Tuesday, December 20, 2011


A not so secret for you all: I'm kind of a shoe moron. I don't follow shoe guides or read up on new shoes as they come out. I tend to run in the same brand and model until the model changes dramatically and I'm forced to find something new. I rarely have more than one pair of running shoes going at a time and when I do it's pretty much never different shoes, just two pairs of the same kind. I don't have a different running shoe for every surface and season.

Now, as you know, I bought a pair of Vibrams in November since they've been peaking my curiosity. I love them still and have figured out how to keep away the blisters they caused at first so they're even better! So that's two pairs of very different shoes at once! Shocking in it's own. I've been running in Saucony Rides (at least, I think they're Rides I'm not even really sure. I usually bring my old shoe with me when I go to buy another pair. See what I mean?) - I love Sauconys as they've always been nice to my feet and legs and also generally nicely priced. The Rides are classified as a neutral shoe - I've made my way down over the last several years from motion control to stability to neutral (I started doing this after college. I used to have an orthotic for my left shoe and when it was wearing out, I realized I didn't want to have to keep paying a ton of money to get new ones all the time so I decided to try weaning myself off of them. Once that worked, I wondered if I even needed motion control, so I took the next step down to see, etc). I've run in the Rides for a handful of pairs, now, and was thinking about taking the next step down, since they seem to not be causing any problems with my kryptonite knee. I think I would have been happy in my neutral shoes had the minimalist craze not started but why not keep going as long as my body doesn't complain, right?

Now, I'm pretty sure I usually run my shoes into the ground - as I complain about often, I'm lousy at consistently keeping track of my mileage so I only have a vague idea of the mileage on my shoes and tend to not replace them in a timely manner. Usually, though, I'll try to buy the new pair and break them in, running on the old pair still a few times. So I don't do a drastic shoe swap most of the time. Well, I came home a couple Fridays ago to this:

Hmmmmmm. There's no toe box on that shoe. 99.9% of the time, my Penny dog is just fine if left out (ie, not in the confined dog space we have in the basement). Since we've been transitioning a new dog, we've been leaving the other two out to roam the house. Like I said, usually fine. The other .1% of the time., something scares Penny (not too hard to do) or makes her hyper or something and she finds something to chew on to comfort herself. Like a favorite homemade quilt that looks like Monet's Japanese Bridge, a nice wool graduation blanket from my college commemorating my four years on the cross country team, or a running shoe. At least she chose the pair without the RoadID . . . And they were pretty much due to be retired anyway. Now, could she have done this the night before a day off? Or at least before a shorter run that I could just wear my Vibrams for? No, of course not! It has to be the night before a super early morning long run. Which means the choice was to either jump my Vibram mileage from 5ish to 16ish on roads, run in the shoes that were already dead going into Voyageur and I haven't run in since (but haven't brought myself to toss yet, either), or dash to Austin Jarrow quick before they closed. Or postpone my run to later in the day, but that's just silly talk!

The problem is that I know Jarrow works during the day and, like I said, I'm a self enabled shoe moron. I want someone who knows what they're talking about to tell me what to buy. I checked to see if Duluth Running Company was still open but they closed an hour before. Not a big problem, I think, I'll just get another pair of what just got chewed up and wait to step down until the next pair.

So I rush myself up the hill and . . . my shoe is not in my size. The new model of my shoe is not in my size. Hmmmm. This is why I wanted Jarrow there. Or Tony or Clint at DRC. I like people who know more about shoes than I do to tell me what a good shoe is. Though, admittedly, as I'm sure you've concluded, that doesn't take a whole lot. But now I was on my own since I didn't know how much the girl working (who was really very nice!) actually knew. Though, in hind sight, she was able to get me the Brooks equivalent of my current shoes with no problem, so I probably should have trusted her more. Anyway. First I decided to try on a pair of Kinvaras (which I thought until recently were called Kinervas) and promptly freaked out. They're so light! I can't possibly be ready for running only in these yet! They feel like racing flats! I have long runs to do! On roads! So I call my poor friend Lisa, who's trying to volunteer at Tuscobia when I interrupt her for my important dilemma :) Hey, it's a long race, and I figured she wasn't going to be flooded with work the first night. So she tells me that Jarrow wears Brooks and has put her in Brooks and she likes them so I ask for the Brooks version of my Saucony Ride. This turns out to be the Brooks Ghost 4. I try them on. They're comfy. They feel like a shoe should. They aren't crazy expensive. The girl lets me know that there isn't really an in-between my Rides and the Kinvaras but Brooks has an in-between (See! She knew things! I could have trusted her!). However, these are also not in my size. So I take home the Ghosts with the intent of doing some quick research on them online before the run in the morning.

I fairly quickly decided they aren't what I wanted. With some descriptions of them as a stability shoe and after comparing them heel to heel with my Rides, I decided it's more shoe than I want, now. Especially if I'm trying to run in my Vibrams more - I figured going from nothing to big heel wasn't a great plan. Happily, I have fabulous friends who are also my same shoe size and who, though the power of Facebook, offered to lend me shoes for my run Saturday, which I took advantage of. After more online research, I headed back to Austin-Jarrow and traded in my Ghosts for a pair of these:

Everything I was reading made them sound like what I wanted. "True" minimalist runners (as true as you can be and still be running in shoes, I guess) turn their nose up at them and they were often described as a gateway drug to minimalist running. Perfect! I figured I'd give them a go and could always order a pair of my Rides if need be and I'll take a look at trail shoes come spring.

I've really liked them so far. They still feel crazy light when I first put them on but then I mostly forget about them. Except when my left foot goes to sleep. For some reason, that left foot is hard to tie a correct tightness in these shoes. They have enough support to help me ease into things more. I can feel when I let myself heel strike too much and am able to change my stride pretty easily but they aren't so abrupt that a single heel strike is bad. It's been a couple weeks, now, and I haven't noticed any rebelling from my legs or knees so I think I'll stick to them for a while. And maybe I'll start researching for my trail shoes now instead of right before I need to buy them.

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