If you’re a long time Asics Kayano user like myself, it’s tempting to try and find an alternative that doesn’t require re-mortgaging every time you need a new pair. Damian told me recently that he was chatting to the staff in his local running store and mentioned I ran in the Kayano and they said it was effectively as close as a running shoe gets to being special shoes. Cheeky. They are the Rolls Royce of runners though.
Having discussed the conundrum of a suitable alternative to the Kayano with a wide range of sports shoe officionados, I had compiled the following list of possibilities…
Adidas Salvation 3
Mizuno Wave Alchemy 10
Saucony Pro Grid Omni 9
Stick with the Kayanos 😉
I have finally had the opportunity to try them all out.
I’ve previously bought a pair of the Sauconys and had found them lacking the support of the Kayano, so I’ve written them off as an alternative from personal experience. ‘Your mileage may vary’ as they say, but they didn’t work for me. My impression of them, ignoring the fact that the support structure wasn’t strong enough was that at £80, in comparison to the Kayano, you get what you pay for. They feel a little less sunbstantial and thinner in the tongue and forefoot area than the Kayanos do.
To ensure a level playing field with the remaining candidates, I started by setting the benchmark in a brand new pair of Kayano 17s. The store staff took a video me running on a treadmill with their gait analysis software, confirming the Kayano was a suitably supportive shoe for my running style and saved this video for comparison purposes.
Next up, the Adidas. The Salvations I tried were not the latest model. It appears that Adidas have completely redesigned the support structure for the fourth iteration of the Salvation and I was advised that if I needed strong support, stick with the 3. I did so. The video gait analysis revealed that the Salvation 3’s allow quite a lot of roll in of my ankles, particularly my right one and so we immediately wrote these off as an option too.
There was now nothing left but the Mizuno offering in the form of the Wave Alchemy 10. Initial impressions were of similar quality to the Saucony, one which is entirely resonable given their £85 price tag, in comparison to the £130 tag on the Kayano.
So, what did the video reveal? Well, we spent quite some time rolling the video back and forth to try and come to a consensus on whether the Mizuno or the Kayano were better suited to me! It really was difficult to tell the difference. I bought a pair and have now put about 80 miles on them.
What’s this Heel-Toe delta thing anyway?
Have a look at the image to the right here –>
I’ve done my best with the aid of paint(!) to show you what I mean by heel-toe delta. It’s essentially the drop in height between the heel and the toe when your foot is in the shoe. The Mizuno is considerably flatter in the sole than the Kayano and this means that you’re stretching your achilles and calf a bit more on the tail end of every stride.
I hadn’t noted that the heel-toe delta on the Mizuno shoe was so small in comparison when I was running on the treadmill. I noticed it was smaller, it felt different just standing in the shoes, but hadn’t realised how significant this would turn out to be. The Kayano has a steep heel-toe delta and I’ve been using them for about two years now (and over 2000 miles) so I’m very used to this aspect. After about four runs (mainly short three milers) I was really struggling with a range of pains including achilles tension which wasn’t good. I then added some heel gel support pads to the shoes (4mm ones seemed too high when I tried them, I ended up using 2mm inserts) and have been much more comfortable. I suspect that in the long term, the 4mm inserts will be better but that’s a test for another day.
At a retail price of £85, you may just find the Mizuno Wave Alchemy an appropriate alternative, offering the same level of cushioning and support, but at around 2/3rds the price of our beloved Kayano staple! Beware though, the heel-toe delta is as near as it gets to flat and this might leave you struggling as I did. Be prepared to try some heel inserts if you find you have problems. I’m able to use them, but I’ll still be buying Kayanos again next time I’m afraid.