Saucony Type A8 Initial Review

   After a little lull, the Saucony Type A series has finally received a major update.  After the Type A6, the shoe did not change and instead of the A7 was titled the Type A.  The Type A7 was for the most part only an upper change, thus I elected to review the A6 (HERE) and pass on the A7/Type A.  The lack of name change initially was concerning for the future of the Type A series, but the A8 was more than worth the wait.  This shoe has received significant updates that improve on almost every aspect of the shoe.  How so?  Let's talk.


Upper/Fit

The first thing noticeable about the Type A8 compared to previous versions is how much more accommodating the fit is despite being on the same last.  The A6 and A7 were snug enough that at times it was a struggle to even get my foot into the shoe.  The A8 is still a racing shoe and has a racing shoe fit, but it is more comfortable than previous.  This may be due the new mesh upper that stretches very well and provides for a far better forefoot fit.  Instead of the quick taper along the 1st toe due to the extended but flexible toe guard, the guard in the A8 is much shorter.  This allows for the toes to have a place to stretch against the upper.  How this may affect the durability of the forefoot aspect of the upper I do not know, but only time will tell.


The midfoot, like the forefoot, has a more accomodating fit as well thanks to the stretchy mesh upper.  However there is now a film on the medial aspect that provides mild resistant to deformation and with tightening of the laces can make this shoe a secure as you want in this area.


The heel, like the rest of the shoe fits far less snug than previous.  However, that does not make the shoe less secure.  The heel tab is now split, thus placing less pressure on the Achilles tendon.  Under that there is a very minor heel counter at the posterior most aspect of the shoe that does go almost all the way up to the top of the heel split.  Surrounding that the heel area is fairly flexible.  I personally would suggest lace locking the shoe, but again this does have a racing shoe last.


Overall the upper is much more flexible and should accommodate a larger variety of foot types than the A6 and A7.   The sizing of the A8 is fairly true to size, so I would suggest most stick with their normal size for racing.  Thanks to the more accommodating upper, most will not need to size up if they use this as a minimalist or lightweight shoe for longer distances but as always I would try before you buy.


Sole/Ride

Upon initial step in, the sole of the A8 feel slightly more forgiving that the A6/7.  Upon testing by hand the sole densities, they are actually fairly similar.  The slightly more forgiving sole actually comes from the addition of many more flex grooves throughout the shoe.  There are several major new ones.  The first is in the heel and acts somewhat like the crash pads that many companies used to use at the posterior lateral aspect of the heel (and some still do).  Whether this actually works to reduce impact is not known as I have not come upon any research on the matter.  The lateral flex groove under the MTP joints (metatarsophalangeal joints, aka toe joints) feels great and flexes well upon toe-off.  There are also sagittal plane flex grooves in the lateral forefoot.  These should be great for forefoot foot strikers as a way to smooth out the transition from initial contact.  This is not common in shoes, but I think it should be just as heel cushioning is present.  Finally there is a major flex groove in the anterior midfoot, which I will discuss in a second.


Overall the sole of the shoe is smoother than the very firm A6 and A7.  This does not make the shoe less responsive, but the A8 will last in my mind up to longer distances.  Even though it is supposed to have the same stack height as previous, the A8 feels slightly more cushioned.   Thus I personally would feel comfortable taking this up to a half marathon.  This will vary heavily on what your body can handle, as some people could handle the A6 and Type A up to and beyond the marathon.  Most will still use this shoe as a 5k-10k shoe, as this shoe responds very well to high speeds.  I have not put high miles in this shoe, but it feels very comfortable during strides and repeats.  The addition of the flex grooves gives this shoe a double use as a minimalist or very lightweight trainer.  Now that the Nike Streak LT is a very firm shoe that works far better on soft surfaces, it has lost its function in my mind as a cushioned minimal shoe.  Personally I think the A8 has taken this place as the mildly cushioned double use racing shoe.



Thoughts as a DPT: I am very happy with most of the updates to the A8.  The more accommodating upper is great to reduce any excessive pressure on the foot, particularly in the metatarsals without having a sloppy fit.  It is important to try to avoid shoes that feel extremely narrow, as smashing your metatarsal bones together is a great way to impinge on the many intermetatarsal plantar nerves.  For those of you wondering where neuromas come from, these are one of the many ways these can happen.  Excessive pressure on a tissue can cause it to grow out in responsive to the stress.  Unfortunately for these nerves, they do not have a ton of room between those metatarsal bones, so the neuroma gets stuck attempting to grow larger in response to the stress. So it is best to find shoes that do not compress your feet excessively.  This is why I am a fan of the slightly relaxed fit of the Type A series.  I do understand people have different width feet and thus each person will have to find an optimal fit for themselves.



The one update I am not as happy with is the major flex groove in the midfoot.  I have discussed this before, but there is no major sagittal plane joint in the midfoot.  The intertarsal joints, of which there are 7, mostly function through inversion, eversion, abduction and adduction.  Thus having a flex groove there does not make sense and may stress those joints.  While I do not feel any major stress on the foot as the flex grooves seem to work well together, I would caution footwear companies to be careful where they put those flex grooves to work with and not against the foot.



Conclusion

The Type A8 is a fantastic update to this series.  The wider fit should make it more accessible to a wider range of runners looking for a 5k-10k racing shoe.  Many people will be able to take the shoe farther thanks to the fit changes and what feels like more forgiving sole.  I am however a little disappointed that Saucony did not add Everrun to this shoe.  Hopefully this will happen in the future, but for now the Type A8 remains as a fast shoe that should work well for all workouts.  Thanks to the increased flexibility, this shoe will also work well as a minimalist/very lightweight shoe for those that like that for training.  These are definitely worth a look for your training and racing needs for those looking at faster and shorter distances.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to tack on!

As always, my views are my own.  My blog should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care.  If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist.  If you are in the LA area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations. 

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Casa Colina Orthopedic Resident


***Disclaimer: These shoes were a personal purchase from Running Warehouse.  I did run briefly on the road to test the shoes out for a short jog and a couple strides (no more than I would normally do testing shoes out at a local running store).  Due to financial reasons I will likely have to return these to Running Warehouse as I am currently an Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident at Casa Colina (and funds are a bit tight as a resident).  However, if they are provided to me by a company in the future, I will put them through their paces and report back fully.  

Comments

  1. The holes in the sole for drainage is gone in A8 too. I don't think you mentioned that.

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    1. Hey Makar. I did not mention that. Thank you for bringing it up. Not sure how well they worked in the previous version since I am not a triathlete and did not run through excessive water with them.

      Thanks for reading!

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    2. The holes never worked all that great for drainage; but they were great at picking up small rocks. Ugh. Glad they're gone.

      But those two slices on the outer edge are likely to ruin the shoe for me: I only wear out that edge anyway; so having less rubber there likely means I'll burn through these in less than 100 miles of speed. I'll still try a pair... but it doesn't look like an improvement that'll suit me well.

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  2. Sounds great for track workouts! I agree about the flex grove in the middle, one would hope it wouldn't flex too much though as there is nothing there to flex it, so to speak.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Yet many companies continue to do this. Not sure why.

      The A8 is definitely a great shoe for track workouts given the similar weight to many track spikes but without the extremely aggressive plate.

      Thanks for reading.

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  3. I understood the shoe became 0.7 ounce heavier than the type A(7). Can you confirm this?

    The upper looks better than the one of the A(7) as it lacks overlays at points that have to flex a lot. There are two hotspots for tearing in the A(7).

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    Replies
    1. Per my understanding it was only a 0.2 oz increase. That is not something I notice and the shoe still feels very fast.

      I think the A8 should have better durability given the improved flex of the upper. The A7 had very little flex and I think that concentrated wear in certain areas.

      Thanks for reading.

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  4. Just for interest, for weight estimates, how heavy do you weigh? Obviously the heavier the runner, the less I'd expect you'd want such a light uncushioned shoe. What would be your maximum reccomened weight for using these?

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    1. Hello!

      I'm around 145-150 right now. I don't really have a maximum recommended weight. The stereotype that heavier runners need heavier or sturdier shoes is not necessarily true. What is most important is that they have good muscular shock absorption. I say that because I have had plenty of heavier patients who prefer running in lighter shoes and plenty of lighter runners who prefer more sturdy shoes. It depends on the person. If your body is used to lightweight shoes, then go for it. The durability may not be as great as someone lighter, but that is also not necessarily true.

      I don't think a 300 lbs person should be wearing something like this as there feet may not fit due to the narrower shoe, but again, someone may prove me wrong. I look at biomechanics first before restricting shoes.

      Hope that helps.

      -Dr. Matt Klein, PT, DPT

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  5. Great review of the A8, I would like to pick your brain to ask if these would be a suitable alternative to the new balance 1400v3 (my all time favourite shoe.... But won't be buying the V4 or v5 as the shoes got fat).

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  6. Thanks for reading!

    The Type A8 is going to be a different shoe from the 1400v3. Lower drop, less heel cushion and slightly lighter. The 1400v3 was a fantastic shoe that as you said, sadly gained some weight. I think the Brooks Hyperion would be the most similar to the 1400v3, but it does run a bit narrower (very responsive and fast though). The Nike Streak 6 is another shoe to consider as it does have an 8mm drop, similar weight (6.4 oz) and seems to be able to work as a racing flat or very light daily trainer for those who train full time in those kind of shoes.

    Hope that helps. I understand your loss and am also looking for a replacement. That is why I never reviewed the v4 or 5.

    Good Luck!

    -Dr. Matt Klein, PT, DPT

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  7. Hi firstly thanks for the great review! I currently train in kinvara 8's and race in asics ds racer 11 ( both UK size 9's). I've been impressed with the kinvara and thinking about giving these a try. How do these compare for sizing? As I buy via mail order, safe to go with my usual UK 9's?
    Regards and thanks
    Mac

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    Replies
    1. Hey Mac!

      I would go with your normal size. I went with my normal size 10 and the fit was the slightly snug and normal feel for a racing flat.

      Hope that helps!

      -Dr. Matt Klein PT DPT

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    2. Thanks mate ����

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  8. Update... I bought these and my initial opinion is that they are fantastic. Many thanks for the advice, I went with my usual UK 9 and they fit like a dream. Mac

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  9. Question: Saucony type A8 or Nike zoom streak lt3? I'm currently running in Nike zoom streak 6 and new balance 1400v3 with a bit of vibram v run thrown in.
    Thanks (great website and reviews)

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    Replies
    1. Hey Brian.

      I would hands down choose the Type A8. I am not the biggest fan of the LT 3 as I have found it far too firm. The A8 is a bit more forgiving and responsive. I think the Streak LT 3 is a great XC - Road combination flat, but the A8 is the far superior road flat.

      Thanks for reading. Hope that helps!

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    2. Thanks. I appreciate your feedback. Great website and reviews.

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. Glad you posted! I've been getting intermediate cuneiform stress fractures (plantar surface) curious if you think the new flex groove could add more stress there. I've worn the Type A and A6 for track workouts and up to 10k only. Thought about trying a marathon in the Type A8 if they bulked it up a little.

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