Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Modified New Balance MT100s

In light of the Minimus and MT101 shoes coming out, I thought I'd post my experience with the MT100s from last fall.  This was originally posted Nov. 11, 2009. (Follow the link for the full discussion.)

I got back from the cobbler a little while ago with my modified sneakers in hand.

If you didn't know what they were supposed to look like, I don't think you could tell what had been done with them. Fortunately, we have another pair of unmodified MT100s around, so we're going to be posting some side-by-side comparisons later on.

I did try them on at the cobbler. Standing in a resting position, my heel just kisses the ground with the weight resting on the ball of the foot. Just like my Vivo Barefoot shoes or being actually barefoot. So I consider them to be a success in that regard.

Unfortunately I still have a broken pinkie toe, and I'm unable to run more than a short distance without pain. I'm going to try to go for a run in them later, as I'm hoping that the rock-guard plate will help support my forefoot enough to allow me to run. So if you're waiting for an in-depth review, I'm going to have to disappoint you. Also, this is an unseasonable warm November in the Northeast, so running in the snow (the whole reason I got these) is going to have to wait, for some snow.

A little later...

OK, here it is. This is a 9.5 mens compared to a 10.5 mens, keep in mind. Neither pair has been worn outside for running, yet. My friend (another Vibram victim I talked into this whole enterprise) bought the MT100s also for winter running when we went to the store. He also has no desire to run in them if it's warm enough for KSOs. He had a big shin splint issue until he learned to run barefoot-style.

The pictures are huge, btw. If it's an issue, let me know and I'll downsize and upload smaller pics.

Altered is on the right in all the pictures.

Here's the before and after, from far enough back so you can see what was removed. I propped up the heel of the altered shoe so that you get a good idea of what was removed.

MT 100 Compare
Here's the close up. The workmanship on the altered shoe is better than the original, I just noticed.

Compare (Near)

The soles: you can see in this shot where he cut a little low, and cut through the top of the dimples. This is entirely cosmetic, I don't know if the dimples even reduce weight much, as they're pretty shallow. The altered shoe is the smaller one. Those orange circles are the stone guard that you can see through the sole.

Compare Soles
Just so you can see what the workmanship looks like up close.

Closeup of the Heel
He wasn't able to peel the sole away, so wound up having to cut it down. I don't know that that makes any difference in practice, but if you have any ideas of your own, there you go.

David (the Cobbler & Cordwainer) mentioned to me that there was still a pretty built-up arch in the sneaker, and that we could cut away the insole to reduce that. I didn't listen in his shop, and spent the rest of the afternoon wondering what the heck that lump under my arches was, as I was wearing them without the insole. I put the insole back in, and it lessens the arch, but I think I'm going to follow his advice (and listen a little more closely next time he has a suggestion).

The toe spring is not really an issue, as the toe area is really soft, I can flex it down almost flat without a problem. Excessive toe spring is a problem if you cut the heels off, the toes can wind up pointing to the heavens, which is not comfortable.

Sneakers are really warm! Too warm. I've gotten used to having cool soles in the Vibrams and the Vivos. Hadn't realized it until I put these on. But since I want these for winter running, I guess that's a feature.

With the insoles in and the plate under the ball of the foot my busted foot feels much better. I think I'm going to try to run in them in the morning, and see how they do. And how I do.

These are a very different shoe from the Mizuno flats, they're a trail running racing flat. So they're heavier, and have a beefier sole with a more aggresive tread, and the stone guard. But with the kind of running I'll do in these, I think that's appropriate.

Ideally Inov-8 will make something that will make it unnecessary for me to go through this exercise again. The sneakers are $75, labor $50 = $125, or the same cost as the Vibram Treks.

A couple of updates: I was able to find another cobbler who did another pair (the unmodified pair in the pictures above) for $25. 

I ran in these pretty regularly in the winter, but found after a while that they gave me runner's knee.  Reverting to Vibrams cured the runner's knee immediately, going back to the 100s brought it back.   Even wearing the Russell mocs was better on my knee, despite the weight.  My colleague, owner of the unmodified pair above, had the same thing happen to him, and I'll note that Anton Krupicka, the athlete for which these were designed, has been battling a similar issue for quite some time.

I ran one race in these, despite the runner's knee, and they did OK, it was a 20k and I managed an 8:11 pace.  The knee hurt quite a lot, and I pretty much stopped running in them after getting my Russells.

I still use them occasionally as back up shoes, or casual shoes, and I'm going to crack them out again for a trail half-marathon that is coming up.  I broke or disocated the other pinkie toe two times in Treks, and I don't feel like doing it during a race, so I'm going to wear these.  I don't expect that the runner's knee will return from just one or two runs.

Runner's knee aside, with some warm wool socks they worked great in the snow.

UPDATE: Posted a comparison with the new, modified MT101s here, including the last modification I made to the 100s.  I ran a race in the 101s, also.