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Road Running Shoes • January 24, 2020

ASICS GEL-DS Trainer 25 Performance Review


What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9 oz./255g for a US M9.0
  • OG ASICS style
  • Relatively unchanged from the GEL-DS Trainer 24
  • Adrienne’s bringing the GEL-O shots to the BITR Xmas party

TAYLOR: Pavement doesn’t excite me much anymore, but give me a fresh version of DS trainers (or really any potentially exciting road shoe for that matter) and I’ll gladly put in a few miles.

My affection towards ASICS really has been more of a love for the DS Trainer. I would come back to it year-after-year through college track and XC as a trainer, from indoor track speed sessions to Saturday morning long runs with “the boys”. It fit the bill for most any of my running needs and, thankfully, it doesn’t seem to have changed in that regard.

The only version of that I had skipped in the last 10-ish renditions was the one with the biggest overhaul, the GEL-DS Trainer 24. Between last year’s model and the 25 this year, there really isn’t much of a difference, and that is fine by me.

ADRIENNE: Back in the late aughts, ASICS was my jam– I ran my first half marathon and marathon in pairs of GT-2000s and felt pretty darn good about it. I also idolized Deena Kastor at the time and if these kicks were good enough for an Olympian, they were good enough for me. I would sometimes find myself floating down the roads as a grad student looking as effortless as Deena did. Okay, maybe that happened like once or twice… but whatever.

Soon after, I got a sponsorship from another shoe brand and took a hard left. I had left behind what became the overlay-happy shoes packing more heel JELL-O than a frat party (minus the zero-filtered vodka). Hyperbole aside and long story short, I literally hadn’t run in an ASICS shoe in over a decade and had no experience with any of the DS Trainer models (although I had heard good things).

Without giving too much away too soon, stepping into the GEL-DS Trainer 25 felt kinda like reconnecting with an old running buddy that I haven’t seen in ages. Love it or hate it, ASICS has a distinctive, all-business ride, and for at least this model, I’m mostly here for it. As Thomas discussed in his review of the GEL-Nimbus Lite, ASICS is entering the modern age with its shoe construction.

So let’s talk construction and techy details for a minute. This shoe is made for a certain purpose: running hard and fast, as evidenced in its low-to-the-ground construction with stack heights of 16mm (heel) and 8mm (toe) for the women’s version. This speedster weighs in at 7.4 oz and seems to run slightly lighter, in my opinion. The midsole is triple-density and relatively complex; however, it comes together nicely in motion, possibly due in part to the full-ground contact (very un-ASICS of recent years).

The GEL-DS Trainer 25 falls into the ‘light stability category’ and reminds me quite a bit of the New Balance 1500 series; a firm, trainer-racer that’s runnable for many but helps those who tend to overpronate-a la the old standard DuoMax system.

ASICS’ current flagship EVA midsole variation is FlyteFoam, which gives just enough cushion to absorb the shock of the road. Flytefoam actually feels like a slightly more-lively RevLite if you ask me. In addition to the FlyteFoam running the length of the shoe, Gel fans will be happy to hear that there is a Gel insert in the heel of the shoe. Like Van Helsing’s arch-nemesis, Gel will never die. I first thought this was overkill until I ran on tired legs after hill repeats– it still serves its purpose.

Also underneath, and borrowing from the Ravens’ RB Mark Ingram, is the BIG TRUSStic System (or for those non-Baltimore fans, simply ASICS’ Trusstic System). It really does support the midfoot well. Wrap this all up underneath with High Abrasion Rubber and ASICS’ Impact Guidance System (IGS) keeping the gait in line, you have yourself a trainer that sounds really complicated, but actually doesn’t feel like it.

The performance knit upper puts a bow on the package. Nearly identical to the DST 24, gone are the overlays and insane technologies, just a simple upper design (at last).


The Good

TAYLOR: So, what’s good? Well, the same things that have always been good. It’s really a simple shoe all around.

The GEL-DS Trainer 25 is light, versatile, and pretty comfortable for most runners– all of the same reasons why the top US woman at the Houston Half Marathon this year, Sarah Hall, typically gravitates toward this shoe for most workouts, including racing up to the marathon distance (it helps that she’s sponsored by them).

It’s no surprise to anyone that ASICS has dialed in the upper. The performance knit upper is a thin flexible, breathable upper that really complements the whole shoe. Performance is not questioned and, dang, is it comfortable.

There’s a bunch going on in the midsole. Yes, there is a little gel in the heel, some sort of guidance system for support, a couple different foams led by Flytefoam Lyte (which is pitched to be environmentally friendly). All that being said, it doesn’t feel like all that is underfoot. It swings a little to the firm side but has a really smooth ride because of a full-contact outsole and rocker-like forefoot. With a touch of responsiveness and a dash of stability, it stays pretty true to what you would expect from a light and fast trainer.

Have I mentioned the full contact ASICS High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR) outsole? It’s is a big step in the right direction for ASICS. For starters, it sheds weight by being very thin and provides a thoroughly smooth ride. It’s also carbon-infused, so–while lightweight– it provides incredible durability with good grip on a variety of surfaces.

ADRIENNE: Let’s start with the midsole. While only mildly responsive, the FlyteFoam didn’t feel dead and seemed to have good energy return. Most faster trainers currently have high stack heights and ground feel is virtually nonexistent. Honestly, I have missed being able to feel the ground I’m shredding (or at least moderately pounding) as it gives a nice feeling of control and speed. How much you feel underneath is, of course, a matter of preference, but as much as I like my super foams, the OG aggressiveness of the ride of the DST 25 made for some satisfying runs in the shoe. Bottom line, despite this shoe falling in the ‘stability’ category, it is powered by you. Call me old-fashioned, but I still dig that concept.

Unlike today’s political climate, there is no obvious bias detected. Being a neutral runner in a stability shoe, this is important. I noticed no ankle or foot discomfort the day after running in the DTS 25. You don’t have to overpronate to run in this shoe. The medial post is noticeable at first for those not used to it, but I found it disappeared after a few miles/runs.

In the past, I haven’t really been a fan of structures in my shoes dictating where they go, but I didn’t have an issue here. Also, having less tired post-run feet was appreciated as well. For a knit upper, this shoe seems to breathe fairly well, at least in winter temps.

The ride is surprisingly smooth for a stability trainer with decent forefoot flexibility and excellent ground feel. The grip on the DS Trainer is impressive and can be worn in almost any condition. It’s an aggressive ride I blame for dropping the pace more than planned on a banger of a 10-miler recently– this shoe seems to want more once you get rolling and feels great at tempo to steady-state pace.

Once you get the lacing right, the upper and midsole seem to work well together. You get a good midfoot hold and can just get to work. I heard previous versions felt “floppy” up top and that’s no Bueno for a shoe like this. The forefoot provided plenty of space for me and can likely accommodate a good number of runners. Heel slip was a non-issue.

The upper is probably my favorite part of the shoe. ASICS is showing its modern side yet again with a performance knit upper and on my colorway of Polar and Rose Gold, with a sweet Rose Gold Tiger emblem. It’s simple and seems to be an upgrade from the previous DTS version as it held my foot well for the most part. Dare I say it, this is a good-looking ASICS shoe; simple and subtle, yet aggressive.

Shop GEL-DS Trainer 25 ASICS GEL-DS TRAINER 25 outsole

The Bad

TAYLOR: This is a daily trainer, not a speed shoe. I kept telling myself that during runs, but I was really hoping for a little more pep in every step. It’s not not responsive. I just think it could be a great shoe if it had a little more pop to it. Perhaps, that’s where the new EVORIDE (also in the daily trainer category and heavier) comes in to save the day?

For some reason, with the many iterations of this shoe, I frequently have trouble with the tongue bunching up on the top lateral side of my foot. Am I the only one? Most of the time it is an easy fix by pulling the tongue to the side while lacing, but it would be an easier fix with an integrated tongue. Make it happen, ASICS!

I also have to say that the heel collar was not as secure as I like. It’s pretty thin and would slip on the uphills.

ADRIENNE: Maybe I was running above my current fitness level, but these shoes will rough up your calves the first time or two you run in them. At least my feet were happy. While nothing crazy, it is noticeable the next day. I would go with something a little more substantial in the midsole for long runs or distances over 13.1 or so. You also will want to save this shoe for faster or tempo days. Easy running is best done in something more forgiving.

The ride is still a bit “ASICS-y” and I found myself falling back on my heels some in this shoe. Midfoot strikers may struggle a tad with the Big Truss system, and forefoot cushion is lacking in place of ground feel. Can’t have it all. I told you this shoe has some old-school traits.

These also feel stiff and weird when you first lace them up and take ‘em for a spin. At least for me, this went away pretty quickly. These need a little time to get to know, especially if you haven’t touched an ASICS shoe since Destiny’s Child was still together, like me. The more you run in these, the better they adapt to your foot.

Lastly, I feel like I’m beating a dead donkey here, but I bet this shoe would be even more awesome if ASICS pulled the weight back to under 7 oz. Just sayin’. It’s a sign of the times.

Shop GEL-DS Trainer 25

ASICS GEL-DS Trainer 25 – Women’s Rose/Gold

ASICS GEL-DS Trainer 25 Conclusion

TAYLOR: The DS Trainer and I have quite the history, and maybe that’s why I like this one too. No matter the sentimental tie, the ASICS GEL-DS Trainer 25 is a light, surprisingly supportive, and comfortable daily trainer that is ready to go long and pick up the pace. There are a couple of little nit-picky things that didn’t satisfy me completely, but I’d still take these on almost any road adventure. For those on a budget who may not be able to have a variety of use-specific shoes at the ready, this shoe will handle track workouts and long runs with ease. I’d also consider taking it along to a road marathon… if I was into that sort of thing. 

ADRIENNE: I do love the OG vibe of this shoe. I also enjoyed running in it, despite a few minor complaints. This purpose-driven shoe does what it’s supposed to do with no BS: It provides a semi-aggressive, controlled ride that can work for neutral and overpronators alike. ASICS fans will probably like this offering (like Taylor just confirmed), and this can be a good gateway shoe for those just trying or returning to the ASICS brand.

I would say my foray back into the ASICS fold has been a positive one so far. Familiar and classic isn’t always a horrible thing. And it’s nice to feel the ground again.

You can pick up the ASICS GEL-DS Trainer 25 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the link below.

Shop GEL-DS Trainer 25

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