It is often said that your shoes are the most important part of your running kit, and I have to agree. If you do nothing else when it comes to spending money on running, then spend some on the right shoes. This might be a rather off-putting notion when you start looking at shoe prices. For example, the Asics GEL-DS TRAINER 18 comes in at £103. But if you make the wrong shoe choice your body won’t forgive you. You may notice issues immediately and your body could save up some surprise problems for later in life.
So, what does the GEL-DS TRAINER 18 offer?
It is a shoe designed for speed, it is light, and, says Asics on it web site, it offers a ‘more direct road feel’. If you are looking for a shoe that you can wear to pound the pavements on very high mileage runs the Asics GEL-DS TRAINER is probably not for you. Nor, I would suggest, is it going to suit heavier runners who might need more support from a shoe. And it isn’t the best shoe for what I’ll call ‘plodders’. I’m not using that term in a derogatory way. I’m just meaning people who are happy to jog at an easy pace but who aren’t looking to train. For all those people there are other more appropriate shoes.
If, however, you are trying to hone your speed and you are looking for a lightweight, snug shoe that can help you get a personal best time, then it is certainly worth a look.
The shoe is made in versions for both men and women. Women will have to be content with the predominantly purple/pink colour which I wore. People who saw me wearing this shoe variously described it as ‘striking’, or ‘bright’. Men get blue which might not raise as many eyebrows.
The upper design has been thought out to minimise stitching. The only stitching I could find on the inside of the shoe is that which anchors the tongue and this was not noticeable at all through my socks. In fact I didn’t find anything on the inside of the shoe that caused rubbing or irritation.
Asics produces shoes that are filled with technology. I’m not going to mention everything here, but there are some highlights that I want to take a look at. One of these is the Clutch Counter – designed to make the heel fit snug. It is characterised by a rigid section that helps support and cradle the heel, but the business end of this feature is on the outside or in the centre of the shoe’s build. On the inside there’s nothing rigid at all. In fact there’s some comfy cushioning instead. It certainly worked for me and I felt the back of my foot was nicely supported.
The sole is designed to help with grip on wet surfaces. This felt reasonably good to me, but not totally reliable. I am an unusual runner in that I am used to wearing specialist orienteering shoes for off-road running, and there’s nothing to match these for providing superb, reliable grip on mud, wet leaves and other slippery surfaces.
My orienteering shoes set a high standard that non specialist shoes can’t match. The road runner who occasionally strays onto grass or splashes through a puddle or two is likely to be more cautious than me in those conditions: I head for the mush while others might skirt round it, and I am used to excellent support so I am naturally less guarded in my running. For the more cautious runner who is primarily used to roads and is naturally more careful when they encounter a little mush or wet, this shoe may suffice.
The GEL-DS TRAINER 18 features the Asics Guidance Line. This is a grooved line carved into the sole which helps with ergonomic footstrike and gait. Basically, it helps you hold your line. I found it impossible to know how well this worked for me, to be honest, but it is something Asics builds into its shoes and it is a popular feature.
Asics labels various bits of the sole and another you will notice is the AHAR marking at the back. This stands for Asics High Abrasion Resistance. It refers to the rubber used to make this particular part of the sole. For many people this part of the sole gets the most pounding on hard surfaces, and the use of a harder material helps prevent wear and tear. You’ll appreciate this particularly if you are heavy on shoes and find you need to replace them because this area of the sole wears down quickly.
The other marked area of the sole you will notice is the Propulsion Trusstic. This section of the shoe helps you with forward propulsion and it works in conjunction with that Guidance Line. It’s another area I found difficult to judge, though I did feel that overall I got a smooth ride from this shoe in terms of forward motion.
Asics says the GEL-DS TRAINER 18 is a normal width shoe, but I’d suggest you are a little cautious about that description. I’ve got very narrow feet and I found the fit around the midfoot in particular quite snug.
Another quite important point is that I’m a serious pronator and I found there was nowhere near enough arch support for me. That alone would put me off this shoe long term – though obviously that isn’t going to be the case for everyone.
The Asics GEL-DS TRAINER 18 is certainly a lightweight shoe, and if your foot isn’t too wide for it you will really appreciate the almost entirely stitch free and well cushioned inner.
Plodders, over pronators and anyone who spends a serious amount of time offroad might do well to look elsewhere, but road runners with a flat footstrike looking for a shoe that can help them improve personal bests might find this is a winner.
- Practically seamless design
- Some high tech features to help running form
- Good heel support
- Tight fit
- Not much support for the heavy pronator
- Not great grip offroad
Review sample from: Asics