This is a review on my low mileage race flats of choice, the Saucony Type A5.
A little context on these shoes – I purchased the Saucony Type A5 racing flats over the summer, a couple days before running in an Independence Day 5k in Kansas with my brother. I had been training and racing in the more traditional Brooks Adrenaline series and Racer ST4 flats for several years, but it can hardly be called consistent training as I was plagued with injury almost constantly. I’m not attributing any of those injuries to my footwear specifically (it was likely more to do with poor training practices), but I was in need of a change. After scouring reviews and picking the brains of some teammates, I settled on the addition of some *more* minimal training and racing shoes. I purchased the Saucony Type A5 alongside a pair of Kinvara 3 with the intention of training in the Kinvara and racing in the A5.
When I took these shoes out of the box, my initial thought was “Wow, these are light!” It was like when you reach for a can of beer that you expect to be full, but accidentally grab one of the 8 empty cans still sitting on your desk. At 5.8oz in a size 9, these suckers are roughly the same weight (if not a hair lighter) than many cross country spikes. At first, this was a little intimidating and made me wonder if the construction would be able to hold up to very much time on the pavement, but after running a few races in them, they’re still like new. I loved the bright color with textured details which pictures don’t do justice. The profile is sleek and streamlined. Even the outsole had a cool look, which COULD say that they were focusing too much on the shiny design and not enough on the function, but it turns out this isn’t the case. Apparently, with these shoes, you can have your cake AND eat it (That saying never made much sense to me. Why have a cake you don’t want to eat? Silly). They just look great and make me feel like I can run fast by aesthetics alone, but I’m pretty heavy into vanity.
The first time I put these shoes on (aside from checking for fit when they came in) was for the 5k road race (Coors Freedom Run, Junction City, KS, 7/4/13) that I previously mentioned. After a couple miles warmup, I switched into the Type A5s for some drills and strides. Movement seemed so effortless. I felt my foot moving in a natural and effective way, much like I would if I weren’t wearing anything at all. Going into the race, I simply wanted a PR (20:40 or so). But after the gun, I felt an increased pace was far too effortless to take for granted. I finished that race in 19:10, far exceeding my expectations. Throughout the race, I felt my biomechanics functioning way more efficiently than I ever had – striking around mid-to-forefoot, lifting my knees with each stride, and keeping my body leaning ever so slightly forward. I truly believed that some supernatural being had pushed me through the course, Angels in the Outfield-style. The best part about it? I didn’t want to take the shoes off. Even though they are nearly weightless and have a thin midsole, the Type A5 feels surprisingly cushioned throughout a middle distance race.
The Saucony Type A5s are light. They are fast. They give you that “just barely there” presence and ground feel but also makes you feel confident that your feet are being protected from that stray pokey rock or glass shard from last night’s good (or bad) times. The 4mm heel-to-toe offset leaves your foot in a near neutral position, encouraging you to use your natural biomechanical movements to run. I have also noticed that the flashy outsole has almost no visible wear after several races.
Many of the reasons that I love these shoes are reasons that some people may hate them. They are light on cushion, which means if you’re a heavy set runner (or just want to leave your footprints in the pavement), you’ll be feeling the hard surfaces in your feet and legs before the end of the race. I once wore these shoes for a 10k race (and 8 minute PR, by the way), then proceeded to keep them on through the 6 mile easy cool down (I like miles) afterward. Needless to say, my calves were sore for 4 days following. I also have been having a problem with little rocks getting stuck in the holes on the outsole. This isn’t a huge problem, but subtle rocks can get pushed up into your foot by other subtle rocks, producing a princess and the pea situation (I am a princess). I’ve been known to pick rocks out of my shoes with a screwdriver. Or Bowie knife. While wearing them.
Since purchasing the Saucony Type A5 in July 2013, I have worn them for a 5k, 2 relays, and a 10k and I am extremely pleased. These flats are great for anything from one mile up to half marathon on the road. They are light, comfortable, encourage good form, and are surprisingly durable. I don’t suggest wearing them for any slow running or long races (read: anything longer than 13.1 miles). They have a tendency to pick up debris from the road, but the impact is hardly there. I am a believer in these flats as they serve the purpose intended – low mileage speed flat. I recommend them for anyone in the market for a fast road shoe.
Top photo taken from Saucony.com
Car2Go Relay photo: Stephen Brazil
IBM 10k photo: Travis Johnson
Weight and heel-to-toe drop measurements taken from Runningwarehouse.com