Back in March I blogged about finding and running in an old pair of Nike Free 7.0 shoes. The result of that experience, as well as the desire to transition to a mid-foot strike, prompted me to look beyond my usual Brooks Adrenalines. Even though I never had a problem with the Brooks, I had a feeling they weren't helping me to evolve. My goal at that time was to find a minimal shoe that would help make me a more efficient runner.
It so happened about this time I received the April issue of Running Times. The feature article was entitled "Much Ado About Minimalism," and saved me a lot of trouble hunting down information on the Internet. The very first tip they dropped with regards to going minimal was to get new shoes. They specifically suggested getting lightweight shoes that are low and flexible, and that have a limited heel-to-toe drop. They pointed out that most traditional shoes slope down between 12-14mm from heel to toe, whereas minimalist shoes vary from 2-10mm. The reason minimalist shoes tend to be more level is to promote the more natural mid-foot strike form by allowing cushioning of your arch to be used.
spring shoe buyer's guide that focused on minimalist shoes. I overpronate slightly, so I looked through the list of shoes reviewed in that category. Although the Newton Gravity shoes had appeal, there was no way I could justify $175 for a pair. I finally decided, with a little trepidation, to take a chance on the Adidas AdiZero Mana. They were more reasonably priced at $80, and heel-to-toe drop was only 6mm. The only reason I hesitated was because of a comment at the end of the review that suggested they might not be all that durable.
I got them in the mail a couple of days later and first impressions were favorable. I found them to be light at around 8 oz. and very flexible. They reminded me of my Nike Free, except much more level. My first few runs in them produced the results I was hoping for. I could feel my weight moving forward and I was getting off my heels more consistently!
As I put more and more miles on the Manas I can say I'm generally pleased. I do have some minor complaints, however. First, I wasn't crazy about the laces. They ones that came with the shoes were plain, flat laces that I found difficult to adjust to a comfortable tension. I took some advice from my friend James and replaced them with some Yankz. After doing so I am much happier. The expandable, elasticized cords help the shoe to mold to my foot better without constricting it too much. And as a bonus I don't have to worry about my shoes coming untied. :)
Adidas claims the "adiWEAR® outsole offers the ultimate in high-wear durability," but the evidence isn't supporting that. After only 175 miles the tread has already started rubbing off near the toe (Yay! At least it's not the heel!). If I can get another 100 miles out of them I'll be surprised.
So, the trial continues. I should mention I've had no ill effects from the Manas. I did experience some discomfort in my right hip at one point, but it passed after a about a week and I have no reason to attribute it to the shoes. That said, if I had to decide today I think I'd probably try another shoe. They just need to last longer, no matter how cheap they are. Oh yeah -- and I shouldn't have this song stuck in my head every time I put them on. :P