I recently alluded to a risky plan that embarked on just before running 100km in a week, whereby I bought a pair of new shoes just 3 days before the start of the challenge. Quite honestly I didn’t think it would go too well but I thought it would be better than feeling my On shoes (Find that review here) were holding me back on longer runs. So here are my thoughts after nearly a month of use.
Overall the shoes are very cushioned which was something I didn’t think I really needed in running shoes, but I found that during long runs this really helped to support my feet and ankles. Around the back of the ankle there is a huge amount of cushioning helping to keep your heel in place, I thought this might perhaps cause blisters from the extra material rubbing but I’m yet to experience anything like that so far.
As far at the width of the shoe goes, for me it is great. I have small wide feet and initially I thought the 4 would be a little too big as there’s ample room in front of my big toe but this extra room helps when your feet start to get hot and inevitably start to swell a little. The around the front of the laces is also good, for me a tiny little more (say 2mm more) would have made the width perfect but for those with more average foot sizes the width is very accommodating. I have a feeling though that if you’ve narrow feet the laces won’t be able to pull in too much without bunching of the upper, but I can’t state that for fact. With the tongue being cushioned too it’s very unlikely that you’ll feel your laces rubbing the top of your foot, again making it useful for those longer runs.
The shoe sits upon a cushioned sole that also has a gel insert in the heel and toe area of the sole. ASICS claim that the foam they’ve used in this sole will provide you with “excellent bounce and energy”. I wouldn’t go as far to say that as I do find they feel a little heavy on the foot but the cushioning does help keep my feet feel a little fresher for long when it’s not too warm out (more on this later). The sole was mainly created for those with a neutral gait, as there isn’t too much guidance to help with supination or pronation of the feet, which work well for me.
I’ve been using the sock-liner that came within the shoe, instead of switching it out for the usual insole. This was because of a remark when I was getting fitted where it seemed I perhaps didn’t need too much arch support as I was already running quite high on the balls of my feet. I haven’t found that in doing this I’ve had any aches and pains in my arches (as I usually do without arch support), so whether the gel in the toe area is helping with reducing the force or my feet have got used the pounding I won’t know for certain but it certainly saves a little bit of money by not having to buy additional insoles!
The upper itself then is very cushioned as previously mentioned. However, this is also one of the negatives I found with the shoe. The cushioning is getting a little in the way of it’s ability to ventilate. Your feet will get pretty warm whilst running in the shoes, that combined with lots of extra material may mean that you are in line for lots of blisters. If found that using the extra holes to lace to shoes into a heel lock have prevented too much slippage and therefore blisters. Throughout the whole first week of using them (the time I did a 100km week) I only got 2 blisters, both in between my big toe and the one neighbouring it on the right side, which I struggle to see as an issue of the shoe apart from increasing the sweat in this area. Gross I know.
I’ve warn these so far on pavement mostly, but have also gone over a few trail paths and have found them on the whole really easy to use on rockier routes. You don’t feel the extra stones on the path and it provides a nice smooth ride. Of course if it’s muddy it does get slippery, but the only way around that is trail shoes with their deeper outer soles. So overall they are working well for me.
Here’s a little list of the pro’s and con’s that I’ve found so far:
– Good colourways (I usually go for a black but there’s a nice variety online)
– Comfortable to wear
– Nice chunky laces that aren’t too long or too short
– Sock-liner provides extra cushioning
– A small amount of reflective markings
– Box insoles not glued in making it easy for users to swap them out
– Fairly competitive price (£120 – originally now slightly lower due to a new version coming out)
– Easy to run in straight out of the box
– Smooth ride over different surfaces
– ASICS are still putting money into developing the shoe further
– Reduces the impact of running on the joints (not a proven fact just the feel)
– Not that breathable
– Slight heel slipping (can be controlled to a degree with the heel lock)
– A little heavy on the foot
– Could do with being just a smidge wider
Not too much to complain about then. Overall I do really like the ASICS shoes, and they’ve become my go to shoes for most sessions. The only sessions I’m not doing in them are speed sessions as the heaviness (this may even be perceived) just makes me feel like I can’t go too fast in them. Since I’ve been including these in my running footwear I haven’t had an complaints from running, including the shin pain I was experiencing right before purchasing them. This may just be testament to how supportive the shoe really is. Until I need to replace these I can’t see myself running over 10km in anything that isn’t the Gel-Cumulus as they just make really light work of long distances.
So there you have it a review of the ASICS Gel-Cumulus 21 from an average runner. If you want to be updated a bit more regularly about my progress be sure to follow me on Instagram and Strava, as I post pretty much every time I run over on there. I’ve also recently started up a YouTube channel to try and help other runners learn a little more about the activity and let you get to know my running a little better.