Product Review: Pierce Footwear T1 Triathlon Shoe

Written by Dr. Nicholas Parton, DPT, MTC, CSCS

TriSports.com is a family owned business in Tucson, Arizona which retails a wide range of products from athletes’ favorite brands. They provide personal service and recommendations for all levels of athletes as well as support the growth and quality of the sport across the country and in their backyard.

Pierce Footwear is a newer company who entered the shoe domain a few years ago and they have gained traction in sections of the market due to the ease of donning the shoe. As a World Champion Duathlete it can be assured that the founder George Pierce knows something about getting in and out of shoes quickly. A fresh pair of Pierce T1 shoes arrived at my door mid-winter during my build for the Boston Marathon. Every athlete knows what that means! They need to be taken for a spin and the unique closure system needed to be tested. However, shoes cannot be judged by one run. During my review process, I took some time to try them in different places. Even in some races, terrain can be a combination of asphalt, concrete, dirt trail, grass, and track which is why these shoes required me to put them through the paces (pun intended) and to take some time for me to come to my final review.

First Impressions:
The T1 by Pierce are bright with a large one piece material cover and latch closure. Pierce has done away with a traditional tongue and lace system. These shoes have a side closure system that feels like a wide soft strap across the top of your foot with a latch you attach to the outside of your foot. The tension is adjustable at the top and bottom by adjusting which hole in the rubber latch you connect to the top or bottom hooks allowing individuals to set a personal tightness level that will stay the same each time the shoes are on. The shoe is light, with a neutral feel, does not heat up your foot, and goes on very easily.

The Running Tests:
Getting the shoe on:
  When placing a foot into the shoe it feels comfortable and roomy, adjusting the latch to hold your foot snugly and comfortably at the top is easy and works great.

  1. Hitting the Road: The T1 is light, grippy along the toe and heel in multiple conditions and feels responsive if not fast, but also a bit unyielding. My foot does not sink and settle into the midsole for the classic plush ride that I am accustomed to on my non-racing neutral training shoes. Due to the closure system and being a triathlon shoe, an athlete may be planning to only race and do workouts in these shoes which would limit the importance of the soft ride that may keep the foot comfortable for higher mileage weeks. These shoes have all the feeling of a specialized race shoe with a specific purpose, but may be suitable for certain runners for everyday training. With the closure system I was not worried about a shoe becoming untied or having to adjust tension as I ran which is a large plus.
  2. Adding on the miles: The shoes held up well as I mixed them into my rotation while training for the Boston Marathon; I usually rotate three pairs of shoes during marathon training so it was easy to get some miles in on the T1 shoes on multiple surfaces. The first difficulty I incurred when I ran farther was the shape of my foot and the shape of the shoe around the proximal metatarsal and navicular region of my feet. For me, that part of the shoe is too loose and it is non-adjustable, this required that I wear socks for all of my runs in the T1 which I do not do when racing in a triathlon. When I did try to run without socks, I quickly developed a hot spot on the inner arch. On a shoe with a lace system it is possible to snug up the arch while leaving the toe box wide; the T1 fit me fantastically on the top of the foot and the toe box is wide and comfortable, but my mid-foot did not have the same level of support. That being said, each foot is different and if you believe you have wide or normal-width feet the shoe will probably fit you well throughout.
  3. Triathlon specific: I was able to consistently get in and out of the shoes in less than 10 seconds with a transition run-up. See the video below for the display of the ease of getting into these shoes and getting them tightened.

The Fit:
To determine the size of Pierce T1’s that will fit you best, first select a current running shoe that you enjoy the fit, especially the inner length. More information is available on the Pierce website along with the chart. You will be measuring the length of the insole of the shoes you want to use to mimic sizing.

When you receive the shoes you can quickly adjust the strap on both ends to get a comfortable snug fit around the top of the foot and the rest of the shoe is there waiting for you. Nothing else to do then but run!

The Physical Therapy Perspective:
One thing to remember is that every athlete is different, thus, they have a different “normal.” If you are used to supportive pronation control shoes for all of your runs, then the T1 will feel very different under your foot and arch. A new shoe could require an athlete to adjust to the drop, the support, and the general fit. Anytime a runner attempts to make too many changes at once, there is risk that the stress may become too high for the body to adapt to which means there is potential for getting aches, or even worse, injuries. If you do not normally wear a neutral shoe, you should take your time to adjust and to build mileage slowly when switching to the Pierce T1 shoes. The T1 feels like a stiff neutral shoe in its ride, which means it compares well to many of my favorite shoes in ride but also requires a fresh foot to handle the underfoot stiffness. The snug fitting sock-like top takes pressure off an athlete’s tibialis anterior tendon, extensor tendons, extensor retinaculum, along with arteries and nerves that travel the path along the top of your foot compared to laces which can be stiffer and more restrictive, especially as your foot swells in the shoe during a run. Most of us have encountered the discomfort of going for a run with our laces accidentally tied too tight, but this will not be a problem with a pair of T1’s. Overall, the Pierce T1 shoes are unique, performance-specific footwear that provides a fast feel and would be easily favored by those who prefer a stiff, responsive, neutral ride after T2.

The Take-Aways:
Specialized triathlon shoe

  • Lace-less and tongue-less with fast and comfortable closure system
  • Fit is set throughout the mid-foot and toe due to the one piece construction which can leave some parts loose or tight without the ability to adjust as able with laces
  • Stiff mid-sole feels fast and responsive, less forgiving over long distances with decreased conformation to the foot

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

About the Author: Dr. Nicholas Parton, DPT, MTC, CSCS is a Doctor of Physical Therapy with Manual Therapy Certification and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in Colorado Springs.  He works with athletes in their homes and in the field through Parton Physical Therapy (www.partonpt.com), spends his free time triathlon training with the support of TriSports.com, and enjoys getting lost in the mountains with his wife, Jessica.

 

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