Every triathlete is out there looking for the perfect combination of comfort, affordability, performance, durability and aesthetics when it comes to running shoes. Some have more money to explore the latest and greatest shoes and some have their tried and true $35 pair of specific brands and models that they live and die by.
There are so many choices between minimalists, lightweight, stability, motion control, neutral and a heck of a lot more. The best bet and starting point is to get your feet measured at your local running store and start trying shoes out. If you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, hit your local chiropractor or sports exercise specialists for some screening and gait analysis to find out your foot structure and what types of shoes would best fit your feet. That would at least arm you with ammunition to start with the right shoe section.
The key is to not go out training for an Ironman in a shoe simply because it's the latest fad or looks cool. A couple of long runs in the wrong shoes could amount to a lengthy setback of physical therapy, rest and recovery or worst case surgery. Not all shoes and styles work for everyone.
That being laid out, (www.asicsamerica.com) was kind enough to shoot over a pair of Gel Lyte33's that I tried out. After a couple of months on the road, paved trails and treadmills, here's a look from an every day triathlete.
Fashion / Appearance
The Lyte33’s are visually appealing. Some styles actually turn a little ugly in the larger sizes, but these were beauty's in size 12. The layout of the patterns meshed well together and avoided the appearance you might think with a Ford Mustang front end and a Ford Futura rear end; just wrong. Not the Lyte33. They have style. I tested out the red traced with black that are comfy and stylish enough to wear out for casual outings aside from hill repeats or AT intervals. Asics offers a wide variety of colors to assure you have the right shoes for your personality or color requirements.
They do have that twist that comes with the lightweight running shoe line in appearance. It’s a combination of a casual shoe and running shoe that harkens to the crossover car market. It takes a little appreciation and acceptance from that diehard running shoe enthusiast.
Form / Construction
On the outside, the overall construction looks solid. After over 200 miles of running on streets and treadmills, our tested Lyte33’s are still holding up, a testament to being designed to withstand the test of time and miles.
Fit / Function
Like I mentioned, I have tested out these Gel Lyte33’s for over 200 miles over a span of 6 months. They were used in a running shoe rotation from 3 mile easy runs to 16 mile long runs, pavement and treadmill runs. They were given the royal treatment and spared from no expense.
The soles showed minor wear, but held up overall over the pounding. A successful indicator of a well built shoe is the ability of the sole to stay adhered to the actual shoe. Nothing’s worse than that flopping toe deal after the shoe starts falling apart.
The insole stayed intact and another indicator of good construction is the printed images didn’t rub off after a few outings. The insole held its shape for a good duration of the 6 months of abuse. Towards the end, it probably could have used a refresh replacement.
I noticed a little less bounce back from the sole at the end of our trial. As with most running shoes, the recommendations are to replace the shoe near 6 months or a couple hundred miles of running, depending on make and model.
I have a notoriously bad running form, so to go to 100% lightweight shoe for running just isn’t a reality. I mixed in GT 1000’s and 2000’s with some other running shoes in a two shoe rotation to mix it up. More akin to the idea of running trails every now again to strengthen ankles and various other running muscles, using different styles of shoes in a controlled approach could theoretically yield strengthening in weak running areas.
There is a noticeable difference in weight going from a traditional running shoe or shoes meant for stability or to correct other run form issues. The Lyte33’s were, like the name implies, lighter. It was like wearing a neoprene swim bootie on your foot, but with a sole and laces. They are not rigid and very comfortable, even after a 16 mile run.
Shoe prices are getting out of hand, which is why it’s refreshing to see the Lyte33’s started at $90 and now run for $55. I suspect they might not have taken hold as hoped for, as color and sizes are limited these days.
But don’t let that dissuade you, the Lyte33 shoes are worthwhile as a solid option in your running shoe rotation. Similar to cross training to work often unused muscle groups beyond the basics swim, bike and runs muscles, they Lyte33’s can be used in moderation to work on muscles long forgotten thanks to shoes that almost run for you. They work great for strength training footwear and you don’t even need to change shoes if you run a couple miles after a lift for cool down. For $55, you can’t get much better quality for long lasting shoes.
The Gel Lyte33’s are geared for lightweight running shoe enthusiasts. They have design characteristics that can carry them over into the mainstream running community, but with caution and controlled regimes.
The price has dropped since their initial release, which makes them a great deal for what is actually a solidly built shoe. If you have foot issues or bad run form (like 90% of us), don’t lose hope as the Lyte33’s were made with you in mind. It may not be an everyday option, but it is definitely a good shoe for shorter workouts and a savior and break for your long haul shoes.
Take a look.
Disclaimer * Writer's note - Asics provided the products for this review at no cost.
Ryan Falkenrath is devoted family man balancing faith, family, Triathlon Coaching and racing. He is a certified USAT Level 1 Triathlon coach (www.SetThePaceTriathlon.com) and has formally raced endurance events since 2001 from 5k’s to Ironman distance races.
Ryan is racing Ironman Chattanooga in 2014 to raise funds for Ride to Give and Mended Little Hearts. You can follow his adventure on Facebook at Tri for a Hand Up, give to his Fundrazr campaign (), read more of his writing at Endurance Sports Examiner follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan or email him at Ryan.Falkenrath@SetThePaceMedia.com.