There’s so many ways to go when runners and triathletes are looking for shoes. I’ve tested several makes and models for which many manufacturers produce to address every category came up, and some that have never been thought of until the shoe was made. Not all shoes are the same across a genre, and not all athletes can use just any shoe. Many learn painful lessons that just because a shoe is the latest and greatest and has the highest price tag, it doesn’t mean that’s the magic shoe to end all foot pain and running issues.
CitySports.com reached out to me to review their latest “natural” ASICS running shoe, the 33-M. The 33-M is built for the natural running experience to lessen interference from the shoe to the body’s running form, assuming it’s a normal pronation and doesn’t need any work per say. With my test pair, I logged nearly 100 miles over six weeks and you can read on for my take from an everyday age grouper on how the 33-M stacks up in the real world.
At initial glance, the one stand out feature is the actual sole thickness at the rear supporting the 4mm platform drop. If you’re looking to squeeze in a few inches on your online dating profile, the 33-M is your shoe. You might feel as if the ground is a little further away with these bad boys, and you wouldn’t be far from the truth..
Aside from the robust soles, the ASICS 33-M’s I tested were the White / Flash Yellow / Navy style. There are other colors out there, however it appeared that City Sports carried this style in particular. The white is sharp and eye catching to say the least. I immediately got comments on how attractive and appealing the 33-M’s were. One drawback on the white is how fast they will attract dirt and smudges. Naturally if you run outside, you might run into some dirt, water or mud. With a white pair of shoes, it’s going to happen.
If you are worried about keeping your shoe investments as pristine as possible, one option would be to limit usage to indoors on treadmills. Lets be honest, shoes are meant to run in and they will get dirty. Accept it. Even after 100 miles of street, track and treadmill running, our white 33-M’s were not any dirtier than other white running shoes.
The overall construction of the shoe is cohesive and doesn’t suffer when you enter the larger sizes. You big foots out there know what we mean when you order that awesome looking pair of shoes online only to get them and have them look distorted when in larger sizes than the nice pictures online. The 33-M’s don’t look odd in the larger sizes..
If a running shoe doesn’t perform the function is was designed and purchased for, then that was a waste of money, right?.
In my 100ish miles of testing, I ventured runs on streets, sidewalks, treadmills, long runs, tempo runs, easy runs, interval runs, brick runs and dog walking. I even ran in the rain with my 33-M’s and lived to tell the tale. I also stuffed the 33-M’s in duffle bags for travel and crammed them into airplane overhead bins. You know a shoe is resilient when it rebounds to it’s original shape after 10+ hours being in luggage..
Sole degradation was minimal. Wear and tear on the sole and stitching was not an issue as not one seam had popped or piece of rubber had peeled. Being designed for under or neutral pronators, the 33-M’s are aimed at a specific running segment, which means they aren’t for everyone.
If you overpronate and roll your feet too much, the 33-M’s might hurt you in the long run. I have a tendency for overpronation and after long runs, I would experience hot spots on the balls of the big toe and in the arch area. No blisters came of it, but we could tell it would be an issue if this was our full time shoe. But, this could also offer a “cross training” opportunity for non-under or neutral pronators to use a shoe that works muscle groups left unaddressed by stability or motion control shoes.
In moderation and under controlled usage, varying shoe types could potentially be used to promote strengthening of weaker muscle groups and ligaments similar to trail running and other variations of running. It’s not something to switch to 80% of the time, but may be a good option for one or two shorter runs a week to work on stabilizer muscles. We are guilty of nasty heel striking.
It’s just there after years of running and various PT sessions. I’ve coped with finding the right shoe combination and training regime that allows me to stay injury and pain free. One item of concern was the return of heel pain after using a non-stability shoe like the 33-M. I was pleasantly surprised that no heel pain was present after runs and non-existent the mornings after long runs, which was the worst times for heel pain. Also keep in mind that I did not switch to exclusive use of the 33-M’s, but rotated them in with our other trusted shoes..
The 33-M’s actually felt heavier than my trusted styles, but at 10.9 ounces, they were right on target or actually lighter than other styles I use on a consistent basis. For some reason it was deceiving while wearing the 33-M’s, and I don’t really have an explanation..
I would be remiss if I didn’t give some review love to the store that set me up with our test shoes. CitySports.com is an actual brick and mortar store in Boston that has developed into an online entity selling quality apparel. They shipped the ASICS 33-M’s free of charge (normally $6 for standard ground) and from order confirmation to shoes at our door, it was around 3 days to get my kicks. The box comes wrapped in plastic to protect is from the elements and comes with a printed receipt in the need of returning the shoes. They offer a 30 day refund policy for online buying as long as you meet their conditions for a return..
The 33-M’s don’t come free. Depending on the source, the 33-M’s run from $125 to $139.99 before tax and shipping. That’s a nice chunk of change, but when you’re buying the latest and greatest in running tech, you’re paying for what you get..
Overall the 33-M’s appear to be a solid shoe. They are reliable and have been built to withstand some serious punishment.
They are geared to a specific market. The natural running experience is their target, and that may not work for everyone. It’s not to say the 33-M’s wouldn’t serve a purpose, but it’s a large price tag to add a part time runner to your closet. But, ASICS and CitySports.com have several options to address your needs. We just reviewed one of them..
Will I continue to run with our 33-M’s? Yes. They offer the ability to target weaker running muscles groups, therefore proving useful in the war on triathlon. They may not serve as everyday race flats, but they made the rotation..
Would I continue to buy more 33-M’s after our test pair gets retired? Probably not. It’s not a knock on the shoe, but a testament that needs of runners are very unique to the individuals and not just any shoe will fill that need.
I would definitely recommend checking out CitySports.com for future purchases. They have been very reactive to our questions and concerns and seem to care about online customers. They want you happy with what you buy from them. The order process is smooth and it’s not a fly by night operation that may go offline at any time.
The 33-M sports the following tech details:
4mm Platform / Drop
Solyte Midsole with Amplifoam Layer
Seamless Upper Construction
Natural Running Experience / Under and Neutral Pronation
Natural 33 - Heel Fit & Toe Box
Heel Height : 24 mm
Forefoot Height : 20 mm
* Writer's note - City Sports provided the products for this review.
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. 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.