Shoe talk.

“A runner’s two greatest loyalties are not to any shoe company or model, but to the left foot and the right.”

– Joe Henderson

Shoes

When I started running, it wasn’t too long before I figured out that going to the store and picking out just any shoe that looked athletic or said “running” on the side wasn’t really going to cut it. Then the more I learned, the more I found out that it’s wise to have different kinds of shoes for different kinds of running. This is compounded by the fact that I do two totally different types of running. Road and trail running have different needs, and my feet thank me for the variety of terrain and shoe. Here are my four pairs and what I use them for!

Roadies
Dyad

When I first realized I needed a good pair of running shoes, I went to a local shoe store and talked to the sales people about my feet. They didn’t just want to get my money and put me in a high-tech, high-dollar shoe. They wanted to make sure they provided me with the shoe that would take me many miles with little to no pain, and with no serious injury.

They analyzed my gait, looked at my giant, paddle-like feet, and brought out several shoes they thought I might like. When I put on the Brooks Dyads, I felt like Cinderella. They fit like clouds. For the road, I’ve found nothing better. I use them with more frequency and to cover more miles than any of my other shoes.

Trail
Brooks Cascadia came into my life from the clearance rack. I’m noCascadia fool, I never pay retail price. These green bad boys were priced to move, and I was glad to be the one to move them. I had been wanting Cascadias for the trail for a long time, and here they were, staring at me with their lizard-like glow.

Owing to my aforementioned paddle-like feet, they’re a tad narrow, as are almost every trail shoe. They just don’t come in wides. The Cascadias do well enough, except for when I need to run further than 5 miles. After a while, my sorry little toes start to get hot spots and blisters. I deal with it because these are the shoes I have – but I’ve been searching long, and especially wide, for shoes that will generously encompass my wounded toes.

(These shoes aren’t always this dirty; I try to clean them occasionally. But it does make for a more dramatic photo.)

Merrell Ascend
This is another shoe that came from the clearance rack. Merrell Ashley found them on closeout for next to nothing, and I took a gamble that they would fit. They do, and nicely. The toe box is so wide my toes feel like they’re floating in midair.

If you want a shoe with virtually no support but with a strong sole to protect your feet from rocks, twigs, and what-have-you, then these are absolutely the shoe for you. Slipping them on is like putting on socks. I barely notice they’re there. Most of the time I spend in them is spent in the gym – they are great cross-training shoes, but they’re even better on the trails. I haven’t taken them to any technical trails, but I’m excited to do so. With their lack of support, though, it would not be wise to take them on the long mileage runs I’ve been doing. I’m going to pack them along on my next long run so I can switch shoes to do some drills and speed work with these lighter shoes.

Altra OlympusThe Newbies

Altra
I’ve only known about Altras for a short time, but it seems like they’re getting a lot of attention, especially in the ultra and trail running communities. These are my newest shoes, and I’m super excited about trying them out on the trails. They have cloud-like cushion similar to my Dyads, but with an even wider toe box. The company touts them as being “foot-shaped,” which seems like a no-brainer to me. I plan to get them out on the trails this weekend and see what they do to me. I’m hoping they hug my feet like long lost brothers. We shall see.

Do you have a favorite pair of running shoes or running gear in general, especially as it relates to the weather where you are? Let me know in the comments below!


The weather here has taken a strong stance on what it means to be winter. Mild, dry temperatures turned into pouring rain, which turned into freezing cold.

Thanks wind. (via hint.fm/wind)
Thanks wind. (via hint.fm/wind)

But I’ve got my training to do, and the fitness center at work isn’t open yet (cuz holiday), so I do the stuff outside. Unfortunately, the weather foretold of unfavorable conditions for last weekend, and I wasn’t really stoked about hitting the trails to run 9 miles in rain and chill, so I shifted my long run from Saturday to Friday. Not too big of a deal, and I can do whatever I want, you ain’t the boss o’ me.

Ashley, Sadie, and I left in the morning of the last weekday of Christmas/New Year holiday and drove out to Harmonie State Park where Ashley and Sadie would hike, and I would run.

At around mile 7, I decided to do hill repeats to both ensure I got the rest of my miles and to do hill repeats, which I had never done before. I knew there were 6 decent hills, one right after the other, between me and the end of my run, and I decided to go up each one twice, which ended up being 2 miles of hills, approximately. I kind of thought of it more as basin repeats: I ran down one hill, up the next, turned around to go down the second and back up the first (up each hill twice). It’s difficult to explain, sort of. Therefore, I bring to you my first personal video of this blog! This time lapse shows two of the hills and me doing basin repeats. (If the video doesn’t show, try a different browser)

This was a tough exercise, especially on top of 7 rough miles I had already run. Each time I turned back to run up a hill, I had to battle the excuses. I didn’t have to do the repeats, no one told me I had to. But I always ran the repeats, each hill twice before heading to the next hill because I knew that if I bailed on the hard stuff this early on, I’d never build up the endurance to tackle the really hard stuff later on. I’ve got what it takes, but it’s going to take all I’ve got.


I hope the holiday break brought you all good things and great ambition for the new year! I’m currently listening to a podcast about making new habits to set oneself up for better success in reaching new or recurring goals. Perhaps a future blog post? Perhaps.

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