Saturday, March 3, 2012

Puma Faas 250 Review

So close, yet so far away
After about fifty miles, it is time for a review of the Puma Faas 250. A lightweight, minimally cushioned racer or trainer designed for speed work or tempo runs, these shoes are intended for efficient, mechanically sound runners.

Before I get too far into my review, first a few words from Puma:

"The Faas 250 is super lightweight neutral racer for tempo runs and racing, inspired by the rhythm of the world’s fastest country — Jamaica. It’s constructed with BioRide Technology, an integrated system that gives you a more natural and responsive ride. The moderate rocker shape allows for a biomechanically efficient stride with an effortless toe-off. The flex grooves built across the tooling increase responsiveness while the groove in the heel reinforces stability on impact. "

There you go. I purchased the Faas 250's during an awesome sale (Heads up - Super Sale at Expires Tomorrow (12/15)), so my investment was minimal. Also, after looking at the style of the shoes, I figured that, should they not be the racing flat that I desired, I could at least wear them as a fashionable casual shoe.


I wore these shoes only for their intended purpose - tempo runs and speed work. They never touched my feet on anything but, except for a day or two running errands. They went on runs raning from a 3 mile test run (my first run in them) to an 8-mile tempo run (more on how this turned out later in the review)


Weight: 6.7 oz.
Heel to toe differential: Not published - but the stack height appears to be slightly lower than a typical trainer, but this is far from "zero drop"
Gender: Unisex


I love bright shoes. If you are running fast, nothing highlights a quick turnover better than bright colored shoes. All of the available color combos are bright (save for the black/grey), and Puma lives up to its strength as a "lifestyle brand" in design. Good for you.
Despite the lack of "nubs" or "waffle pattern", these shoes weren't slick in wet conditions
The outsole is durable and the tread is fairly grippy for not having a fancy tread pattern. The upper is extremely light. The heel cup, which I hated the first time I ran in them, did eventually conform to my heel, and once I had logged a few minutes in them each run seemed to hold me heel fairly secure. I wouldn't play basketball in them, but they are a good shoe and construction is solid.


I wanted to so badly to like these shoes. When Puma announced how they were developing their distance running shoes, I loved that they indicated the amount of cushioning with the number behind "Faas". I knew what type of stride I would need to have if I wanted to run in these.

However - and it is a big however, these shoes are an absolute wrong fit for my foot. I've indicated in past reviews that my foot is narrow at the heel with a large forefoot, and these shoes would seem to fit an overall narrow foot much better. On any run longer than about 45 minutes I would get blisters on the inside of my feet below my big toe.

The width of the upper runs very uniform, midfoot to toe. I felt like my heel sat comfortably, but my midfoot felt loose and my forefoot was a bit cramped. I've found the roomy midfoot to be common in both racing flats that I have purchased (Brooks Green Silence Review). I have another pair on the way from a different manufacturer, so we will see how that works out.

The ride is, shall we say, rough. I have a pair of New Balance MT20 that have less cushion and ride closer to the ground, and my legs don't feel beat up at all after running in them. When I run the Puma Faas, my legs feel really beat up. My stride during a tempo run is towards the midfoot-forefoot, so I should be OK. Alas, the shoe is not very flexible, which is a key component to any shoe with minimal cushioning. The foot needs to be allowed to move so it can provide the body with the natural cushioning the foot-leg-hip system was designed for (just ask my friend the Barefoot Chiropractor). With a stiff sole and firm ride, this is not possible.

On the 8-mile tempo run I did in these: For one of my longest and fastest workouts of 2012, I did an 8-mile tempo run, which was set to be more of a progression tempo run. The Puma Faas 250 came along for the ride. I began at X seconds slower than 10k pace, and every ten minutes I stepped down 20-30 seconds a mile. I ended slightly slower than 10k pace. I then proceeded to take one full day off, and the day following some rest I did a short, easy run. Why? My legs were kind of mad, but I developed an intense blister - only the second blister I have developed in training for 8 marathons and several thousand miles in training runs. That does not bode well for this shoe - my feet have been great to me over the years.

And My Final Answer Is...

This is not a bad shoe. BUT, you will not see me wearing them for my tempo runs again (which won't dip under 45 minutes again until after a fall marathon this year), or any run for that matter. They are moving from my "running shoe harem" and will become casual shoes primarily. Not a bad buy for $25, but I would not buy them again.

If I had one bit of advice for Puma, it would be add more flexibility as your remove more protection from the shoe. That way the "system" can work more naturally. I can roll my MT20 into a ball, but there is not much give to the Faas 250's

Rating: 4 out of 10 - they could move up to a five with a better fit, and a 7 with more flexibility, but without those two, I'm afraid to say I would not recommend this shoe for even the most efficient runners.

Next Up: New Balance MR 00 - the minimalist/cushioned zero drop shoe on its way from New Balance.

Click HERE for more shoe reviews

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