I’m going to preface this review by stating, clearly, that I am not a huge runner, so if you are really interested in reading about the Virratas in a purely running capacity, best to head over to Runwiki and get her take.
I’m much more of a mulit-sport type of guy and I ended up liking the Virratas a lot more than I thought I would. Continue on for the whole story…
I was presented with a pair of Virratas from Saucony as part of a promotional effort they had going on with RunWiki — kind of a “see how your spouse likes them and blog about it” type of thing. Not being a runner, Saucony hasn’t been that high on my shoe list before now, and my Nike Free’s were getting a bit long in the tooth. I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I went with it.
My usual work-out is to swim, but I’ve been noticing some issues with my PT lately, and have integrated more cross-training as a result. I brought boxing back into my routine, along with speed work and calisthenics — definitely need light, stable shoes. But, the big test of these shoes is my weekly multi-sport event: Friday Command PT.
As a Navy Diver, PT is a big deal. We go hard. At my current posting, we are on our own for the week but on Fridays the command gets together for a 1-1.5 hour PT blowout. It usually involves many stations, heavy equipment, running, and tractor tires. Many stations, many moves, no rest. It’s pretty awesome.
Here was the last workout (pictured above):
Upper Medley (x3)
– Push-Ups (10 4-count)
– Mountain Climbers (10 4-count)
– Plank (45 seconds each front, right, and left)
– Crunches (20 each front, right, left)
Lower Medley (x3)
– Squats (10 4-count)
– Lunges (10 4-count)
Run (1/4 mile loop)
(Do both circuits with a Partner, Repeat until time expires)
1st Station – 10 push-ups, 10 dips
2nd Station – 10 Squat Push-Press with Weight (hold plank position during partner’s turn)
3rd Station – 20 Crunches with 10lb Medicine Ball (throw to partner)
4th Station – 15 Upright Rows (with band)
5th Station – Suicides
1/4 Mile Run then roll into Circuit 2
1st Station – 10 Tire Flips
2nd Station – 10 4-count Lunges with Weight (hold plank postion during partner’s turn)
3rd Station – 20 Medicine Ball twists with partner
4th Station – 15 bent Over Rows (with band)
5th Station – Cross-Over Running Suicides
1/4 Mile Run then roll into Circuit 1
You can see, to do this you need some solid shoes to support you!
The Virrata is a “barefoot” style shoe, or what they call a “minimalist” shoe. As you can see from the pics, it looks like a regular running shoe, but it’s extremely light and has a “zero drop” heel. Most shoes have some type of height difference between the toe and the heel — anywhere from 4-12mm. These have zero mm — very flat.
Because it is so flat, you run in the barefoot style, which means you strike first with the ball of your foot instead of the heel or midfoot. Many runners have a hard time with true zero drop shoes because they aren’t used to running that way. Running barefoot puts a huge amount of stress in your calf muscles. You’d be surprised how fast it will burn your calves out! If you’ve never run “barefoot”, I suggest you ease into it over a period of several months.
As I have been a barefoot runner for several years now, these shows were no problem for me and I consider them comfortable from the get-go.
I like zero-drop running shoes for PT because they’re low enough and flat enough that my ankles won’t see much torsion on the lateral movments, they’re stable enough to handle weight, and you can still run hard when you need to. The Virratas did this for me, and they did it well.
The Saucony Virratas were light, comfortable, stable, and held up to the Field of Pain — what more can you ask for in a shoe? I was surprised that I liked them as much as I did, as I am a huge fan of my Vibram Five Finger shoes. I can’t wear my Vibrams to Command PT, though. The Virratas out performed my Nike Free, and they are now my go-to shoe. I’ve been wearing the heck out of them and my legs and feet are thanking me.
My vote: Highly Recommended.