Let me start with a confession: I wasn’t expecting much from Saucony’s ProGrid Xodus Trail-Running Shoes. Sauconys tend to fit my long, narrow feet awkwardly, leaving me with blisters and a host of sore spots that linger long after I’ve shed the shoes (Sorry, Saucony: It’s not you, it’s me).
It’s hard to express just how pleasantly surprised I was by these great trail-runners, and not just because of their fabulous Vibram outsoles.
My favorite trail run requires about two miles of road-running to get to and from the trailhead. I didn’t think about the shoes once while pounding the pavement, a testament to just how lightweight and cushy they feel despite being so stiff and stable. When I finally hit the dirt, I was so immediately enchanted by the stickiness of the soles, I let out a long, reverent, “Oooh.”
I appreciated the soles even more once I hit the downhills, which are riddled with roots, rocks and other obstacles I usually gingerly tiptoe around. This time, I plowed through them, enjoying the tight grip apparently created by a complicated network of lugs in the soles.
My only complaints: My orthotics immediately rendered the shoes uncomfortable to the point of being unwearable, so I opted to run without them. For me, this is akin to driving without a seat belt — not a guarantee of immediate injury or death, but also not a risk I’m willing to take on a regular basis. Also, I did have to make some adjustments to prevent what I refer to as the Saucony slide: The way my heels tend to flop around willy-nilly in Sauconys even when the shoes as a whole fit snugly.
But a couple lacing adjustments and a thick pair of socks later, and I was sold. When I’m in the market for trail-runners, I’ll certainly be looking for Vibram outsoles, whether or not they’re on these shoes in particular.
Bottom line: If you’re a fan of Sauconys, you’ll likely love these shoes. And if you’re a fan of Vibram in general, these soles will rock your world.
Convinced? Lucky you! You’ve got a chance to win a pair! Here’s how to enter my first official contest:
1. Share your favorite trail-running story in a comment below. It can be funny, embarrassing, heartbreaking or any other adjective I’m failing to think of currently. To get things going, I’ll share my own trail-running timeline:
Grew up running on trails in high-school cross country; spent college running through the Flatirons in Boulder, Colo.; moved to sad, trail-deprived Florida and forgot about my true love; twisted my ankle in Rock Creek Park in December, leading to a long, ugly divorce from trail-running. Six months and lots of balance/agility training later, I consider myself a born-again trail runner, with Rock Creek Park serving as my personal playground.
Not a trail-runner? Just tell me a story. I’m not too picky.
2. Want extra-credit? Follow me on Twitter, and share the link to this blog post there.
If any trail-running stories truly stand out from the pack in my humble opinion, I’ll choose you. If there are a bunch of stories of equal merit, I’ll resort to a random giveaway. You’ve got a week to enter. Good luck!
Oh, and in other news: I completed a gloriously rain-free 17.15-mile in 2:43. That’s 9:30 minute-mile pace! And get this: My last mile, I ran in more like 8:30. Stay tuned for details!