361° PACER ST Review - Doctors of Running

Original article can be read---> Here

Designed to be a performance trainer to get you ready for race day, the 361° Pacer ST is an entirely new model from 361° that makes its appearance on the market. The shoe shaves off weight where it can and also features the new QU!K Spring+ midsole to give a low to the ground, performance like feel in a training shoe.

361_Pacer_ST_Feature

Specifications (361° website)
Weight: 9.4 oz
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 9mm
Classification: Performance Trainer

HIGHLIGHTS

The PACER ST is the lightest trainer from 361° that I have had the luxury to put my feet in. This shoe couples lightweight with a propulsive plate from the midfoot to the forefoot to make the shoe more responsive. The QU!K Spring+ midsole also gives the shoe more rebound than some of the other trainers that they have made so far. This is an exciting shoe that with a couple modifications could push boundaries for 361°!

361_Pacer_ST_Upper
FIT

     One thing that stands out immediately is the shoe does run long in the forefoot. I was nervous about having slippage, but if I use all of the eyelets and lace the shoe down I haven't had any problems. The width of the forefoot is normal, with a slight snug hold through the midfoot, and comfortable fitting heel. I am absolutely fine true to size with fit, but if someone is concerned about the long fit and really likes a snug fit, they could potentially go down a half size. The upper is composed of a Jacquard mesh that breathes incredibly well and molds to the foot nicely with the MORPHIT microfiber design in the midfoot.

361_Pacer_ST_Quickfoam

RIDE

     The ride of the 361° PACER ST is relatively firm, but does have enough cushioning for daily runs (16 and 11 miles longest effort in them so far). The shoe has a 9mm drop that gives it a very traditional trainer like feel for all foot strikes. The plate involvement is subtle, but as a midfoot striker I do notice it. It feels like it tapers off into the forefoot for the metatarsal heads. Unfortunately I did develop a hot spot in the met head region of my 1st and 2nd toe when running quick in this shoe (7 miles at 5:45 to 5:55 in a long run). The shoe does not have much of a toe spring that is built in, so the ride is very smooth all the way until you reach toe off at high speeds. I found that I had to "dig in" my forefoot into the ground to keep the pace up for an extended amount of time. The tapering of the plate and lack of toe spring is also evident in my outsole wear of the shoe (picture below). I show much more outsole wear at the very front of the shoe where toe off should be a little smoother. Ironically, I love this ride for daily training, for it is very smooth at daily paces (6:15 to 7:30) for me.

361_Pacer_ST_outsole
42 miles, David, midfoot strike
STABILITY

     This is a neutral performance training shoe and so there are no specific stability measures implemented. The shoe does have good ground feel due to the lower and firmer ride adding stability. The plate also indirectly stabilizes the landing a little as well. For a neutral speed trainer, the shoe is stable.
SPEED

     As a speed trainer, I think the shoe could be made to be a little faster. It feels like a daily trainer that can pick up the pace if you really ask it to, but it doesn't naturally want to push. The shoe will work for tempos though, especially if someone is used to heavier daily trainers. Without a toe spring built in (curvature to "roll" or "rocker" through toe off in the forefoot), it can be a little difficult to push the pace (to be fair, about 5:40 pace). The shoe still weighs 9.4 oz, so there is still some substance to it. As noted above, this ironically is probably one of my favorite daily trainers, but I struggle with top speeds in it. It is to be noted though that fast is different for everyone though. I feel from 6:00 to 7:30 pace is the sweet spot for this shoe and glides nicely for me.

361_Pacer_ST_Medial

DURABILITY

     The outsole is built with two different types of rubber. The shoe features a carbon rubber in the heel of the outsole and a blown rubber in the forefoot. Overall I feel the outsole is relatively durable, especially for a speed trainer. I think this will last just as much as a normal daily trainer in the 300 mile range. I was curious to see if the midsole or ride would change, but the foam and ride are holding up well. I think the plate and QU!KFOAM portions of the midsole help maintain the ride. I think the QU!K Spring+ midsole gives the shoe the responsive bounce, the QU!KFOAM helps smoothen everything out.

THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

     When looking at foot and ankle mechanics when performing gait, there are several "rocker" points to observe in running. Some of it is dependent on the strike of the runner, but everyone will have to transition from forefoot to toe off in order to advance the lower limbs. This is the area that I want to focus on with the PACER ST. The shoe has a friendly drop, midsole, and plate that really assists the transition from heel/midfoot to the forefoot, but seemingly comes a little short at the toe off at faster paces. If they were to incorporate a curvature at the front of the forefoot as the plate transition ends, that could really smoothen out the toe off portion of gait and make this shoe significantly faster.

361_Pacer_ST_Lateral

RECOMMENDATIONS

     I noted on my recommendations above, but I would focus on forefoot mechanics in this shoe by adding a toe spring where the plate begins to transition away. This would smoothen out the toe off portions of gait a little more when the pace picks up. The shoe also runs on the long side, so decreasing the length may reduce the need to lace down the shoe as much.

CONCLUSION

     I am very happy with the PACER ST but do feel that the shoe fits into a different category. The shoe does a great job as a lightweight daily trainer in my opinion, and not so much as a "speed trainer". For those who like to log long miles in a shoe that has some weight shaved off and doesn't need to push the pace into really fast paces, this could be a great option. It can handle faster paces, but does feel a little forced. I feel the sweet spot for this shoe is around 6 to 7 minute pace. This will be one of my daily training options for some time to come.

GRADING

Fit/Upper        9/10 (-1 for long fit, high marks for great upper and midfoot hold) 
Ride/Midsole  9/10 (-1 for difficult toe off at high speeds, though fluid transition to that point)
Stability           9.25/10 (-.75 for length potentially adding slippage, stable for low profile shoe)
Speed               8.75/10 (-1.25 for hard toe off at fast paces, though still quick for a daily trainer)
Durability        9.25/10 (-.75 for excessive forefoot wear, but good durability for lower profile)

TOTAL (%): 90.5

TESTER PROFILES

Dr. Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs of 3:54 1500m, 14:56 5k, 31:06 10k, 1:08 for half marathon. He typically runs 50 to 60 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.
 
David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

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