The Taming Of the Shoe(s)

I have amassed quite a shoe collection. No, not Jimmy Choo’s. Those are for people who hate their feet. I luuuurve my feet, in all of their ugly splendor. They run all the miles! Not at the moment. But soon…

I have 10 pairs of running shoes. TEN! Oh snap, I’m closer to Imedla Marcos than I thought. They all sit in a corner of the guest room, under a rack holding hats, medals, headphones, and assorted running sundry.

running shoes, injury

Just one little tremor, and it’s all going down. That’s an overflowing box of teacher books holding it up.

Here’s the kicker, none of those shoes I use for RUNNING…anymore. Oh god, it’s less Imelda and more Hoarders. Many of my early worn-out running shoes I DID giveaway to charities & what not. I think they were Asics? Maybe Brooks? Lordy, I can’t even remember. Definitely DSW clearance specials. I can explain the rest of these sins with a good annotated photo. Let’s have it:

running shoes, injury

That’s what I have left.

Some I clearly need to part with, others I just can’t bear too. I was really digging the Brooks Launch, until they decided to discontinue it in 2011. I switched to Brooks PureFlows, and ran successfully through a couple of pairs (see purple lawn-mowing shoes above). I was doing just fine, until my toe problem (which I didn’t realize was a toe problem at the time) popped up last summer, and around the same time, the ole’ plantar fascitiis roared back. I got some orthotics to deal with the PF, but started thinking about other kinds of shoes, I don’t know why. A shoe version of wanderlust? I think maybe I was concerned about running long marathon miles in the PureFlows, I just didn’t think they were hefty enough (CUE FORESHADOWING MUSIC), but I didn’t know what I needed.

The Ons, BTW, were fine for my first marathon in 2012, and even though the marathon itself kinda sucked, it wasn’t because of the shoes. They were cushioned, but they just didn’t envelop and caress my feet like I want them to be enveloped and caressed. The second pair of Ons (the orange ones) are basically a pair of racing flats (super lightweight next-to-nothing shoes) made for track, mostly. What I was thinking, I’ll never know.

I received the pair of Sauconys as part of winning an entry in Another Mother Runner’s Ragnar Relay team, and I really liked them…for a while. By the fall, my feet were swelling from the long runs, and they were just not wide enough. But they’re pretty, so they stay. They might become ‘Round Town shoes #2.

Trying to buy ahead when things are on sale lead to the unused black PureCadances, and a Ragnar friend gave me the white and purple barely-used PureFlows because at the time I thought I would use them. Into the collection they went!

In a hail-mary purchase about a month before the Philly Marathon last November, I bought a pair of Brooks Ghosts, wanting to up the cushioning. They got me through, and now I use them for Crossfit. But they’re weren’t perfect, and now they’re too bendy for my current needs. And boy, are my feet needy right now.

Now that I understand my injury, here’s what I’m hoping to find in a shoe:

1. Squishy cushiony springy goodness, especially in the forefoot. I’m a midfoot striker, and my (mostly) healed inury is on the ball of the foot. It needs to cradled and coddled. In the words of my podiatrist, “Some people need less cushioning so they can feel the road. You don’t need that. Your feet shouldn’t feel a darn thing.” Luckily, the current trend in endurance running shoes is toward super-cushioned “maximalist” shoes. I’m so on-trend right now!

2. I need a stiff, rigid, inflexible sole. Think Dansko clogs, but for running. This will help ward off the dreaded plantar fasciitis.

3. I need a wide width, or at least a wide toe box. Often, shoes that meet requirements for (1) and (2) don’t come in wide widths. Le Sigh.

Is there such a thing as a perfect shoe? Could I fall in love with a shoe only to have it betray me later? Or will it be suitable for a long-term commitment? Thank god shoes are not people. If I had 10 old boyfriends hanging around my house, some more useful than not…now that would be something.

Still, there is risk. Running shoes are not cheap.

I think I have found a shoe that meets 2 1/2 of those requirements. Friends, meet the newest addition to my shoe pile:

running shoes maximalist shoes, hoka

They’re like the moon boots of running shoes.

The Hoka One-One Stinson Trail.

Just look at them in all of their clown-shoe glory. It doesn’t help that I had to get a size 9.5 (!) There are people 6 inches taller than me who wear a smaller shoe size, and what’s up with that? Anyway, they are the nerds of the running shoe world. They may not be typically pretty, but they are a real possibility for a long-term commitment.  They meet almost all of my requirements: super cushiony (check!), stiff (check!), and wide enough, I think (time will tell).

running shoes cushioned hoka

Bahahahahahahaha

They even have a “rocker bottom” like clogs do, allowing a rolling pushoff that propels you forward without putting more pressure on the ball of your foot. They accomodate my orthotics nicely. They come with a cool, no-tie shoelace system (and real laces too, if you prefer). I’ve run about 10 miles in the first week and so far the first dates have been satisfying, and no one cried at the end.

But, (and there’s always “but”), the Hokas are gold-diggers. Committing to this shoe required I cough up $170. Yep. That’s the price I pay to keep my feet comfortable and happy.

I’m such a sucka.

running shoes hokas

Just me with happy feet, and the fragmites

How many pairs of running shoes do you own? Have you found the perfect shoe? Have your shoes lasted longer than relationships? Leave a comment while I go tame my shoe collection.

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5 thoughts on “The Taming Of the Shoe(s)

  1. My name is Jill and I am a Hoka addict. I have three Bondi Bs in rotation and one Conquest. Please don’t judge me. The colors are so pretty. Try the TriShop online in Canton MI (I think they are a chain) for your shoes to get a discount and points which equal cash off the shoes. I think it is a $10 membership to start earning points. The total is 15%.

    • Hi Jill!
      The first step in recovery is acknowledging the problem. As you can see, I would be quite the enabler. Thanks for the hint on future stashes.
      -NB

  2. Please keep us posted on your new relationship. It is time for me to leave behind my first love, Brooks Adrenaline. He just doesn’t offer the forefoot cushioning that I need. We seem to have changed and are going in different directions. My dating requisites are similar to yours. So, before I put out, i’d like to hear your experienced opinion of your new guy.

    • “It’s the forefoot cushioning!!”, I keep screaming to the world. Why is that so hard to find? Like a diamond in the rough, I tell you. All the good ones are taken. I will keep you posted!

  3. So true, it is very hard for me to part with shoes. I have a dear husband that always says you can buy a new pair if I get rid of an old, so that’s always motivating and not too hard 🙂

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