Now that I’m unemployed (anyone want to hire me?) I’ve got time on my hands to actually catch up and do some work on this website, which is why I’ve actually had some posts recently. Among my list of things to write about was a review of the shoes that I wore a great deal through this summer – the Saucony Grid Type A5. Of course the day before I was planning to sit down and write a review the most prominent shoe review on the web, Peter Larson aka Runblogger, also posted his review. His description says it all and I can’t add too much to his reviews as I think we generally like the same type of shoe.
Runblogger says that the A5 is a “phenomenal racing flat.” I think it’s pretty good, too, but I bought it from Running Warehouse for one main reason – the drainage holes in the sole. This summer was hot and anyone who knows me knows that I sweat… a lot. On a hot and humid morning run it sometimes only takes 45 minutes before my feet are sloshing around in sweat in normal shoes. With the A5’s drainage holes all that sweat gets pushed right out the bottom. My feet might remain wet, but they aren’t swimming. The other reasons I bought it instead of one of the few other shoes with drainage holes: they’re not expensive (I got mine for $76 and they’re currently on sale at Running Warehouse for $69) and I kind of liked the blue color. Those are good reasons to buy shoes, too, right?
The drainage holes cause problems, too. I won’t be wearing this shoe in the winter, for instance, as the holes can also easily suck water up into the shoe and turn a wet foot into a cold foot. Nor do I like wearing it on trails or gravel as I have gotten back from trail runs and literally had a rock in every single hole in the sole (note a few rocks still in the holes in the photo).
These shoes don’t offer a lot of cushioning, but there is enough for me. I’ve run 800+ miles in cush-less Vibram Five Fingers but I can’t go more than a mile in a pair now without the bottom of my right foot hurting. I do need just a little cushioning and the A5s provide just the right amount without interfering with my attempts to run with better form. The limited cushioning means they are also light. I have long feet (size 13) and each shoe weighs 7.0 oz on the kitchen scale. There might be lighter shoes out there, but not too many.
The A5s seem to be a significant improvement over their predecessors. I was given a pair of Saucony A3s several years back and ran about 350 miles in them, but never really liked them much. These are way better, with a lower heel, lighter weight and an improved fit.
One of my pet peeves with running shoe reviews is that so many people review shoes after only a few runs in them and say things like “Durability is excellent… they’ve held up great through 30 miles of running, including a long 8 mile run.” Fine, but how are they after 100 or 200 miles? I’ve got about 250 miles on my A5s and they do seem durable enough. I have no doubt that they’ll make it easily to 600 or 700 miles. While I’m not putting in the long runs (yet) that I did last year I’ve been out on plenty of 13+ mile runs in the A5s and up to almost 16 and I would have no problem running a marathon or longer in them.
Do I have any complaints about them? Aside from their magical ability to collect debris and bring it home (which is more than offset by their sweat evacuation abilities) my only issue is that the knobs on the outsole feel squirmy on concrete and are kind of loud. This isn’t a big deal, but after the first few steps of every run I notice the squirminess and think to myself how it’s annoying… and then promptly stop caring for the rest of the run.
I don’t know if I’d go as far as Runblogger and call this shoe “phenomenal” but it’s pretty darn good. I like it and it will be on the short list of shoes to buy when I need another pair.