Friday, July 27, 2012
Asics Gel DS Racer 9 Review
After a heavy race season this past spring, I developed a case of Plantar Fasciitis. The footwear I had been running in provided no arch support, and so I was looking for a light shoe which offered a higher arch and some medial posting in a light package. That being said, PF is not typically a footwear problem, but moreso related to imbalance in strength, ie, poor hip strength on the affected side, imbalanced stride lengths, previous knee injury, etc. The purpose of this write up is however a shoe review, and NOT an open forum on PF, so I digress- back the Gel DS Racer.
As a finely tailored suit is custom cut to each dimesion of the body, a shoe should fit every curve of the foot. Shoes are all built on different lasts; some with wide heels, midfoots and forefoots, some with narrow heels, midfoots and forefoots, some with narrow heels and wide forefoots, etcetera. The list could go on for quite some time. For good running form and injury prevention, we should run in shoes made for our specific foot. I know for me, that means running in shoes with a narrow heel and a medium forefoot. The Asics Gel DS Racer 9 has just that, a narrow heel and a medium midfoot and medium to wide forefoot. (The NB Minimus line is the same in fit characteristics.) In the NB minimus line however, I wear a 9.5 and in the Asics Gel DS and Pearl Izumi Streak II, I wear a 10. If you typically fall between 2 sizes, order the larger of the 2. My size 10 Asics fit perfectly.
The upper of the Gel DS is flawless, very light, yet still hugs the foot. The material is about as light as can be expected in a racer, and provides great ventilation. In the same vein regarding ventilation, the sole of the shoe has holes to drain water, which comes in handy during summer races where water may splash down the legs and enter the shoes. It now has an exit point in the drainage holes.
The midsole is cushioned well with stack height of 24 in the heel and 13 at the forefoot, providing a near standard 11mm heel to toe drop. For those into more minimal footwear, I can say I've been running in mostly 4mm and 0 mm drops lately, and converting back in this shoe was a non-issue and the shoes feel great and don't hinder proper form. In my case, my form has actually improved greatly and I plan on racing in this shoe and doing the majority of my road speedwork in this model. Back to the midsole, I would say the actually cushioning is medium, not totally spongy like the Kinvara and some Brooks, and not uber firm like some Mizuno's and the NB Minimus. On the inside of the midsole, (medial side), Asics has placed a firmer midsole durometer, their "Duomax" posting, which provides support for pronation. There is great coverage on the sole for higher mileage and you get near total coverage of adequate rubber, not just in high wear areas.
I'm pretty excited to have found this shoe, and although it's a "racer", it definitely provides enough support for my frame to be a daily trainer. I plan on using it primarily in training, and in racing as well, with about 3 other road models from various brands to use for more specific workouts.