4mm or Zero Drop?

My New Balance 730s have about 325 miles on them, and the sole wear is telling me I'm due for a new pair pretty soon. 

Between these and the NB MR10s before them, I've been running in slightly cushioned, 4mm drop shoes for the past few years. I like the 730s much better than the 10s, but the fit is a tiny bit tricky for me -- I'd prefer an even narrower heel so I didn't wind up over-tightening the forefoot laces so often.

I'm tempted to try a zero drop shoe and/or a different brand mainly for fun and in part because I keep reading/thinking "the less drop the better." Is that just silly?

Merrells have caught my eye as have some of the more cushioned zero drop Sauconys.

I run almost entirely on pavement and am doing about 20 miles/week right now. Time permitting I'll start doing some longer runs of 6-8 miles at a time, but I'm not training for a half or full or anything like that.

Any thoughts and/or specific shoe advice? Thanks!


  • My first and only zero drop shoes so far are the Merrell Bare Access 2. It's an awesome shoe. Excellent pavement grip even when it's wet. Great wide toe box and firm cushion. I too have run in 4mm drop shoes for the last two years and am slowly adapting to the zero drops. I have to go slow with adapting to them though as my Achilles is somewhat tender.

    One point though is that if 4mm are working well and no injuries you may just want to try zero drops to see if you like them but have no compunction about sticking with 4mm.
  • Through my experience, New Balance Minimus shoes and 730's have the most narrow heels. I know you said you would like to try zero drop shoes, but if you are just looking for a different shoe you might want to try the New Balance MR20. Very similar fit to 730's, but the stack height is lower making it feel like a zero drop. Stack height is 13mm to 9mm. Also more flexible than 730, lighter, and slightly softer midsole.

    I personally love the new Saucony Virrata, but heel is wider than 730 and forefoot is narrower. Altra Instinct 1.5 is nice too, but heel and forefoot is wider than 730. The Instinct is heavier and less flexible, but I do find it does flex in the right places.
  • Thanks for the replies

    @Stevel agreed about not fixing it if it ain't broke. Sticking with 4mm and working on my form might be a better idea. Hmm.

    @Sentzation never considered the mr20. If it's lighter and more flexible then 730, it's same as compared to mr10v1, which is confusing to me. But also appealing. I'll check it out.

    Before going NB I was running in Nike free run v1, and the lighter and lower profile entrance of the NBs helped my form and speed. I think my curiosity about zero drop stems from wondering if I could make another leap forward in those regards. But I also think a running clinic might help more than shoes.

    But gear is fun :-)
  • Currently alternating between Saucony Kinvara 3 (4mm drop, plenty of cushion) and Merrell Flux glove ( zero drop, less cushion).  I'm torn on the 4mm vs 0mm as well. Love the ground feel and form improvements of the Flux glove, but I'm still transitioning to the 0 drop/less cushion for longer runs (3-4mile). When you've had a long week the Kinvaras are always a comfy option.

    I have a very narrow heel and wide forefoot, so the Kinvara 3 is perfect in the back and a little snug in the front. The Merrell fits me perfect. I'd recommend either of these as a good choice depending on your goal.

  • Bare Access 2.  Problem solved.  Zero drop is where the cool kids play :-)

  • I find that I don't use the term 'ground feel' the same as everyone else.  I like to be close to the ground - feels more nimble that way, however I don't require actually 'feeling' the ground which is why a shoe like the Viratta appeals to me, even though it would be tough to go away from my Newtons. 

    I can feel the difference in differential when moving from a traditional stacked heel to a 4mm shoe, but I don't feel a TON of difference between 4mm and 0mm.
  • Wound up ordering a pair of Road Gloves (similar 0 drop, thin sole as Flux Glove). Since the BA are pretty similar to my current NB's, I figure I'll give the whole super minimal thing a whirl on a little-by-little basis. 

    @Justin I like that idea, rotating between two shoes like that. I also have a narrow heel and generally like Saucony, so maybe I'll save up for some Kinvaras later this year ...

    All that said, I just ran a 5K PR (non-race) in my 730s. Hmm ...

  • So I've put in four runs in the Road Gloves since I got them. One was a mini 1/2 mile jog at the end of a regular run in my other shoes. The other three were normal-for-me three to five milers.

    So far so good and I'm liking the shoes. I noticed the arch support when I laced them up the first two times, but not at all during runs or since then. My calves were noticably working hard and a little sore during the first two runs, but felt more normal during the third and fourth. That said, I tweaked one of my calves this morning while playing with my son (jumping up and down), and I was able to run fine on it but it's been sore all day. I'm definitely acclimating to something, be it the zero drop and/or the new shoes in general.

    The gloves fit my feet a little better than the 730s did - a little snugger in a good way. At first I thought they were stiffer than the 730s, but they're not. Pretty sure what I'm feeling is the stiffness of the pavement underfoot! The gloves are less cushioned than the 730s and I can feel it - it's not harsh or bad, just not as soft. Road feel, right?

    They also breathe really well. We had a week of colder weather and I noticed it with the new shoes on. Should serve me well as I'm in Northern CA, where it never gets truly cold.

    Anyway. So far I'm liking them. And I like the black/green look, not to mention that the Vibram soles promise longer life than the NB's blow rubber. Curious to do my next run in the old shoes and feel whatever differences I feel. Mostly I'm just excited that the weather's turned so nice and I'm finding time to run!
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