In Search of the Perfect Running Shoe

from Amazon.com

Like most runners, I have shoes stuffed in the closet, under my bureau (dresser), in boxes out in the garage and have given away shoes to the neighbor, Goodwill and found other creative ways to get rid of perfectly good shoes, because they just didn’t feel right to me after I had run in them for a while.

Why?

Just so I could continue my search for that perfect running shoe.

TheWife thinks I am crazy and have a running shoe obsession (fetish) and you know something she might be right.

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

Although I may have come close a few times.Different Shoe Companies

I have tried running shoes from:

Adidas, Avia, Asics, Brooks Running, Converse, Earth Shoe, Etonic, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, North Face, Pony, Puma, Skaja, Saucony and Teva at least once and some several times for some of these brands.

Looking back I haven’t shown much brand loyalty, but I keep trying.

My All-Time Favorite Shoes

Out of all the shoes that I have run in, which shoes came closest to approaching that mythical perfect running shoe for me?

  1. Blue Adidas Marathon Trainer with the Dellinger Web
  2. Brooks Villanova
  3. Saucony Hurricane 5
  4. Asics Gel Kayano 11
  5. Nike Air Presto

Adidas

Adidas had one of those near mythical perfect shoes as far as I am concerned – the Adidas Marathon Trainers with the Dillinger Web. They were a low profile, a lightweight shoe with just enough cushioning for me – a lot like today shoes that are considered transitional minimalist shoes.

I learned that you had to take out the board last and put a different insert into the shoe to make them more flexible and comfortable, but once I made those changes, these were my favorite shoes of all time. Yes those running shoes on the cover of Jim Fixx’s “Second Complete Book of Running” are the Adidas Marathon Trainers that I covet.

I have had three pair of these shoes and each pair lasted well past the 500 mile mark and literally fell apart when I stopped wearing them. I have looked for another pair for several years and have yet to find a pair and unfortunately probably won’t – they don’t make them anymore.

Hey Adidas do you have any Blue Marathon Trainers with the Dillinger web size 8, hidden in a warehouse someplace?

Brooks Running

Disclaimer Alert:  I was selected to be a Brooks Wear Tester in October 2011, however, I have not received any Brooks product to evaluate or wear test at the time of this post.

Screen shot-click on image for site

I bought a pair of Villanova in 1977 and ran in them until 1979. They were relatively simple, very light and I didn’t stop running in them until my foot came out through the side of one them. I am not sure how many miles they had on them when I finally replaced them, but have a feeling it was probably a lot, lot more than they now recommend for running shoes.

Saucony

In the early 2000’s I ran almost exclusively in Saucony Hurricanes and was very happy with them. However, the prices began to creep up and eventually were costing $120 plus for a pair of shoes, which was too much for me at that time,

When I decided to start running more again in October of this year and needed new shoes. I did a lot of research on the type of shoes that I thought would be best for me and my personal running style and after the research and trying on a few pair of shoes, I decided on Saucony Peregrines, see my post on them and they are rapidly becoming a favorite shoe.

Saucony Peregrines 2011

Even though the Saucony Hurricane are on my list of favorite shoes, I chose to put the Peregrines picture here – that is how much this first shoe is impressing me.

Asics

Asics were my second pair of running shoes, the old Blue Tigers were a great shoe and I wore them for Cross Country and Track in high school, when I wasn’t wearing spikes.

Screen shot from http://www.racedaynutrition.com/?p=341

I wore the Kayano 11 for almost two years and really loved the shoe. While it is considered a motion control shoe, it felt lighter and more responsive than most of them and I put a ton of miles on this model of shoes (4 of them) over a two-year period.

I found a special deal where I was able to pick up 3 pair of them for $50 each (the Kayano 13 was on the shelves), so I have had a total of 4 pair of the Kayano. The shoes changed and I didn’t have access to those great deals and this shoe was priced out of my price range.

Nike

I have probably run in more Nike running shoes than any other shoe company. My Nike running shoes include the Waffle trainers, Yankees, Equators, Pegasus (4 times), Odyssey (gets an Honorable Mention – I finish the Marine Corps Marathon in those shoes), Nike Sock Racer (yes the Yellow BumbleBee shoe), Air Flo (which I still have and ran in for a while this fall), and Air Presto (3 times), which I also ran in this fall for a while, until I got some new shoes (I am saving them).

Nike Air Presto

The Nike running shoes that were my favorites were the Air Presto model.  I really liked fit and feel of the Air Presto enough so that I purchased 3 pair of them before I couldn’t find them anymore. I liked the no laces design, I have been slowed down more than a couple of times from shoe laces untying. I used them for tempo runs, treadmill and track speed workouts. They were light, encouraged forefoot striking and I still have these red ones (they are my last pair). However, they are not my perfect running shoe, just a very good pair of shoes.

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 flat, 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.

It seemed that as the shoes kept getting more technically improved, more cushioning, higher heel heights and with these new designs, that I was getting injured more often in spite of the claims of the companies of how much better the shoes were at preventing injuries. While I take responsibility for all of my injuries, I wonder how often the wrong shoe contributed to the injury or making the injury worse?

Finding Pot of Gold

The problem with running shoes to me, is that finding that perfect one for you is like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is elusive and most of us never find it.

What works great for someone else, doesn’t always work at all for you. That means while you read great shoe reviews by other runners, it does not mean that you have the same good or bad experience they had with those shoes. Therefore, we keep searching and chasing, always looking for that magic shoe that is going to let us run injury free for big mileage training.

My question to you is?

  • Which running shoe is your favorite running shoe of all-time?
  • Why did you stop running in them?

Now wear (I know where) is that damn new shoe review for the 2012 running shoes!!!!!  I just know that my perfect shoe is in there 😉 See you outside running.

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