Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Shoe Review: New Balance MT10

I had a great idea during my run this morning and unlike most of my great ideas during my runs I actually remembered it. So instead of forgetting my great idea or having my great idea actually be a low blood sugar and lack of oxygen to the brain-induced bad idea, I can share this idea. I'm sure you're curious beyond belief about my good idea, so here it is: shoe reviews. Sure, your foot is probably complete different than mine and our ideas of what a good shoe are may be completely different, but who cares? And so what if you can find dozens of other shoe reviews from more competent reviewers. Maybe if I write a few shoe reviews some company will send me a pair to review--for free!

My great idea struck as I was running through the forests of Lebanon Hills Regional Park and was really enjoying my shoes: New Balance MT10s. New Balance advertises them as their minimalist trail running shoe. They also have a "minimus" road shoe which is, unfortunately, really ugly. I think the trail shoe looks pretty good, but to each their own.I love how this shoe feels on the trail. The outsole pretty much has nothing to it--just round grips and no hard rubber to speak of--just round lugs for traction. On the trail this is a huge asset making it really easy to feel the ground, though the softer, lights round lugs aren't too good in muddy conditions. The sole is made by Vibram and as such is very light and flexible.

The lightweight sole combines with a very lightweight upper--the other thing I really like about the shoe. New Balance says it's 7.1 oz. When I look for a shoe I'm generally a sucker for lightweight. I like a little support (and the MT10 has slim to no support), but I love lightweight shoes.

This shoe also has a 4 mm drop from the heel to the forefoot and has a very thin sole overall. Supposedly this lack of heel to forefoot drop is good for your form and helps you to land more on your midfoot. Generally I like shoes with little or no heal lift and I enjoy the very slight difference in the MT10. I definitely feel like this shoe helps me keep good form and cadence.

Now, I'm not one of those crazy "YOU MUST LAND ON YOUR MIDFOOT!" types. In fact, if you're running downhill and you don't want to do a forward somersault and crack your face open you're probably better off landing on your heel a bit. One reason I like that there's a little bit of heel on the MT10 is that you can pound the downhills and have some protection on the heel while keeping good balance.

Though the MT10 is great on trails I don't love it on the roads. It's fine for the first few miles but I think the total lack of hard rubber on the outsole doesn't do me any favors on the pavement--especially when it's hot outside. At the end of my run today I could feel the bottoms of my feet heating up on the blacktop. I know some people run barefoot or in those 5 finger things with no cushion but on the hard, hot pavement I like to have at least a little bit of cushion in my shoes and there is almost none in the MT10.

Two other things I don't love about the MT10s are the lack of toe protection and the seems inside the shoe. The toes, like the soles, have no hard rubber on them. This was a problem during the Afton Trail Run 50k when I stubbed my toe on a rock. It was almost like I kicked the rock barefoot.

New Balance says the MT10s can be worn with or without socks. I would highly recommend not wearing them without socks--especially if you haven't worn shoes without socks for awhile. I went on my first run with these--about 6 miles--sockless. It was not a good plan. I ended up with blisters on both feet--and not in places I've ever got blisters before. Both blisters were the result of seams rubbing on the tops of my feet. One seam was clear sewn wrong and I eventually used a scissors to cutout the excess material that was folded over itself. Maybe the seams being a problem were unique to my MT10s but I've worn spikes and racing flats that were much more comfortable without socks then the MT10s. I haven't tried these without socks since that first run.

Other than the minor faults I think the New Balance MT10 is a pretty solid shoe. Others have run with it on pavement and without socks just fine. I enjoy how lightweight it is and how I can really feel the trail when I'm running. I'll definitely keep using it as my main trail shoe.


Jim Parry said...

Check out the Brooks Pure Project line, due out Oct. 1.
I wear the Brooks Mach 12 for some runs and plan on buying a pair of Brooks' take on minimalist shoes when they come out.

TCHusker - Nate said...

Thanks, I will!