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A while back, the stars aligned, and the fine folks at Asics offered to send me a pair of Kayano 21s to take for a test drive. Since they are the ONLY shoe that I have consistently worn and logged thousands and thousands of miles in without injury, I calmly and politely jumped at the chance. I had already purchased the 21 Lite Show (the hot pink ones), so obviously I was all in. I mean, heck yes to Kayanos!

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The new Kayano 21s are not only gorgeous (they look a lot less clunky than the stability shoes of your grandma’s past), but they are also the lightest ever in the history of Kayanodom. I ran a breezy 10K and then a short shakeout run in them before running a marathon, and they performed perfectly (I wouldn’t recommend running a marathon in new shoes, though). No weird rubbing, pinching, or uncomfortableness at all. I was a big fan of the 19s, an even bigger fan of the 20s, and the 21s seem to mix the things I loved about both together into one magical shoe.

The first thing I noticed (beyond the super bright colors, which I dig–Safety first!) was how lightweight they are. These weigh in at 8.9 ounces (the 20s weighed 9.2)! Also, the heel cup seems more secure than any other edition with the enhanced Heel Clutch System. When I run around corners, off curbs, around hair-pin turns during aforementioned marathon, or in drills, I feel like my foot is really secure. The responsiveness helps me to maintain my speed and footing much better than in previous editions of the Kayano.

Here’s a view of the sole and it’s Impact Guidance System that helps runners maintain a natural gait:

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Here’s me running from around a corner into the finish chute last week:

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Another thing I love about the 21s is the upper/tongue of the shoe. It’s, for some reason, REALLY comfortable! I often have a problem with lacing on the top of my foot irregardless of the brand, but the padding in the 21s is beyond wonderful.

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The only thing that I miss from the 20s is the plush forefoot. The forefoot is still well-cushioned, but it is somewhere in between the cushioning of the 19s and the 20s. Still, though, this is an incredibly comfortable shoe that offers a nice, stable ride. After running 26.2, my forefoot wasn’t achy, so the minor change in cushioning didn’t seem to impact my running negatively… I just prefer the gel-ier forefoot of the 20s.

I bought the Kayano Lite-Show model because not only are the colors really bright (bright=safety on the road) but also because it’s darker earlier AND later, and the Lite-Show is ULTRA reflective and has glowy goodness in the gel part of the sole! Glow-in-the-dark soles are pretty much the best! (You can’t really see the glowing gels in the sole, but trust me. At night, when I have to pee because I’m constantly trying to stay hydrated, I am always freaked out by the glowing shoes).

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The part I wasn’t expecting about the Kayano 21 is how durable they are. I usually trade out my running shoes around 300 miles when my knees start to hurt.

Here is a side-by-side picture of my pink Lite Show 21s with about 102.08 miles and my brand-new blue 21s:

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Pretty minimal wear on the forefoot, which is a good sign.

And 336.53 miles:

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There’s some wear, but my knees still don’t ache, and I’m going to see just how long these bad boys last before they are turned into yard shoes!

Final Thoughts

I love me some Kayanos. I’ve tried to fall in love with other similar stability shoes from competitor brands, and I keep returning to the Kayanos because of the ride. There’s something so much more comfortable about the GEL ride than the foam ride of other comparable trainers. Since their release in early September, I’ve raced in one 5K, one 10-miler, two half-marathons, and two full marathons, and each time, I am thankful for the lightweight (for me) stability and comfort of the Kayano.

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Note: I run with custom insoles from RoadRunner Sports. I have really high arches, and I’ve found that I am more injury-prone when I don’t use insoles, so I cannot offer an opinion on the sock liner that comes with the 21s.

DISCLAIMER: Asics gave me a pair of Kayano 21s free to run in on roads, trails, and over rainbows in exchange for an honest review. All of these opinions are my own. If you have any further questions, I am more than happy to answer them.

What do you run in?

What is next on your running shoe list?

I am crossing my fingers that RoadRunner will stock the new dark purple Kayano 21. They look pretty fabulous!

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