After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

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Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Quest for the Mythical Perfect Running Shoe

photo from Amazon.com
Like most runners, I have shoes stuffed in the closet, under my bureau, in boxes, out in the garage, squirreled away in my truck, gym locker and have given away shoes to the neighbor, Goodwill and found other creative ways to get rid of perfectly good shoes, simply because they were not what I was looking for. 

Also if I got rid of them, it meant that I had to get more. Plus The Wife doesn't complain as much that way, if she doesn't see a huge pile of running shoes laying around the house.

An expensive way of doing business, but one that many, many runners seem to go through all too often and are very familiar with. 

The Wife thinks knows I am crazy and have a running shoe obsession and you know something she is right.

Although I am finally willing to acknowledge, admit, accept, (sort of) and all those other funky words we use to tell ourselves that "we know" that the reality is different from what we want it to be. 

At the same time I know that I keep looking and am ever-hopeful that I will someday find that perfect running shoe

Running shoes are either the greatest thing since sliced bread or the bane of a runner's existence, especially when they are in the midst of the annual (or monthly in my case) running shoe crisis, where nothing feels right on your feet and the brand/style you love has been updated to something you no longer can run in.

Or worse, you were recently injured and you are blaming the running shoes (even if your recent training was more on the stooopid side) for the injury. Now you have to get a new pair of running shoes that allow you to run through the injury and keep those miles piling up.

Yeah, we've all been there, done that.

Finding Pot of Gold

The problem with running shoes to me and many other runners, is that it is like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and it is a different rainbow for every runner. 

What works great for someone else, doesn't work at all for you. 

A Moving Target

Then there is the reality and yes it is reality that our bodies change as we get older and the styles of running shoes that worked great for us in the "glory days", probably ain't worth a shit now.

I know that I loved my Blue Adidas Marathon Trainers with the Dillinger Web back in the 80's and owned 3-4 pair of them that all went over 500 miles. However, a couple of years ago, I picked up a pair of re-production of Adidas Marathon Trainer II's (close to the same shoe) and did the same things I did to the Blue one's and you know something I didn't even get 20 miles on them before I gave up and moved on. 

My body had changed from that guy that ran in the Adidas back in the 1980's to who I am now.

So just because you had a great shoe that you loved in the past, it doesn't mean that your body will love it as much as it did back then. You have probably suffered too many injuries, gained/lost weight several times and yeah like the middle age spread that your abs have experienced, more than likely your feet have done the same thing (gotten wider).

That means that finding that elusive "perfect" running shoe for you is an even more difficult endeavor, because you cannot rely on the principle that what worked in the past is going to work for you today.

Which sucks.

Then you got the whole brand updating your favorite style/model with "improvements" that make it so you cannot wear the damn shoes, but that is a whole different post of its own.

So what do runners do?

If you are like me, you piss, whine and moan about how your much your current shoes suck, are doing this or not doing that for you, then you go out and buy, beg, or borrow other models that interest you to see if they are that "perfect" running that you are looking for.

It becomes a never ending cycle.

That means you have that closet FULL of running shoes, you hide the latest pair of budget busters from your spouse, have some squirreled away where they won't think to look and come up with some pretty amazing stories to justify the need for those wonderful new shoes that you just had to have - this time. If you are lucky, their eyes will just glaze over, as you describe your latest and greatest pair of running shoes and ignore your ranting and ravings.

I do know that like too many runners, I have spent a small fortune while trying to find that mythical and illusive perfect shoe.

What does my "perfect" running shoe sort of look like?

As I have grown older, I am finding that for my daily trainers I like:

  • lighter-weight shoes (around 8-10 oz), 
  • wide toe box,
  • with a narrow heel cup (but not a lot of structure), 
  • a slight touch of so-called motion control features, 
  • have a cushioned feel, 
  • rockered sole, 
  • minimal overlays and stretchy upper material
  • a multi-purpose outsole

Yeah, that is where I start...it doesn't mean that my actual "perfect" running shoe will actually look anything like that, but those are the features that seem to work best for me and what I tend to look for in a shoe.

The other thing that my mythical "perfect" running shoe must achieve is repeatability. You know that you find a pair of running shoes that feel and fit great, you run fantastic in them and then the next time you get your current perfect shoe, it doesn't fit or feel the same, even though it is the same brand/model/style/color.

Which really ruins your day

I think that this might be the hardest part of finding the "perfect" running shoe, because I have had many great running shoes, that I couldn't repeat the same positive experience in the second or third pair I got of them, that I had in the first pair (Hoka Clifton's come to mind).

Which sucks and I put down to differences manufacturing tolerances in a pair of shoes that might be slightly different from run to run, different colorway or even which person assembled the shoe, but are noticeable to us picky runners.

The reality is that

I have run in literally hundreds of running shoes and have learned a lot about straight lasts, curved lasts, semi-curved lasts, uppers, insoles, midsoles, outsoles, blown rubber, hard rubber, velcro, laces/no laces, BOA lacing, pronation, supination, flat feet, high arches, motion control, dual density, EVA, Dillinger Web, racing flats, light weight trainers, track shoes and all so many other "techno buzz words" that have been used to describe running shoes over the last 40 years.

However, the reality is that I have not found that mythical perfect running shoe, despite my ongoing quest and best efforts to do so. Although, I will admit that I have run in some very good shoes and some that work better for me than others have. Unfortunately, they have all had a particular feature, defect or the brand "improved" the model to the point that made it so that I kept searching.

Do I believe that there is a perfect running shoe out there for me?

Yes, I do and someday I will find it.

I gotta believe.

However, until then I will continue to piss, moan and groan about my current running shoes (how they are great for while and then how they suck after a while), blame them for things that are not their fault, then buying/getting/trying yet another pair of running shoes to see if they are "that perfect" running shoes.

Then repeat.

So yes the quest for the mythical perfect running shoe - for me...continues.

I have a feeling my title for this quest should be: The Never Ending Story, but that title has already been taken - right Falcor and Atreau.

After all they are both mythology or is that Fantasy.
  • What is the closest you have come to finding your mythical perfect running shoe?
  • What do you look for when you buy a pair of running shoes?
  • Which running shoe is your favorite running shoe of all-time, even if it isn't perfect?
Now wear (I know where) is that damn new shoe review for the 2016 running shoes!!!!!  ;-) 

See you outside running - probably in something that ain't perfect, but hopefully something that let's me run without too many issues or too much whining about how they are.

Originally published on One Foot in Reality, © 2011-2015 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harold Shaw or Mary Shaw and One Foot In Reality with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.

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