Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shoe Review: Saucony Mirage

unlike a lot of people who found their way into a pair of Saucony Mirage, i was not led down their path from prior experience with the Saucony Kinvara.  I was looking for a shoe to compliment my go-to running shoe, the Brooks PureCadence.  I tend to buy into the theory that you should vary your footwear from time to time to work even a slightly different area of muscles in your legs.  still, with hopes of finding a shoe that kept within the same basic guidelines of the PureCadence, i soon realized my options were quite limited.  those guidelines where:

  • 4-5mm drop
  • some stability control
  • less than 10oz
the Saucony Mirage are one of the few shoes that fit the bill in a new trend of "moderate minimalism".  to be clear, and this should not be understated, the Mirage are *NOT* minimalist shoes.  here are the specs:

  • 26mm heel, 21mm forefoot (5mm drop)
  • 9.4 oz (weight is for size 9, reviewed shoe is size 11.5)
  • Saucony's "Supportive Arc" stability control built into the midsole
when i first put these shoes on they felt very, very strange.  it felt as though there was extra material under the front part of the heel and the forefoot.  the toebox also felt very tight.  the shoe didn't feel all that comfortable and very far from natural or form-fitting to my foot.

still, being the shoe geek that i am i was excited to try them out, and, with todd coming over for our typical thursday night 10-miler, i would try them straight away.  looking back, i probably would have been better suited breaking them in a bit before setting out on a 10 mile run with them, but, hey, i'm well beyond that at this point!  by the end of that first run, my feet were killing me.  the cushioning and midsole felt very stiff and un-responsive, the heel cup didn't quite keep my heel in place and the narrow toe box felt constricting.  needless to say, i wasn't pleased with the shoes after my first run.

still, at todd's urging that i needed to break them in, i gave them a few more runs.  i have nearly 60 miles in them and while i'm not going to tell you these are in the same class as the Brooks PureCadence, i am happy to have them in my rotation, especially at the $59 purchase price (i believe they are even cheaper now on  

my thoughts after having broken them in a bit more:
  • the shoes feel very light on your feet.  they give you ample cushioning and ample support without feeling like you're wearing bricks.  this is a big plus and the best reason for owning them.  the strangeness i felt on first putting the shoes on (cushioning under heel and forefoot) has lessened (it's still there, but the midsole has compacted, broken in and is much more comfortable now).
  • the narrow toe box is what it is.  i tend to like more room for my toes which enhances my foots ability to do what it does best.  that coupled with the stiff midsole, which does provide good enough cushioning, but also forces you to be more aware of your running form aren't going to enhance your propriocpetion while running.
  • if you have issues with the heel cup like i do, you can play around with the lacing to get a better fit which almost resolves that issue.
  • the shoes are very breathable.  this is readily apparent on a cold, windy run and will be nice to have come warmer weather.
  • the tongue has a tendency to shift down and to the side over the course of the run, causing a bit of discomfort in the top of the foot, under the laces.

i won't use these shoes for runs longer than 10 miles, nor will they ever be my go-to shoe.  but for the price, you really can't go wrong if you're just looking to add a short-mileage shoe to your rotation.

Related Posts:
Kinvara 2 Review
Shoe Review: Brooks PureCadence


  1. Post up a picture of these bad bad boys!

  2. Nice review, I moved to mirages 4months ago after wearing nike lunar eclipse. I tried kinvara but after a few miles on treadmill got sore calves. I am doing my first marathon in may and even though I love the shoes I find my heels are quite tender after my long runs. I notice you state that you would not run more than ten miles in them and I wondered what shoe you might recommend that may be similar to a mirage . I have never had a bad injury and have only ran 5 times 13+ miles, last year I ran 700 miles total though. Maybe the cadence might be an option for me but I led to believe it has less support. I mildly over pronate but feel so much better since moving to the mirage in terms of mid and fore foot striking...any recommendations for alternative shoes or why the cadence may be suitable..

    1. hi Paul, thanks for your comment. i'm surprised to hear your heels are getting sore with the mirage. i wonder if it's more from the added train on your plantar fascia (due to a reduction in drop vs. traditional shoes) than anything else. i say that because i think the mirage are very well "cushioned" (they have a thick layer of cushion, similar to traditional running shoes). that said, they certainly were more firm than, say, the purecadence. still, i would think more about biomechanics than shoes when it comes to figuring out your heel pain: maybe some calf and or other lower leg exercises would help? maybe your foot-strike needs some examining?

      ah, but don't let me give you advice on things like that... you know your body and your running better than anyone and i don't know anything other than what you've written and the shoes you wrote about.

      i think the cadence would be a great option for you... they are not over the top with support, but certainly supportive enough to sustain a marathon or even more (i did a 50k in mine with no issue). i don't think they are in any way a "minimal" shoe and it would be a mistake to consider them as such. they are a light, middle of the road shoe that is well cushioned and very comfortable. i think they are worth trying, especially if you like the mirage, but find them to be a bit firm.

      FYI, i ended up running the mirage over 10 miles with no issue. the shoes took some getting used to, but i definitely liked them more and more the longer i ran in them. i just retired them with about 450 miles on them. certainly a shoe that could stand up to a marathon.

      let me know if you have any further questions... i'm just a hack runner, but i'm happy to share any information i have.

    2. Paul - when I first started running long distances, my feet always felt tender afterwards. Despite the claims of shoe companies, I don't there is any shoe that could have left them feeling good. The only cure was getting them used to long runs. That being said, Eric wisely points out that soreness in your heels points to some other things you might think about. He is anything but a hack runner. Good luck on the marathon in May! It's a great time of the year to run.

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  4. Really interesting review. Were you running in the 2's the original or the 3's. I started in the originals after a big surgery changed my gait/stride etc. Loved them- so much that I bought like 7 pairs on clearance at Holabird. The 2's- at least for the ladies were like an entirely different shoe. THe 3's came out and were voted best shoe upgrade. I bought a pair, thought I loved them and found that indeed....I had some issues with the heel- too flexible with that flex foam stuff. I've gone to using Lunar racers and am awaiting a shipment of the Cortana which has a more stabile heel. We'll see.

    I also have a pair of Cadence's...meh...they always feel kind of like clown shoes on me, but great for bombing down hills on trails....(well groomed trails that is.)