Of all the things that I can dream about, on this blog I try to keep things more or less focused on running, with a little technology thrown in once in a while. However, the true focus for me seems to come down to finding that mythological great running shoe for me.
I am not an industry insider, I am one of those damn consumers who usually pays for my running shoes – unless I get lucky once in a while.
Let’s be honest, my perfect pair of running shoes is not the same running shoe that is perfect for you, it is not the running shoe that I might have worn when I was a spry youngster and sure as hell ain’t the same shoes that Kipchoge, Linden or other professional runners would love.
My Unicorn shoe is all about the needs of a 60 year old guy, who has been running pretty regularly since the Fall of 1971, still thinks he has something left in the tank to surprise some of the youngsters and wants to run for many more years.I am talking about a daily trainer that is comfortable enough to run any distance that I want to run up to and including a potential marathon this year. It will not be my 5K race day shoe, but the model might end up being the shoe on my feet when I complete my first marathon since 1983 this fall.
Yeah, I also know that the running shoes do not make the runner, but at the same time I know quite well through a lot of experience that running in the wrong shoes sucks donkey balls. This is a case of where good enough, is not good enough, especially as I get older and supposedly wiser.
My Unicorn Shoe Looks Like
So what does my Unicorn shoe look like on paper, well at least when reading about it?
Light-weight – under 10 oz, sub 9.0 oz is even better
Midsole – Well cushioned to smooth out the road for all my old aches and pains i.e. 20mm or more of midsole between the road and my feet. Also one of the newer mixtures that give back some energy, but retain a great cushioned feel. Neutral is fine, extra motion control features are nice for longer running, but comfort comes first.
Narrow heel – if it has a heel cup it should be notched, not rounded to alleviate pressure and blistering on the Achilles’ tendons.
Wide forefoot and toe box, I have Hobbit feet and a Tailor’s bunionette that just do not work with narrow shoes up front. A “B” heel and New Balance “EE” forefoot would work pretty well.
Low ankle wells/sidewalls. I hate blisters on the bottoms of my ankles.
Drop – I don’t care what some people think, drop matters, zero or really low drop does not help an already weak left Achilles and high heels (err high drop of 10mm or more) just does not feel efficient and usually ends up causing a two-stage landing (heel drag then slap down the forefoot) for me. So my personal sweet spot for drop usually lies between 4 and 8mm.
Outsole – Primarily for roads, but doesn’t collect pebbles like a magnet and can handle groomed trails, light snow and dirt roads with aplomb. Also a rocker type works better for me than a true flat type of sole unit. No big flare on the heals please.
Upper – Mostly free of overlays, molds to my feet and has just enough structure to hold the foot securely, but not so much that my feet hurt during a run.
Looks – Yes, looks do matter, a fugly, boring running shoe will not make it to the rotation or get me to spend my hard-earned money, but then again my idea of a great looking running shoe is probably vastly different from many other runners. It has to be bright, almost gaudy, orange, yellow, red, blue with some various color highlights and laces that are not the same color as the shoes.
Technology – No gimmicky technology’s, I prefer the K.I.S.S. Principle when it comes to my running shoes. Just a shoe that is durable, no mess, no fuss, put the damn things on and go run.
Durable – I would like my running shoes to last at least 500 miles, without the outsoles being smooth, the upper torn to shreds and the midsole feeling like I am running on 2×4’s.
Brand – I really do not care which brand makes my Unicorn running shoe. Ideally, it would be one of the specialty running brands that focus on making only running shoes and running accessories and not some giant multinational corporation for who running shoes are another line item.
Cheap – Not too expensive is always good, being on a fixed income means that expenses can get tight and running shoes are not always the top priority in the budget. However, a reasonable price-point in today’s world would be nice.
Finally the thing that usually knocks the hell out of too many running shoe models.
Consistency – When the brand “improves” a shoe, keep the features that make that shoe model such a great running shoe and make minor incremental changes to keep things pretty much the same especially for legacy models, not wholesale changes that make it a completely different running shoe with the same name.
I can name numerous shoes that I really liked and thought they might be part of the answer, but when the next model year comes out the name of the running shoe is the only thing that is familiar. The features that previously were part of the solution to my running woes, are gone and replaced with more weight, bells, whistles and shite that doesn’t do diddley squat compared to the previous model.
Sometimes change is great, but in my humble opinion incremental change is better for established running shoe models and brands should more often than not re-name the “vastly improved” model, which is probably a completely different shoe anyway.
The reality is that
I want a lot from my Unicorn running shoes and have been searching for them since I don’t know when, but especially since about 2012. When I got serious about my running again and started blogging about it.
No, I haven’t found them over the past six years, though I have come close a couple of times with the Skechers GoRun Ride 2’s or Pearl Izumi N1 Road v1. I even had great hopes for the Skechers GoRun Ride 7’s, but the road only outsole and durability of the upper proved to be its downfall after only 150 miles.
Yeah, there is a LOT of wear and tear on this old body, but it still moves pretty good and while I can run decently in many different shoes on the market today, I want to find a pair of daily trainers that do not get in the way of my running form – as crooked and bent as it is and yes, I want all the above features from my running shoes.
Maybe I am asking too much, but I will keep searching until I find one or more shoes that meet this elusive measure.
How about you have you found your Unicorn shoe yet?
Has your idea of an Unicorn shoe changed over the years?