I am currently in the market for new shoes. I hate buying new shoes because they cost $$$$, but I do love shopping for them. I'm a bit of a brand whore, never staying loyal to just one, but getting a taste for a little bit of everything is helping me make better choices.
My very first marathon shoes. The Adidas... uh, Adidas? I don't know the model and it isn't written anywhere on the shoe.
After I ran my first half marathon in some Adidas I picked off the shelf at Academy, my knees felt like they might explode. Kind of like Kyle to your left there. After that I went to get fitted for shoes
at the local running store (Run For Your Life) and found out that the shoes I had picked were a full size too small. At this time I was a heel striker and shoes I was recommended were will designed for cushioning and support for my over pronation (typical right?). But my knees still hurt quite a bit after long runs and after my first full marathon, I wondered if they would ever recover. After a bit of reading it made sense that jamming my leg through my knee cap every time I landed could be having an adverse effect.
- not flexible (It looks it in the picture but that's just because they are nearly 3 years old)
Enter, the Nike Free.
I started transitioning into these shoes in February of 2010 (Feb 2nd to be exact, My bday!) and have loved them. Wearing these shoes feels like wearing house shoes all day. Heel striking is possible in any shoes but these Nikes make a forefoot strike feel right. I credit these shoes with changing my running style. The down side to that is if you move into them too fast (like, maybe running an entire marathon in them) your legs will hate you. My calves were solid (slightly painful) rocks for at least 3 months. Really? Did I NEVER use my calves before this?! The down side is the gaping hole that has been rubbed through by my left pinkie toe. The shoes really aren't THAT old.
- Uber flexibility
- Light wieght
- Pebbles, twigs, and other small debris will get stuck in the grid, that is the sole, and annoy the piss out of you.
- Um, how about the gaping hole in the side?
- Narrow toe box
My next shoe is one that you will love or hate, but you will certainly have an opinion about it... Vibrams!!!!
The Nike Free worked out really well for me and seriously eliminated my knee pain, so of course, I wanted to dive in to this minimalist thing even further. Vibrams are tricky though. You really, really, have to pace yourself or you could end up seriously injuring your feet. I've had mine since February (bday again!) and the furthest I have run in them is 6 miles. I am currently taking a break from them because I bruised the ball of my foot. My forefoot struck down in a large crack in the sidewalk. It's nothing serious. I can still run just fine in anything with some cushioning. All in all, I really enjoy running in these shoes. I feel like I'm moving more fluently. I'm not gonna go all granola on you, singing the praises of all natural deodorant (Tom's of Main, and it's a no go.) and telling everyone to take off their shoes, man, cuz like, that's how mother nature wanted us to be, man. I love the way it feels and believe it has helped my stride, but it is definitely something that has to be taken in with caution.
- Amazing traction. You can't tell by looking but that special rubber grips like nobodies business.
- The true feel of the ground beneath your feet
- Zero Cushioning
- Slow and potentially hazardous transition phase.
Now on to my new shoes. I've been perusing the web and thinking about what I might want. I even purchased a pair of Saucony Grid Flex. The sales lady was kind of pushy at Sports Authority and I'm kind of a push over... so, I bought a pair of shoes that I wasn't totally thrilled about. When I got home, I went online and two of the reviewers said that their toes busted through the mesh upper. Don't need that problem again.
After my farewell to the sub par Saucony's I went up to Run For Your Life for some professional advice. I had hesitated because I thought they would try to put me in some high tech, cumbersome shoe that I really didn't want. But nope. They listened to exactly what I wanted and took a look at my Nikes, informing me that the narrow toe box was the reason for the escape of pinkie toe. I tried on a few different things but I have settled on, and as soon as the next paycheck comes in, will purchase a new pair of New Balance 10's. They have just enough cushion, tons of flexibility and a wider toe box to prevent my toes from sliding outward. The soles are even made of the same rubber that is used the Vibram Five Fingers. I think it's a good match for me.