Regular visitors to my tiny corner of the internet may remember that in 2015 I got the chance to get a new pair of shoes thanks to parkrun and sweatshop (as was the custom back then) and with this opportunity, I jumped ship from Brooks to New Balance. Initially, I used the Fresh Foam Boracay which had cushioning and bounce for long miles, but also some responsiveness for use on the faster stuff. Still, I enjoyed the shoe so much that I stayed with New Balance Fresh Foam technology but switched to the Zante. It was a match made in heaven. Personally, the fit was absolutely spot on and the shoe did all I needed it to. I used it at the track where it was responsive enough to cope with 400m repeats, but also plush enough to guide me through 4 marathons (same model, different pairs) between October 2015 and September 2016.
The V3 was roundly criticised by many of the prominent shoe review sites but I feel this is far easier to do when you have access to so many other shoes to compare against. For me, it was a shoe that continued to work, so I was also really keen to try the new V4. I just couldn’t get my hands on them.
I was in need of new trainers, so I attempted to find a pair on sweatshop (driven mainly by the 50% discount I get there through my Vitality plan.) Restricting myself in this way meant I had to broaden my search beyond that which I knew and once again I had the freedom to try something new. Combining my search with the ever-insightful views of the Ginger Runner, and some other shoe review sites, ultimately led me to the Saucony models. A trip to Alton Sports in Farnham sealed the deal as I had the opportunity to slip a pair of the Saucony Freedom ISO on my size 9.5s and hop on a treadmill.
This first insight was a revelation. As a forefoot runner, I often don’t see the point/benefit in fancy cushioning properties as they are typically kept at the heel of the shoe. The freedom is the first Saucony shoe to use their Everun technology throughout the full midsole. The result is cushioning that is incredibly plush, but provides a bounce in your step from heel to toe. The marketing blurb also says that this stuff will keep on providing this bounce for a long time: it ain’t going to get compressed and become unresponsive.
Underneath the midsole, the TRI-FLEX outsole is a similarly durable rubber compound that promises good grip in all conditions. As you’re all likely to know, in the last few weeks the UK had enjoyed a vast range of weather types so I have certainly had the chance to test the outsole. Thus far it has certainly lived up to the idea that it will keep me upright in all but the iciest of conditions.
So this brings us to the top of the shoe; a mixture of mesh and overlays with a flexible plastic heel counter that actually runs around the outside of the shoe.
Putting on the Saucony Freedom ISO
The shoe is hugely comfortable. Immediately upon doing my foot into the shoe it felt cossetted and supported. The fit was true to size and my toes seemed able to move as they wanted. There are a few considerations though:
- The gusseted tongue has a gusset that is arguably a smidge too big for the shoe. For me that means I can’t just pull the shoe on and go, I have to just slide my fingers around and make sure it is seated comfortably across the top of my foot.
- A conscious effort needs to be made every time you put the shoe on to also make sure the heel is seated correctly. The flexible heel counter works fine on a run, but you can push it down as you step into the shoe and it’s important for the stability it offers to work that you pull it back up again.
- With both of these things in mind, I feel that using a lace-lock technique, as I do, is quite important. My issue with the tongue may simply stem from me having narrow feet; if you were to try a pair you may find nothing amiss. This is where my biggest gripe with the Saucony Freedom ISO arises: the laces. They are just too damn short! Even without the lace-lock, I’d say they were only just about right, but once you’ve looped and crossed the laces back over themselves, it is tricky to tie a convincing knot. It just leaves me not 100% confident every time I go for a run.
On the run
Ok, so I have got the various flexible bits in the right place, and I have managed to tie my laces, what are they really like? Can they do the things you want them to?
The shoe is sock-like comfortable and the welded overlays provide support without being intrusive.
The Everun midsole is a revelation. Having never used the Adidas boost technology I am afraid I can’t provide a comparison. What I can say is that it is plush and cushioned, even when forefoot striking. I have used the trainers for about 50 miles at the time of writing and this has included hill sessions, tempo work, and easy slow runs. In each of these situations, the shoe is able to behave differently. The easy runs result in miles of comfort and plushness. But as soon as I pick up the pace the midsole feels responsive and pushes me along. Training isn’t exactly going swimmingly at the moment, so ‘picking up the pace’ is all relevant! 🙂
Stack: Front 15mm, Back 19mm
* according to the Saucony website
Final thoughts about the Saucony Freedom ISO
Hard to say for definite after only 50 miles. But I have really enjoyed those miles! The Saucony Freedom ISO provides comfort, both from its Everun midsole and topsole, and from the ISOFIT technology in the upper that wraps and supports the foot. Yes, the shoe takes a little jiggery-pokery prior to heading out the door just to make sure the fit is spot on – but this is ultimately a small price to pay. For me, the biggest niggle is simply the ridiculously short laces that are provided with the trainers; a small price to pay really!!