Making the Switch to Lighter Shoes

by Sara on July 29, 2014

Playing around with multiple models and brands of running shoe was never something I saw myself doing.  Those people who had so many shoes they needed a spreadsheet to keep track of mileage per pair, those were serious runners.  Fast Runners.  Not to mention shoes are not cheap and I couldn’t exactly afford to have a closet full of different options.

And now I sit here today and I have to hang my head and admit I have become that person.  {and I kind of like it}

So here’s a little breakdown of how the transition happened, and some things to watch out for if you’re thinking of doing the same thing.

Sometime last fall, I started looking at other shoe options.  I had bought a pair of Nike Free TR3’s {which are NOT a running shoe in case you were wondering} and starting wearing them a lot.  While I originally intended to wear them for strength training and cross training, they really just because my morning dog walking shoes and my casual work shoes instead.  But I loved how light and flexible they felt and started wondering what was out there that was just as light and flexible but built for running and not training.  I did a lot of reading and noticed that some runners had different shoes for training vs racing, which I had never thought of before but suddenly made so much sense.

Since I run in Asics I figured a lighter model made by the same company would be perfect and I began eyeing up the Gel Lyte33’s.  They were lighter but not quite a race flat so would be a nice transition for speed work and possibly one day racing.

I was lucky enough that Ralph surprised me with a pair last Christmas, but I was building my mileage back up {after the toe injury of 2013} so I saved them and waited patiently until I felt like I had a good enough base.  Once my endurance was back I wore them for the shortest & easiest run of the week, and even then I would only wear them every other week.  Once I built up a decent milage on those I started wearing them for speed days.  The difference was definitely noticeable

If there is anything I have learned over the years it’s if you’re going to try something new you better take it slow.  See how your body adjusts to things and don’t expect overnight results.  Too many times people jump into something new, be it a shoe or gear or a stride change, and then months later realize the compounded effect of all that change is an injury.

But of course two pairs of shoes were not enough, and when Asics came out with the Gel Lyte33 3’s and it took a lot of self control not to purchase them immediately.  The weight alone, 5.5oz {my GT-2000’s are 9.30z} had me swooning not to mention less of a heel/toe drop  The weight difference was so evident I was actually afraid they were too light.  I took them for a nice little 3 mile run and they felt great.  Now these were what I wanted to become my new race shoes.

When I visited City Sports a few weeks ago, of course I had to give them the run down on my shoe history and see what they had to say.  I liked my more stable/cushioned shoes for higher mileage, but I liked the lightweight and low drop feel of the Lytes and the Kinvaras were basically a combination of both things.  They feel comfortable enough for long runs, but are lightweight enough and almost have a springy feel to them which I feel when I push off.  They weigh in at 6.07 oz and have a 4.0mm drop {the difference in height from heel to toe}.  I was a little hesitant to start running in another brand {Saucony’s vs Asics} but as it turns out Saucony had a combination of features I couldn’t get from Asics.  So far I have run in them only a few times, between 3 & 6 miles but I am loving them so far and they have earned their spot in my shoe rotation.

I still run quite a lot of miles in the GT-2000’s, although I have a feeling I will start to phase them out and not replace them with a new pair.  The Kinvaras just may be their new replacement and I continue to do speed work as well as short easy runs in both pairs of the Gel Lytes.  I feel like a lot of people see lighter more “minimalist style” shoes and do one of two things – become obsessed run in them all the time and tell all their friends they should do the same – or are too scared to try and just stick with what they know.  I wish more people out there knew that it’s ok to experiment and it doesn’t have to be this “all or nothing” mentality.  It’s also ok to look at other brands and see what else is out there.  My bottom line is always that the shoes be comfortable, there is no reason you should be running in anything that hurts, pokes, prods, leaves you with blisters or bloody toes.

I will also say that so much experimentation is also best for someone who has had at least a year or so of running experience and has a pretty consistent base mileage built up.  Starting out running for the first time can be stressful enough on your body, in the event that you end up injured it’s tough to rule out the cause if you’ve been trying too many new things at once.

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