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The Mirage Magic

Otherwise known as the shoes that got me up and running again.

I almost returned the Mirage 2s without having run a single step in them.

saucony mirage 2

It seems crazy to me now, considering how much I love them, but I almost didn’t want to even give the Mirages a chance. I ordered them months ago…right before the injury that left me sidelined for the entire spring. At the time, my interest in a more minimal shoe had been piqued by all the great things I was hearing about the Kinvaras, as well as my positive experience with the lighter and smaller heel to toe offest Saucony Guides. I was intrigued enough to want to try running in less shoe…but too nervous to take my over-pronating self out onto the roads without any guidance at all.

The Mirage 2 seemed like the perfect compromise. From the Saucony website:

RUN – Minimalism

Aesthetically faster with an improved fit, the Mirage 2 is minimally constructed, lightweight, incredibly responsive, and also provides just a touch of guidance for the neutral to slight overpronator. Weight: 8.0oz.

These shoes are basically marketed as a more stable version of the Kinvaras (*not having run in the Kinvaras, I cannot do an accurate comparison, but I do realize that in reality these are two very different shoes). There’s a little more support to the Mirages, making them geared toward individuals who are slight over-pronators but still want the minimalist experience. Although the shoe is made with Saucony’s ProGrid cushioning system (called “ProGrid Lite”), there really isn’t a whole lot there. The insole is flat and firm, lacking that pillowy or springy feeling that you have with traditional stability shoes. The Mirage isn’t really a true minimalist shoe, but to me, it may as well have been.

Saucony Mirage 2 - front

Before making the switch, I had been running in stability shoes that had extra cushioning in the heel and lots of arch support. The Mirage doesn’t have any of that. Although there is more of an arch than most minimalist shoes would have (as you can see from the picture below), that arch is much lower than I was used to. The first time I tried on the shoe, I was struck by how little there was to it.

Saucony MIrage 2_arch

And then I started having ankle problems, which turned into knee problems, which led to a long spring of no running. I put the Mirages on the shelf, figuring that this was probably the universe’s (or my body’s) way of telling me that I needed to stick to a more supportive shoe from now on. In the end I decided to keep the Mirages, but only for walking around.

The more I walked in the shoe, however, the more I realized that I liked it. It wasn’t long before the lack of cushioning started to feel normal. The shoe seemed to mold to my foot in a way that my traditional running shoes never did — to the point where I just stopped noticing them. I realized that the shoe itself was even more responsive than I expected, and that I preferred the “closer to the ground” feel that it allowed. It got to the point where switching back to a more traditional running shoe felt awkward and clunky, even on walks. Soon I was wearing the Mirages all the time.

I still wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to try running in them though.

Saucony Mirage 2_sideview

But as my injury progressed, I started doing a lot of reading about less traditional ways to combat knee pain. Even though the conventional wisdom seems to be that knee problems are indicative of a need for more support, I started discovering people who had gotten rid of their pain by running with less. I thought a lot about my poor running mechanics, and realized that I should be working toward fixing the problem, not finding a bandaid to cover it up. Frustrated with my lack of progress and desperate for a solution, I finally decided to give the Mirages a try.

The first run was only partially successful. I had tried running again too soon, and the knee pain came back after a few miles. But in those first two miles, the difference I felt was remarkable. It was enough to motivate me to give them another try.

These days I run exclusively in the Mirages and can wholeheartedly say that I love this shoe. I’m on my second pair, and have slowly made my way into the double-digits. Although the longest I’ve run in them so far has been 14 miles, I’m confident that they will hold up to the load of marathon training.

Saucony Mirage_back

With each run, I am finding it easier to adjust to my new shorter stride. The shoe encourages a midfoot strike, which means that the days of me landing heavily on my heel with each step are finally over. I love how light they are, I love the way they feel on my feet, but most of all, I love how they’ve helped me run pain-free again.

The only negative that I’ve experienced so far is just in terms of my adjustment to the shoe. Because of the lack of cushioning and guidance, I can definitely feel my feet and calves working harder than they’ve had to before. The shoe felt comfortable from the start in that they never gave me any blisters or rubbed the wrong way, but the fatigue in my lower legs was tough to get used to at first. Especially when combined with my overall “out of shapeness” (yes that’s now a word) and the difficulty I was having adjusting to my new stride. It’s gotten better for the most part, but on longer runs I can feel my legs getting tired. And then on my 14 mile run this past weekend, the bottoms of my feet started hurting during the last couple of miles. I don’t know if they were just extra tired, or perhaps they still aren’t used to taking such a huge pounding. I know that I need to build up strength and so I’m hoping that I won’t feel this way over time. But if you have any experience with in this area, please share!

Only time will truly tell how they hold up over the course of training, but so far – I’m a believer in the Mirage Magic. 

The awesome green color doesn’t hurt either…

—-

*These shoes aren’t for everyone, but they work great for me. If you aren’t sure what type of running shoe would work best for you, I highly suggest going to a running specialty store so that an associate can evaluate your stride and fit you. And remember to ease your way into a more minimalist shoe slowly in order to avoid injury.

If you have any questions about how I changed my stride/decided to switch to a more minimalist shoe, please drop me an email!

9 Responses to The Mirage Magic

  1. Great review of these shoes. Thank you. You have me interested in trying them!

  2. all of the symptons you described are correct when moving to a mid foot strike. your feet, ankels, and calves will continue to get stronger over your training. My recommendation is to keep your mileage increasing rather slow and also think of doing some exercises like the 100up routine.

    • Thank you for the input! I’ve been making a real effort to increase my mileage slowly (long runs as well as overall weekly mileage) because of the injury and the switch in shoes/foot strike. But I hadn’t heard of the 100up routine before. I am a bit new to all of this, so I really appreciate the recommendation! Will definitely be doing that regularly from now on.

      • That routine should help build confidence and muscle memory. good luck on your journey, improving your form will help with prolonging your running career. If you ever have any questions/concerns please let me know, I maybe able to help. cheers

  3. pink socks and you’re golden for team watermelon!
    Meggie´s last post ..CHO-awesome

  4. I run in the Kinvaras and LOVE them!!
    Alexandra´s last post ..So Excited

  5. I can’t pretend to know anything about the technicalities of running shoes so can’t make any intelligent comments…but I will say these green shoes are BEAUTIFUL!!!!
    Cathryn @ myheartscontentblog´s last post ..Black Bean and Roasted Chicken Chili

  6. I’ve been running in Merrell Pace Gloves (a pretty minimalist shoe) for about a year now and know exactly what you’re talking about when you say the bottom of your feet hurt! It’s more the skin than anything inside the foot, right? It takes me a lot longer now before my feet start hurting, so I guess it IS something you get used to. I should mention, though, that I started in Vibrams (I know, I know, they’re grotesque, but they were a huge help in establishing good form!), so probably had somewhat of a higher tolerance for the pavement pounding before moving on to the Pace Gloves. The calf soreness will definitely go away with time! Anyway, good luck! I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you!

    -Jean

  7. I’m a pretty bad over pronator. When I stand up, my arch collapse. I wore brooks adrenaline (heavy stability shoes) for awhile and had the worse knee pain. I switched to kinvara and knee pain gone. No pain whatsoever! I ran my first marathon in it too! Now I switch between newton and kinvara 3!!

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