Sunday, December 1, 2013

Shoe review - New Balance MT1010 Minimus Trail

New Balance was one of the first major shoe manufacturers to jump into the minimalist trend. When they first did it, I remember friends who bought the first pair. We all had a good chuckle later when they had to go back to something with more of a heel because, quite simply, they did give their legs and feet a chance to acclimate to the minimal heel drop.

With the Minimus line, New Balance went right after the natural barefoot feeling and after some initial success with a couple different road shoes, introduced a good looking trail shoe option. When I saw the first road shoes that were offered from this line I scoffed. But when this trail shoe came out I thought seriously about giving it a try. When it was time to buy a new pair specifically for trail, I picked these up for a fairly reasonable price on Amazon when New Balance was introducing their second version of the same shoe.
Currently, these are in my closet with about 250 miles on them. Before I get to how they perform, here are some specs:

4 mm drop from front to back. 10 mm forefoot, 14 mm heel.
7.8 oz weight per shoe. Super light weight.
RockStop rock plate that runs from the toe to the midfoot. Good for rocky terrain.
Designed to be worn without, seriously. (I wear socks with mine)

When I first got these shoes and tried them on, I noticed the tongue was very different in how it was integrated with the rest of the shoe. I am still not sure I like it in how it sits on top of my foot, but that is a minimal issue. The lace holes are as I like them, with 2 options at the top for best fit. The arch support is like most shoes in this style, meaning there is some but not much. The one plus for me was the toe box. Being a guy with slightly wider feet than average, these fit very well in that area. As far as colors go, I went with a muted red and black option but noted there were several color schemes available, which I always think is cool...I like the bright colors usually.

As for running in them, I was not terribly impressed. From the word go, they have always rubbed in a way that leave me with wicked blisters after every run. I dutifully game them a firm 100 mile break in period, believing that they would soften or work themselves in to a point where the chafing would subside but after more than 200 miles they still rub. I will honestly say that I have no idea why this is and I am fully aware that thousands of runners wear these and do just fine. It could also be due to the fact that the shoes were designed to be worn without socks. As of yet, I have not tried running in them without socks and am not in a big hurry to do so since I don't want my shoes to absolutely reek to high heaven.

One positive note is they do well on trail in regards to their overall grip and handling. They were definitely built with rugged trail running in mind and are very capable in any off road terrain. They also do well on both short trail runs and long ones. To date, they have been used on short 5 mile jaunts and a couple of 20 plus runs. Because of the chafing however, the longer runs tend to be a little more painful, so I tend to minimize my runs in these shoes to 8 miles or less, which is in my opinion, tragic.

I have also noted that I can transition from trail to paved on the same run with ease. Trail shoes can sometimes be clunky when run on road and yet these handled well and were comfortable to do so. They are wearing well though, as far as mileage, which is always good. The tread is still strong on both shoes and should last me for at least 200 more miles. If I can somehow manage to run in them without the rubbing, I would suggest that everyone try them.

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