First I want to make something very clear, I am not a minimalist running shoe guy, I don’t like ‘em all that much for either running or walking.
While at the same time, I am not into the traditional, heavy industry standard shoes that the “experts” and/or sales people tend to recommend for me when I go to specialty running stores either, because of my heavy over-pronation issues.
Another major reason in choosing a running shoe is that my right foot has bothered me for several years and finally in June the specialist, told me that I had a tailor’s Bunionette and offered to surgically fix it, so it would not be an issue anymore. I declined, but at least I know that there is a reason for my right foot being so finicky when it comes to my running shoes.
I have more than a couple of things that I have learned to look (primarily through trial and error) for in running shoes that I want to run.
- Comfort/Fit – Is the most important consideration for me
- Minimal overlays on the uppers, with a stretchy fit and no overlays over my tailor’s bunionette
- Lighter-weight (somewhere in the 7-10 oz. range)
- Drop – Yeah I know it depends on the shoe and its design, but I typically start in the 4-6mm drop range and go from there
- Wide toe box
- No heel counter or very little
- Appearance – I tend to like the bright colors, blacks, whites, and grays are not my colors of choice.
- Cost – $80 to $100 price point
- Oh yeah – can I do long runs in them?
I tend to have a primary running shoe that I do 80-90% of my running in, with niche shoes for racing/track or trails.
The biggest lessons I learned in 2013 when it comes to running shoes was that:
- I have a foot size, not a shoe size and just because I have “always” run in size 7.5 or 8.0, that does not mean that those sizes are the ones that will fit me in today’s running shoe world.
In some brand’s style I have become a size 9.5, others I am a 7.5, the old consistency in how brands measure their shoes sizes does not seem to be very standardized nowadays.
- That I do not have to run every run with pain in my right foot. There are running shoes out there that do not bother my tailor’s Bunionette and allow me to run any distance without pain.
Enough background, what did I run in, in 2013?
- *Adidas Vigor Trail – Store Personal Purchase. Nice trail shoe, but ended up being too small/narrow, I turned them into screw shoes last winter, but could not run in them with wool socks, so it defeated the purpose of using them for cold/crappy winter weather.
- *Altra Instinct 1.0 – 271.7 — Store Personal Purchase. A decent shoe that I went back and forth on for several months, even as wide as the Altra’s were they bothered my right foot. I have a feeling a larger size would have made a big difference.
- *Mizuno Ronin 4 – 177.12 — Store Personal Purchase (special order). A magical and VERY fast shoe for me, but even when I first tried them on, I “knew” the toe box was not wide enough and that became the big issue with these shoes for anything over 6 miles. It was too bad, because otherwise, I really loved them, but due to the discomfort/pain they caused in my right foot, I just could not run in them any longer.
- *Mizuno Elixir 7 – 286.32** — Internet. I got these through the Mizuno Mezamashii project. Another shoe that I liked a LOT and should have gotten at least a size larger, because the toe box bothered me a lot. The other thing with these shoes was that I ran with an inverted “V” and became a very heavy heel striker in them. It seemed as though they pulled my heel down first and this was when I was actively attempting to change my form to more of a midfoot landing, so I stopped running in them.
- *Altra Instinct 1.5 – 201.1* — A media sample as a #RWHalf Blogger. I was not sure about these when I got them and while I ran some good miles in them, I just never fell in love with them. However, the back of the left heel counter wore through quickly, the uppers had holes beginning and no matter how I changed around the lacing, I could not get the right foot just right and it would bother me on longer runs.
- Brooks PureFlow 1.0 – 43.18 — Store Personal Purchase. They were on sale for under $50 and I couldn’t resist, I had wanted to try the Brook Pure series, since they first came out, because I had read so much about them and this was my chance to do it cheaply. I could not run over 4.0 miles on the treadmill in them before my right foot started hurting – a lot. I got tired of grinning and bearing it, so I stopped running in the shoe.
- Altra Superior – 118.68 — Internet Personal Purchase. A nice multipurpose shoe that was designed to be trail first shoe, but I found they worked very well on the roads. If I had sized up to a 9.0, I think that I would have liked this shoe a lot better. After a while, they started to bother my right foot, so it went away.
- Altra Torin – 63.66 — Internet Personal Purchase. I ran some fast times in this shoe (a 1:39:43 half on the treadmill), but I also paid for it, with blood and blisters. This is probably a running shoe that I would do a lot better in with a full size larger. I got tired of the blisters and pain and returned them.
- Altra 3-Sum – 101.99** — Internet Media Sample from Altra. I really, really liked the way they fit initially and the way I ran in them (a 21:20 5K), but I had to contend with blisters on my heels and how much my right foot hurt on longer runs. They are still sitting in my closet, but when I put them on now, I know they are too small for my feet and that I would need to size up to at least a 9.0 in them.
- Mizuno Ekidon – 36.36 — Internet Personal Purchase. Loved, absolutely loved, this shoe, even though it was a little narrow in the forefoot, it had nice spring to it, the right amount of firmness, everything just felt right as a 5K race shoe for me. Only one problem, I partially tore my Achilles tendon the last time I ran in these shoes and I just cannot bring myself to run in them again. Not the shoe’s fault, but just something that I cannot get past.
- Nike Free Run 5.0 – 30.39 — Store Personal Purchase. I ran 30 miles in 3 days in these shoes right out of the box, which was dumb on my part, I hurt my hip running a fast training half marathon training run and put the blame on the shoes, instead of me being stupid. I returned them for an exchange.
- Saucony Viratta – 9.19 — Store Exchange. The shoes I got in exchange for the Nike’s. The slapped the ground with every step and I just never felt right in them, even for just walking around. Gave them away.
- Brooks PureFlow 2 – 31.23 — Internet Exchange. The shoes I got when I returned the Torin’s back in May. I was injured when I got them in and could not run in them until July. I hated the way they felt on my feet and while I could run in them, I just did not like them at all for running. However, they were the best-looking shoes that I wore all year, by a long shot.
- Mizuno Wave Rider 16 – 13.72 — Store Personal Purchase. I can say that I actually hated this pair of running shoes. My PT strongly recommended that I move back to a traditional drop running shoe, due my Achilles injury. After trying on 10 pair or so of shoes that day, I went with these instead of the Brooks Ghost.
After I finally was cleared to run by the Doctor, the first time I went for a run my forefoot slapped the ground, I scuffed my heel and by the end of the short run, they felt so frigging uncomfortable, I was ready to throw them in the garbage can. I tried a few more times to run in them, but I hated them worse each time. They just did not work for me and I did not even like them for walking – gave them away.
- Skechers GoRun 2 – 134.78 — Internet Personal Purchase. My introduction to Skechers Performance division running shoes. I loved the way they felt, the wider toe box, etc., but I did not feel like they gave me enough protection from the road to be my daily or primary trainers. I still have them and keep them at the gym as emergency use running shoes. They were just a little too minimal for what I want to run in.
Skechers GoRun Ride 2 (Blue/White) – 203.95 — Internet Personal Purchase. The first pair of running shoes that I actually wanted to run in – all year and that I liked enough that I ordered and purchased a second pair of the same style/brand for the first in a long time. They only have 200 miles of running, because they also have over 300 miles of walking in them. I found myself wearing them all the time and needed to get a pair just for running.
- ***Skechers GoRun Ride 2 (Gray/Orange) – 417.84 — Personal Purchase. Easily my favorite running shoes of the year, without any doubts or questions. They just fit me comfortably and I have run distances of over 13 miles in them without my right foot bothering me at all. 50-mile weeks have been handled without issues from these shoes.
I liked them enough that I stayed with the same brand and ordered the update to 3 (see below). I will be looking around for a few pair of this brand/style to squirrel away for use in the future. These are still in my active rotation and I plan to use them for long runs, when the roads are clear, until I find a replacement that works as well for me.
***New Balance 1010 Trail – 19.32 — Store Personal Purchase. I am still up in the air on these trail shoes. Like other New Balance shoes, they seem to bother my left Plantar Facia (it might just be in my head, but my left foot sure does not like NB shoes). If I can get past the PF issues, I am still not all that pleased with them, I knew they were pretty minimal when I got them and I find running over 3-4 miles in them is not the experience I want from my running shoes – I am not a minimalist or barefoot runner.
I know that I wouldn’t want to run from home to TheWife’s work in these shoes and that is one of the ways I judge whether to keep or get rid of a pair of running shoes. They are still in my rotation for now, but am not sure for how much longer. It would mean I would have to get another pair of trail shoes, since they are the only ones that fit me that I have for running in crappy winter weather.
- Skechers GoRun Ride 3 – 7.22 — Internet Personal Purchase. I had high hopes for this running shoe, when I ordered it. Skechers did make many improvements to the Ride 3’s and fixed the issues that I had with the Ride 2. However, they moved away from the minimal upper that I loved and put a big chunk of pleather (overlay), right where my tailor’s Bunionette is, which made the shoe unwearable for me. I was very disappointed that the update did not work for me, because I liked everything else about the shoe. Maybe they will come out with a short run that gets rid of the pleather overlay or version 4 will be better? Oh well – returned that one real quick.
- ***Nike Free 4.0 v3 – 82.69 — Store Personal Purchase. Kind of a mixed bag on these shoes, yes I can run in them up to about 6-8 miles before they start bothering my right foot and change my stride a little, so they are not going to be my primary running shoe. However, I run fast in them at shorter distances, so I have mixed feelings about Free 4.0. I will keep them in my current rotation as a speed/treadmill shoe up to 6-8 miles and use something else for recovery or longer runs.
- *carry-over from 2012
- **Free media sample from the brand.
- ***Still in current shoe rotation
Now for some runners 20 shoes in a year, is not that many and for others it is quite a few.
For me it is about an average year and as my wife says, I have a bad running shoe problem. Especially for someone who bought all but 3 pair of those 20 running shoes, so it was a little pricey on the budget and I have been advised that I will not be spending that much on running shoes again this year.
The Good News
I had two pair of running shoes that I really like/loved a lot – the Skechers GoRun Ride2’s. They just fit me the way that I want my running shoes to fit and allowed me to just run, without worrying about how much my right foot and its tailor’s Bunionette would be hurting towards the end of a longer run.
What comes next?
Since I couldn’t run in the Skechers GoRun Ride 3’s, the Nike Free 4.0v3 are not working out as my primary running shoe or long run shoe, the NB1010’s are not wowing me all that much and my beloved Skechers GoRun2’s are beginning to show signs of wear with over 400 miles on them – what comes next?
I put on my Christmas wish list the Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road shoes in a size 9.0 (I would have put the trail versions on it, if I had realized how little I would like the NB 1010’s).
A box came in from a certain online running shoe retailer, for my wife (she never buys her shoes online) and she would not let me look at what she got, then immediately wrapped the contents for “someone” as a Christmas present. Therefore, I am hoping that the PI’s will be under the tree and I will get a chance to try them out to see if they are that “shoe” I have looked for.
Another option that I really want to look closer at is the Mizuno Wave Sayonara or some of the stuff I am getting little snippets on from the Internet. Maybe the new Merrell line will bear a closer look and I will definitely keep my eye on what Skechers is doing to see if they get back to a minimal upper and get rid of the pleather overlays that are on some of their updates/new shoes.
For now I will run in what I have, see what is under the tree and know that I will be looking around for clearance versions of the Skechers GoRun Ride2’s, since I run comfortably in those shoes.
The reality is that
I have learned a lot about what I want in and from a running shoe. Finally, I have finally started to look beyond the marketing claims of the brands and focused on what works for me, not anyone else.
The primary thing that I want from my running shoes is to run comfortably for up to 15 miles, without frig, farting around worrying about whether my running shoes are hurting my feet and have them actually last more than a month or two.
Ah the possibilities of the new crop of 2014 running shoes.
- How many of these shoes did you run in in 2013, what did you think about them?
- Do you have any recommendations for running shoes, that I should try out in 2014?