Monday, February 9, 2015

The Shoes On Your Feet

     I got my runners world magazine in the mail a few days ago and one of the main topics was the introduction of the new shoes for 2015.  I thought with everyone gearing up, pun intended, for their spring races like I am for the Owens Corning Half Marathon at the Glass City Marathon on April 26th.  I have changed brand and/or model of shoes six or seven times over the course of my two plus years in the sport, which I wouldn’t recommend.  For those of you that are new to running or are thinking about getting started, if you take anything away from this post take this; get professionally fitted for your shoes by an expert at your local reputable running specific shoe store.  I made the mistake of trying to run in the cheap shoes I bought at a local shoe carnival and boy did I pay the price for it. 

     Now I am by no means an expert and what you will read here is only my opinions and what I have read online.  This post is designed to get you thinking about your shoes and why you bought them.  I will mention places and brands of shoes I have purchased and will tell you what I think of them, but please remember when you read this that I was not paid, compensated or asked by any of these shoe companies or retail establishments for my thoughts and opinions on this topic.

     Now that the legal shit is out of the way let us talk shoes.  Back in October of 2012 when I got started on my running / weight loss journey I was running in a cheap pair of Nike shoes, like I said earlier, I bought at a local Shoe Carnival discount shoe store.  The shoes were fine for going to the gym to lift weights or use the elliptical, but once I gave running a try, I was immediately in trouble.  I started to develop pain in my shins and after a quick research trip via the internet, I was pretty damn sure it was due to my shoes.  I headed over to Dave’s Running Shop, which has been a staple of the running scene here in Toledo for years and years.

      The easy way to describe my feet would be short and wide.  Depending on brand I normally wear around an 8 ½ in a minimum of a 2E width.  When I got to Dave’s the guy that helped me seemed to really know his stuff and how to properly fit me.  He had me walk in my bare feet away and back towards him so he could see how my feet reacted when they hit the ground.  Based on that, my size at the time and my feet measurements he narrowed my selection down to three shoes.  The one I went with was the New Balance 840v1.  It had the best feel to me and seemed very comfy to me.  I only put around a hundred miles on them before I was ready to trade up for another shoe.  The reason wasn’t because they weren’t comfortable, it was because they just felt big, heavy and clunky to me.

     I returned to Dave’s to check out some other shoes and I ended up picking the wrong day because they were extremely busy and if you know how impatient I can be and I got frustrated and left.  I headed over to Second Sole, which is more of a franchise style running shop in our area.  They were really busy as well, but their people seemed able to handle the multiple customers.  I look back know and realize this isn’t a great trait to have when you are trying to purchase something as personal as running shoes, but I was new to this and didn’t know any better.  The kid seemed very knowledgeable about shoes and performed the same tests as Dave’s shop did, but it seemed like he was just throwing shit at the wall and seeing what would stick.  We settled on one shoe but I ended up returning them the next day, which should have been a red flag, but they continued to help me and eventually got me fitted in a pair of Asics Gel Cumulus 15.  I really liked them and they seemed to serve me well.  I got around three hundred miles on my first pair and around the mid two hundreds on my second pair before I switched shoes.  And here is why. 

      One of my biggest problems is I am a self proclaimed internet junkie, meaning I am constantly on the web researching looking for something better than what I already have.  The Asics were working great for me and I didn’t have any reason to switch, but I heard about the Altra brand shoe story.  I am not going to go into it here, but if you are interested click here.  After reading their story I really wanted to go into a zero drop shoe, but I heard a lot of horror stories from people who made the switch to zero drop to fast, which scared me off while I was training for my first marathon.  What I ended up doing is looking for a shoe with a lower drop heel to work my way down to a zero drop.  After visiting Dave’s again I ended up going with the New Balance 1080v3.  These have been great to me and have been my go to shoe for almost a year now.  When the 1080v4s came out I read some reviews that said they were not as good as the v3s and I thought here we go again, I got to find another freaking shoe.  I ended up buying the v4s through Runners Warehouse because I got them at a discount and they had a nice return policy.  For me, the v4s were just as good, if not better than the 3s and my marathon training continued.  

     Here is my shoe company / Runners Warehouse rant!  I got caught up in the bright color “flashy” shoe craze like a lot of people and was getting really pissed off that no one was making wide width shoes in these colors.  Well first, the shoe companies are, well at least New Balance is, but Runners Warehouse doesn’t carry them.  Runners Warehouse only carries the plain jane boring shoes in the wide widths for some odd reason.  I went to New Balance’s website and low and behold I could order the “flashy” colors through their site, while paying top dollar and shipping.  I really wanted them for my first marathon so I bit the bullet and got them, but it is shit like that that pisses me off.  If they are available why wouldn't Runners Warehouse carry them?   Ok rant over, moving on.

So the New Balance 1080v4s are working great, so lets fast forward to post marathon time.  This is where my knee problem comes into play and I hit the internet to do more research.  After talking with my friend Katie, who writes the Runs for Cookies blog, she has been sold on her new Altra brand shoes after meeting the owner/creator of the brand.  I again researched them and they just seem to have that hometown feel to them that they are in business to help people and not just to make money.  This idea was further evident when I emailed the founder himself and he responded to me with his recommendation of which model of shoe to go with based on my current brand and model.  Again for more info the brand click here.  The big draw to this brand is their designs are meant to promote proper foot striking and a natural foot position.   He thought the Altra Paradim would be the best fit for me to break into their zero drop platform.  He stated the max cushioning of the shoe will aid in the transition and over time I can work my why out of the max cushioning to one of their other models.  That is if I ever want to.

     At the end of the day my IT Band injury was due to a lot of factors I have covered in my previous posts, but one factor that didn’t have anything to do with it, at least in this instance, was my shoes.  What I mean is, I made the switch to Altras thinking that my shoes were a factor when they were not, so I could still be in the 1080s, but I am enjoying my Altras so much I think I will definitely stick with them for the foreseeable future.  I have around fifty miles on them so far and they will get plenty of use training for the Owens Corning Half Marathon at the Glass City Marathon on April 26th 2015.

     This was a glimpse into my crazy shoe journey I have been on.  I wonder if it is the same for other people as well or do you find that one pair that works and stick with them through thick and thin?  

1 comment:

  1. Whew! I'm just glad you like your Altras! I'm always nervous when I rave about something that other people won't like it ;)