Me and ASICS shoes don’t have the best past together, for absolutely no fault of theirs. I was placed into a pair of their most rigid motion-control shoes more than half a decade ago when I first tried the running experiment. It ended up resulting in lots and lots of injuries, because frankly I didn’t know what in the world I was doing and was wearing the wrong shoes.
These days I can run in anything, and I thought it was high time I gave ASICS another go. The timing was right too, because ASICS is looking to really change things up in the next year or so.
They are one of the traditional running brands. If someone says they’re wearing ASICS shoes, you could pretty much say, yeah, they’re probably a runner. My wife runs in ASICS. But they’re about to give the world a bit of a punch in the gut, and the Electra is one of the first shots across the bow of the other running companies.
First things first, when you think of ASICS you think of gel. Well, sorry Charlie, there’s no Gel in the Electro 33. They replaced their gel component with a full-foot layer of soft, pliable memory foam. That’s the first surprise. The second is that the shoe I ran in was considered, in the new world of ASICS, a stability shoe. But there was no medial posts, no traditional plastic bits or mechanisms. What there was, simply, was a slightly higher density material that sat under the inner half of each foot. The idea being that as a pronator rolls hard and begins to over-pronate, the slightly harder material slows the foot and keep that motion from happening quite as much, just enough for toe-off to occur.
Subtle, but a hell of a departure for a company who, in the past, definitely subscribed to the theory that you could build a shoe that fixed gait problems and fix them good. As we’ve learned, heavy handed tactics like that often didn’t work, sometimes led to injury, and were generally a bad idea.
So what about this brave new world? Well, step one, the shoes were light as snot and faster still. This was not my daddy’s heavy ASICS beast, but a lightweight, lightly cushioned but still comfortable shoe. The upper felt nice, as is the case these days with most of the big brands shoes (seriously, they all really seem to get that part right). As for the sole?
Well, I wasn’t super keen on it. I could definitely feel the difference between the two sides, as well as the portion of the shoe that had a separation for the toes. But I will say this, I love this direction. I was also told that there was another member of the ASICS family that was essentially identical to the Electro, but designed without the dual-density sole material trick. I believe they call it the Excel33.
Could I get used to it? For sure, and I will tell you this much, feeling the different materials made me keep my mind on my gait. Mindful running is incredibly important. No shoe is going to “fix” my gait without causing damage to other parts of my body. We’ve determined that. The ankle abnormality in my right ankle isn’t fixable by anything short of a sledgehammer and surgery. But being reminded to pay attention to my stride so it doesn’t get too sloppy? Yeah. I could get used to that.
Score: 7/10 RAWRS (The dual material is an interesting experiment, good for mild over-pronators who want a light shoe, could use improvement)
High: Lightweight, fast, nice upper.
Low: Differential in sole materials is distracting, can feel sole elements through the memory foam
Check out reviews of the other shoes I tried out over at my event post of The Big Shoe Off!