Monday, November 22, 2010

My Running Shoes Suck!

I knew this day would come pretty soon.  I suppose I was in denial.  Saturday, I went out for a moderately easy 10-mile trail run.  The temperature was in the high 40s, mostly overcast, with just a slight breeze.  It was a great day for a run.  I decided to put on my Pearl Izumi Streak racing shoes.  I hadn't worn them in a while, but they looked really nice sitting next to my Vibram FiveFinger KSOs.  The Streak's vibrant red color contrasted nicely with the dull black of my KSOs.  It seemed like a perfect day for a change in shoe.  Things aren't always what they seem...

I got about 1/2 mile down the trail and something just didn't seem right.  My feet felt odd.  It normally takes me 1-2 miles before I feel warmed up and "into" my run, so I waited for another mile...and I still felt awkward.  In fact, I felt bad running in these shoes.  At the 1.5 mile mark on the trail, I decided to shorten the loop and get back to my car at mile 2.  Things were not right.  I drove home, grabbed my Mizuno Wave Universe shoes, and headed back to the trail parking lot.  Within the first few steps on the trail, I felt great.  I was back to quick, short strides, soft forefoot landings, and simply glided down the trail.  IT WAS THE DARN SHOES holding me back!  The Pearl Izumi Streaks, even though designed as a "racing" shoe, are too much shoe for me. My running form is thrown off by their heel rise and cushioning.  I knew this day was coming...

Over the last year, maybe longer, I have been moving more and more toward minimalist shoes--even barefoot running at times.  Lately, my regular rotation of running shoes is: Mizuno Wave Universe 3, New Balance 790, and three models of FiveFingers (Bikila, TrekSport, and KSO).  I plan on using the Feelmax Osma more as we head into winter--they will substitute for the Vibrams (warmer, but still very minimalist--actually less sole than the VFFs). With this stable of lightweight, minimalist footwear, my older shoes haven't seen much use...and now they are actually a hindrance to my running.  I used to think the Streak was almost "too little" shoe...reserved for speed work and races.  Times change.  So do shoes.  Yesterday I placed the Pearl Izumis next to the garage door.  That means they are leaving the house--either to the trash, Goodwill, or a shoe recycling program. If I get inspired, I might bring them to my local cobbler and see if he can salvage them by removing most of the midsole and zero-dropping them.  They could work if they didn't have a big heel.

Anyway, the Streaks looked lonely next to the garage door, so I went through my collection of shoes and tried on a few "friends from the past" to see how they felt.  The Pearl Izumis now have company on their way out of the house.  See you later, Teva X-1 Racer.  Goodbye, Reebok Taikan IB.  So long, Brooks Axiom.  My Inov-8 Flyroc 310s are staying home...they pleaded to become my new "lightweight hikers." I swear I could see my New Balance 790s nervously shaking...they know the new Minimus Trail shoe is coming in the spring.

This minimalist running thing has ruined my old shoes.  My feet WANT to feel the ground.  My body and mind want to remain connected to the environment, not isolated from it. For now, my actual barefoot running is limited to shorter distances in warm weather.  I need some protection from the ground and inclement weather.  That's why I wear minimalist shoes.  I wonder if my Vibram FiveFingers will eventually seem "too bulky and protective."

What do you do with old running shoes?  Any advice for me?

2 comments:

hydration pack bladder said...

I love your blog, love the idea that you like to feel the ground, and are always looking for the minimalist shoes to help you connect, but still feel protected. About the old shoes, I saw the Nike have some recycling program. Check it out. And... keep running! :)

Chris said...

Yes, Nike and a couple of other places have shoe recycling programs. Some of my shoes are fairly new so I can clean them up and donate to Goodwill. Others need to go into recycling program.