I didn’t used to be a running shoe snob. Really, truly. But when I started running zero drop, minimalist shoes last year it really was something close to a religious experience. Yes, I do realize how pathetic that sounds, but it’s true. It was a moment of, “Oh, so THIS is what running is supposed to feel like!” Not only did it inject some joy back into my running by reconnecting me to actually being able to feel and read the trail, but running stripped down, zero drop shoes forces you to run correctly. There’s no room for sloppy form with minimalist shoes and as a result – with more of a mid/fore-foot strike and properly aligned body – my times have gotten faster and my body has gotten stronger. Knock on wood, but I haven’t experienced any running-form/equipment-related injuries since then. As a result, I’m now VERY picky about what I’ll put on my feet.
I was recently contacted to test and review Saucony’s brand new, lightweight, zero-drop VIRRATA road shoe. Since Saucony has become one of my go-to trail shoe brands I was definitely interested to hear that they were releasing a zero drop road shoe, so I gave it a go.
Over the last few months I’ve taken to a road run or two each week for recovery from pushing myself out on the trails as well as for speed work, and I’ve found that – while I like the speed of my minimal trail shoes on the road, they are a bit too stripped down for my joint’s liking out on longer pavement runs. Enter the Virrata. At a feather-light 6.5 ounces, with a zero millimeter drop from heel to toe, they run FAST, but at the same time Saucony kept 18mm of midsole in the shoe to take the edge off the pounding that road running can take on your body.
It speaks volumes of this shoe that I could run it 10+ miles in the snow right out of the box. No blisters, no hot spots, super comfortable (even when soaked with slush and numb toes from the snow), and super fast. I was blown away! The shoe offers just a little bit more support than a super-stripped down minimalist shoe, but still manages to flex appropriately and give you a true zero drop feel out on the roads without the pounding.
There are a lot of folks out there wondering about switching to a zero drop shoe… I know that there is a growing body of medical and sports research showing that this is a smart move, but – honestly – I think it comes down to one’s own comfort and preference. I’m a big believer in “do what works for you” and I’ll admit that minimalist running shoes aren’t for everyone. That said, if you’ve been on the fence and are looking to make the jump, I can’t recommend the Virrata enough. It will definitely feel different from your typical running shoe, but not so radically that you can’t make the jump comfortably. It will force you to run with a bit better form, but since when is that a bad thing?
What else can I say? Looking for a comfortable, lightweight, zero drop racing shoe that even a “minimalist virgin” can jump into? Look no further; Saucony nailed it! The bottom line for me is this: would I pay retail for them? Hands-down.