Saucony’s ProGrid Xodus Trail-Running Shoes: Review and giveaway!

Let me start with a confession: I wasn’t expecting much from Saucony’s ProGrid Xodus Trail-Running Shoes. 157362BLK1ZSauconys 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 โ€” 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!


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31 responses to “Saucony’s ProGrid Xodus Trail-Running Shoes: Review and giveaway!

  1. I LOVE, LOVE my Saucony’s!! And there’s a big 10K trail run coming up in October – it’ll be my first. I’m just going out to have fun with it and watch all the Ultra Marathoners come running in. So, no trail running story for me unless you count running on the dirt roads at my Dad’s ranch in Texas. I always do that when I go home and the change in altitude, humidity, and road give/resistance makes for a great challenge. Plus, the amazing scenery and wildlife during the run is so serene.

    Oh wait – does that count as a story?? ๐Ÿ™‚

    GREAT, GREAT job on your run too! You’re killing it girl!

  2. And Yipee!! – I’m the first to comment!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Amy, thanks for the review! I’m constantly in search of the perfect shoe, so I really apprecaite your honest thoughts. I saw this shoe reviewed in Trail Runner or Runner’s World–can’t recall which–and thought the Vibram outsole could give this shoe a real point of difference. (Fingers crossed… I’d love to win and try a pair myself!)

    I’ve only been running for three or four years, and trail running less than that. I’m lucky to have a beautiful state park about 15 minutes away. I started trails two years ago, just a few weeks before a 10k trail race that’s a fundraiser for a local school. Right away I realized how great trail running is! If I lived closer, I’d be out there more often. As it is, it’s a real treat to get out there. I hope to do a 50k next spring.

    As an aside, I’ve been lucky enough to stay near Rock Creek Park for a conference in the past. You’re lucky to have such a beautiful spot with some varied elevation so close to you!

  4. I will be running my very first trail race this weekend! I’m sure I will have something noteworthy to report ; )

  5. Sunday was my second Trail Race ever. I had run a 7 miler in August. It was real fun so I thought I’d try another one.

    My mistake was picking a race that had the word “hard” in the title. Trail races by nature are hard due to the constant adjustments needed due to terrain. Why would the word “hard” escape me?

    The Norris Dam Hard Trail Race was advertised as a 20K trail race. This didn’t sound so bad. I’ve run a marathon, a couple half marthons and many, many more shorter distances. After all I average 35 miles a week. I should be good.

    I wasn’t expecting the elevation changes. The trail names were interesting. The 5.6 mile LakeView Trail consisted of 50 to 100 foot hills repeated one after another for that distance. The Red Hill Trail was straight up with an old cemetary at the top (previous runners of the course? I thought to myself). The final hill was High Point Trail which consisted of 2.5 miles of 500 ft elevation change straight up. When I got to the finish line I was told that the actual distance was 16 miles. This surprise distance must have been what the organizers thought was the “hard” part? I finished in 3:02:00. About 11 minute miles.

    Can’t wait till next year!

    P.S. Shout out to the Park Ranger that told me at mile 6 that the REAL hills were starting then:)

    • AWESOME! Shout-out to the park ranger, indeed! I guess that’s better than the liars who stand two miles from the finish line, yet assure you you’re “almost there.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Ok, I have to admit that I’m no runner, but I have always loved Sauconys. My friends have also been encouraging me to get more active, so of them have even invited me to start running with them. Most of the time my excuse is my bum knee but I’ve started taking long walks lately and might start training to participate in a 5k or even a mud run. Of course…I wouldn’t think about wearing the Sauconys for a mud run as they’d get ruined. But a new pair of running shoes would be great incentive to get training for the 5k. *crosses fingers*

  7. I am training for my first half marathon (OBX Half in November) and I am doing my long run tomorrow morning on the American Tobacco Trail in Raleigh, NC. My first trail run! So sadly, no stories…but maybe tomorrow knowing my luck?

  8. runpdx

    So, I’m terribly lucky to live in Portland, OR where I have access to Forest Park and all 70+ miles of recreational trails. And while I have plenty of stories of falling, tripping, getting lost and almost run down by mountain bikers. My favorite story is one that remains, potentially, incomplete.

    A few weeks ago, I went on a 14 mi trail run with my husband and his buddy from the fire dept. Note: ladies — his buddy is single, athletic, super cute, etc. So I’m running, tucked just behind them, letting them pace me on Leif Erikson — a popular, well-marked trail and his buddy keeps swinging his head to check out all of the super cute runner chicks going in the opposite direction. About every 3rd head swing, I get a, “oh, sorry Junko” from him.

    So I devise a plan — I tell him to give me a nod when he sees a cute runner, I’ll “accidently” trip her and then he can run to her rescue — you know, since he’s a trained professional and all. What an amazing story they’ll have to tell their friends, kids and grandkids…unfortunately, I never got the nod. Was it because no one interested him or was he afraid I’d really do it (because I would).

    We have more runs planned. So all you single, super cute runner chicks in Portland — if you happen to get “accidently” tripped during a run – wait for it — because there might be an equally cute and available fire fighter there to save the day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. JT

    OK, so this story is a little personal and hits close to home but I will share it anyways.

    I had an aversion to running my entire life… to the point where the mere thought of running a mile scared the crap out of me… towards the end of last year I experienced a pretty trying heartbreak that made me feel a little lost in the world. My friend had challenged me to run a half marathon with her and I had just started training. After the break, I found myself up in the Santa Monica Mountains on a pretty lonely and pretty steep trail. I started visiting this place in the wee hours of the morning and pushed myself into running till the movement actually happened.

    After three months of catching my breath, sore legs, tears and a ton of sweat I ran my first half (2:20:24) and no doubt I have that mountainous trail to thank. I felt born again running up there (or born into running there) and no matter what I always manage to keep trail running as part of my regular routine, not just because I know it helps with my running in general but it’s where it all started for me.

    • I so totally identify with the therapeutic power of trail-running. Three months of breath-catching, sore legs, tears and sweat will cure almost any heartbreak, I feel. Thanks for sharing.

  10. This is a story I wrote a few weeks ago about my first experience with trail running:

    My Shoes Got Muddy

    I had another great run in Cherokee Park (Louisville KY) this evening. Only this one was spurred on by my bladder. In desperate need of a restroom, I sought a shortcut through the woods along one of the trails. Trails I have been hesitant to venture into but now sought out in desperation. With bladder empty (via bathroom not tree) and mind refocused back to running, I started along the pavement but took the first dirt detour I came across.

    I started into the shrub and mud path, bounding down the trail. This was my first foray into the inner woods of the park, all my previous runs having been confined to the asphalt. What a mistake that has been. There amongst the branches, roots and rocks I discovered a feeling long lost in adulthood. Thursday August 20th 2009, was a cool summer evening, with a constant breeze flowing, and being under the canopy of old growth hardwoods, hurdling over fallen tress, skipping over bulbous roots, jumping across washed chasms, running blindly down an unfamiliar path – all stirred an exhilaration not felt since childhood. Running breakneck through the forest made me feel like a kid again. I had no direction, no mileage goal, devoid of time constraints, I just ran wherever the trail went. Perhaps it wasnโ€™t childhood I was revisiting but rather something more primal – the fight or flight of being chased by or pursuing something.

    Whatever it was, I felt it and liked it. I ran faster and further than my normal โ€œcivilizedโ€ pavement runs. And running along a trail is not just forward progress, thereโ€™s a significant side to side bounce of the unevenness of the trail bringing new muscles into play (which are now sore). My new running shoes got muddy. My legs have a few scratches. My body aches in new places. But come Saturday – Iโ€™m doing it all over again.

    ~ William

  11. True story:

    I got beat by an Amish guy in a half-marathon once. He wasn’t wearing Saucony’s. He was wearing boots. And suspenders. And a button down shirt.

    Had he been wearing Saucony’s, I suspect the damage would’ve been worse.

    I was wearing Mizunos for that race, but I bet with a pair of Saucony’s, it might’ve been a different story. Well, maybe. I dunno. He was kick-kick-kicking those boots up high.

  12. great review! i’ve never owned an ‘official’ pair of trail shoes, but i also don’t get the chance to run off-road very much.

    the last time i ran on a trail (earlier this spring) i found a bone and high-tailed it out of there! that’s pretty much why i haven’t been back… waiting for the animals to hibernate ๐Ÿ™‚

    there are some trails/fields i’m hoping to explore when the snakes are gone!

  13. Liz

    I don’t run like I used to, but I have a humorous story from about 15 years ago in high school track. We were timing 2 mile runs, and I was tired, and worn out and I truly just didn’t feel like running, I was ready to go home. So, as I rounded my second lap, I slowly edged towards the outer rim of the track, and took a spill. Now mind you, I didn’t set out to intentionally fall, but once it happened, it was too late, and I ended up with a skinned knee, and yes, I got to quit running, and go home, lol.

    I can’t say I’m proud of that moment, but it is kind of funny, I guess I got what I deserved!

  14. Liz

    Follow you on twitter, I’m @lizzydear

  15. What pretty shoes!! Can trail shoes be pretty? hell yes they can because they will be paired up with cute trail running accessories such as gaiters!

    Funny trail running story-it’s always alot easier to pee in the bushes, cactus, grass, behind a tree when your trail running! I’ve done it!!! Can you do that on roads? NO…take that roads!!

    I LOVE trail running! Love it! I’ve been running trails now for about a little over a year and I think I like it so much better than roads! getting dirty, running over rocks, wearing cute running gaiters… could you not like trail running!!

  16. I am trying to be better about running, but since moving to NH we do a lot of trail walking and hiking!

  17. I am sure that these are go-fast shoes! They certainly look it! I could have used these go-fast shoes on my first trail run.

    I have only competed in one 5km Trail Run, and should qualify that with a ‘so far’. This particular Trail Run was part of a family fun day organized by the YMCA and they also had a 3km walk for those not able or not wanting to run. I signed my husband and kids up for the walk. My youngest at the time was about 18 months old, so he was carried in one of those trekking back carriers.

    This race was held at the beginning of summer, and although it was an early start the Texas weather did not disappoint and made sure it was amply hot and humid. Although it had been 10 years since I had done any sort of running I was feeling slyly confident โ€“ I used to run 5km comfortably circa 22 minutes. Adding a bit of fudge for not running in a decade would mean that I could finish around the 25 minute mark, right?

    The 5km race was to start before the 3km walkers. As the runners were called up to the starting line the air sparked with that electric vibe that you find with most races – oozing excitement, nervousness and impatience. The gun sounded and we were off!! The trail was through horse paddocks and forested areas. There were slow inclines, sharp bends, and twists and turns that could put you in a pond or a mud puddle. It didnโ€™t take long for me to realize my unfit state. At first I thought it was because I went out to fast, then it was the inclines, thenโ€ฆ it was just me not running in a decade!

    Now, the 3km walk kicked off not long after the 5km start with my husband (with baby on back) and my 6 year old son. Their course deviated in parts from the 5km track. Half way through my run I remember seeing my 6 year old running and jumping a puddle on a trail over. I mustered all my energy and called out to him. He waved, smiled and continued along his path. By this time I was totally spent! Instead of getting all worked up and feeling humiliated about it I decided to put one foot in front of the other and concentrate on finishing.

    That 5km Trail Run was definitely the longest run of my life, or so it felt. I was certain I was going to collapse as I passed the finish line! As I crossed over I was greeted with cheers from my husband and kids who had somehow managed to finish their walk before I finished my run!!! โ€œYay Mom โ€“ you are a champion!โ€

    This is the run that kicked off my now running passion. I will get up early on a Saturday morning and complete my long prior to returning to a sleeping house. Once the house wakes we breakfast and head out to a local trail (chosen from my 60 hikes within 60 miles of Houston book) and walk, run and be one with nature. I am looking forward to competing in this event next year! And, I plan on running it “Super Fast” (to quote my 6 year old)!!

    (I follow you on twitter – @runs2ny)

  18. Ha! these stories are funny! I used to run marathons, now due to dislocated ribs and messed up disks and spine from a bad snowboarding accident years ago I WALK. Yes, it’s true, and I’m not ashamed. I have to take care of this one and only precious body that I have. I walk and try to be grateful everyday that I can, and try not to growl at all of the runners I see because sometimes I’d rather be running. I do wear running shoes to walk though, so would love some new Saucony’s.

  19. I’ve been looking at Saucony’s for my next trail running pair. I am now training for a road marathon, but last summer I was quite the trail runner and did a lot of trail races. I love the calmness, noncompetitiveness and camaraderie that comes with trail running. During a race last summer, I was chatting pleasantly with a friend, when we hear someone shouting from the back: “Slow runners, on the right”, to which my friend said: “That’s probably a road runner”. And now I am a temporary road runner myself. Oops.

  20. PunkRockRunner

    My first real trail running experience was just over the Golden Gate Bridge on the Miwok trial. It was a half marathon and I was training for the Boston Marathon at the time. The week before the race, all of my friends dropped out (fearing injury before Boston) but I decided to run it anyway.

    It was an amazing experience! From the “mellow” attitude of the runners to the homemade banana bread offered at the finish I was in love with the trails.

    This was also my very first top ten AG finish. Okay, I was 7th out of 9 runners BUT still top ten.

    My dog recently chewed up my trail running shoes and I can no longer run on the trails so winning this contest would be a dream come true. Too much? I was going to go with a “Make-a-wish” foundation thing but thought the dog angle was better.

    I would like free stuff now and I already follow you on twitter ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. After having run for so long, it’s hard to choose one trail experience to talk about. There was the race wherein I had to use a rope to climb to the next section of trail. There were my Pikes Peak Ascent finishes, each completely different and yet equally rewarding.

    But as for standing out, there was probably one race I think of as the one when people ask “Why do you do that stuff? You’re crazy.” It was mid-February about five years ago and I’d signed up for a 5 mile trail race. It was 27 degrees (F) when I woke up that morning, and I had to fight myself no less than four thousand times just to get out the door. I felt okay about an hour before the race, but things went downhill from there. The temperature rose to a balmy 33 degrees by the start time, and I occupied myself in those final moments before the gun by closing my eyes, counting to ten repeatedly, and using every bit of will I had to hold down my breakfast.

    I was nauseated. I should have never started that race.

    The gun went off and the first mile and a half or so went okay. I was slowly getting into a rhythm, blaming how I felt on the temperature and nothing more. I hate being cold. Around a mile later would be the turn around, and also the only aid station on the out-and-back course. I remember thinking I should probably take some water, maybe walk a few steps, and relax.

    The next thing I knew, I was on the side of the trail, a stranger’s hand on my back, and seeing the vapor of my own breath eerily close to the ground. I’d gotten sick. A lot. (TMI, I know.)

    According to others around me at that moment, I’d stopped mid-trail, stumbled a bit to the side, and then proceeded be sick enough that the Search and Rescue volunteers supervising the race had actually already given the heads-up call that they might be “taking someone in” meaning INTO THE HOSPITAL.

    What was weird, though, is that after that moment of crouching on the ground, I stood up, looked around, took a drink of water, and felt 100% fine. My breathing was normal, the color was in my cheeks. I felt great.

    This next part is something I reference when people say “oh, you’re crazy.” I agree. I have no argument for that whatsoever.

    I took another sip of water, spent a minute assuring everyone around me that I felt great, turned around on the trail and ran the 2.5 miles to the finish. The wind picked up, the sun was shining, and had I not seen the chaos around me, I might have never known I’d even stopped.

    It was my fourth time doing that race, and thanks to my new-found motivation to finish that day, I PR’d by 5 minutes. You just never know.

    I’m crazy.

    (LesleyG on twitter, by the way ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  22. Hey! Awesome giveaway – especially because I am newly obsessed with trail running and my Mizuno’s aren’t happy when I take them on dirty, muddy, rocky, and hilly trails.

    I’ve been a runner my whole life and about 1.5 months ago I decided I wanted to try a different challenge. It was love at 1st train run: My boyfriend and I were vacationing in Sun Valley. ID (we did outdoor activities the entire vaca) and decided we wanted to go for a trail run. After carefully reading the trail maps we decided on a “Difficult, 10.4 mile trail” – for our 1st trail run, e-v-e-r, and at 9,500 ft. We are ballsy – ha! We made predictions: a) how long to get to the top (5.2 miles each way) – [we guessed 1.5 hours] and b) how many continuous minutes of running before we need a break? – [we guessed at least 25 minutes]. Well, let me tell you – we were WAY off!! We barely made it 7 minutes before we were huffing and puffing, begging for water!! ๐Ÿ™‚ We started laughing hysterically for thinking that just because we runners on pavement and in DC that it would translate into HILLS (aka a ski mountain) and 9,500 ft elevation! Anyway, we ran and walked to the top – but had a blast…and a new obession was born.

    I’m back in DC and have already signed up for a 10 mile trail run race on Nov. 1. Now, I just need a new pair of trail shoes to start my training. Rock Creek Parkway – here I come!

    PS – I follow you on Twitter and tweeted this giveaway!

  23. My last trail run?
    Scene: New Paltz, New York, Great Trails
    Company: Cool boyfriend and former EMT (this will become important later)
    Deciding to go on a long run (2 hours) we meandered through some great flat trail paths, up a hill known as heartbreak and around foggy but beautiful lake.
    I was just thinking how lovely it all was and how nice it was to get out of the city when…I tripped.
    This wasn’t an ordinary trip-this was a superman, I caught air, flew 5 feet forward kind of trip. I broke my watch, somehow emptied my water bottle, scraped my right knee and elbow and somehow (this is interesting) apparently had flipped in the air and gotten ‘trail-rash’ on my opposite hip.
    Coming up behind me he asked “What did you DO?!”
    “I tripped”. We got back to his car where he cleaned my wounds and bandaged me up.

    Moral of story? I apparently need a medical escort on trail runs ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. ultrarunnergirl

    I wrote this awhile back, but I like it because it recalls the feeling I get when I run trails:

    Gap to Gap was my first ever mountain trail run, back in 2005. I was completely stunned by the interminable climb up Jawbone. It was steep, relentless, and forever. When I finally struggled (dead last) to the top, I didn’t think I could run another step, much less another twenty-plus miles. The body never ceases to amaze. I learned a lot that day. For instance, your ultra-running friends will convince you that you can do things that are perhaps beyond what you should attempt. And you will somehow survive, and fall for their seductive invitations again. If you’re not careful, this will become a way of life.

    The climb up Jawbone puts you on Kerns Mountain, a rock-strewn, technical, breezy ridge. It’s not the most runnable section, and perhaps that’s why I have such an affinity for it. The rocky, undulating path forces you to pay attention, and to dance rather than run. It doesn’t get any better than that.


  25. Pingback: And the winner is … « Amy’s Training Blog

  26. Pingback: Shoe review: Pearl Izumi syncroFuel XC trail runners « Amy Reinink

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