Trailer Trash


Another "what shoe is best for me" question (Read 53 times)

BH Slogger

    I know everyone has grown tired of this question, and I vowed never to ask, but I am at a crossroads and need to make a choice for my upcoming 100 miler.


    I am training for the Black Hills 100 which is nearly all run on rocky single track trails. This will be my first such 100 mile course with my only other 100 being the Lean Horse 100 (rails to trails). I have worn Brooks ASRs (a hybrid road/trail shoe) for the past few years and am happy with them. I have been training with them, but felt I may need more protection on the rocky trails. Not having much selection in our area, I purchased a pair of Vasque Mind Benders. They rate high in reviews and have good protection and traction.


    Yeasterday I ran a 12 mile trail loop first in the Brooks and then switched to the Vasque for the second loop. With the Brooks I can feel the sole flexing over rocks but they are very comfortable. My feet tend to feel a little fatigued, not sore, from the pounding after a long run. In the Vasque my feet are well protected from rocks both underfoot and on the toe box. The problem is they feel stiff and not very cushioned and my feet feel a bit sore from the shoes and not the rocks.


    My question is what would be the best choice for the 100 miles? My choice at this point would be the Brooks, but my long runs in them have not been over 25 miles at this point. I am getting ready to buy my next pair and don't know which direction to go. Maybe a switch during the race, using both brands?


    Thanks for enduring my question. Roll eyes

      You might try Saucony Xodus 3. They've got a decently wide forefoot, much better forefoot protection than the ASRs, and ride better than Mindbenders or Blurs. If you like to feel shoe flexing over rocks, this would not be the shoe to get.


      Most of those miles on the Xodus and ASR have been on snow since I didn't get them until fall, but the couple times of Xodus on gravel road seemed better than any of my prior shoes. I think I've got about 120+mi 170+mi on them and will pick up a 2nd pair next time I'm in town. It's pretty much my go-to shoe now, although I mix it with the other shoes that work somewhat for me. If I can believe the numbers at, they have 3mm more in the forefoot sole than the ASR. Plus the tread is better. Heel drop is 26 to 22 = 4mm.


      I've used Blurs and Mindbenders for a few years because they have a wide forefoot that's almost same shape as mine - no tight spots - BUT they ride like a hiking boot and not that impressed with forefoot protection - similar to your experience. I use the Blurs a lot in winter because I can wear my heavy winter socks without pinching, and I can use my microspikes without feeling them. They're a little taller than the mindbenders, but basically same otherwise, as far as I can tell.


      I bought the ASRs at the same time as the Xodus, but only have maybe 20 or 30 35 miles on them. They feel like a minimalist shoe to me - no protection in the forefoot area but traditional heel-toe drop of about 11mm (30 to 19mm). The shoes that I've found ride best for me tend to have a lug sole, somewhat like the Xodus. ASR is more like a road shoe. I visually compared its tread with regular adrenaline a couple weeks ago.


      I tend to be a mid to forefoot striker anyway and don't like the high heels (=instability) of many shoes, but that's all I had. I bought the Xodus for the wide forefoot and the way it felt in a test run on the LRS mini track. The lower drop was a side feature. I did work the Xodus into my rotation to be sure I didn't awaken some achilles issues from the past. Also, it has tread that kinda sticks out at the side and not sure if that's going to be an issue on our narrow single track or rutted dirt roads - as in snagging roots or more angled foot plant. Haven't had a chance to test yet - maybe in April after snow might be gone.


      I'll probably use the ASR on grass and dirt. I think their "wide" size is a tiny bit wider than the Xodus, but not much. I bought the ASR and Xodus on the same day and tried them both out on the LRS mini-track. I liked the ride of the Xodus there more so than the ASR, but was a bit afraid of them being really clunky. I've really liked the Xodus ride where I've used them, but since it's been mostly on snow and a little bit of gravel (I live on gravel street), it's performance on snow-free terrain is untested by me.

      "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog
      BH Slogger

        Thanks AKTrail for a very helpful response. This shoe thing is going to stress me out, not to mention becoming expensive. The reviews of the Mindbender were hign even with ultra runners, however as you say, they ride like hiking boots. I would like to try the Brooks Cascadia, but have been in stability shoes forever and these are rated as neutral support. Which brings another question. I tend to stay with stability shoes, but can't figure out what difference it would make on trails where your foot is going all over the place.


        I will look into the Sauconys. I have had used their road shoes in the past and they are available at our local running shop.


        Thread killer ..

          I bought the Saucony Xodus after a recommendation by AK Trail , I have run in Mindbenders for years . I'm really happy with the Xodus they have more cushion than the Mindbenders with the 4mm drop which seems to suit me . Today I ran on nasty clay and sharp rocks they were great , the traction was great on a really technical trail I did last weekend . I was pretty happy with the Mindbenders but after a recent knee surgery I switched to Hokas for the cushion but decided not to replace them for a couple reasons . The Xodus seem to be a happy medium .

            You may find the Cascadias are too narrow. I liked their original version and most recent versions I've been able to use a bit, but just haven't worked out for longer runs. They had more forefoot protection than my Trespasses, which is what I was wearing at the time.


            My original foot problems stemmed from weak feet and ankles and a rigid mc shoe whipping my achilles around. PT gave me strengthening exercises AND switched me from mc to stablity so my feet could function. I needed torsional control in the forefoot, not the mc stuff that many mc shoes had. If I could twist a shoe in my hands, it probably wasn't going to work for me. By the same token, if I couldn't twist it at all, it wasn't going to work. The amount of twist is probably more related to the structure of the shoe than anti-pronation devices. I should also add that I have a high instep and high volume foot, but original testing showed me with severe overpronation.


            After I took out my orthotics, I was ok, but it always felt like on multi-hour runs, I needed a *little* support. Any inserts that I tried were just too rigid. My wide forefoot limited the shoes that would even fit. The Xodus seems like it's an answer to my prayers at the moment. I may find some issues with it when I get into many-hour long runs on dirt or gravel (vs snow).


            I just compared the ASR and Xodus for flexibility. Both twist similar amounts, but ASR is more flexible in the forefoot. In fact, the Xodus may bend closer to midfoot than toes than does the ASR. ASR has pronation control stuff, Xodus does not, yet for my feet, the Xodus feels more supportive. I pretty much ignore the stability / neutral classifications anymore and just give them the twist tests. I will avoid mc.


            And for me, a lugged tread apparently provides some shock absorption that works better than cushioned shoes, which tend to squish and provide less foot control.


            YMMV depending upon why you need stability shoes.


            The other shoes that I had been using - Montrail Badrocks - has wide forefeet. It is cushy, but no real protection on gravel roads. It's amazing how I can feel those points through all that material. Their Outdry version is a bit different but has narrower toebox and they seem to have left out the cushion - very different shoe than the non-outdry version.


            Based on the shoe models you've been using - same as me - I"m assuming you have wide forefeet and that could be a limiting factor in shoe choices.


            Good luck.

            "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

              I don't have any real advice but thought I'd throw out a few issues/observations I've had.

              I've had a love/hate relationship with my size 13 Cascadia 7's over the last year.

              I have a wider forefoot, and longer toes. I've noticed that the bigger sizes, along with wide forefeet really limit choices.


              After my recent 55K in Moab, I'd given up on the cascadias for longer distance running. I get blisters or hot spots in the exact same spot every time i run for more than an hour in them, not matter what kind of prep I do (i.e., taping, vaseline,body glide etc.). I attribute this to a narrow forefoot and toebox.  The other issue I had was just how beat my feet were at the end of the Moab race. A lot of that was probably due to the miles of slickrock trail, but the cushioning in the Cascadia didn't seem up to the task.


              I've been waiting for the New Balance Leadville to come out. I'm going to give that a try, if it doesn't work, I'll take a look at the Saucony Xodous (never heard of that shoe until this thread, but it looks promising)


              I understand the stress thing, and the expense thing. I can't stand to think I could spend over $100 on a pair of shoes, only to hate them.

              It's why I'm going to order through next time.


                I've been waiting for the New Balance Leadville to come out. I'm going to give that a try, if it doesn't work, I'll take a look at the Saucony Xodous (never heard of that shoe until this thread, but it looks promising)


                I understand the stress thing, and the expense thing. I can't stand to think I could spend over $100 on a pair of shoes, only to hate them.

                It's why I'm going to order through next time.

                Thanks for the heads up on those, which I hadn't heard about. Looks like some interesting testing they did on foot swelling over time in ultras.


                Our LRS (the one down the street from me) carries NB, so I'll have to check with them.


                The other LRS (relatively speaking, 50mi away) is where I got the Xodus. I went in, described my challenges trying to find some decent shoes for wide forefeet, and they brought out 4 different brands of shoes for me to try, then focused on size. If it's not raining or snowy, they have an 84m track for testing shoes, but also hope to have kids' events there. This gives a more realistic test than a tm, which they also have.


                A lot of times neither store has my size, so have to wait for them to come in - sometimes several months, depending on shoe availability.


                I use runningwarehouse's ShoeFitr to get first estimate of sizes, but usually do online ordering from Zappos because they include free shipping both ways to Alaska. RW charges so much shipping that they're more expensive than zappos up here.


                I also have a rather large collection of shoes that kinda work for an hour or two, but just don't cut it for long runs or pointy gravel.

                "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

                  AK Trails: Thanks. I have been wondering about the Xodus myself. This was helpful.


                  BH Slogger

                    It's so reassuring the hear the same comments from other long distance runners. It is hard to get  "real world" answers from the shoe websites or customer reviews from those who may be wearing the shoes on a short hike.


                    I went searching for info. on the Saucony's and found a pair of Xodus 3 in my size on Amazon for $50.00 free shipping! They're on the way. I hate buying without trying, but that deal was just too good.


                    They sound like a good choice - flexible, wide toebox, etc. Can't wait to try them out!


                      I will be honest. I love Brooks shoes, but I did a 40 mile race this past year and wore the ASR 9's and regretted wearing them for 20 miles. The course is incredibly rocky and my feet got beat to crap. It was so bad that I threw on a pair of Cascadia 5's that probably had 700 miles on them for the final 20 just because they had more protection in the forefoot.


                      I love ASR's for road and non-technical single track but have found that they need a plate in them to really make them a complete shoe. I wrote an email to Brooks giving them some of my feedback on the shoe so hopefully they will take that into consideration.


                      I have a pair of the Cascadia 7's and have found that I get one little hot spot on the medial side of my left foot. It's really strange because sometimes it shows up on longer runs in these shoes, but other times it doesn't. It really depends on the socks that I'm wearing. I really like them. I've done a road marathon in them with no problems.