It is that time of year again when I start looking back at 2019 and how thing went over the course of a very…well “interesting” year. I usually start this process with a look at the running shoes I have had a chance to wear and which one, for me at least worked the best.
I started the year saying I was going to run in less shoes in 2019 and while I did, I still ran in too darn many pair.
What Shoes Did I Run In
- In order of when I got them (the mileage is total mileage, not just 2019 and as of 12/1/19):
- Reebok Run Fast – 146 – bothered my left forefoot
- Adidas Adios 3 – 41 – didn’t feel right, too firm
- Adidas Tempo 9 – 353 – a bit too firm
- New Balance Beacon v1 – 342 – outsole wore out
- Adidas Tempo 9 #2 – 9 – too firm
- Nike Epic React FlyKnit v1 – 146 – hated no tongue
- Kazuhiro Ikoni Ortix – 15 – bothered right forefoot
- New Balance Beacon v2 – Still in rotation
- Nike Zoom Fly v1 – 144 – in storage
- Nike Zoom Fly SP – 78 – Still in rotation
- Salomon RA Max v1 – 51 – bothered right forefoot
- Salomon Sense Ride v1 – 10 – too narrow in forefoot
- New Balance 890 v7 – 22 – very firm
- New Balance 1400 v6 – 43 – Still in rotation
- Altra Torin 3.5 – Turned into screw shoes
- Altra Impulse – 37 – bothered right forefoot
- Altra Duo v1 (Black) – 53 – too firm
- Hoka Clayton 2 – 13 – bothered right forefoot
- Hoka Mach v1 – 27 – too firm, bothered left heel
- Altra Duo v1 Blue – 18 – in storage
- New Balance Fuel Cell Propel – 77 – Still in Rotation
While I do have a definite shoe of the year, I also have a few categories that have their own best of class to go through first.
Most Intriguing Shoe – that I never got
Yeah, I could easily say the the Nike VaporFly Next %, which I held and tried on a couple of times or a couple of others, but for me the shoe that was the most intriguing was the…
Hoka Carbon X
Sam W over at Road, Trail, Run kindly let me run in a pair back in October, when I went down to South for my biannual trip to NH for a run with him. I ran almost 6.0 miles in a pair of the Carbon X and they did everything I wanted from a pair of shoes.
When I wanted to pick up the pace they did so quickly, the transitions were smooth as butter and most importantly they felt comfortable.
I could have run much further and I thought about stowing them away in the truck and locking it with them in there – I didn’t :-). They were the first pair of Hoka One One running shoes that I have run in that I have not had any issues with my right foot bothering me.
While Hoka lists them as a racing shoe, for how I run and what I want from my shoes, I would put them as a light-weight daily trainer and use them that way.
I have a sneaking suspicion that at some point there will be a pair of Hoka Carbon X running shoes in my rotation.
Runner-up — New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel
Best Treadmill Shoe
New Balance Beacon v1.
I did a LOT of treadmill running in the v1 last winter/spring and they did everything I asked of them. From speed work to long runs of up to 13.1 miles on the treadmill.
Runner-up — New Balance Beacon v2
Best Daily Trainer
The New Balance Beacon v1 was my best Daily Trainer in 2019.
This category is where I have struggled the most this year in my attempts to find a daily trainer that I love, not just like or can run in.
The running shoe that I put the most miles on in 2019 was the New Balance Beacon 1 and when I stop to compare other daily trainers this is the shoe I seem to come back to in my comparisons.
Even so, as much as I like the Beacon 1, it is just a touch too firm, especially when I get into double-digit miles on the roads. I feel beat up the next day and they are only 300 mile shoes, before the outsole gets a bit too smooth for use in any kind of bad weather.
However, when I was at my most frustrated about what daily trainer to use this summer, I pulled it back into the running rotation and started using it again, after using it as a walking and lawn shoe.
Runner-up — New Balance Beacon v2.
Best Go Faster Shoe
I haven’t raced enough to call this category racing shoes, so I will go with “go faster” shoes. Even though I don’t race, I still train like I am going to and do speedwork most weeks.
This was a difficult choice between two shoes – the Nike Zoom Fly SP and New Balance 1400 v6. Both have strengths, weaknesses and I run great in either one. It finally came down to answering which one would I chose to go after a Post 60 PR at the Unity 5K.
The answer was the Nike Zoom Fly SP and therefore they are my choice for Best Go Faster Shoe for me this year. Even though they are a bit long in the tooth and two versions behind the the latest Zoom Fly release.
Runner-up — New Balance 1400 v6
Best Trail Shoe
I could lie and say either the Salomon Sense Ride v1 or Nike Wildhorse v5, but I would not be honest. I am not all that enthusiastic about either one and would not say that I liked either of them enough to say they were the best for me. Plus I didn’t really run that many trail runs this year, I was too focused on running the roads.
I don’t have a best trail shoe this year.
My Best Shoe of 2019
The New Balance Beacon v1.
The Beacon v1’s were my primary trainer inside and outside for most of last winter. On the treadmill I was able to run comfortably for any distance that I wanted. Even though the outsole on the Beacons is not a great one for running outside during the winter, they did surprise me with the amount of traction that they did provide. I just needed to be judicious about the conditions that I used them in outside.
The Beacon v1 just work fantastically with my stride and did not bother my right foot at all.
After 300 miles the shoes felt like they were pretty much done and I retired them to walking and then lawn shoes. In July after recovering from a stress fracture, I just couldn’t find a pair that felt comfortable to run more than 3-4 miles in.
Before a run, I was really frustrated and the shoes I had with me just didn’t feel right. I had the Beacon v1 in the truck and put them on and ran the most comfortable 7.0 miles I had run since before my injury. Based on that run they became my primary trainer again and I put almost another 50 miles on them, until I got in the Beacon v2s.
So based on all that the Beacon v1 deserved to be my running shoe of 2019.
It is a bit of a surprise, but I have grown to love this shoe for its versatility.
It is not really a daily trainer, but I could run daily in it, it is a go faster shoe, but I have another shoe that I would chose first for a single race in good conditions and while I wouldn’t want to run a marathon in it, I am sure that I would be able to run up to a nice half on the roads, groomed trails or treadmill in them.
My runner-up shoe of 2019 is the New Balance 1400 v6.
The 1400 v6 just seems to take whatever run I throw at it and makes me smile when I get done. No I would not run a technical trail in them or in nasty mud, but if I had one shoe to choose of all the shoes I have run in during 2019…the New Balance 1400 v6 would be it.
The Reality is That
Until this year I had never had a lot of good luck with New Balance running shoes and generally preferred Nike or some other brands, but I never am very loyal to any one brand for very long.
However, New Balance has really upped their game in my opinion over the last year and their efforts with the Beacon and Fuel Cell lines of running shoes made me re-evaluate which running shoe brand I look at when I am looking for new running shoes.
Now when I start to look for new shoes, I look at New Balance offerings first because they are working well for me. No, their shoes are not perfect and still need some tweaking, but compared to others they are fairly priced, generally available when I want to get them and they do have factory outlets within reasonable driving distance (Skowhegan or Oxford).
I am liking their products enough that I even filled out an application to be a New Balance wear-tester on 11/29/19. It doesn’t mean that I will be selected for anything, but compared to other brands New Balance shoes are working better for me. We will see where this will lead.
All that being said, if I found shoes that worked better for me, I have a feeling that I would be using them instead. My loyalty is more about what works for me than any particular brand or line of shoes.
While there is another month to go, I really do not see any shoes suddenly popping into my rotation that will unseat these choices.
Although after drafting this post, I might have ordered another pair of New Balance Beacon v1 that I found on sale last Friday…yeah I did.