I love running shoes.
There’s something great about the life-cycle of a good pair of shoes.
It starts with the hydrocarbon smell and the crinkle of paper in a new shoe box. It ends with memories of miles and races, and a new pair of sneakers for bumming around and mowing the yard. Between, there’s the quiet assurance that the shoes are going to be there when you want them—no blisters, no pain, nada.
Once in a while, it’s possible to hit a great streak—find a model that is just right, that fits out of the box. If you find such a model, latch onto them, and don’t let go.
In my case, I’ve been addicted to Asics’ Gel Cumulus for YEARS.
It started back in the mid-90’s, when a pair of GC’s got me through Navy Officer Candidate School. The shoes kept me just ahead of the Marines yelling at me to “Drop on your face and push the ground!” I hurt for three months, but none of it was related to poor footware. Thirty-five pounds later, I walked out of Pensacola, Florida, and a couple of months later, I picked up a new pair of GCs.
Playing the Field
I dallied with other running shoes in the intervening years, but none of them did more for me than the Asics. However, this year I’ve been struggling with leg and joint pain. Reading back through my blog, I’ve tried about everything to eliminate it with the exception of a new pair of shoes. So, bowing to the obvious, and being near (but not quite at) the point where I needed a pair of shoes, I headed down to my local running shop for some advice.
For the record, it’s kind of cool to be able to get fitted by a Boston winner. He looked at my old shoes briefly, asked a couple of questions, and recommended a new pair with a little bit more mid-foot support. I tried them on, and went and took a quick jog around the shopping center. When I came back, he had a couple more suggestions.
Ultimately, I went with the first pair he’d recommended. The jury is out as to the change’s effectiveness—I’ll check back in a couple months.
But I’m sold on the specialty store experience. Within a couple of minutes, the staff at the store had talked to me about my running habits, watched me walk and take a couple of strides without seeing any major structural flaws, and recommended a shoe I never would have considered. I paid a little bit more than I would have in a big sports store or online, but the shop sponsors a bunch of the races I love. And the experience was great.
I’ve only run a couple of times in the new shoes, but the aftermath has been great—pain continues to decrease, and I’m getting some flexibility back in my ankles. Good stuff.