Throughout my years (upon years) of running, I’ve been through a fair amount of shoes. At some points, I joked that I should buy stock in Brooks because I owned so many pairs of their shoes. The first race that I remember was the 800 in the sixth grade track meet. After than I ran cross country and track in junior high, where we ran 1.5 miles for cross country (and oh how far that felt…) and I ran the 800 and 1600 in track. Not well, mind you. I just wanted to go sub-7 in the mile.
All while wearing shoes from Payless and a track uniform that certainly had some drag.
When I entered high school, I got my first pair of real running shoes. We went to the local running store – Running Unlimited, which I think is now closed, or at least looked closed last time I drove past when I was home. They fitted me for shoes, and I went with a pair of Asics. I remember not liking them very much because I ended up getting shin splints, which looking back was more related to the fact that I went from junior high running to high school running than the school itself. I thought I gave up on Asics after that, but apparently I ran in them for one more cross country season. (I didn’t run track my freshman year – tried my hand at the softball team and learned I wasn’t cut out to play on the high school team past freshman year.)
Enter track sophomore year when I was on a quest to break SIX minutes in the mile. In indoor track, I ran 6:00.02, which probably would have meant sub-6 on an outdoor track because there aren’t as many turns. On the last day of outdoor track (JV conference meet), I finally ran 5:58. I was wearing Nikes (grey with a yellow swoosh).
Junior year cross country it looks like I went back to Asics, although as of a few minutes ago, I would still swear to you that I only ran in Asics for one season. Sorry for the hate, Asics. Junior year track, I decided I want to mix up my shoes a bit. My training buddy (Lisa – she ran the 800 and 1600, I did the 1600 and 3200, but we did most workouts together) ran in Brooks Adrenaline. We often would show up to track practice wearing the exact same outfit, and after a few months of her raving about her shoes, I decided to get them too. (They were also fitted to me, so no worries there.) I finished out my high school running care in the Brooks Adrenaline.
I also ran my entire college running life in college in the Brooks Adrenaline – stick with what works! This was all good until 2010 when I was training for my first Boston and my IT band was a mess. Since it had been about eight years since I had been fitted for shoes, I went to a running store where I was living in Pennsylvania and got fitted. Turns out the Adrenaline was a little too much for me, so I moved to the Ravenna which I have been happily running in ever since.
I did have Kelly look at my gait a few years ago when she worked at a running store, and she said the Ravenna was fine for me, but I could also get away more neutral shoe. (One leg looked neutral, the other needed some support.) I bought a pair of the Saucony Ride although my ankles seemed to hurt if I did anything too long in them, so I stuck with the Ravenna. I do have a pair of the Brooks Pure Cadence which I’ve put a few hundred miles on and like to mix it up a bit.
After this long run of injuries – hip surgery to fix labral tears and impingements and this ongoing calf situation, I decided it was time to get my form looked at again. I went to Jack Rabbit during a week day last week, and I was the only one in the store. The guy in the store put me on the treadmill in a neutral shoe and videotaped me. The video showed I have a perfectly neutral gait – maybe all that physical therapy has paid off? (Note: I have no idea if that’s related or not. Maybe you just change over time.)
He pointed out a bunch of different shoes that he’d recommend for me, and I picked a few to try on. The New Balance Zante, Saucony Freedom, and a pair of Asics (which he recommended because it was a little different than the other two). Put them on, walked around, and ran on the treadmill.
I immediately ruled out the Asics – not because of my history with them, but they felt like a lot of shoe, if that makes sense. I debated between the New Balance and the Saucony shoe. The Freedom feels like you’re wearing a really cushioned sock. Very different than anything I’ve run in or even tried on before. The New Balance shoe was very light definitely felt like much less shoe than I’m used to wearing, but I liked it. I debated between the two for a few minutes, but I decided to go with the New Balance Zante because it felt pretty good and I thought the Saucony was a little too far out there for me right now. (Also, the Freedom is $160, which I didn’t know at the time. The New Balance were $100, so a little easier to swallow there.)
I should also note that the first shoe he put me in to look at my gait was the Nike Pegasus, and I really liked them – I might actually buy them as a second shoe. A little more shoe than the New Balance, but they felt really good to run in.
I’ve done a few runs in the new shoes, and I really like them! I have put on the Brooks Ravenna on a few times as well because I didn’t want to fully transition to a new shoe, and I can really tell that the Zante is much less shoe than the Ravenna. I think my calf likes them better too – definitely still have some pain in my calf, although it still feels looser than before. (Waiting to hear back from the PA about repeating injections.)
I’ve never run in New Balance before (minus one pair of cross country spikes which I didn’t use all that often), so I’m excited about trying a new brand. I had thought about telling them about my love for Brooks, but with all these injuries, I wanted to be open to something new. So far, so good.
How often do you get your gait looked at? Do you mix up your shoes or do you have a trusty favorite?