Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The continuing adventure of finding the right pair of running shoes

I'm still alive.  And running (somewhat). And doing other stuff like yoga and, this term, pilates (which I really like and has turned out to be really helpful).

And still looking for that perfect pair of running shoes.

Right now I'm in a happy relationship with my current pair of Saucony Kinvara 5.  They are so light and they are extremely comfy.  I've not run in them on concrete a lot so I don't know how they will fare out in the summer time (honestly when did I get them?), but on the whole they are on the more minimal and less supportive side of the shoe rainbow.  Which was one of the reasons why I waited almost a year between reading the first (rave) review about them and finally getting a pair.

In December I was in Boston for a play and on the way there I stopped by the Marathon store to see if the nice people there would have any new insight into my (current line of) perfect running shoes.  This stemmed from a panic episode I had earlier that year over the fact that Saucony no longer sells Kinvara 5s and instead only carries Kinvara 6s.  Honestly my feet really can't tell the difference between 5 and 6 from just trying the 6 on for 2 minutes in the store, but since they are new, they were more expensive and my wallet didn't like it.  And since my feet are kind of strange I didn't want to take the chance of having to go through a whole new cycle of finding another pair of good running shoes so I tried to search elsewhere for another pair of 5 that I could squirrel away.  I finally managed to find a brand new pair on eBay that was also my size and I pretty much paid the same price as my first pair, but at that point I didn't even care anymore, because instead of being leftover bargains they've become antiques and collectibles.  This is really annoying.  From a business perspective I can understand why shoe companies would want to come up with new models every season to sell to avid runners, but at the same time the changes they make are not always for the better and we runners don't really want to spend the time and effort and money to constantly worry about what shoes are the best.  And for people with weird feet like me (I can't wear any Nike shoes and my right foot is just way pickier and more prone to strange injuries), it's extra time consuming.

So i went to that store.  The store clerk lady was extremely nice and friendly and helpful and in the end we decided that the Saucony Hurricane Iso is a good fit for me.  I didn't buy them in the end because I still have two pairs of Kinvara 5s I need to run through and I didn't want to pay full price for shoes (now they are in a sweet spot of being bargain but not quite vintage state because the Hurricane Iso 2 is out, and I'm seriously debating whether I want to get a pair).  In the end I got a pair of Superfeet insoles (which I don't like anymore and are now sitting pathetically in the back corner of my gym locker).  I was shown them because I was told that the Kinvaras, which I love, has basically no support and for someone with my weight and feet I need arch support.  I was (and still) am confused because on the one hand I'm so happy in my no-support shoes and so far I have no Kinvara-related injuries, but on the other hand I'm afraid if it's a time bomb waiting to go off because of the lack of support my running shoes carry.  Right now I'm really not running that much so it's not a big problem but when it gets warmer and I'm running longer and harder on harder ground maybe it would come back and haunt me.

Plus now I don't even remember what was so great about the Hurricane Isos other than they didn't feel weird when I tried them on and ran half a block in them.

But then again, the first time I went into the Marathon store I came out with the conclusion that Brooks Dyad (7) was a good fit for me.  I have wide feet and need support and the Brooks were like a pair of tanks for my feet.  I ended up getting them online and ran in them for about a month before realizing that there was something seriously off about them.  They started to hurt my feet really bad and twice I had seriously considered getting rid of them on eBay.

I have since found out the reason and am now wearing them as my everyday walking shoes.  Shame, walking shoes should not cost this much.

First of all they were too small.  They were size 8.5, which is what I normally wear.  When I tried them on in the store I was given a pair of 8.5 and they were slightly roomy so I ignored the pervasive advice that i should buy running shoes half a size larger.  I didn't know it for a while but they were indeed too small.

Second, there was something seriously wrong about the insoles. Instead of staying put in the shoe for me to step on they like to come up with my foot and it not only created a strange sensation but was not good for my arches.  I tried to replace them once and after taking them out I found that they are the thickest, cushiest pair of insoles I've ever seen.  They are thick, cushy, and felt really comfy when you poke and squeeze them, and they look so cool that I didn't have the heart (or felt the need) to replace them.  I've recently switched them out and replaced them with the insoles that came from another pair of shoes I replaced a pair of Dr. Scholl's with.  And now I'm able to wear my Brooks comfortably (for everyday wear), mostly because I created more room in the shoe, and because I got rid of the weird vacuum insoles.

I tried to put them to good use elsewhere.  Today I tried to put them in my Kinvara 5 so they wouldn't be completely support-less but not as hard and uncomfortable as the Superfeet insoles.  It did not go well.  They took up way to much room in the shoe; they were too small so my arches were very uncomfortably supported, and it was overall just a very bad idea.  They are now sitting among a bunch of used paper towels in the garbage can of the women's locker room of the gym.  I still feel bad because they are so cushy and substantive, but apparently this is a bad thing.  Maybe I just can't have very cushy insoles.  Support, maybe, but not cushy.  So there.

I'm still constantly experimenting, and trying to put everything I own into some good use.  Right now the best option is still my Kinvara 5, without any modifications. I am financially capable of buying the Hurricane Iso and experiment them but the consideration is not money, but excess.  I have a problem when it comes to shoes. I want to buy all of them! Especially ones that should be good fit for me! But technically I really don't need any (yea yea you should rotate your shoes yada yada), and the truth is I really don't have any more room in my apartment (or my gym locker, for that matter) to have another pair of shoes (I recently threw out a pair of casual walking shoes and bought another pair of new casual walking shoes before successfully turning my Brooks into something useable so I'm already regretting that decision).  Reason simultaneously tells me that I should buy them (shoe rotation, etc) and not buy them (no they are not terribly expensive but no I also don't really need them).  Plus I'm not that even a heavy runner!  It's not like I run a 5K everyday or in the middle of training for a marathon or something.  I've just forced myself to go back to running and right now I do about 1.5 miles at a time after my gym classes and I haven't done any runs longer than that in months!  Maybe I should just stop obsessing over running shoes and just work with what I have.

My only fear is that by the time I'm ready for another pair of shoes the Hurricane Isos will become dinosaurs and the new models will suck.

Oh well, such is life.  And there's always that extra pair of Kinvara 5 that will carry me through any tough times.

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