Ben ‘Benny’ Wallis was the first person to test the Freedom ISO when they arrived in Australia so who better to test the Freedom ISO 2 and let us know how they stack up and here is his run down:
A little about me.
I used to be a crazy runner back in my youth, representing Victoria in the Australian School Cross Country and Track and Field Championships back in the late 90’s.
As I got older, other things took over my life and it wasn’t until four years ago (some 18 years later) that I got back into running again, and am absolutely loving it.
I’m typically a road and path runner around town, but have recently done some trail running. I’ve given the old treadmill a go, but haven’t been able to master the mental game that comes with being in the same spot for so long.
How I run.
Generally, I will run anywhere from 70km – 100km a week, depending on what I’m training for.
For my running, I use a number of different shoes (all Saucony as I have over the last three years) but for distance running, I was rotating between the Freedom ISO, Ride 10, Kinvara 7 and 8. For faster stuff, I had the Fastwitch 7 and 8 and now use a pair of TypeA8.
I have one pair of spikes as well for the wet grass training sessions.
I love the feel and comfort of the Freedom ISO for longer stuff.
My first pair of Freedom ISOs lasted roughly 800km until a small hole formed above the big toe on my left foot. I probably ran another 200km in them before I got another pair of shoes.
Enter the Freedom ISO2.
Having fallen in love with the Freedom ISO concept, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I learned that the Freedom ISO2 was on its way.
Visually, they have similarities. The Freedom ISO 2 sole is updated a little with some flexibility cut-outs and still has the same pattern under the forefoot, but has changed from the midfoot to the heel. The upper has an updated design and the new ISOKNIT.
To be honest, it feels well… you don’t really feel it at all. Both Freedom ISO generations weigh pretty much the same, but the Freedom ISO2 doesn’t have that heavy bottom feel like the first ones did. It took a little getting used to, but when you did. It felt great.
The Freedom ISO2 is a much more balanced shoe, a little firmer around your foot. The soles feel incredibly soft and a lot more cushioned than the first version making them very attractive to run in. The feel of the new ISOKNIT is incredibly comfortable to run in. Not that I have tried, but I’m sure you could run in the Freedom ISO2 and have no issues at all.
The heel area is a little firmer, but still has that digital freedom feel which will give a few people more confidence that there is a little bit more support. Some people didn’t like it, but I personally didn’t have any hassles.
I’m in love with these shoes. How they feel, how they react, how they look and in the iconic Saucony ViziRed (5% faster proven fact!)… where can you go wrong?
If you have the chance to try them on in a store, put your fingers each side of the heel and your thumbs on the outside of the sole and squeeze it together. You’ll see how much comfort is there and if you try them on, you’ll notice how good they feel just walking.
I’ve done nearly 100km in mine already and half of that was 43km on a long run. Legs felt amazing and I was able to recover without a roller or spikey ball.
A warning: don’t go thinking they will feel like the first Freedom ISO. The Freedom ISO is totally different and totally kicks butt.
Benny is a great ambassador and supporter within the running community and an all round great guy, we encourage you to follow him on Instagram and Facebook.
The arrival of spring marks the beginning of the Little Athletics season. For Anna Fitzgerald and her family, this time of year is one of fun and excitement as the kids get back on to the track. Below she shares how Little Athletics has become such a big part of her family’s life.
When I was a child, Little As (as it’s affectionately called) seemed only for the serious aspiring athlete among us – those kids that seemingly had natural grace, power, speed and coordination and would dominate at our school carnival. From the outside looking in, it appeared a highly competitive environment primarily focused on winners and losers. I have to admit, I always felt intimidated by the kids who owned spiked shoes, or who knew how to get over a high jump pole or throw a shot put.
I was not one of these kids and my lack of skill in running, jumping, and throwing disciplines became more apparent as I got older. Perhaps because of these feelings of inadequacy, I didn’t participate in Little As as a kid. Instead, I trained at the local park or on the road with my father. Running mindless and endless kilometres with a stopwatch in hand, slowly killing my enjoyment and regard for the sport.
So what has changed? Well, a fair bit actually. I am now a mother of two young girls, both of whom are members of their local Little Athletics club. I am also a runner – a runner who only recently made a return to the sport because her childhood experience of athletics was so devoid of enjoyment. Accordingly, I have been keen to avoid making the same mistakes with my own children.
These days, my primary concern is that my girls experience new things in a supported and fun environment. I want them to have the opportunity to hone new skills and test their boundaries and to do so, with a perpetual smile on their face. My girls are active but I wouldn’t say they are athletics superstars, and that’s the way I like it. I am a firm believer in allowing children to experience and enjoy sport for what it is and if this develops into a passion or a talent in the future then so be it.
Recently, I asked my girls to explain to me what it is they love about Little As. Their responses were the antithesis of how I had perceived the Little As environment as a child. “Because, its fun!”, “we get to learn how to do new things”, “we make new friends” and “we get to try and beat our times”. I like this last one. Not because it focuses on times but rather, that my daughters had couched healthy competition in terms of personal improvement. So if you have been sitting on the fence as to whether to sign your child up for the upcoming Little Athletics season, here are several reasons why I think you should do it today.
It’s fun and social
I don’t think that there is a bigger enticement nor a better endorsement of a sport from a kid than to say it is fun. I think this is the case for us big kids too. Enjoyment is the backbone of longevity in any sport. I love seeing the smiles on my kid’s faces as they participate in an outdoor activity that challenges them, reinforces their ability to achieve, to improve, in a social and fun setting. I also intrinsically value the opportunity for my children to meet and interact with children from other schools and from outside their immediate social circles.
The friendships they develop are often lasting and serve to broaden their life experience. Children are given the opportunity to try, fail, succeed and learn to laugh at themselves. Hitting the bar awkwardly on the high jump; falling face first into the long jump pit and rising up smiling; toppling every hurdle down on the way to the finish line. These are the real ‘laugh out loud’ moments-the kind of thing that should be the backbone of every childhood. After they are done, I love nothing more than watching them gobble and slurp up their sweet, sticky and well-earned icy-poles in the middle of the oval with their friends! I want those memories for my kids.
Athletics skills underpin most sport
If you want an active child then Athletics is a great place to start.
Running, jumping, and throwing skills are fundamental to most land-based sports. Speed, endurance, agility, power, hand-eye co-ordination, flexibility, co-ordination, fine and gross motor skills all get a workout within the athletics environment. These same components can later be built on and are required for team sports such as soccer, basketball, football, netball as well as many individual sports such as gymnastics. Accordingly, you will not find a broader and more readily transferable set of sporting skills than those developed in athletics. As for skills specific to the execution of a track or field event, most Little Athletics clubs offer mid-week or weekend training sessions focused on the various disciplines.
At our local club, my girls can choose whether they want to train hurdles, jumps, sprints, middle distance or throws with a qualified coach on any given week. At the weekly club competition, coaches are on hand to provide pointers, give advice and make changes to technique. In this way, children learn organically through practice, reinforcement and adjustment. As the focus is collective rather than singular, it takes the pressure off performance and achievement and places it on self-improvement. Participation, practice, and activity build positive, life-long habits in children and encourage them to be fit and healthy young adults too.
Celebration and personal best
There is no doubt that little athletics has a competitive element. However, I have found this to be primarily focused on the achievement of personal best and the pursuit of skill mastery. Children love ribbons, certificates, words of encouragement or a pat on the back from their parents. The Little Athletics environment harnesses these things beautifully. Every week, children can check their results via the club portal to see if they have improved. Throughout the season, the club allocates points for personal improvement in each event.
Every time your child throws a little further or runs a little faster they work towards tiered certificates. A monthly ‘most improved award’ is presented and their success is celebrated amongst their peers. There are club ribbon days and of course there are also opportunities for children to get involved in club representation or state level competitions. Trophies are awarded at the end of each season. Competition brings positive lessons for children too. Kids learn sportsmanship, resilience, and they learn how to graciously accept success and defeat.
Where to start
The Little Athletics season runs annually between October and early March. Children can join at anytime during the season. Registration can be made through your local club.
Nationally, Little Athletics is organised by Little Athletics Australia but this is segregated into state-based organisations. These state bodies have responsibility for clubs within their state. If you would like to find a Little Athletics clubs to join near you, the following this link.
Run For Your Life’s resident shoe reviewer, Mikayla Madden, had the opportunity to put the new Freedom ISO 2 runners through their paces. Here are her thoughts on the latest release.
What appealed to you the most about the Saucony Freedom ISO 2 runners?
I love that the Saucony Freedom ISO 2 has completely different technology to all the other brands I had worn. I was intrigued to try the full length EVERUN sole and the lacing system.
When I decided to train for my first marathon this year, I started looking into shoes that offer more cushioning for those long kms under foot, whilst not being too heavy and this shoe seemed to tick those boxes.
How did the full-length EVERUN midsole of the Freedom ISO 2 impact your performance?
The EVERUN midsole offers a smooth ride and I loved that as my runs went on, I did not start to ‘feel the ground’ excessively, and each stride felt cushioned. They made keeping a nice pace easy and once I got into my run, I really forgot about the shoes.
Now in saying that, I have had some teething issues – mainly I believe going from my usual 6-10mm drop down to the 4mm. I am starting to adjust though after around 70km in the Freedom ISO 2 and after the first 3km of each run, I can feel my body adjusting with less niggles in my knee and my plantar fascia.
After clocking 70kms, the TRI-FLEX crystal outsoles of these shoes look good as new! I know these will have some amazing durability, making the extra $ well worth it. I feel they will last longer than my other runners but time will tell.
I also really like the lacing system on the Freedom ISO 2. It doesn’t budge but the ISOKNIT fabric allows for natural movement. I had no pain on top of my feet and I often get this in new shoes.
How did the new ISOKNIT upper (performance engineered textile that delivers support, breathability and freedom of movement) of the Freedom ISO 2 impact your performance?
The ISOKNIT fabric is again very different to my other shoes. It is very flexible and moves with my feet, but I think this is where I feel I could’ve gone ½ a size down.
Similar, to the sole of the Freedom ISO 2, the upper is well made and I think will be durable.
About Mikayla Madden
R4YL reviewer, Mikayla, describes herself as a bit of a “newbie” to running, taking it up 18 months ago to improve her mental health. Starting out small, running the lake in Wagga Wagga, Mikayla now averages between 60-70km a week. Mikayla is currently working towards the goal of sub 4 hours in the Melbourne Marathon later this year.
About Run For Your Life
Run For Your Life (R4YL) is one of Australia and New Zealand’s premier running magazines, covering everything from training techniques and injury management through to interviews with our best runners alongside the keenest of amateur participants.
Timmy Hortz recently won Saucony’s Ride ISO Tester Giveaway, winning himself the opportunity to try out the latest Ride ISO and share his thoughts. Enjoy the read!
WHO’S THIS GUY?
I am a triathlete blessed with the curse of lining up in the hyper-competitive age group of 30-34yr old males which fill one third of the top 50 places in any long course race. My run training ranges from 30-50km a week and can include track, trail, tempo, fartlek, long, recovery and hill runs and everything else I’ve missed. I love my program this varied but it gives me anxiety trying to match shoes to sessions. The only hole in my n+1* arsenal is the long run “cushioned neutral” trainer which personally is the hardest to settle on as I can’t tell how a shoe performs until I’ve logged some long runs. Luckily for me I’ve been given the opportunity to try the new Ride ISO. Even luckier is that ISOFIT is my favourite non-nonsense tech for any shoe. Period.
*the correct number of shoes to own is n (the number you currently own) + 1
“DOES IT COME IN BLACK?”
Straight off the bat, Saucony does the classic black trainer better than anyone else. Last year’s all-black Freedom ISO was my boot of choice for my first Ironman triathlon and had I got my grubby mitts on this Ride ISO with enough time, it would have been my shoe of choice for this year’s follow-up at the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships in Cairns. These stealthy Ozzy Osbourne approved trainers look the goods with just the right amount of branding and flash. The first box gets a big tick for looks.
NICE RIDE, BRO
One of the lessons I learned from last year’s marathon is that my form suffers in the dying moments of long runs/races. The Ride ISO’s flexible upper and ISOFIT lacing lets me plug orthotics in easily without heel slippage or placing pressure on the midfoot. So regardless of whether you pronate or not, the Ride ISO is accommodating of your needs – especially with its uniformly wide full-coverage outsole that gives a nice stable ground contact patch.
I’ve tended to avoid premium neutral cushioning shoes and go for lighter trainer/racers as my daily shoe – I’m currently finding it very hard to part with my favourite Adidas Bostons. Being a smaller dude, my form gets a bit clumsier in shoes from this category during the early break-in period as the softer cushioning doesn’t compress too much for me. The first few runs in the Ride ISO were no different and I found the shoe tended to slap audibly if I landed on my midfoot. After a few longer runs however I found the midsole softened and flexed enough that this became less of an issue. Not a problem if you land on your heels, but something worth noting.
Regardless, I have come to like how it feels underfoot at 5:00-5:30/km pace. Anything faster or slower feels a bit cumbersome so this pace window ticks my long run needs nicely. It’s supportive and cushioned enough that I don’t feel any stress on the joints and the legs aren’t too beat up afterwards. There’s no shanks, plates or space-age tech in the midsole and that’s what I like about it. It’s uncomplicated and gets on with the job without any fancy tech that may limit its usage.
ISOFIT FOR THE WIN
ISOFIT is my favourite upper lacing and midfoot control system. Its comfortable, secure and just makes sense. I have found the ISO loops work really well for triathletes who use elastic speedlaces as the loops keep the thicker cords from digging into the top of the foot the way conventional eyelets do. If you can think of traditional eyelets as adding a firm skeleton of tightly tied laces over the top of the sensitive midfoot, then ISOFIT is more like a form-fitting drawstring sock that wraps the foot and ties things off without applying downward pressure on the top. Its comfier than normal shoe uppers and more importantly it works pretty well to keep my midfoot from collapsing or rolling around too much as I fatigue at the end of longer runs.
THAT’S A WRAP
If there was a house party for premium cushioned shoes, all of the Ride ISO’s equivalents would be running around doing shots and fighting each other to take over control of the playlist. Meanwhile, the Ride ISO is sitting there quietly in a plain black tee holding all the girls’ avid attention with its subtly smooth ways. It’s an understated cool looking boot and it achieves exactly what it sets out to do without any over-engineered tech or fancy tricks. The ISOFIT upper and luscious tongue is the sort of endlessly comfortable system that makes you thank the holy lords of lactate for giving you a break when your feet are tired. This and the stable cushioned midsole should give the majority of runners the sort of shoe they need for their easy/long runs.
Fuss-free and comforting like my mother’s porridge yet dripping in the sort of style even Batman would approve of, the Ride ISOs may just be the easy/long run shoe I treat the ol’ getaway sticks to as I gear up for August’s Sunshine Coast Ironman 70.3 and the upcoming 2018/2019 triathlon season.
If you have been experiencing lower back pain while running, chances are your deeper core muscles are weaker than you thought and that makes your running posture less efficient than it should be. While other factors might be at play, the connection between your core/glutes and lower back is huge, and if one area is weaker than the other, you could be in trouble.
Why? Well, to put it simply, running is a repetitive motor pattern subjecting your body to constant impact. This is why the stronger your core, the more stable and robust you are when you hit the ground. Maintaining muscle tone and strengthening the smaller muscle groups that surround your primary leg muscles (quads, hamstrings and glutes), allows you to become a more economical runner.
While plyometrics, powerlifting, and cross training each have their own benefits, Pilates elongates and strengthens the entire body, improves muscle elasticity and joint mobility. Oh, and did I mention it does all this with zero impact, so injury is highly unlikely!
Engage Your Core
Pilates compliments running enormously because you are constantly engaging your core with each Pilates exercise and that helps promote activation through your posterior chain (glutes/hamstrings) for runners who are quad-dominant.
Your core is your body’s stabiliser and the midpoint for transferred forces as you run, so it makes sense that learning to fortify your entire torso (including hips, abdominals, back, shoulders and neck) through Pilates is incredibly beneficial.
Improve Your Running Posture
Pilates encourages proper posture by identifying weaknesses throughout the body. This will improve your gait when you run because of the muscular cues your body has learnt through Pilates. Many of the postural improvements gained through Pilates are transferable to running including learning to tail-tuck. This mitigates lumbar lordosis which is caused by running with your centre of gravity slightly forward, your chest out, and lower back curved (putting pressure on the lower back).
Traditional cross-training activities for runners often include swimming, cycling, or the elliptical and yet Pilates, which provides massive return on investment, is often an underutilised activity. Pilates allows your body the opportunity to slow down and your mind to concentrate on all the supporting muscle groups that assist the larger ones used when running.
Concentrate On Breathing
When we run we often pay little attention to our breath. This is arguably because we spend a great deal of time out of breath! Pilates, however, is noted for its focus on improving breathing through concentration on deeper breathing and eliminating the shallow breathing we are often unconsciously performing on a daily basis. The performance benefits of this change in breathing are due to the greater lung capacity we develop.
Speed Up Recovery
Not only does Pilates provide a great alternative to traditional cross-training activity, but teaching your body correct form, and stretching out muscle groups that are screaming for a break, will allow you to bounce back faster after a hard track/trail session, and as a bonus, improve your speed. This is because loosening up your hips, legs and back helps you maintain a longer and more fluid stride when you run. The psoas muscles that help rotate the leg and position your torso, are often incredibly tight in runners, and releasing the tension build up here will also help you have more freedom and forward-range of motion during practise runs and races.
Although a training regime entirely devoted to running might be the dream, the reality is that our bodies all need strength training and low-impact active-rest to mitigate muscle breakdown, speed-up recovery, and be faster. If becoming a faster and smarter runner is your goal, then Pilates could just be your answer. Remember it’s never too late to reduce lower back pain, improve your running posture, become quicker and become more flexible with your stride!
Lucy Young is a personal trainer and runner from Melbourne.
Follow more from Lucy on Instagram at @lucyyoungfitness
Lucy’s favourite shoe is the Kinvara
Marathon runner, Robyn Jordan traded in her Kinvaras to see how the Ride ISO would stack up in preparation for the Gold Coast Marathon earlier this month and the Melbourne Marathon in October. Here’s what she thought.
I am the worst kind of runner when it comes to shoes. I find a pair I love and I wear them into the ground, literally. My last pair of Kinvara 8’s had 1,350km on them before I begrudgingly accepted they needed replacing. I vividly remember running the last 5km of the Three Waters Marathon in April, promising my feet some new shoes if they could just hold pace for the next 25 minutes, they did and I rewarded them with a shiny new pair of Kinvaras (my go to shoe).
Predominantly a marathon runner, with a little dabbling into the ultra-scene, most of my kilometres are on suburban paths. However, I am adventurous at heart and am known for diverting into swamps, taking shortcuts through bushland, and when I am pretending to actually train for a trail race, I’ll hunt out non-technical trails near home. All in my road shoes. With year round 80-100km weeks mostly before sunrise and in all weather, my shoes take a beating.
In the last three years I have not deviated from my tried and tested Saucony Kinvara, I started with the 6’s and nine pairs later, I am in what will be my last pair of the 8’s before I move into the 9’s. Needless to say, when I was asked to try the Ride ISO’s I was a little hesitant – it’s a completely different shoe. For years, my training friends have been begging me to add a different shoe into the rotation (apparently Saucony Peregrine for trails don’t count) so when the day came I nervously unboxed my shiny new Ride ISO and tentatively slipped them onto my feet.
The first thing I noticed was how they seemed to mould to my feet instantly, especially around the heel. Not in an overly padded claustrophobic way, more like my feet were getting a nice gentle hug, a kind of “we got you girl” hug. After wearing them around the house for a few hours, I took them out for a short 8km run, the hugging sensation remained, and surprisingly, I liked it. My feet felt supported but not suffocated and the shoe felt firm on landing and responsive on take-off but soft enough I never noticed that dodgy foot bone which likes to give me grief. I didn’t feel like the shoes needed to be worn in they handled well from the start.
The second thing I noticed was how sleek and stylish they appeared to be. Truthfully, I have always hesitated to wear my running shoes for anything other than running… because they just don’t quite look right. In a true testament to their comfort and style, I still had these babies on later that evening – I had finished my quick run, had a coffee catch-up with a friend, where we both gushed over my shoes, stopped at the grocery store, took my kid to the park, and was still wearing them. With strong legs (lacking length) I prefer a lighter coloured shoe, however these didn’t seem to chop my legs in half like other darker shoes have before, probably because they are so sleek and are not remotely bulky. (Saucony have since released a White Noise version, which I am lusting over.)
A few days later as I was getting ready for my long run, I decided seeing as I didn’t get struck by a bolt of lightning and chaos on my first run, I would give the Rides a try on a longer effort and haven’t my friends been telling me to wear a more cushioned shoe for longer runs? Again I noticed how they hugged my feet perfectly, they felt light, responsive, firm but cushioned (you’re not going to feel like you’re running on pillows but your feet will be very happy). As the run progressed they grew more responsive, I noticed no tightness on my feet and plenty of room in the show box for my wider foot and 25km later I was home one very happy runner.
At 241 grms these are heavier than my normal go-to shoe (the Kinvara 9 weighs in at 184grm), so I labelled these my recovery running, and long running training shoe. I told myself I would start sharing the load, rather than simply running one pair into the ground. That turned out to be a lie. As the weeks have passed I find I am reaching more often than not for my Ride ISO, I have logged tempo kilometre after tempo kilometre at goal marathon pace and have even thrown down a few quicker parkruns in them, proving they are not just a heavier more cushioned long running shoe as I first thought.
There are nearly 350km in these shoes now and they are retaining their comfort and their responsiveness with no obvious signs of wear. I have two marathons left in my calendar this year, Gold Coast Airport Marathon and the Melbourne Marathon. I will definitely be continuing to do my longer runs and even my tempo runs in the Ride ISO as I have found a remarkable difference in how my feet and calves feel having made the change.
Its predecessor, the Freedom ISO, broke new ground as the brand’s first-ever performance running shoe with a full-length EVERUN midsole. Now, the second-generation Freedom makes its debut featuring ISOKNIT, an engineered performance knit that works with Saucony’s racing-inspired ISOFIT system to deliver the brand’s most dynamic and unbounded running experience to date.
ISOKNIT is a performance engineered textile that delivers support, breathability, and freedom of movement. Combined with Saucony’s ISOFIT system, a soft inner sleeve and floating support cage, the Freedom ISO2 creates a dynamic fit system that adapts to the shape and motion of the runner’s foot.
The Freedom ISO2 features a full-length EVERUN midsole that maintains cushioning properties three times longer than standard EVAs while returning 83% of the energy absorbed. In addition to the full-length EVERUN midsole, the Freedom ISO2 also incorporates an EVERUN Topsole for even greater energy return and continuous, fluid cushioning with every stride.
Adding to the extraordinary durability and flexibility of the Freedom ISO2’s EVERUN midsole material, a TRI-FLEX crystal rubber outsole also displays exceptional resistance to wear. In addition to its resilience, the crystal rubber outsole allows for greater adaptation to different foot proportions and freedom of motion underfoot.
Weighing in at 258 grams for men and 232 grams for women, the 4mm-offset Freedom ISO2’s streamlined heel support frame adds to the shoe’s impressive fit and lightweight performance.
The Freedom ISO2 will be available at select speciality running retailers, The Athlete’s Foot and Saucony.com.au from July 2, in men’s in Black and ViziRed and women’s in Black, Aqua and White Noise.
If you’re a runner, it’s likely that you already believe running has a powerful effect on your state of mind.
But for Ben Martynoga, a British neuroscientist, he’s spent almost 20 years in labs around the world, trying to better understand the connection between running and the brain on a neurological level and how it can have a positive impact on our state of mind.
In his years of research, Ben has found that running has a very potent effect on our state of mind and can help with the following:
– Clearing your mind and helping you focus
– Bringing positivity
– Helping you to de-stress
– Sparking creativity
Ben describes running as a “moving mindfulness”, a form of meditation that allows us to really connect with our bodies, focus on our breath and reach a mindful state. The running process itself, where our sole focus is thinking about where our foot is going fall or the next turn on our route has been proven to help block out the noise of daily life and find clarity.
Recent studies have shown that after a run, people were much better able to control their attention, avoid distractions and switch between tasks. And when comparing the executive functions between runners and non-runners, these functions worked differently when it came to focus and directing attention.
Bringing clarity and positivity also helps explain the “runner’s high” many runners experience. Following a run, chemical signals in the brain activate feelings of euphoria. While some may not experience a drug-like high, many may find quieter feelings of happiness and satisfaction after a run.
Others may find that going for a run helps them with creativity or problem solving. Ben explains that incubation can be really helpful when we’re needing to come up with new ideas. By going for a run, we’re allowing ourselves to zoom out, disengage and let our unconscious mind find the creative solution.
Just as we know running is very good for the health of your body – taking your mind for a run can be very beneficial to your body too. Aerobic exercise, such as running, can activate the birth of these new brain cells, which is why after a run you may come back with a new idea or better understand things.
Ben reminds us that our brains are just another part of our bodies. And that we can take control of our state of minds by running.
Watch Ben explain how running can have a positive impact on our state of mind.
The connection between running and the brain: By Neuroscientist Ben Martynoga - YouTube
The powerful effect of running is what has inspired the latest White Noise collection from Saucony. View the White Noise collection.
About Ben Martynoga
Ben Martynoga is a British neuroscientist who recently partnered with Saucony to help uncover the fascinating connection between running and the brain, and how it can have a positive impact on our state of mind and help tune out distractions of everyday life.
The Shoe Wizard is an independent shoe reviewer, who has found a way to connect his love of running and writing. He recently gave the Freedom ISO a whirl and penned a few words. Enjoy!
So, I’m not a shoe designer. Don’t know what may have given that away but it might be due to the fact that I don’t work as one. That being said I’m still more than happy to put design decisions under the microscope and dissect them over the course of 4,000 words. Having done this a few times you start to get an idea of where a shoe sits in the running shoe order of things. You have you support shoes which normally have an arch wedge and generous cushioning. Then there’s racing flats which are supposed to be light and have minimal padding etc etc. Either way, shoe designers usually have a bit of a template that they can stick to when it comes to making a certain style of shoe, certain points that they need to hit when it comes to combining all of the elements that bring a shoe together.
Pow, along comes the category bending Freedom.
With this in mind I can only imagine what was going through the heads of the shoe design team at Saucony (pronounced Sock-A-Knee) when they were given the design brief for the Freedom ISO. The only reason I say this is due to the Freedom being a shoe that doesn’t really fit into any predefined mold that exists in the running shoe hierarchy. It’s got the Mid-Sole dimensions of a serious racing flat with the cushioning of a luxurious neutral shoe with an upper that can be either dialed in for a fast 5k or a lazy Sunday marathon. It does all of this while not stepping on the toes of already established Saucony shoe lines such as the fast Kinvara or the generously padded Triumph. Even more impressively it manages to do all of this while being Saucony’s first shoe to have a full Everun Mid-Sole which is a feat within itself as it seems that Saucony have hit the nail on the head with their first try. A bit of a rarity in the running shoe world if I’m honest. How did they hit the nail on the head exactly? Well that’s what the next 3,600 words are for so brew a tea and read on, you’ve already made it this far.
You know what I like in a shoe upper? Simple. You know what the Freedom ISO’s upper is? Simple. It’s that simple.
Simple clean and efficient.
Starting from the front of the shoe you get a welded toe guard and then after that you are immediately hit with a huge swath of stretchy mesh. This stretchy mesh runs over the forefoot in a nice ventilated fashion where it continues to run uninterrupted all of the way down to the shoes heel with the only break in the design being a plastic “Support Frame” on the heel. Either way from the outside it’s a really simple uncomplicated upper which has minimal fusing and stitching over it barring the small amount of fused tapering over the rough edges. The mesh itself while quite light is also quite luxurious feeling as well, I’m not sure if that’s due to the actual feel of the mesh itself or the small amount of elastane running through it which makes it feel soft and stretchy. From the outside the shoe feels and looks good which is a theme that is thankfully carried on within the shoe as well.
Don’t be fooled. The ‘Support Frame’ isn’t all the supportive.
The first thing you’ll notice about the inside of the Freedom is the incredibly plush and padded heel collar made from moisture wicking Run Dry material which then runs down into a tongue which is welded into the internal jacket within the shoe. The tongue of the shoe itself is an interesting prospect as it actually has no padding to it at all. Unlike most other running shoes there is absolutely nothing in the tongue of the Freedom but the designers got a little crafty and placed some ribbed paneling on the top of the ridiculously thin tongue which has a two-fold effect: It locks the laces in place which prevents the tongue slipping all over the inside of the shoe while also providing a little barrier between the top of your foot and the pressure that the laces will place on your foot. The edging of the tongue itself is made of a fluffy knit like material which while being abrasion free can get a little irritating while wearing short socks.
Ribbing over the barely padded tongue to lock the laces in. Smart.
Finally the upper of the Freedom is brought together by Saucony’s ISO fit system which is their way of saying fancy bootie like upper construction. Saucony has been playing around with the ISO fit system for some time now and it’s had a few different incarnations from a fully paneled cage running up the whole shoe, to two straps sitting far up the shoes upper in order to lock the shoe over the ankle. Either way all incarnations of it have worked well and the Freedoms ISO upper is no exception. Instead of having an external cage the Freedoms ISO system is built over the welded tongue which creates a much more consistent experience in the shoe rather than having a few panels or a cage shifting and slipping up and down your foot. The ISO fit does a great job of spreading out of lacing pressure on the sides of your feet while also giving a high level of adjustment when it comes to the fit and feel of the shoe. If you’re going for a longer run you can loosen the sides up and while the shoe won’t feel loose, it will definitely give you enough freedom and room around the foot for a comfortable run while also having the ability to be tightened up to not quite a racing flat fit but close enough. The ISO system is good because it provides a high level of flexibility both quite literally to the shoes upper but also from a use standpoint as well which is important with a shoe like the Freedom which blurs the line of what exact style of shoe it is. It can be used for a short fast run or it can be loosened up and taken on a Marathon without any issues at all. You have the Freedom to choose.
Hard to take a picture of the inside of a black shoe but when I say there’s a welded tongue and a plush heel collar in there you’ll just have to trust me.
However it’s the blurring of the line’s that also causes the Freedoms upper to have a few issues as well. While made of great materials and having a great feel the fit of the upper is almost a little too lose for what the shoe is capable of speed-wise. What I’m trying to say is that the Freedom is capable of being a quick shoe and in order to run quick in it I want it locked to my feet which means I really have to abuse the ISO system and pull the laces real tight on the upper so the shoe doesn’t feel clumsy on my feet when I run fast. It’s a bit of a moot point as the shoe technically isn’t a racing flat but I feel like the upper fit is maybe just a little too generous for what the shoe is. That being said I do have narrowish feet so this is what might also be a part of the issue here. So really it just depends on how you find the shoe fit.
The most exciting part of the Freedom ISO: Its full Everun Mid-Sole.
Relatively low riding shoes with an even lower drop. Not a hint of support in sight either.
Just to give you a little background of Sauconys Everun; it’s Sauconys version of a Poly Urethane Mid-Sole material. Like Boost? Yep, exactly like Boost. In fact both Boost and Everun are made by the same German materials research company called BASF whose tagline goes something like ‘We figure out how to make it and you figure out how to use it.’ Anyways, Poly Urethane (PU) makes a pretty awesome Mid-Sole material when you compare it to Ethyl Vinyl Actuate (EVA) which is what most shoe companies still use. PU is denser than EVA meaning that it has a much better energy return than EVA while also retaining its padding a hell of a lot longer than traditional EVA as well. The only drawback is that due to the density of PU it weighs more than EVA and can become unstable if you put massive chunks of it on the bottom of a shoe without tempering it with some stiffer materials.
You can see how the team at Adidas put some plastic paneling in their Adios Boost in order to give some rigidity and form to their PU Mid-Sole.
That being said when Adidas released Boost it seemed like overnight that they went from a manufacturer of mediocre shoes to one of the best shoe makers on the market. Everything that Adidas was making was being put on the Boost train and it was fantastic. Normal running shoes that had a majority EVA Mid-Sole were having bits thoughtfully replaced with PU and the results were fantastic. So imagine my surprise when at the time our local Saucony rep revealed to me that they were using the PU based Everun technology in their shoes. I was really excited as Saucony was one of the first brands behind Adidas to start using PU. I was even more blown away when I found out how they were going to use it in their shoes as well, with a 1mm thick slither of the Everun material under the shoes insole with the rest of the Mid-Sole being completely comprised of EVA padding. This was kind of the running shoe equivalent of a cheese toasty that was made only using a ¼ of a Kraft Single slice. It was justified one way or another but I couldn’t help but be disappointed that Saucony had this great tech and just decided that they weren’t going to use it to its full capabilities. This disappointment was taken away when we were initially shown the Freedom ISO which had a full Everun Mid-Sole. No EVA rims or torsion systems like you’ll find in the equivalent Adidas either, just a full chunk of Everun with a 4mm drop. Well is it any good? Yes, and then some.
Remove the Inner-Sole of the shoe and hey presto: Pure Everun goodness for your foot to sink into.
For those of us that have worn Adidas Boost before I’ll say that Everun gives a similar sensation but it’s also different at the same time. Boost is what I’d call light and ‘bouncy’ while Everun is frim and ‘springy’ which makes sense as it’s a firmer compound. This firmness is needed as there is only 19mm and 15mm of foam under the heel and forefoot of the shoe. Meaning that this is an incredibly low riding shoe that runs fairly flat.
First impressions when you put the shoe on are quite good. First you feel yourself sink into the Everun for what feels like a couple of mm then the foam just firms up right under your foot letting you know that you aren’t at risk of bottoming out the padding. Then you start to walk around in the shoe and you’ll begin to notice the springy feeling of the dense PU rebounding against the energy that you’re putting into it. As you begin to break into a light jog you’ll still feel that springy characteristic from the shoes Mid-Sole which feels really wonderful and responsive at a slow to medium pace. Once you begin to break into a tempo pace jog the Everun continues to keep up and while it doesn’t have racing flat levels of responsiveness the Mid-Sole manages to feel relatively natural under foot. Now this is impressive as there are other shoes out there that just have a pure EVA Mid-Sole which either feel good at slow or fast speeds but never both. One such example of this is the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante which feels okay at medium speed but lacking padding at low speed and clumsy at high speed. The Freedom however just feels as if it has the answer to every pace question you can ask of it.
Fresh Foam Zantes. Same kind of deal as the Freedoms but they just don’t feel nearly as good under foot due to their EVA Mid-Sole.
The thing that really impresses me about the Mid-Sole is that it is just a pure slab of PU material without any EVA curating which is what almost all other shoe manufacturers using a PU based material do. An example of this is early Adidas Boost models where Adidas would put an EVA rim right on top of their Boost foam in order to bring some rigidity to the shoe. Or, they would run a plastic torsion bar throughout the whole Mid-Sole in order to bring a little structure to the shoe. The reason for doing this is that PU foam when left in a massive slab while comfortable can also be massively unstable as well. Think of it like walking on jelly or something. It’s so spongey and wobbly that while it does feel great to walk on it isn’t necessarily stable or great to run in when you need a level of consistency from your shoe. Adidas made this mistake when they released their original Pure Boost which was just a bootie on top of a rather sizeable slab of Boost which was terrible to run in as the shoe just flipped and flopped everywhere.
Saucony, despite having a full Everun Mid-Sole have managed to avoid the whole unstable jelly thing with two smart design ideas. First, the overall stack height of the shoe is quite low which means that there’s less of it to bounce around. Secondly, due to Everun being a slightly denser and firmer compound that Boost is a little more stable which helps them get away with it.
Hard to see in this picture and this colourway but Saucony even spell out Everun on the side of the Freedom just in case you forget it.
So with that little bit of geeking out said and done it must be said that the Freedom is an incredibly neutral shoe. There’s no real focus or direction given by the Freedoms Mid-Sole, just a bunch of consistent Everun cushioning which will flex and move with your feet. For the most part this works really well. The flexibility combined with the softness of the Everun makes the Freedom really easy to run in over a variety of distances at a variety of paces as well. Sure, it can feel a little too free form when you’re trying to do a balls to the wall tempo effort but it’s more of a feeling rather than the shoe flat out being unable to do the quick stuff. Another bonus of having this pure Everun construction as well is the increased durability of the Mid-Sole. Due to PU being a denser foam you will be able to extract a much higher number of K’s from the Freedom without losing any of its responsiveness or cushioning when compared to other EVA based runners. In other words the Mid-Sole will feel good no matter the amount of K’s you put into it which is a very good thing.
While the Everun Mid-Sole is great there are a few drawbacks. Because Everun is a heavier compound when compared to most other Mid-Sole materials you’ll realise fairly quickly that the majority of the weight distribution sits low in the shoe. It’s not exactly a bad thing but if you run in lighter runners with a fairly even weight distribution like myself you can feel that the heavy bottom of the Freedom can be a little bit clunky when running at pace. You do get used to it after a few KM’s running in the shoe but it is something to be aware of, especially if you’re used to doing the majority of your training in lighter style running shoes. It’s also worth mentioning that the Freedom’s Mid-Sole also provides very little in the way of support. If you are a runner that needs some support from their shoes then I’d recommend that you stay away from the Freedom and look at the Liberty ISO instead which is a Freedom with some mild stability elements. The Freedoms Mid-Sole has a ton of flex in it and it isn’t rigid. This combined with a 4mm drop means that if you’re used to running in a more stable shoe then the Freedom might take some getting used to or maybe isn’t your bag anyways.
Overall the Mid-Sole of the Freedom is an incredibly well thought out element of the shoe in-spite of it being Saucony’s first stab at a pure Everun Mid-Sole. Due to the springy and relaxed nature of pure Everun the Freedom becomes a shoe that can really be used for any number of occasions. It makes a comfortable long distance every day trainer, it makes a padded yet responsive effort training shoe while also having a low enough profile and drop to not feel overly clumsy when you’re really trying to put the boot down and get a good tempo effort in. All of this is provided while having insane levels of durability which is just another tick on the long line of ticks that that the Freedom has against its name.
There’s not a lot to be said about the Freedoms Out-Sole so I’ll keep this part short and sweet.
A well thought out piece of kit this Out-Sole. Although I kind of feel like Saucony is trying to tell me that it’s made of something.
The Freedoms Out-Sole is a dense crystal rubber that has been cut into a semi-aggressive tread which covers the whole bottom of the shoe. There’s no bells or whistles here just a solid slab of hard wearing rubber and I love it. The thing is that most running brands will try to put soft slabs of blown rubber under their shoes without much of a tread worked into them. The reason they do this is that the soft rubber makes the shoe feel a little softer under foot and the soft rubber grips onto surfaces. The only downside with this is that the soft blown rubber wears out quite quickly. Saucony has changed this around with the Freedom and has used an incredibly hard compound with a decently aggressive tread to make up for it. What you end up with is an incredibly hard wearing Out-Sole that can be used in all conditions and feels great while doing it. Thanks to the dense Everun Mid-Sole Saucony was able to get away with putting such a dense and heavily treaded Out-Sole on the shoe without compromising its ride and the Freedom is much better for it. There hasn’t been a situation yet where I’ve worn the shoe and have felt like I wasn’t getting enough grip. While I also don’t know how many KM’s have been put in the current pair that I’m testing I can say that I can barely notice any wear in the Out-Sole after my time running in the Freedom and I’ve heard reports of people extracting more than 1,000km from the shoe before running into any major issues.
The award-winning Ride is a story rooted in a rigorous dedication to innovation and endless refinement. Now, the all-new Ride ISO continues to enhance the dynamic connection between the runner and the road with the introduction of the brand’s ISOFIT lacing system, which adapts to the shape and motion of the runner’s foot for a truly personalised fit. The new Ride ISO is also engineered with an EVERUN layer and a POWERFOAM midsole, resulting in an extremely responsive running experience.
The new Ride ISO features Saucony’s award-winning ISOFIT technology, a soft inner sleeve
and floating support cage that combines to create a dynamic fit system that adapts to the shape and motion of the runner’s foot. The ISOFIT system, now with more stretch, allows runners to dial the fit to whatever their preference might be.
The Ride ISO’s POWERFOAM midsole is lighter and 50% more responsive than standard EVA, resulting in greater resiliency, durability and energy return. Additionally, the Ride ISO features Saucony’s EVERUN Topsole for continuous, fluid cushioning with every stride.
The Ride ISO offers a brand new engineered mesh upper that not only provides enhanced breathability, but is stronger and more flexible than standard mesh. Engineered mesh, both strong and flexible, helps to support the foot yet provide an incredibly dynamic, adaptive and fluid fit that moves with the runner’s every step. A woven wrap adds additional structure and support around the heel area.
The shoe’s 8mm heel-to-toe offset positions the foot during impact in a way that creates a greater range of motion for Achilles tendon system, allowing for a more powerful running stride. The Ride ISO weighs in at 275g for men and 241g for women.
The Ride ISO will be available exclusively from The Athlete’s Foot from 3 May and nationally from 1 June.