If you have been around Physical Therapy Elite for even a moment, you know how passionate I am about running shoes and how they may either allow for, or hinder biomechanical efficiency.
I often get asked, “What is the best shoe to run in?” My answer is always, “The shoe that you are most comfortable in and doesn’t impact your running economy.” Basically, you don't want a shoe that is going to work against you.
Fortunate for us here in Bozeman, we have an incredible resource within Bozeman Running Company. BRC is truly your one stop shop for a wide variety of all things running, whether you are spending time on the track, road or trail.
Thanks to the Team at BRC, I had an opportunity to check out the new Spring line and am excited to give you a breakdown on the shoes that we get asked about most! Plus, a little insight into what PT Elite Staffers are currently wearing.
But First… A Quick Reminder On My 3 Non-negotiables For Running Shoes:
Toe Box - Your foot splays 15% during running gait. Having a toe box wide enough to accompany foot splay is critical for foot health and optimizing your running form. If you’re not sure, take the sole insert out and step on it. If your foot is hugging the line or splaying over - that is NOT the best shoe for you.
Flexibility - A shoe should have adequate flex in the forefoot to allow for normal motion. A rigid shoe will decrease optimal efficiency and can even cause you to land too far past midline leading to medial knee pain.
Drop - A 4mm (preferable) to 6mm heel to toe drop in a shoe is preferable for maintaining good running form and efficiency. Anything higher and you’ve got a pair of high heels on in the trail. This often leads to heavy heel striking and placing your calf and achilles within a shortened range. However, if you have been in a high drop shoe 10-13mm, DO NOT make the switch to a no or low drop shoe immediately. This will take a bit of adaptation. Feel free to give us a call with questions.
Nike Terra Kiger 4
The Terra Kiger is a surprisingly versatile, light and agile shoe from Nike. The Nike Elite Trail Team has had a large voice in the design of this shoe and it paid off in dividends! Nike hasn't iterated much on the shoe (outside of aesthetics) since the TK2, which is a huge relief when you have something that works so well.
The Terra Kiger is extremely light at 7.9 oz in large part due to the simple but effective Flywire overlay. The Flywire also helps lock your midfoot and heel into the shoe giving you a secure fit. This balances well with the wide toe box - allowing plenty of room for splay, especially during longer miles. The outsole is also very rugged and durable. This shoe has been tested locally on some of MT’s most rugged terrain including: The Ridge Run, The Rut 50K, and was the shoe of choice for David Laufenberg during his 250 mile traverse during the Common Ground Project. In all events, the Terra Kiger held up flawlessly! Finally, the TK has a 4mm drop and amazing flexibility. You never feel restricted in this shoe. It allows your foot to be free, without sacrificing protection.
For all the above reasons - the TK is my personal go-to trail shoe. Thanks BRC for bringing these to Bozeman!
Hoka Challenger ATR 4
Hoka has been known for their ultra cushioned shoe, swinging the pendulum far left after the ultra minimalist movement. Hoka has seen a little bit of criticism with recent models as they have continued to narrow the toe box. However, Hoka has heard the war cry’s of biomechanists and runners alike, as the ATR 4 has come out swinging with positive changes. Hoka has widened the toe box a couple of mm’s which is extremely helpful on the long run. They have lightened the ATR 4 by a half an ounce - now placing the shoe at a stealthy 8 oz. The ATR boasts a 5mm heel to toe drop, keeping it in the optimal zone for efficiency. I also love that although Hoka is known for their cushion, the ATR 4 is newly responsive, giving you more ground feel than ever before. Well done Hoka!
Salomon Sense Ride
With as rugged and awesome as the mountain terrain is in Montana, it is no surprise that Salomons tend to be a SW MT favorite. Salomons are known for their rugged and aggressive outsoles and European soccer cleat hug. This can sometimes get folks into trouble as the toe box in many of their models is too narrow for many feet. However, if the shoe fits - than dang, it’s a damn good shoe.
The new Sense Ride from Salomon is a welcome addition to the line. It is a little wider in the toe box than many models, but still hugs well. It is extremely comfortable with a midsole that has a great combination of both soft and responsive material. This perfect blend, makes the Sense Ride extremely versatile for both short and long distances. The SR is a little heavier than the above models at 9.1oz but still well within the range of optimal weight for good running economy. The Sense is a bit outside of our recommended drop at 8mm, however the softness in the midsole makes it feel more like a 4-5mm. If you are already a loyal Salomon fan - you are going to LOVE the newest version of the Sense Ride. If you are new to Salomon, or working on adapting from a high to low drop shoe, I give this a strong “Try” recommendation.
What Are The PT Elite DPT’s Wearing?
I have been running in Hokas for almost two years now, which is impressive as I am not a traditionally brand loyal runner. If I find something I like that works well for me, I'll stick with it until I feel the need for a change. So far I have been happy with the fit, quality, and variety that Hoka brings to the table. I am also not a one shoe kinda guy and have different styles for different purposes (track, tempo, trails, long runs). Hoka's entire line (with the exception of their track spikes) offer a 4-6mm drop and a generally wider toe box, which makes selecting a comfortable shoe much easier. As the pioneers of the ultra cushioned shoe, their foam can handle the steady pounding for hundreds of miles, and my feet still feel pretty fresh. While wildly popular for their ultra cushioned shoe, they also have a wide range of cushioning from minimal to ultraplush in order to suit your preferred style and comfort. I just ordered a new pair from their Fly line, a stripped down and responsive racer, and am keen to test it out!
The Saucony Peregrine is a nice flexible shoe with adequate sole to provide comfort. The Peregrine has a 4mm drop and if fairly light at 8.1 oz. The SP has great tread - not too aggressive for asphalt but plenty for trail. I love that it comes in the "rain shield" version to keep feet warm and dry in snow and rain. A solid choice for Spring Running!
As always, give your team at Physical Therapy Elite a call with any questions!