Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shoe Review Tuesday #2 (Saucony Hattori)

Saucony Hattori
Support Category: Neutral/Minimal
Weight: 4.4 oz
Cost: $80

Available in Widths: No
Multiple Colors Available: Yes
Durability: ~200 miles
Updates from Previous Model: Debut!
Upper: Minimal and stretchy, like a pool shoe
Arch Height: Low 
Heel-Toe Drop: 0 mm

My Take on the Shoe
The only reason I heard about this shoe before it came out was because I work in running specialty. I didn't hear anything online in ads or on the radio about it, but let me tell you, I was excited about it. This is the first shoe I have ever seen that has a true 0 mm drop, meaning it is legitimately flat. Now don't quote me on it, but I think even the running Vibram FiveFingers have a 2 mm drop. The purpose of having a flat shoe is to help promote a midfoot/forefoot strike. The theory is the flatter the shoe, the easier it is for you to stop heel striking. The reason you want to stop heel striking is because it is more efficient to land on your midfoot, it provides quicker turnover, helping to increase your run cadence. A normal shoe has a 24 mm heel and a 12 mm toe, so dropping from 12 mm down to 0 is quite a leap. Back to the shoe though. I have talked to the rep about the durability of the upper because it looks like one bad step and that thing is going to tear. He told me that it has been a slight problem, but for the most part it has been withstanding some abuse. The shoe is deceivingly soft! Basically a glorified pool shoe, the Hattori doesn't have much to it at all, which conveys a hard, rigid feel. But on the contrary, this shoe is probably one of the squishiest I own. Not only in the bottom of the shoe, but the upper is light and flexible, it doesn't restrict my toes if I want to dorsiflex them. The adjustable Velcro straps on the top and back of the heel help to provide a more personalized fit than traditional laces as well.
A Little Personal
Prior to my first run in the Hattori, I felt pretty confident that I could run a normal 6 miler without having to ease into it like you would in a normal minimalist shoe. I had been dabbling a little in the minimalist thing and felt like my legs were strong enough to take the beating from the most minimal I have ever gone before. Much to my pleasure, I found an easy 6 mile run at 6:23 pace the very first time out to actually be easy! Over the next couple of days I was expecting some soreness somewhere, but it never came. I did another 6 in them and was still feeling strong! Now when I tried them out on the track, that was a whole different story. I took them out for my second run of the day to a local track and decided I was going to do 16 400's with 200m active recovery between each rep. I knocked that out at about 80 seconds a piece and by number 16, my feet were starting to hurt. For the next 3 days, I could hardly walk I was so sore. My calves, hamstrings, and quads were all hating me for what I did to them. What made the difference? Well, when you run sprints, you run more on your toes and the front of your forefoot. That is exactly where I was on that workout. With my prior couple of runs I landed more midfoot, taking off a bunch of that extra strain from my calf. But when I was sprinting, I was going full force pounding my calf muscle with little cushioning, causing a quicker build up of lactic acid. Ever since, I have not done another track workout in them, but I have taken them out for a few easy runs. On the minimalist scale where 1 is barefoot and 10 is a nice structured shoe like the 890 from last week, the Hattori is pushing a 3.
I want everyone to know if you have never done anything minimal and are looking to start, this would not be a good option for you. This is way too close to being barefoot for beginners. If you do decide to go against my advice and get the shoe or something like it anyway, just go out for little runs first, as short as a quarter mile, and gradually work your way up to longer distances.
A few quick things I like about the Hattori:
  • Lightest shoe in my closet
  • Flexible upper makes for great breathability, especially on hot days or even rainy days!
  • You don't have to wear socks with it!
  • The surprisingly soft bottom
  • The price! Only $80 retail!
My overall suggestion for this shoe is that if you are serious about minimalism, pick up a pair. If you are new to the minimalist arena, try something more middle ground first, like the Saucony Kinvara. I rate this shoe an 8 out of 10 and am very happy to have it in my collection. Now go try them out and enjoy The Life of a Runner.

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