop)
$140. Available June-July 2018.
Friendly and accommodating, top to bottom, with a firmer but in no-way harsh ride we found the very light Fast had the widest range of uses of any shoe here. It has a more traditional racer performance trainer design using state of the art materials. We have used it for both fast and even slow training miles, while Tyler Pennel wore it to a stellar 5th place at Boston. Underfoot, a very light TPE foam, like the Vapor Fly’s, provides outstanding energy return, vibration reduction, and shock absorption while the yellow EVA sidewalls and a plate at mid foot providing some stability. The upper is made of a very thin, soft, dense non-stretch dense mesh which resembles fabric. At first glance, the upper seemed inadequate to hold the foot securely but thanks to a stout heel counter and translucent overlays does, and comfortably so, with more than adequate room for a race type shoe. The outsole is full coverage with excellent grip on all surfaces, accommodates various wear patterns, and is quite thick and durable for such a light shoe.
RoadTrailRun's full review here

Saucony Kinvara 9
Weight: 7.6 oz. (US 9M); 6.8 oz. (US 8W)
Stack Height: 23mm/19mm Forefoot (4mm drop)
$110. Available now.
The Kinvara 9 is a great choice as a faster days shoe, marathon racer and even daily trainer and especially so for runners who could benefit from a touch of medial support.  The Kinvara was the first lower drop, light, minimal upper, more natural running shoe from a major shoe company.  After some versions away from its DNA, the Kinvara 9 returns to its roots. The 9 is flexible and has a new, very comfortable light upper with an effective and secure mid foot lockdown from its internal strap. The upper mesh is very soft and light. It stretches after a few runs to fit with an almost sock like secure fit without pressures from its overlays and without the sometimes-unstable feel of stretchier knit uppers. The ride and feel is just soft enough without being either overly soft and bottoming out as the original Kinvara sometimes did, or stiff, firm and constrained as some of the more recent versions were. The touch of extra support from the upper strap, along with its wide mid foot platform and vertical medial midsole sidewalls, make it a good race and faster running choice for those who need some light pronation support, and for the rest of us when feet tend to collapse later in races.
RoadTrailRun's full review here

Skechers Performance Go Meb Razor 2
Weight: 6.8oz (US 9M); 5.2 oz. (US 8W)
Stack Height: 20 mm/16 mm (4mm drop)
Price: $115. Available now.
The Razor 2 neatly bridges the gap between light trainer and racer. Light in weight with a noticeably well cushioned forefoot, the Razor has a balanced, smooth feel on the run. The midsole dampens shock well and is energetic. The GO Knit upper is entirely seamless and overlay free beyond the logo with all its support coming from the knit. The fit is smooth and pressure free with the slight give of the knit helping accommodate the widest range of foot volumes and widths here. The low profile parametric web outsole blends well under foot with the midsole underfoot but is not as grippy on loose sand over tar.
RoadTrailRun full review's here

New Balance RC1400v6
Weight: 7.2 oz. US 9M; 6.0 oz. US 8W
Stack Height: 25mm/15mm (10mm drop)
$100. Available now.
The 1400 is New Balance’s flagship marathon racer, worn by Sarah Sellers to that magnificent 2nd place at Boston. Reasonably priced and versatile it a great option as a first race shoe for distances up to the half, the forefoot being likely being a bit thin for a full marathon for most midpack competitors. The v6 has the snuggest performance fit here but it is a very comfortable pressure free one due to the combination of an open seamless engineered mesh backed up by a new skeleton of underlays. The RevLite midsole is comparatively on the firm side which helps make the v6 very responsive and snappy, yet it is also not overly harsh. We particularly like the flexible forefoot, the most flexible of any here, backed up by what one could call mini “trail shoe worthy” outsole lugs. The pick up the pace, push off sensation is super lively and quick with the lugs also helping it navigate turns, changes in pace, slick conditions or even well groomed trails the best of any here.
RoadTrailRun's full review here

Reviewer Bio
Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun. He has been running trails and roads and run shoe and tech geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017 he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half as well as 2 days after his 61st birthday a 3:40 marathon.  He also runs trails in rocky rooty New Hampshire and smooth Park City, UT. 

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Anonymous said...

Really liking the K9, probably going be my shoe of the year! The Razor 2 is just a tad too firm for my pace and size. Can't wait to try the Reebok!

Keep up the good work, love your reviews! And I always use RTR10. :)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks! I tried to offer a blend of shoes each with different characteristics. They are all mighty fine depending on preferences.
Sam, Editor

Errol said...

Is the Kinvara 9 may be a good choice as an alternative to the freedom iso (1 or 2 ��) ? I think the Freedom is my favourite running shoe, but the K9 seems lovely too...

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Errol,
Kinvara 9 à lighter, more stable, better more secure fitting shoe for me. Freedom is kind of wild and not as versatile.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links to all shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews. Shopping through links on articles help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated!

Errol said...

Thanks ! I will try the K9 in a few days, can't wait to run my first miles with it !

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