I've been running a long time, since Summer of 1996 to be exact, before I learned the importance of wearing the right type of shoes. When I first got into it, I didn't know much about the running gait much less what type of running shoes I should be wearing. Sadly, I picked my shoes based on price and well, good looks. Whatever shoes I found on sale, I grabbed. Mostly the limit was $39.99. Such as the life of a cheapskate and/or the ill-informed. I ended up with Asics, since it seemed to go on sale the majority of the time. I would wear it out until the threads are smooth. Needless to say, those shoes would last me two years. Over a span of several years, I had increasing trouble with my knees. That prompted me to see a podiatrist. Dr. Zuber of Berkeley. He gave me some quick lecture about the life of the shoes and he gave me some custom made orthotics that cost me $270. At the time, that was crazy money, and insurance didn't even cover it. Today I still wear these orthotics. It held up pretty well.
I remember the first time I ever walked into a running specialty store, Transports in Berkeley, near the campus. Newly informed that I need motion control shoes for my over pronation, the salesperson tried to put me in a pair of Saucony Progrid Stabil. I didn't know much about the brand at the time, but he reassured me it was big in the running world. I put it on and I thought they were mighty comfortable but they just looked chunky and made my legs look big. How vain was that? I walked out of there with a New Balance 851. I stuck with NB for a couple of years and I love it. Well only until I had that I- want-to-try-something-new" feeling came back again.
It was my "try-something-new" attitude that made me switch over to other brands. There was nothing wrong with NB, I wanted to try a different pair, find out what I was missing. After all, there have been so much advancement in the design and engineering of the shoes. Which one of you shoes, will make me fly? I wouldn't know unless I tried, right?
Fast forward to my marathoning years: I've tried, Mizunos, Sauconys, Brooks, and I went back to Asics. For a good long haul there I had no complaints with any stability model of Saucony: the Guide, Xodus, Triumph and the Omni. Still in search of the best fitting shoe, I switched over to other brands. The last three consecutive pairs of shoes I've bought have all been disappointments. First, it was the Brooks Ravenna. This was the fist time I bought a pair 1/2 a size up from my normal street shoes. (I know I am a little slow to this tip. No wonder my foot was always beat up after a long run!) Even though this was 1/2 bigger, it still was too small which felt like it as a 6 1/2. I had to slit a hole on the side, to give my toes room. I bit the bullet and just tried to make do. Next time, I know better. Brooks tend to be on the smaller side.
|Ravenna, you are not true to size, but you did accompany me to my PR in NY.|
|The hole helped my pinky toes a little bit|
When Saucony came out with their minimalist version, the Kinvara, I was swept by all the rave. The reviews were great. I've had Saucony for years and had no problem, why would this be any different? I had high hopes for these shoes. My excitement got so intense that when I finally saw this shoes in person the day before the the NY marathon, I almost pulled the trigger. My running buddy Heidi had to hold me back from my drunken "I-want-to- buy-this-now-and-wear-it-tomorrow-for-the-marathon" stupor. To me, the new shoes smell was akin to the smell of a brand new car. It was too overwhelming. I almost fell into the trap of wearing new shoes in the marathon. Cooler heads prevailed and I waited to buy the shoes. I sized up to a full 7 1/2 this time. Unfortunately, the shoes did not live to its hype.
I exclusively wore the Kinvaras just for track and speed workouts. I found out that beyond 5-6 miles, my feet became unhappy, swollen and I felt every gravel on the road. It never got comfortable. Maybe I needed to give it a break in period, so I did just that. How weird, I thought because all my other Sauconys never required me to do that. I was in denial and thought these had to be my good shoes. The reviews said so, never minding that my feet were unhappy. It got to a point that they started to feel uncomfortable the moment I put them on. After months of black pinky toes that never seem to disappear, I've finally came to the conclusion that the Kinvaras were not made for my feet. There was no give on the toe off. When my foot was flexed, my pinkies ended up being jammed on the side of the shoe. Moreover, there is a stiff plastic piece holding the netting which I thought this was the source of the problem. (The Kinvara 2 still have the same design.) I wondered how many people are affected by this. I couldn't possibly be the only one?
|Bye, Kinvaras, it was good while it lasted.|
Surprisingly, one brand I've never tried before is Nike. On the other hand, Heidi has been a fan forever, for as long as she's been a runner. And she's one of those runners who will buy in bulk to stock up if and when her model of shoes goes on sale. She is a loyal fan. Her motto, "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" She gave me her old pair of Pegasus to try before I invest on a new pair myself. Her old pair still has 200 miles left on them. It felt good to run without my pinkies screaming in pain. What's more, finally I won't have black pinky toes anymore, well until these two grow out. Ewww.
|The blue Pegs are from Heidi, the saucy red one is reserved for NY and CIM|