I have done a total now of 8 marathons (2 of which were done during the run segment of marathons) and each time I have run in the Fastwitch.
This is the IDEAL marathon shoe for me. I say ideal because it has the following qualities that I look for:
- MEDIUM FIRMNESS (NOT SQUISHY SOFT!
- LIGHT POSTING
- GOOD TOE BOX ROOM
- LOW HEAL TO TOE DROP
Let me go over these qualities-
LIGHTWEIGHT - In Carlsbad and Kona I ran in the Saucony Fastwitch 5.
This is last years model and weighed in at 7.8 ounces. I would say anything really under 8 ounces is a lightweight shoe. You can go much lower in weight (some shoes going into the 3 to 4 ounce range!), but the lower the weight, the more cushioning you are sacrificing. A typical training shoe will put you around 9+ ounces.
I also have the current model, the Fastwitch 6, and it weighs in at 6.9 ounces. That was one of the biggest updates to the shoe, and one that I was hoping would happen. I feel that a touch of the cushioning was scarified, but is still ample enough for me for the marathon. The Fastwitch 6 will be my marathon shoe for the 2014 season!
Lately, there has been a big craze for the super cushion shoes with claims that it feels like you are running on pillows. Sure this sounds nice and has its place in running, but for me this is not ideal for racing and going fast. I like the feeling of the road and being able to push off with a lot of force. A very cushioned shoe is great for easier, recovery days (Saucony Triumph!). The best way I can put it is, think about running on a soft surface (sand, crushed limestone, grass/dirt). Running on those surfaces doesn't beat your body up as much because it is not as hard as the pavement. But it is a lot harder to run fast on those surfaces when comparing them to the road. The same goes with a shoe for me..the softer and more cushioned a shoe, the more I feel my foot sinking in and wasting energy to bounce back and respond. I can get a much faster turn over rate with a firmer shoe. I do think this beats the body up a bit more, and that is why I do not race or run in them every day of the week!
A light posting means that there is a firmer foam in the midsole of the shoe. When you pronate, the firmer section will help your foot get back on track and stay neutral. That will help with body alignment and reduce injury. When I run faster/shorter distances, I typically will be more of a forefoot runner and actually supinate. But when I get tired, my heal starts to hit a bit more and I pronate. Take a look at this photo from Kona-
This is an example of when I start to heal strike a bit more and pronate (foot rolls in). The light posting is great as it allows me to still run fast but not allow me to get out of alignment and cause other pains. I'm hurting enough as it is late in the race!
GOOD TOE BOX ROOM
Ever run and end up getting black and blue toenails? Blisters on the medial and lateral sections of your feet? Yup, when a shoe is too tight (or TOO roomy) those are some outcomes. I like that the Fastwitch has a good amount of room in the front of the shoe to allow my foot to not feet suffocated, but at the same time doesn't allow it to slide around. After Carlsbad, I took a look at my feet and had no blisters and no banged up toenails!
LOW HEAL TO TOE DROP
Heal to Toe drop is the height of the heal in relation to the height of the toe. Saucony does a neat little thing on the insoles of their shoes to say what that number is-
The Fastwitch is at 4mm. Their shoes can range from 0mm (heal and toe height are the same) up to 12mm. With a lower heal to toe drop, it doesn't allow me to heal strike as much. Over time, most running shoes were increasing the drop which doesn't promote much of a forefoot strike. I feel that 4mm is the perfect difference for me and has worked really well.
So that is it, my ideal running shoe. Plus, there are some sweet 'slogans' on the bottom :)
I'm Winning / U R Losing
To leave you with something fun..I give you a sneak peak into my training.
16mph for 1 minute at the end of my workout (3:45 per mile pace)…in the Saucony Fastwitch of course! Who said you lose speed when Ironman training :)