April 6, 2011

Shoe Review: Asics GT-2160 (Women’s)

As discussed in recent posts, I have been taking steps to move away from my thick-heeled stability Asics Kayano 15’s in order to transition fully to a midfoot/forefoot plant. This is virtually impossible to do with the a thick heel to drag along behind me. The first step was the introduction of the Nike Women’s Lunar Glide +2. The difference in the heel-to-toe drop between the Kayano 15 and the LG +2 is dramatic. After a slow introductory period during which I was only able to run 30-45 minutes in the LG +2 twice a week, I was still stuck with running in the Kayano’s on the other 3 days a week I run. I noticed the toe box in the Kayano’s were feeling extremely small. I wasn’t able to splay my toes like I could in the LG +2. The more time I spent in the Nike’s, the bulkier and heavier the Kayano’s felt. After years of wanting to wear NOTHING but the Kayano 15's, I knew it was time for another change…..

In an effort to get away from the Kayano’s even further and do it without injuring myself, I went on the hunt for a thinner-heeled shoe that would still provide the support and stability I know I currently need on long runs.  Based on the recommendation of a trusted shoe expert (fortunately someone who knows me well), I took the plunge and [insert shock and horror here] bought a new stability shoe that was not the Kayano 15’s!

I have traditionally stuck with size 8 shoes. It was with great surprise I went up to a 9 in the Nike’s and LOVED how my foot felt in the shoe. Like Shaquille O’Neal upgrading from a Smart Car to a Cadillac Escalade (okay, maybe I’m being a little over dramatic but you get the idea).  I was re-sized again for the GT-2160’s and tried both an 8 and an 8.5. What a difference just ½ an inch makes. Even though the GT-2160 toe box is wider than the Kayano’s, I realized I needed more room in the front of the shoe. 8.5 it is!! I ran around the parking lot at the shoe store. The heel felt expectantly wider and heavier than the LG +2, but I felt little of the bulkiness of the Kayano 15s. The initial ride was smooth and light. The insole cushioning was refreshing and comfortable – similar to the LG +2 insole comfort. I could feel the added stability while allowing my foot to fall more naturally on the midfoot. Exactly what I need for long runs at this point!

Check out the arch comparison. A short high arch on the Kayano 15’s (marketed for high arches) and a lengthened medium arch on the GT-2160 (marketed for normal arches). The Kayano arches were starting to irritate me - likely due to trying a midfoot plant in a shoe with an arch that sticks up into my foot. Ouch.

Instep (medial) view. GT 2160 vs Kayano 15
Lateral view. GT 2160 vs Kayano 15 

Other notable differences are the feel of the inside of the shoe and the toe box. The GT-2160 have a sturdy but much softer insole. The toe box in the Kayano’s is almost angular and very narrow. Not ideal for those of us who’s feet start to swell towards the end of a long run! 

Here is a comparison shot of the Asics GT-2160 and the LG +2. A good combination of a shoe I can use for speed and tempo work and a shoe that provides me a little more support for long runs.

LG +2 and Asics GT 2160. My perfect shoe duo.
And everybody all together now.... I think this pic is a good example of why it is SO important to transition to flatter heel-toe ratio shoes slowly. Each shoe shows a progressive increasing heel height and arch support on the instep. The GT 2160 is the perfect next-step stability shoe in achieving my long-term goal of running in flatter, more minimalist shoes on every run.

I was so excited to get the GT 2160s out on the road (and just as excited to get out of the Kayano’s that I was hating more and more by the day). I wore them 3 times over the first week; 7 miles, 6.2 miles and then a 4-miler. I was already confident I could take these out for my 20 mile LSD. And on the fourth day of use, off I went.

I am in no way exaggerating the truth when I tell you this was THE BEST 18+ mile run I have ever had. Granted, I am working harder than ever to hit my 4:30 marathon goal but what a difference having more room and less heel made in my enjoyment and how my body felt during and after the run.  I could actually feel the road in my forefoot. It gave me a sense of control I hadn’t felt on a long run before. My ankles and arches felt strong and solid. The big hill in the middle of my route had no bearing on my pace as I glided up the grade. This past weekend, I took them out on a 23 miler and felt just as great. No new blisters, no hot spots – just a new flatter surface, softer insole and a lot more toe wiggle room!

I’m almost completely transitioned out of the Kayano  I don’t think there’s a need for me to go back to my old safety shoe. I’ve moved on from being a heavy-set heel striker to a slimmer, faster, midfoot planter. I’m lucky enough to have taken my time with the transition so as to not injure myself.

If you’re looking for a great stability shoe with less bulk and lets your foot fall naturally and comfortably without feeling constricted, I highly recommend the Asics 2160’s!!

After I wrote my review, I went to the Asics website to see what specs they had available. Low and and behold, this shoe is a Runner’s World Editor’s Choice. Looks like I am not alone in my high opinion of these shoes! Here's what RW had to say:

Runner's World Awards: Editor's Choice
The 2160 wraps the foot in a soothing embrace that makes long runs feel much shorter. And the interior of this update has even more soft lining in the upper than the previous version, creating a snug fit without pressure points. Asics softened the Gel and foam midsole and added deep grooves in the outsole to provide a smooth feel through toe-off. Wear-testers loved the overall fit and not-too-mushy underfoot feel of this shoe. We recommend the 2160 as a supportive high-mileage shoe for normal- to low-arched runners.

I guess I could’ve saved myself some time and just copied this into a blog! LOL!

Buy the shoe. Really. ;-)


Nancy E said...

SO happy you posted this ---- I am looking at shoes and really think this may work for me too!

Leandra said...

Just bought myself a pair! Can't wait to take them out for a run@

Anonymous said...

just found your blog... Looking forward to following it. I am a longtime 21XX wearer, switched to Kayano last time, and just returned to 2160s. Also trying to movement mid-fore-foot strike. ITA with all you said.

M A said...

Thanks for the detailed review. I have been carelessly choosing my walking/running shoes and with foot/knee pains over past couple of years, now feel that I should get more serious.

Your review helped. I ordered Asics GT-2160!

gazrun1 said...

I was worried these would feel clumpy with more cushioning than I am used too. however they feel really light and were the comfiest runners straight out the box I've had. one 4 mile run in I'm seriously impressed.

Anonymous said...

My 2160's arrived this week. Love everything about them!

Anonymous said...

I wore the 2160's when they first came out. LOVED THEM!!! Then I rec'd horrible advice from an associate at the same store I bought them originally. I was told they no longer make them??? As I look back, they were probably out of my size and he didn't want to lose the commission. Reluctantly I chose another asics model as well as a smaller size. He insisted I was running in too big of shoes. BIG MISTAKE!! Alas 2 years later and 5 pairs of shoes later, I am buying up as many pairs of 2160s as possible. My feet are still recovering from injuries suffered from the 1st pair of shoes after the 2160s. BUY THEM, you will NEVER regret it :)

vince clark said...

AHHHHHH CANT FIND THEM ANYWHERE on line or instore... anywhere in europe would do any ideas ?