These shoes arrived in the post, just at the right time. My slightly flawed plan of spending a few weeks in Sydney over Christmas, turned into a Northern Beaches lockdown and an extended stay with my sister, but I now had new running shoes in which I could go exploring the local area! Bur before we get to the testing...
What type of running shoe wearer am I?
I’m 187cm tall and usually somewhere around the 80kg mark depending on how many chocolate almond croissants have been in my diet during the previous week. I love to mix things up with my running, so am just as likely to hit a trail, as a road or cut laps of a sports pitch. At the moment I’m getting in roughly 70-80km per week spread over 5 runs, including one long run, one trail run, an easy recovery run, an intervals session and a hills session. It’s nothing spectacular but I like the variety and it also mixes up the surfaces that I run on, so it's been a good way to test out the Inspire 17.
In terms of injuries, I don’t have any at the moment but as someone who is always aware of my achilles and calf tightness, this is one of the first things I am looking to feel out in any new pair of shoes.
So how and where did I test this shoe?
Over 3 weeks I ran on astroturf, pavements, roads, grass and some trails, finishing up with a half marathon around centennial park in Sydney.
My first impressions of the shoe were great. Straight out of the box, the navy blue, with a dash of red and white, is a great colour combo and it certainly looks like a ‘modern’ running shoe at first glance. When I put the shoe on, I felt like there was a better, snug fit from the upper in comparison with previous models. There was also no annoying movement from the tongue as I ran, which some running shoes have a tendency to do. The laces were also long enough to tie up the shoes exactly how I wanted to, rather than having to fuss around because there isn’t enough lace. The simple things were spot on.
Once I started running, I could feel that it was light but stable and supportive, something I think is a trademark for the Inspire, and it certainly felt like I had more spring in my step compared to the Inspire 15’s that were finally coming to the end of their long life! On my faster intervals, the shoe responded well and I also felt stable and comfortable in cruising mode, logging laps around beautiful Narrabeen lake in both the wet and the dry.
After logging over 130km in the shoes, the final test that I put this through was a half marathon around Centennial Park in the rain. 21.1km in just over 1 hr 25 mins and I had no issues with grip in the wet or when shifting weight and hopping up onto the grass to avoid dogs, prams or walkers with giant umbrellas. Afterwards my feet were fine, with no blisters and interestingly my achilles and calf areas pulled up absolutely fine, which I have to say is a little unusual for a solid effort like that.
So what’s the verdict?
I can safely say I have enjoyed the Inspire 15 and particularly the 16, but this Inspire 17 model is my favourite. Not only does it look better with a little extra splash of colour, I think it feels more like a modern running shoe, without compromising on the basics that I value of being stable, reliable structurally and light. No, it's not an uber light racing shoe or overly foam laden, it’s not meant to be those things. For me, it’s just a great shoe to log a lot of km’s in comfort, feeling spritely and not getting injured. It's also responsive enough that if you want to turn things up a notch, you can without feeling like you’re in a pure big mileage shoe. For me personally as a longer distance runner, it’s exactly what I am after for my training right now and I’m delighted at the improvements that have been made.