I’m replacing my fleet of running shoes: distance trainers, trail runners and racing flats. It turns out that my feet had grown a bit so the size 9 1/2 weren’t working for me anymore. My toes were getting bruised and blistered, the nails were turning black and falling off. Shoe shopping revealed one thing: shoe designers are huffing too much glue. The colors are completely out of control. And all the gel-flywire-air-free-ride-powergrids make it hard to figure out what you’re getting. I’m on my second pair of Nike Free Run +. There’s just enough to them and no tongue to get in the way.
Over the years, I’ve gone more minimal in my running shoes and I’ve replaced them less and less often. I tend to ignore the research and marketing from “Big Running” about how much motion control and cushioning you need. I also take the child-of-the-wild barefoot/handmade sandals movement with a grain of salt. I’ve heard it all at this point and I’m finding less is more… The ‘less’ structure your shoes provide, the ‘more’ the muscles in your feet and calves have to work — which can lead to injury if you haven’t put the time in to build up all the muscles you need.
I’ve learned this the hard way, especially coming off a season of skiing and not having run for a few months, then ramping up too quickly. That’s why I ran straight through this past winter. That’s why I run the trails, footpaths, soccer fields and rock gardens whenever I can. When your feet and lower leg muscles are solid, you can run through anything. Mine aren’t, so I have to be smart about it.