Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shoe Review: Saucony PowerGrid Triumph 9

RunnerDude has found a new favorite running shoe. Oh wait, no it's an old shoe. No, it's new. Confused? Don't be. Saucony recently revamped some of their popular shoes (the PowerGrid Triumph, PowerGrid Hurricane, and the ProGrid 5).

How did they revamp them? They decreased the heel-to-toe offset. Before the revamping, the heel was 23mm high and lowered to an 11mm lift under the forefoot which resulted in a 12mm heel-to-toe offset. The revised versions starts with a 20mm heel and a 12mm lift under the forefoot for only a 8mm heel-to-toe offset. The result? A more level ride.

Doesn't sound like much, but by decreasing that higher heel by 4mm you get a much more natural gait that allows you to have a better mid-foot landing. The higher heel-to-toe offset tends to promote heel-striking. The lower heel in the Triumph maximizes muscle power by allowing for a more efficient stride. Heel-striking causes a runner to pull forward before pushing off. Running should be more of a push. In order to pull forward, you actually recruit more muscle. This expends more energy which means more fuel is burned. This can result in quicker onset of fatigue. Lowering the heel promotes more of a mid-foot or flat foot landing more under the center of the body which allows you to work with the pavement pushing off, instead of working against it as a heel-striker does with a push-then-pull. It also lets the body work more like a shock absorber creating less breaking effect and jarring of the knee and hip. Less jarring = less injury.

Don't expect a teeny thin sole like a minimalist shoe. You won't be running on a strip of leather or a carved out recycled tire. The point of the shoe is to provide a "flatter" run not decreasing cushion. While the heel-to-toe offset has been decreased, Saucony has kept the integrity of a traditional running shoe with plenty of cushion in the heel and forefoot. Saucony has constructed a durable IBR+ outsole that provides 15% greater cushion than standard blown rubber and a PowerGrid foam midsole that's more resilient than traditional EVA. If you're an overpronator and need stability and/or motion control don't worry. The ProGrid Guide 5 and PowerGrid Hurricane 14 still provide the support you need while at the same time providing that 8mm heel-to-toe offset.

I've been wearing the Triumph 9 now for a couple of months now and I'm lovin' them. I've been a big fan of the Triumph since they first debuted several years back. They've been my personal running shoe of choice for years. So, I was a little apprehensive at them being tinkered with. However, at the same time, I've been wondering why all the hoopla over the minimalist movement. I keep thinking why doesn't a running shoe company just lower the heels of their running shoes while  keeping the integrity of a traditional running shoe. So, while apprehensive over an old favorite being tinkered with, I was eager to test them out.

As you probably have figured, being a running coach, I put a lot of miles on my feet. Last summer, I was having a heck of a time with the balls of my feet. I discovered I had two dropped metatarsals. Ouch! I've been working on more of a mid-foot landing to help decrease the stress on my lower body when running, so I was doubly eager to see how this decreased heel-to-toe offset was going to possibly help my sore footsies.

My findings? Well, true to form, the Triumph still provides a great cushioned ride. The wide/roomy toe box was still there and best of all the 8mm heel-to-toe offset is amazing! My feet feel much better. It's kind of funny that I'm celebrating the obvious, but it's true. I've been telling women runners having calf, Achilles, and plantar fasciitis issues to toss the high heels and wear lower shoes; all the while (while not stilettos) I've been running around with "heels" that were putting me more on the balls of my feet and promoting more of a heel-strike making it hard to achieve that mid-foot landing.

The PowerGrid Triumphs have always been my personal running shoe of choice and now it's been made even better. So, if you're wanting more of a natural ride but not ready to wear gloves on you feet or run "exposed" then give Saucony's new 8mm line a try. You won't be disappointed.

Your support and readership of the blog means so much. If so inclined, a vote of support for RunnerDude's Blog at The Top 100 Running Sites would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your readership!

Note: While Saucony requested the product review and provided the shoes for testing, I received no payment for completing the review, nor was I encouraged to write a positive review. The review results are strictly based on my experience running in the shoes.


Mark U. said...

If going from 12 to 8 mm heel-to-toe drop has proven good for you, why stop there? Years ago I went from my former 12 mm Brooks Adrenalines to 4mm Newton Motions, and along with a concurrent change towards a higher cadence mid-foot strike proved a Godsend.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Mark!,
I've tried the Newtons and they just don't work with my feet. The thick lugs along the ball of the foot irritates my metatarsals. I can go about a mile and then my feet kill me. Newtons are great shoes and several of my friends swear by them, but they just dont work with my feet. That's the thing about running size does not fit all. That's why on the blog I try to present all sides because 8mm may work for me while barefoot running works great for my good friend Barefoot Josh (hi Josh) and the Newtons do the trick for you.

Runnerbill said...

Very pleased that you posted this. I wear triumph as well and was wondering about them. I wonder if the higher heel has caused my feet to go tingly during my runs. I will have to try these on for the summer for sure as mine are getting old and are close to the mile max. I know that I mid foot strike but need the more traditional shoe so hers hoping.

Penny said...

Great. Review . I looked in to getting a pair of thriump 9 , but came across the saucony cortana which has an 4mm heel to toe. I tried the kinvara but they didn't have enough cushion for my forefoot. I'm loving my cortana best decision ever made was getting a pair of the cortana

Gary said...

Thad- Great review, as usual. I'm sold on these flatter shoes. For several months I've been rotating between Kinvaras & Mirages. It has made a midfoot strike easier & seems to have fixed my ITB problem (knock on wood!). There is a small price to pay with these lower, flexible shoes -- sometimes my footpads & inner ankles get really sore. Do you think adding the Triumphs or new Guide 5's to the rotation would help? I was thinking that the extra padding & support would give my feet & ankles a break. Thanks, Gary.

Junk Miler said...


Anonymous said...

WoW! isn't it amazing to look at?!! the new look is design for a runner like me! I'm liking this one!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Gary!
Definitely think it's worth a try. These won't be like your Kinvara's or Mirages. They'll feel more like a regular running shoe with the expected support and cushion, but they'll give that benefit of putting you lower to the ground so you can get that support but keep your midfoot landing you've worked so hard to implement and as a result benefited you in so many ways.

PS....Back at ya Josh

RunnerDude said...

Hi RunnerBill!
I think you'll really be pleased. Let me know what you think if you give them a try.

Gary said...

Thanks, Thad. I'll probably give the Guide 5's a try. Maybe Saucony should be paying you a commission!