Running Shoe Review: Asics Kayano 21

A tweet caught my eye a couple of months ago that led to me receiving an early Christmas present.  And what better present for someone embarking on their first marathon training schedule than a pair of Asics Kayano 21?

The runners I coach will often hear me say that all of my running niggles and injuries can be traced back to footwear issues: some were cheap, some were over-worn and some were just downright wrong (for me).  Investing in appropriate footwear has therefore become one of my running commandments.

Given my less than pleasant footwear past along with a background of overpronation coupled with famously fat feet, I am always nervous when the time comes to look for a new pair of running trainers.  And the first time I went to purchase an identical pair as a replacement I was faced with the most heinous news: Mizuno had discountinued the Alchemy and none of the alternatives felt right.

Noooooooooooooooo!

Like a big game hunter, I prowled the plains of the internet and manged to locate a couple of pairs in a clearing and bagged them straight away and they’ve kept me going.  Until now.

With my mileage increasing considerably with my build up to running the London Marathon for the African Children’s Fund I was going to need something to help me through it.  And that was when I saw a tweet from Bloggers Required asking for people willing to test out running gear for SportsShoes.com.

I was lucky enough to be chosen and was even luckier to be able to select a brand spanking new pair of Asics to try.

While improvements in my strength and running form have controlled some of my overpronation and shifted my heel-striking tendancies forward to my mid foot, I still have to be careful with my footwear selection; especially for longer distance runs – something which the marathon training schedule contains one or two! 😉

For me, the choice of which member of the Asics family I wanted to try was clear as soon as I saw this on the Asics website:

This shoe has racked up more than 20 years of success on the road, helping overpronators stay stable and comfortable over long distances. The GEL-KAYANO hugs your feet and cushions the impact to make your 26th mile as comfortable as your first.

And so a short while later a package had arrived and, like a child on Christmas day, nothing could stop me going out to play with my new toy!

Essentially, on opening the box I was greeted with a good looking shoe.  A sensible design with a splash of colour rather than some of the over-the-top modern art galleries that some running shoes have become.

The Asics Kayano 21
The Asics Kayano 21

Another aesthetic problem I have found with trainers for us overpronators is how the large build up of support is handled.  I think Asics have done a sterling job by breaking up what could have been a large mass of sole sidewall by using different mouldings and colours.  It sounds simple but I’ve tried on some trainers that look like they’d been designed when the design department were on holiday!

So on looks: colourful enough to avoid being boring but not so much as to be garish.

My first panic was width.  In my hands, the Kayano looked narrow.  Worryingly narrow for someone who has struggled to fit many brands.  Especially as I recalled struggling to try on some Asics GT-1000s early in 2014.

Thankfully my panic was unfounded.  Not only did my foot slide comfortably in but I’ve had no issues while out running either.  In fact, they are just as comfortable as my all time favourites, the Mizuno Alchemy.  I think this is in most parts due to the upper being more flexible than other trainers I’ve tried before, allowing it to shape around my feet more easily.  The Kayano seem to fit my foot in all the right places, sitting snuggly throughout my runs and the ankle support was just right.

When out on the road there is a reassuring solidity without feeling like you’re dragging a weighty mass of support and structure along with you.  The ride continues to be comfortable and is surprisingly springy!  Without wanting to tempt fate, so far I’ve not even had a hint of rubbing.

So comfort and ride are all good too.  And that brings me on to price.  Are you sitting comfortably?  If you view the Kayano 21 on the Asics website you might get heart palpitations!

Now, as someone who is used to buying shoes at the support end of the spectrum I am used to having to swallow some pretty heft price tags but even I was surprised to see a recommended retail price of £145!  I pretty much got two pairs of Alchemys for that price, albeit out of the clearance bucket, but still: one hundred and forty five pounds?!

Luckily for me, I had been sent them to review.  Luckily for you, the guys at SportsShoes.com have them retailing on their website at a more reasonable £109.95.  It’s still at the upper end of what I’d be looking to spend for a trainer of this kind but within range, just about.

My footwear nightmares of the past have made me cynical and I usually keep new trainers at arms length but I’m pleased to say that the Asics Kayano 21 have been welcomed into my roster of reliable footwear bringing a timely re-inforcement as I ramp up my mileage towards London.

And in a Columbo-style finish (look him up kids!):

Just one more thing…

As I said earlier, I was asked to review the Asics Kayano 21 by the very kind people at SportsShoes.com who are, as stated on their website, the UKs number 1 online running and fitness retailer.

I’d love to say unconditionally, “get over to SportsShoes.com and order some new running shoes” but to maintain my credibility as an independent blogger and as an Endurance Running coach I’d like to make one thing clear:

I would always advise people, especially those relatively new to running, to seek advice on shoe selection based on your running style and ideally try on a number of options before buying a pair.  Once you’re familiar with your running style and/or have your favourite brands and models then by all means get them online!

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6 thoughts on “Running Shoe Review: Asics Kayano 21”

  1. Thank you for this comprehensive review!
    What I am not yet clear about is what are the technical differences compared to the previous year’s model Kayano 20? I am just not sure whether the older model is not a better value for money now.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Alexa, unfortunately I haven’t tried the Kayano 20 so can’t compare although I suspect if you’ve had a good experience with the 20, another pair at a lower price than the 21 may well be better value.

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