According to Running Warehouse, “The Salming Distance D5 is a standard daily running shoe for a neutral foot motion.” This is quite true, but is it actually a distance shoe? See my verdict below.
First, let’s be clear about the brand. The Distance D5 is a shoe produced by Salming, a company based in Sweden. Salming also has offices in the United States. Salming is not Salomon. I point this out because a couple of times I’ve been asked about these shoes, and when I tell the interested person that they’re Salming shoes, the response is, “Oh, yes, I know Salomon.” No. They’re two different companies.
The Distance D5 weighs 7.4 ounces, which is quite light for a trainer. The fifth version of the New Balance 1500 racing flat also weighed 7.4 ounces. The Asics LyteRacer TS 7 flat weighs all of 8.2 ounces.
The Distance D5 is slip-lasted and built on a curved last. It is said to have a 5mm drop, but it may in fact be slightly over 6mm. There’s a midfoot brace in the blown rubber sole which is reminiscent of the stability web once found in New Balance running shoes.
It also has a gusseted tongue (which is somewhat unusual for a trainer), a midweight and size insole, and what I consider to be a ’90s-era fit. It is not what I would term a medium-volume shoe; instead, it feels secure but not snug or tight. The ExoSkeleton upper provides for some “hold” over the midfoot. There is, initially, some pressure over the top of the foot in the Distance D5, but this eases. The upper relaxes with time and miles on the road.
Upfront, the toes have room in which to splay. The shoe strings are flat and inflexible. Regrettably, they tend to not stay tied. (They might need to be double-tied before a crucial road race.)
There are small reflective strips on the seven loops, which is reassuring for those who run after sunset. I elected not to use the most forward loop on each shoe, thinking that this allows for a bit of increased flexibility in the forefoot area.
A firm heel counter on the Distance D5 enhances what is a stable ride for a shoe that does not contain a medial post.
When I put the Distance D5 on for the first time, I was struck by how much it looked, felt and fit like a Zoot Sports triathlon/running shoe from the period of 2013-2015. The Salming shoe feels low to the ground, like a triathlon shoe, and it is quite comfortable to walk in.
The striking Gecko Green colorway upper on the Distance D5 draws a lot of comments – almost unanimously positive ones from other runners, especially younger ones. This also happens to be the case for the Salming Speed 6 shoes in Safety Yellow/Black. The moral of the story is that Salming produces fine shoes for those who don’t mind a little attention. Contra, those enrolled in a Witness Protection Program may wish to seek out another brand.
The Distance D5 is a great, steady pace trainer on asphalt. You get road feel and a touch of bounce balanced with a nice sense of protection. The shoe is also protective on concrete, with the bonus that foot turnover is fast. If the Distance D5 was simply a city trainer, I would stop here. But it’s more than that.
Because there’s a good amount of rubber on the sole of the Distance D5 and decent grip, I decided to test these shoes on smooth trails. The shoe provides an excellent ride on a gravel trail, without slippage and with good side-to-side movement control. Again, road feel is balanced with protection and responsiveness.
It’s on hard-packed dirt trails and fire roads that the shoe is just OK. This is not a complete surprise, as this was not designed to be a trail shoe, but in a pinch – such as on a vacation trip – it would get the job done on these surfaces.
Sadly, I was not able to run in the Distance D5 on the local school track which is in the process of being replaced and upgraded. But I have little doubt that this shoe would make for a fine, fast lap shoe.
The Heel Strike
A problematic issue with the Distance D5 is the overly soft heel strike. It kills some of the “pop” in what is otherwise a responsive shoe. I wondered if I was the only one who might hold this perspective until I happened to come across some comments that Sam Winebaum of Road Trail Run made about the Salming EnRoute: “[The shoe] is held back somewhat by heel softness. The EnRoute would benefit from more and firmer heel rubber to liven things up.” Exactly!
All in all, I’d prefer an overly soft heel to an overly firm, stiff, or hard one. This is because the latter type of heel surface can punish one’s heel bone over time. However, I’d like to see Salming move from their currently quite soft heels to at least semi-firm/semi-soft ones. And, yes, there should be more rubber present at the rear of a not-inexpensive shoe like the Distance D5. I found that my heel landed on the rear lateral edge of the shoe, which was awkward and sometimes produced a “falling off” feeling.
A Four-in-One Model
It eventually dawned on me that the Distance D5 has aspects of four different shoes in one. At low speeds, it feels cushioned, if a touch dull. At medium speed levels, it’s a very consistent, reliable pace shoe. And from there, it ramps up pretty fast – like a Golf GTI with a dual-clutch transmission – to become a lightweight shoe that’s as fast as you want it to be, as quickly as you need it to be fast.
This is a trainer with the heart of a racing flat.
Oh, wait, there’s a fourth aspect, which is that this road trainer-racer is a capably decent performer on smooth trail surfaces.
The Salming Distance D5 delivers an admirable amount of quality, as it should for well over $100.00. It’s an A-level trainer – earning 93 out of 100 points – which can also deliver the goods on race day. But is it a true distance shoe? I’m not sure about that.
I think most runners will do fine using the shoe for distances from a 5K to a half-marathon. And gifted light, small, quick runners will be able to draw out its best features for distances between 10K and 50K to 50-mile distances.
Perhaps the best compliment that can be paid to the Distance D5 is to say this: Careful, because once you know this shoe is in your closet, it’s one you’ll want to take out and run in on most training days. With this shoe and a new puppy, you might never take a rest day!
Note: Salming has recently released the Distance D6 running shoe, which is extremely similar except that, “Minor tweaks were made to (the) upper overlays in order to enhance the fit.” In the U.S., it can be ordered from Running Warehouse.