It’s too late for me….but save yourselves!

I have been caught out – I hesitate to say conned. But by the time I found out it was too late. There was nothing I could do except reflect on how I had allowed myself to be taken in by a fast talking man. I feel so stupid!

OK this maybe a slightly hysterical reaction to a pair of running shoes that I simply can’t get along with. But I do feel duped. As the man rang the sale through the till all I heard was words like “faster” and “smoother transition”. I certainly didn’t pay attention to the detail of how the shoe was going to achieve these miracles. Alright, deep breath, calm down and start at the beginning. 

Saucony Pro Grid Guide 4
Saucony Pro Grid Guide 4

For the best part of 1,000 miles and 18 injury-free months, I have been running on Saucony Pro Grid Guide 4s. They and I were made for each other. A light shoe, offering mild support for over pronation, made for the road and suitable for a variety of running types. So when it came time to buy new shoes in September, who can blame me for wanting the same thing again. Small problem. The “same thing again” didn’t exist. Saucony in their wisdom thought they could improve the shoe. Excuse me? Did you say: “…improve the shoe”. Exactly how do you improve the perfect shoe? Has the term; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ever been more apt?

Introducing the Saucony Pro Grid Guide 5. They are a “runner’s shoe” I was told. That’s fine I thought, I am a runner. They have been slightly remodelled to

Saucony Pro Grid Guide 5

Saucony Pro Grid Guide 5

aid faster running. No problem I thought, I am all for faster running. At that point I glazed over as the enthusiastic sales assistant at “Runner’s Need” launched into the technicalities of the new shoes. Something about heel to toe offset being reduced. Just a detail – how different can a Guide 5 be from a Guide 4? Besides the new Guide 5s are orange – how cool is that? Pay up and let’s go running.

Fast forward three months as I cut short yet another run with a very painful calf – probably the fifth or sixth occurrence. I don’t think it is an injury because once I stop running any stiffness and pain is gone within 24 hours.

Now the next bit you will find hard to believe. At no point in the three months of lower back pain and calf trouble – neither of which I had experienced before the new shoes – did I make the connection. Then one day last week as I sat on a train bored and close to despair after the latest aborted run ,the penny sort of dropped. Hmmmm I thought and I reached for my phone and Googled: “Saucony Pro Grid Guide 5 calf pain”. I was almost knocked down by the tsunami of comments on Internet forums that Google threw back at me. 22,800 results (in 0.39 seconds) to be exact. Seems I am not alone.

Three months after it should have happened and three months too late, I finally tuned in to the technical aspects of what had changed with the Guide 5. They have reduced the height of the heel so that the drop between the heel and the toe is reduced from 12mm to 8mm. A tiny amount but what a significant difference it makes. It has the effect of making your foot flatter on landing which is supposed to encourage you to land on your mid-foot rather than your heel.  Apparently mid-foot strike equals faster running (unless it makes running so painful that you stop!). But it also puts more strain on the calfs, especially at faster speeds where more load is going through the leg on each stride. The difference between the two shoes is so significant that it is very misleading to present them as being variants of the same model. They are nothing of the sort.

Part of me is relieved that I think I have got to the bottom of my calf pain, although I would like to have 3 or 4 good pain-free runs on my old style shoes before I confirm that. As for my Guide 5s, they are being consigned to “Leisurewear” or on second thoughts I may give them to my 80-year-old Mother who has taken to wearing bright colours. My next run will be a very gently run on my dependable old blue Guide 4s.

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14 responses to “It’s too late for me….but save yourselves!

  1. Great post! If you were able to squeeze 1,000 miles on you Guide 4’s then every penny was worth it. But I can totally relate – Zoot Sports decided to change my version 4.0’s and I never got totally dialed in with the 5.0 and now the 6.0. So I bought probably the last four pairs of the 4.0’s on Amazon! Thanks for sharing.

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    • Good point. The 1,000 miles was over 2 pairs of Guide 4s. I reckon to do 400-500 miles a pair. Interesting to hear your experience with Zoot. I am glad I am not the only one!! Like you I am scouring the web for Guide 4s. There are plenty if you have size 12.5 feet!

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  2. amazing blog! I really enjoyed it I know I won’t be cought out now! thanks 🙂

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  3. The “new and improved” version is one of the reasons why I switched from Asics to Nike Free years ago. Nike also tried to improve the Frees a while back (they were horrible, at least to me), but they smartly decided to re-offer the older versions. I found them on sale when they came out with new colors and bought TEN pairs at dirt cheap prices! Call me a creature of habit, but I truly believe in “don’t fix something that ain’t broken.”

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  4. I hate the way that shoe companies “update” their shoes every so often. I’ve heard the advice that if you find a good shoe, you should run out and buy a a few other pairs of it. For me, it takes a few weeks to know if my shoes are really good. (Sometimes it takes a while to break them in.) I’m currently on the fence on the shoes I’m using now, so I won’t be buying any more of them.*

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    • I agree that it takes a while before you know. I usually mix old and new shoes until the new are broken in. I didn’t do that this time. I won’t make that mistake again!!

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  5. Oh god – so you’ve been running in what would be considered minimal shoes without knowing it? No wonder your calves complained. It took me a good 3 months to transition to running 6 miles in my Kinvaras which have a 4mm drop and my calves knew all about it, but are now fine. Hopefully you can get a pair of your 4s online somewhere? And, at least you’re not actually injured!

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    • I know Becca. I feel a bit of a twit! But you wouldn’t have thought Saucony would make such a fundamental change in the same model. Anyway fingers crossed I can go back to being a happy heel striker!!!

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  6. So glad I have just googled this. last year I wore a pair of 4’s for marathon training and then the actual race. Thinking I was doing the right thing I traded them in for the 5’s (same as you thinking they were the same) and I have had foot pain ever since. I have worn Saucony since I started running aged 11, now 37 and I’m going to have to find a new brand as it seems they lowered all their shoes and I cannot find any in my size-not impressed

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    • You have my sympathy!! It was a strange thing for Saucony to do. Not just to change the profile of their shoes, but then to try and pass them off as the next model is the same range. After a lot of looking around and talking to the guys at Runners Need (can’t recommend them highly enough), I have migrated to Asics. I am currently running in a pair of Asics GT-2000s which have a 10mm heel to toe drop and I have found really comfortable. Good luck in your search for something new.

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  7. I don’t run but I have found the new Saucony Omnis with the 8mm drop to give me terrible back pain. It feels like they are pushing my spine forward which does not feel good. I really feel betrayed by Saucony that they would make such a substantial fundamental change and call it the same shoe. And then do it to all their shoes. Like they are forcing some half baked philosophy on us without even asking. Not to mention the latest research according to at least one phd showing that heel striking is what humans do naturally, heel or not, even when you think you are not. We are optimized for it. In any case, I am done with Saucony.

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    • You and me both Jimmy!! I am now a happy, pain-free Asics convert and have been for almost a year. I wear the Asics 2000 Gel and providing they don’t mess around with the geometry of the shoe, I will continue to wear them.

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