Monday, February 14, 2011

The great shoe experiment

Shoes... running shoes. I spend a lot of coin on running shoes. And lately I've been crazy nutso over the whole deal! (seriously over the top. I have purchased and returned THREE pair now.) My current shoes were purchased in APRIL of 2010. To say they need replaced is a vast understatement and I've known they needed replaced, by my cheap ass self has been waiting to get my Avias ..... and I backed myself into a corner.

Okay to be fair I did go out and buy a pair of shoes a while ago, but when I did my test run in them they were awful! AWFUL. So here is the shoe saga (my life is extremely exciting you see) with my little 'experiment' at the end.

I lose toenails when I run. I get that this is fairly normal, but after my last marathon (Miami 1/31/2010) I lost more than half of them and two were BAD. So I wanted to have my shoes checked out. I had been running in Asics for years... like my whole running career. I had tried some other shoes here and there, but would always return them in favor of the Asics.. I think they were 2010s when I started this journey, but I can't remember. So I waited until we went to Seattle in April because I knew there were some good running stores out there. I explained my situation and the guy put me in Nikes. I was VERY skeptical. I had tried Nikes before with little to no success. And I was a runner... weren't Nikes for like basketball players and gym rats (I can say this bc I am also a gym rat)?

Anyway off I trotted and it took me a while, but I began to like them. Particularly when I had no toe pain and managed to keep all my nails even after longer runs.

Fast forward to the last couple of months. I am again marathon training and now I'm sponsored by Trakkers. I wanted to wait so badly for my new Avias. Time was getting tight so I purchased a pair of Asics (why Asics and not the Nikes I had grown to love? They were cheaper and I knew I would be replacing them w/ Avias. Basically I'm cheap.) I ran in them once and they were like BRICKS. I had become accustomed to the less structure of the Nikes. So the Asics went back and I continued to run in my Nikes. I ordered some Avia Quests from Zappos - too big. They were returned. Back to the Nikes.

Finally I broke down and ordered yet another pair of Avias. This time the Rhythms because it was said that they were more of a neutral shoe than the Quests I had previously ordered.

I did a quick run in these and panicked because they just weren't going to work. They felt like bricks too! (stay with me here) I really wanted to represent our sponsors, but I hadn't received my team shoes yet anyway and I am running a marathon in just over a week. NOT a good time to break in a pair of shoes - YES, I realize this should have been done AT LEAST A month ago. (Do you see the neurosis setting in?)

So off I went to purchase the Nikes. I took my old ones with me this time. OMG!! Any pair of shoes would feel like a brick in comparison to my old blown out Nikes. I didn't realize just how bad it was until I had one OLD shoe and one NEW shoe on. I purchased the Nikes and decided I was going to do a little experiment the next day.

I had a ten mile run on tap and decided I would run the first 5 miles in one pair of shoes then switch for the second 5 miles then choose a winner. Well I screwed myself (Mommy mistake, rolled up to the gym and only had one hour of child watch left. I hadn't originally planned to take a kid, but ...well anyway. It is what it is.)... so I ran for 20 mins in one shoe and 20 mins in the other. Or that was the plan.

I started out in the Avias and all was fine. I mean I felt like I was running in my Danskos, but it was bc I was so accustomed to the NOTHING feel of the Nikes (ya gotta wonder if my aches and pains could be associated w/ the old shoes, eh?). Then I changed into the Nikes. AWFUL. The bottom of my foot immediately lit up with friction and my toes were totally cramped in there. Either my old shoes are SERIOUSLY blow out and even the upper is totally stretched or they changed the design of the shoe. I ran in these about 10 mins before putting the Avias back on.

So there you have it folks. My HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC test. Yes I realize this is very very late in the game and my shoes absolutely will not be broken in for the race..... but I'm doing what I can and I'm super glad that the Avias won out. I love to support the sponsors.

I will give you a full report on the shoe post race. I ordered YET A DIFFERENT pair through the team. The Quest Lite!!! I'll also give you the run down on that pair after I get a chance to test em out.

So two questions for you:
1. can I help break the shoes in by wearing them around. I know walking is different than running and it's not recommended to wear your running shoes around, but wouldn't this help a little in this case?

2. Music or no music? Do you rock the iPod during the marathon???


  1. I'd wear them around the house. They should be good and broken in after about 15-20 total miles in them. Make sure to Tri-Slide up before the race.

    No iPod in Austin. Enjoy the city, crowd and sights, take it all in and don't let the music be a distraction. And it is one less thing you have to worry about.

  2. Laura..
    Honestly, wearing the same shoes for so long likely are the cause of your problems (as you said).
    1)Umm. I would spray my feet with TriSlide pre-race, wearing them might help, but I was thinking you don't know if you have hot spots and it might help avoid blisters...
    2) I never use music when I run. Lots of people love it, but it isn't for me...Do what you think is best for you.

    Good luck!

  3. I'm wearing the quest lites right now as I type this, LOL! Just taught an aerobics class in them. Hoping to do a 6 miler this afternoon, I've yet to run in them. I'm still in the "WTF am I going to do for shoes in the marathon this weekend" boat too. I'll update you tonight ;) So as far as #1 goes, I say yes.
    #2...I don't...but I might this weekend...hmmm....

  4. I'd save them for running - maybe run more often between now and the marathon at lower intensities and shorter duration?

  5. Glad the Avia's ended up working in the end. Shoes can be a frstrating process! :)

    I'm kind of with the other and now music, but I always carry mine incase I start to have a horrible run and then at least I can *try* to make it better. You won't have a terrible run though! enjoy the sights, make a friend or 20, sing outloud.

  6. Because designs change from year to year, even in the same exact model, it's possible Nike went with a new toebox design that was far more narrow than your older pair. Sure, there's additional space in there from the stretch of your old pair, but my guess is the actual footprint of the nikes have been reduced under the toes.

    I have some screwed up feet, and between that and my weight, i work hard to find shoes that fit right. I'm also very cheap (my current work shoes need replacement, i only have brown, no black, and i buy all my shoes at the outlet store). Our triathlon team doesnt have a shoe sponsor, so I've been running recently in new balance because their big factory outlet is a mile away. I been in most brands for a while, but Ive only found success with a very few high end neutral models.

    I wore Avias as a kid because they were the most stylish shoes i could afford in high school, as Nikes were way out of the budget.

  7. I got the Quest Lites too. Not gunna lie, it took a little getting used to them, but after wearing 'em around all day (just walking) they definitely started to break in a little.

    I think I'm also going to try the Bolt for something with a little less stability.

  8. Steph9:54 PM

    I will admit I know absolutely Nothing about breaking in shoes....But, as a music therapist I know some about music =) I had a friend that did a project over the effects of running with and without music. His time with music was less than w/o (Can't remember how significant of a time difference it was). The beat of music helps =)

  9. Honestly not sure what to say about the shoe thing - I don't think wearing them a little to walk in would hurt.

    I quit running with music a little over a year ago (with the exception of warm-ups/cool downs for track interval work) and don't regret it. My coach said that 'music disassociates you from your workout/race' and I totally believe it now. I think it's whatever works for you though because I know people who swear by running with music.