Monday, April 2, 2012

Shoe Review

Trying to find the right running shoe is just like goldy locks and the three bears.... you have to find one that's juuuust right.  I was WELL over due for a new pair of shoes.  My current pair was so worn out I could take the toe and bend it back to the laces... (Note: that is NOT good...and probably the cause of some recent hip pain--only time and a Dr.'s visit will tell)  So last week I was on a mission to find a new pair of running shoes.

well...kinda like that, but for shoes.

Here's my rules for buying running shoes.

1. Go to a running specialty store.  Usually everyone who works there are serious runners.  They love this sport and they know their gear.  Running specialty stores usually will watch you walk (to see if your pronate etc) and run in a your shoes to determine the level of support you may need.  The store I go to even had a camera set up to watch your feet on a tread mill, which you can watch on a tv in front of you while you're running or they can then play back in slow motion to really show you your stride.

2. Go later in the day so your feet have had time to expand. 

3.  Listen to the sales clerk when he tells you to go up a half or possibly whole size.  Your feet may expand even more during a run, you want the room. 

4. Don't shop for name brand, color or style.  Go for fit and feel.  But...but... I only every wear (insert brand here).  Get over being stuck on a big name brand.  You and your new shoes are going to travel a lot of miles together they need to support your feet properly, not look pretty or be the hottest shoe on the market.

For the past few years I've been happily running in brooks, glycerin's to be exact.  But I always make a point to try on a few different brands to see if maybe this time something else will work for me.

First up was the asics GEL-Nimbus 13

I don't know what it is about asics.  Some runners swear by them, but for me they just don't work.  I feel like they have too much cushion and my feet sink right into them instead of being supported.   Once again I had to give asics a pass.

Next up, Mizuno Wave Rider 15

These shoes had nice support.  But the sale clerk warned me that Mizuno's were cut narrow, so they hugged the center of my foot, more like squeezed the center of my foot...uncomfortably.   If you have a narrow foot or you like the feeling of your foot being hugged then these are the shoes for you.  They didn't work for me though because of that, I could see them becoming painful to run in.

On to... Newtons Lady Issac

Newtons have a whole different philosophy on running shoes than your average brand.  Their idea is at the core of the minimalist running movement.  Newtons place more support on the forefoot of the shoot, where one should naturally strike the ground first if you were running barefoot.  Most of us, and yes myself included heel strike, meaning the heal hits the ground first then follows through to the toe.
This video can show you the difference between a heel strike and a fore strike:

Newton's shoes are designed to get you running lighter on your feet by providing that extra cushion on the fore strike area which will promote using a fore strike and not a heel strike. Current research is still being done on this and whether or not it's really beneficial to the joints, but the general thought is that a fore strike creates less impact on knees and hips.   Newtons were also given a big write up in last months issue of runner's world magazine.  I highly recommend reading if your interested in this style of running.  I am really intrigued by the idea but I'm also mid-way through half marathon training again.  I just don't know if it's a good time for me to attempt to completely over haul how I run when I'm trying to increase my mileage weekly.   Usually if you go from a regular running shoe to "minimal" shoes you have to start your mileage back at walking around the block essentially and build yourself up.  It's the wrong time for me to go in that direction so I'm putting these on the back burner for now, but I have a feeling I might be investigating them again further soon.

So what did I end up with?

If it ain't baroque don't fix it! (Or so they say.)  This model of brooks have gotten me through two half marathons and countless other lower milage races.   I've trained a couch to 5k group in them, ran 10k's, 5 milers and my weekly 6-7 mile runs.  They work for me.  The cushion is just firm enough, very roomy in the toes.  I ran an 8 mile hill run this weekend, my hip bothered me after but it was gone in a day and I was able to get out and run around the soccer field the following evening.  I am still going to an orthopedic doctor just to make sure there isn't something serious underlying, but after one long training run in these my recovery time for my legs was just a day.

So yes, I highly recommend brooks, but ONLY if they're the shoe for you.  Who knows asics, mizuno or the newtons could be the right fit.  We all have different feet.

Also... some other running gear I can't live with out:
  • CEP Compression sleeves.  I swear by these, any calf cramps that start to pop up during my runs, these puppies keep them at bay. 
  • Feetures running socks.  Arch hugging LOVE is what I call them.  I'm all for a good arch hugging sock
And that's about it... I could go on about shirts, shorts and hydration system, but the most important tools for a runner are good fitting shoes and a good pair of wicking socks (stay away from cotton, cotton = damp from sweat = blisters! Trust me on this)