Thursday, December 4, 2008

Favorite Running Shoes

I own a lot of running shoes. Way more than I deserve. Like most runners, I'm always looking for that "next best" shoe that may be perfect. I suppose there really isn't a perfect shoe. I have now settled on three shoes, one for each type of terrain. Here are my current favorite shoes:

TRAIL SHOE = Nike Air Zoom Trail S
Best feature: comfortable with nice mix of cushioning, support, & traction.
Worst feature: ???

This is a great lightweight, but still fairly sturdy shoe. It has some kind of underfoot protection (rock shield) and it has a toe guard, but I would be the first to admit it's not a super-rugged shoe. It's not meant to be a tank. This is a shoe that keeps you close to the ground, allows you to react to the trail, and provides reasonable traction. I used it in my 7-day stage race (lots of walking and jogging) and also in shorter trail races. It works well at a fast pace and also as a walking shoe. If you had to venture onto a road, it works OK there too...but it's a trail shoe. For roads you need an actual road shoe...

ROAD SHOE = Mizuno Wave Revolver
Best feature: lightweight, flexible, low to ground.
Worst feature: no protection from rocks & roots (not needed on roads).

It's considered a racing flat, but I use it for all my road runs (and have gone off-road many times with them too). I've used them in trail ultras as well...usually not for more than 30-40 miles. They are an inexpensive, nicely cushioned, running shoe with great flexibility and a wide forefoot. No extra support for pronation control. They ride very close to the ground (which makes them OK on trails). They don't have much traction and can be slippery on snow or ice or other slick surfaces, but if the conditions are like that, you may want to try a treadmill...

Best feature: minimalist shoe that mimics running barefoot.
Worst feature: hard to find on sale.

It's not quite barefoot running, but you start to get close to that feel. I've done barefoot running, and I like it. Unfortunately, in Illinois it's hard to run outside barefoot when there are a couple inches of snow and the temperature is 15 degrees! These shoes supposedly help you build strength in the feet and allow you to develop a truer running form. It's a very soft and flexible shoe with almost no pronation control/support. It's best to use these for short distances at first and slowly build up to longer runs. I know a guy up in Michigan that uses them for trail ultra runs. Not me. I'll run 3-5 miles on the treadmill with them 2-3 times/week.

And yet the search for that perfect running shoe continues...I'll be testing out a Pearl Izumi trail shoe soon. I'll keep you posted about how that goes.


Adam said...

Hey Chris,
Have you tried the Vibram shoes? I've not but have a friend here in MN that uses them exclusively. Have said I was going to try them for over a year and still haven't.


Chris Ⓥ said...

Their sizing is a little weird and I was worried that they don't have a size big enough for me (13 US). A friend has a pair and likes them quite a bit. Maybe I should buy one and return them if they don't fit. They sure look cool (or odd?) and generate good conversation from fellow runners (or non-runners!)