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A Bunch of Running Shoes

  • Thursday, December 08 2011 @ 02:24 AM UTC
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Running and Fitness

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A few people have asked how many shoes I have. Ever since running became one of my primary recreational activities, shoes have become a significant hobby of mine. I used to spend money on things like video games and computer gadgets. Now I spend money on shoes.

Here is a picture of all of the shoes that I originally bought for the purpose of running (Oops! Missing from the photo are Nike Free Run+ which I gave away. Also missing are my bare feet!):

Pictured Top Row (from Left to Right): Mizuno Wave Universe 3 (MWU3), Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) Bikila, New Balance Minimus Road MR10, Adidas Kanadia 3, Invisible Shoes huarache sandals

Pictured Bottom Row (from Left to Right): Soft Star Shoes RunAmoc DASH Smooth, Soft Star RunAmoc LITE, Soft Star Moc3, Inov-8 Bare-X 150, Altra Instinct, Altra Instinct black, Altra Adam, Altra Lone Peak

And here is the mileage that I have on each shoe:
286 mi Altra Instinct
238 mi Barefoot
225 mi VFF Bikila
207 mi Mizuno Wave Universe 3
189 mi Soft Star Moc3
159 mi Nike Free Run+
95 mi Adidas Kanadia 3
45 mi Soft Star RunAmoc DASH Smooth
39 mi New Balance Minimus Road MR10
39 mi Inov-8 Bare-X 150
38 mi Soft Star RunAmoc LITE
22 mi Invisible Shoes Huarache Sandals
13 mi Altra Instinct Black
9 mi Altra Adam
5 mi Altra Lone Peak

Some of them did not work so well for running and have become casual shoes.

I now believe that what we wear on our feet when we are *not* running is supremely important. I wear almost exclusively zero drop shoes (sole at heel and forefoot are the same height / thickness) and much of the time I am wearing thin-soled minimalist shoes. Pictured here are the shoes I most frequently wear to work or nights/weekends, which include Altra Adams, Sanuk "sandal" shoes, and Soft Star moccasins:

And then... it's race time! I have raced barefoot and it sure is fun. However, lately I have been focusing on speed and hitting some specific performance goals. I just don't spend enough time barefoot to build up the footpads that I would need to race at top speed on paved surfaces. I want a friction barrier under my foot when I am seriously racing. I don't want to think about my feet when my lungs are burning and my legs are going numb. Shoes are tools, and when it comes time to race I want the best tool for the job. For me, this means the lightest shoe possible with just enough protection given the racing surface, has enough room in the toe box, feels secures on my foot, and of course does not interfere with my running technique (e.g. it has to be Zero Drop). Given that general criteria, here are the shoes that I have been racing in lately:

I absolutely still do barefoot running when I can, but since most of my training runs are before dawn or after dark, I am usually wearing some protection on my feet. My favorite training shoes at this point are the Soft Star Moc3 and the Altra Instinct:

Many new zero drop shoes are going to be hitting the market in the coming months and 2012 is going to be a great year for natural running footwear. I'm looking forward to seeing the first shoes from Skora hit the market. Existing companies in this space will continue to release new and improved models. I'm watching Altra Zero Drop Footwear, the Merrell Barefoot and Inov-8 Bare-X lines closely. New Balance will be releasing the first zero drop versions of the Minimus. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.
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