Monday, March 2, 2009

Running Shoes.......

I have been in search of the perfect running shoe ever since I bought my first real pair of running shoes back in 92. They were a pair of Asics Gel Ultra's. I still remember how comfortable they were and how soft the cushioning was, like running on marshmallows and boy did I feel fast in them.

I bought them from Perry at his original Run N Fun store in Apple Valley. I have been buying items at Run N Fun ever since. Why because Perry treated me like a customer and didn't appear to judge me because I wasn't a 140 lb runner but simply a guy looking to start a running program. Perry took the time to talk to me and he made me feel welcome. I had my little girl with me (yes the one who is about to graduate from college who was six at the time) and he chatted with her and even gave her a head band to keep her occupied as he patiently helped me, the bottom line, good customer service is almost always appreciated. I had previously stopped by GBS and Marathon Sports and felt so out of place. I had walked in and looked around and then left without talking to anyone outside of getting some odd glances. It was probably more my insecurity about being where I didn't belong than the young sales clerks who I remember just looking at me funny.

Back to running shoes, I just bought my 67th pair, they were a pair of North Face Rucky Chucky's. I bought them from were I have bought 3 pairs of trail shoes over the last year or so. I have been buying trail shoes online as many of the local running stores usually only sale 1 or 2 brands and they usually are the tweener types, you know like the Asics Gel 2140 trail and every time I do, I feel guilty.

Through the years, I have many favorite shoes, usually they start out good and work their way to mediocre. Occaisionally they start out mediocre and work their way to good. Not that I track my shoes (ok I do, along with a whole bunch of mostly useless information and stats) anyway, here are my top favorites by mileage:
  1. Vasque Velocty - 535 miles
  2. Saucony Jazz 5000 - 504 miles
  3. Asics 2110 - 490 miles
  4. Saucony Jazz 4000 - 460 miles
I have had many other shoes, some that flat didn't work out like the following (I should add that these were all great shoes, they just didn't work for me):
  1. Adidas Supernova - caused heel issues
  2. Nike Air Max Triax - major achilles issue
  3. Asics 2040 - caused arch blisters on any run > 5 miles
  4. New Balance 853 - rubbed the top of my foot causing blisters
And I have tried quite a few different brands, most were road shoes but lately I have been buying pretty much trail shoes:
  1. New Balance
  2. Saucony
  3. Asics
  4. Adidas
  5. Mizuno
  6. North Face
  7. Montrail
  8. Vasque
  9. Brooks
  10. Nike
If you want to know who I have shown the most brand loyalty below are the stats and I can explain the why fairly quickly about the top two. I have a Saucony foot (narrow heel, wide forefoot) which is a big reason they are the number one but I used to try to only buy shoes made in the USA. Which had me going back and forth between New Balance and Saucony. I am pretty sure that they are all made overseas now.
  • Brooks - 1
  • North Face - 1
  • Vasque - 2
  • Adidas - 3
  • Mizuno - 3
  • Montrail - 3
  • Nike - 4
  • Asics - 11
  • New Balance - 14
  • Saucony - 25
So today what am I running in, first I should say I am working on retiring two pairs fairly soon (otherwise I may have more explaining to do to my wife :-) so here is what I am running in:
  1. North Face Rucky Chucky (brand new)
  2. Montrail Continental Divide (100 to 200 miles left)
  3. Vasque Mercury (almost done)
  4. Asics 2120 (about shot)
  5. New Balance 767 (100 miles left)
I do like having two to three pairs in my rotation and running trails has changed things a bit as do I have two pairs of trail shoes and two pairs of road shoes, I am still working on that but I always want two options for any race that is getting close. How do I know how many miles on my shoes, if it isn't obvious I do track my shoes fairly closely and I do work to rotate out my road shoes between 300-400 miles and trail shoes between 400-500 miles. This formula has kept me from injuries for the most part but I can say that when I feel pain for more than one or two runs, my answer is to switch shoes.

Finally which ones have been my all time favs, all of my high mileage shoes would make the list and here are a few others that might bring back some memories.
  • Saucony Grid Sensation
  • Saucony Grid Omni
  • Saucony Grid 8000
  • New Balance 851
  • New Balance 700
  • Mizuno Alchemy
So what has caused me to wear so many different shoes, I have changed (compensation for injuries, weight, shoe size going from a 10 1/2 to a 13, etc...), the running shoes have changed (marketing..........). I have shopped at TC Running (I still think of them as Run N Fun West), Start Line, Gear, Marathon Sports, Runners Edge, GBS and probably a few other stores over the years. I was always willing to try what they sold as I figured that I should try other brands to see if they worked better. My thinking was that maybe the shoes could get me to a sub 20 5k, sub 4 hour marathon, they never did but it was fun to see the difference they could make. Maybe now it's my shoes that have slowed me down, it couldn't be my training or my age, could it?

I do have to admit that I love reading about shoes, I like switching them around, I like seeing how they work the trails with me, how they work on roads, how they work on ice, in rain, how they drain, how hot are they in the summer or cold in the winter and so many other things that I know I will continue the journey until maybe just maybe, I will find the perfect shoe for me.


SeriousRunning said...

Wow, that's a lot of great information on the shoes you have worn. You have definitely tried out a lot of different pairs. I find that I typically go through 2-3 pairs of the same type of running shoe before changing due to not being able to find old versions of the shoe or sometimes because I simply want to find a better shoe. Aren't we always searching for something better out there?

Often my new shoes don't initially feel as comfortable as my older pairs but I guess that's why you have to "break in" new shoes. Maybe shoe companies should start offering "already broken in" shoes. I just got a new pair of TEVAs X-1 Control 2 trail running shoes and really liked them. You can check out my review at

SteveQ said...

When they stopped making the Asics Jayhawks in the mid-80's, I bought a dozen pair in my size. I never found a pair I liked as much again.

I've noticed my track spikes are size 9 1/2 and my trail shoes 11 1/2. That's a big range.

I used to get 1/3 off at Run N Fun, then 30%, 20%, now 10% and my loyalty went the same way.

RunWesty said...

SeriousRunning - I will take a look at your review.

Steve - you know you are right, the discount has gone down over the years I figured it was my memory fading so thanks for noting it and alleviating my guilt.

Devin said...

My first pair of running Finish Line was Asics. Which I got from Finish Line.

Drusy said...

This post makes me feel a lot better about my shoe collection! I've tried to keep it to two pairs of road shoes and two pairs of trail shoes, but I've got rejects I'm not found a home for yet. I never really can tell in the shop if the shoes suit me - its often a couple of weeks later that I realize that they are too tight, too sloppy or have initiated a new ache or pain. My daughter's size 7 friends are often offered a pair of nearly new running shoes when they visit...



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