Photos by Ben Mistak
Most runners have one brand and make of shoe they’ve been buying for the past 20 years. They get locked in and never try anything different. But we had a hunch that if they were to test-drive a new-fangled shoe, they’d prefer it. That’s why we sent some of the latest models to our buddies who study with Sri Chinmoy. Who’s that, you ask? Well, Sri Chinmoy is a Queens-based spiritual guide who encourages a balanced lifestyle. That means that the people who follow him pray and meditate a lot and eat really healthy. Sri Chinmoy also hosts spiritual running events that range from two-milers to “ultramarathons” like the 3,100-miler (60 miles a day, every day, for six weeks). In our estimation, Sri Chinmoy ain’t half bad. So we sent some of the newest shoes from Asics, Adidas, Fila, and Puma to our friends who run to attain spiritual enlightenment. They used the shoes for a week and then met up with us at the Perfection in the Head World barbershop, which is run by Chinmoy. It’s out in Queens in a strip of Chinmoy-owned businesses, all of which are painted sky blue. We expected that Abichal, Dipali, Dusan, Medur, Sundar, Sahishnu, Sakshama, and Utpal would hardly have a negative word to say about the shoes, or about anything at all for that matter, but they were surprisingly discerning and on-point. Maybe there really is something to this running-till-you-puke thing.
The Adidas is a lightweight shoe with good cushioning. I would feel confident wearing it in a multiday race, such as the 1,000-miler.
I’ve only run ten marathons and a couple of the 47-mile races, but my general experience with weird little closing systems is that for me, because of my high instep, they don’t work.
I really like these shoes. They’re great. They have stability. They keep me running properly. I rank them all 5s in durability, comfort, support, and appearance.
I’m kind wary of Asics because all Asics shoes have this anti-pronation device in them. They say it helps pronators and doesn’t hurt non-pronators. That doesn’t seem quite logical to me. But I liked the shoe. I liked the wide forefoot. It’s called slip last, where the forefoot is wide and the heel is narrow.
[Pronation is when your arch hits the ground when you put your foot down. In the long term, it fucks you up — Ed.]
The Asics is fantastic. I love the Asics shoes.
These shoes have lots and lots of cushioning. But as someone with pronation issues, this is not a long-term option for me. For short-distance running, it might work.
I liked it. The flexibility and the softness of the sole felt good. But the upper part was too snug, particularly along the ankle. That kind of thing can develop over the course of a couple days and cause real problems. If I were to keep this shoe, I’d probably cut open the toe box with scissors and remove the heel support entirely.
For running, they were perfect because they had just the right amount of flexibility and pretty good cushioning. If I were a hard mileage runner I’d be a little more critical. But then, if I were a hard mileage runner, I wouldn’t be so fat. I’d automatically be 30 pounds lighter. I used to be a competitive runner, but lately, my schedule, my age, and my lack of fitness have forced me to just run when I can. I probably do about 25 miles a week.
It looks very nice, but by the time I finished two miles, my left arch was telling me that this shoe was not going to work for me. Flat-footed people like me need arch support. After only eight miles, I had quite a sharp pain.
This was a complete surprise. I know some of my friends have had problems with them, but I’ve got to say, I think I’ve found something that works for me. They seem to have a lightness, something that gives a little more control. I think I found my shoe.
I’m overweight, so these are not right for me on the pavement. But on the track they are excellent. I quite liked them as a track shoe.
We collated all the ratings of our Chinmoy friends. Here are the stats.