Fast, Long, Recovery, Trail, Tweener – What Are Your Shoes?

Yesterday afternoon when I looked at the Pegasus 35’s, it really got me to thinking about how they would actually fit in my current running shoe rotation. After thinking about it overnight – I know that right now they wouldn’t have a fit anymore than the Pegasus 33’s that I am using more than I should.

I really do not need another pair of go faster than I should – super-duper daily trainers. What I really is a pair of daily trainers that are comfortable to run longer distances, easy and recovery runs. So I am glad that I didn’t have Bennie buy me a pair for my birthday – it is not what I need, they are more an example of Harold being Harold and getting something that I want.

Whew, got by that running shoe crisis – just barely. 🙂

Stages/Categories

It seems that as I pass through different stages in my running (that getting to be an old fart thing), that the way that I look at running shoes also changes. Over the past six years I have worn a lot of running shoes, written a LOT of words about those running shoes and am finally starting to figure out how I need to use my running shoes.

For now at least.

I have also come to accept that my running will inexorably change over the next 10 years, much more than it has for the last 40 and how I will look at running shoes will continue to evolve.

At this point I still have a running shoe rotation where I use certain shoes for specific parts of my running. At some point I might get back down to one or two shoes for everything, but I have not reached that point as yet.

I have basically gotten my shoe definition down to four styles of runnings shoes:

  • Fast Running Shoes
  • Long/Recovery/Easy Run Shoes
  • Trail Running Shoes
  • Tweener Runnng Shoes

These categories do not take into account all the marketing claims, styles, stability, neutral, drop or other crap that we read so much about when it comes to running shoes – it is just how I now categorize them.

Fast Shoes – These are the shoes that am supposed to run faster (for me), for the distances I run/race. You know the ones you take out for track sessions, speed work or race day. At this point in my running life most of my “fast” shoes are what other runners call 1/2 marathon to marathon racers, i.e. something that is fairly light, but has extra cushioning and a little wider fit to accommodate feet that have a lot of miles and an old body that needs a little extra “cushioning” that those super light racing flats just do not have.

Long/Easy/Recovery Run Shoes – Shoes that are comfortable, have enough cushion to soak up the road shock over the course of your long run at a good pace, but still be comfortable enough at slower paces to enjoy running in them.

I do not enjoy running in shoes that feel like heavy, stiff logs on my feet. I prefer them to be in the 9-10 oz zone with a bit of bounce and stack heights in the 22mm or higher range – that extra cushioning does make a difference for me. Though with some of the newer midsole materials this stack height thing might change a bit.

Trail/Nasty Weather Run Shoes – If you run on trails or even roads in winter, for about 80% of the time you can get away with road shoes that have a decent multipurpose outsole. However, I prefer the extra grip and protection that a true trail shoe gives in those conditions. The extra traction can mean the difference between remaining upright or getting a face-full of whatever you are running on. I don’t bounce nearly as well as I used to.

Also trail shoes tend to be a little more heavy-duty and can withstand the abuse that this kind of running tends to put running shoes through better than your typical road shoes. Trail shoes are also in my experience a little warmer for those cold arse-days that I get to enjoy from December thru April.

Tweener Running Shoes – The one-shoe rotation shoe, hybrid and the most dreaded category in my running shoe rotation and it is a category that far too many of my favorite running shoes end up in.

They are not fast/light enough to be your race day/speedwork shoes – yes, you can run fast in them, but your fast shoes are a better choice. Also they are not enough shoe to run longer runs in without beating the crap out of your legs. Tweener shoes are also not good recovery/easy run shoes since they encourage you to run faster than an easy or recovery pace, when you shouldn’t.

You know…tweener shoes those ones that feel great on the feet, but when do you actually use these shoes if you have a multiple running shoe rotation. If you wear your fast shoes 1-2 times a week, long run once a week and the rest of your runs are recovery/easy and throw in a rest day every so often, when do you use them?

That is the problem isn’t it?

The reality is that

I know that these categories are an attempt to simplify my running shoe choices to meet my needs, but when I look at running shoes through this lens, they tend to make more sense to me.

  • Faster
  • Easy/Long
  • Trail/Winter

My artificial categories and how I define them, force me to look at how I will use my running shoes versus going out and just getting another pair of the latest and greatest shoes that more often than not seem to end up as tweener shoes. Since that style of shoe is not what I really need for how I run now, they languish in the closet or under my dresser until I go through my periodic shoe cleanses, then they go away since I don’t use them enough.

Then I repeat the cycle over and over.

Which means that if I am pretty sure that a pair of running shoes are probably going to fall into the tweener, I need stay away from them.

You know running shoes like the Nike Pegasus 35’s or Turbo’s that I really, really want, but where exactly would they end up. For now they would be tweener shoes for me and I need to stay away from them.

At this point I still can confidently say that there is still enough of a difference between my times in fast shoes and long/easy/recovery i.e. light-weight daily trainers that keeping separate categories is still worth it.

Unfortunately, in the not so distant future I can see the the tweeners/light-weight trainers like the Pegasus series or other similar models/styles, taking over both the faster and easy/long run categories as my times slow and the distances I run get shorter. It will happen.

Yeah, getting old changes lots of things, including how I look at my running shoe rotation.

What is your running shoe rotation and how is it changing as you mature as a runner?

2 thoughts on “Fast, Long, Recovery, Trail, Tweener – What Are Your Shoes?

  1. Because I never ran track (and hated having to run laps for football, for that matter!) and started running after college on my own … I never even knew about things like different running shoes for different purposes.

    Honestly, for the first ~23 years of my running the whole notion of ‘shoe rotation’ was also foreign to me – I just wore shoes until they were worn out and then got new ones. Of course, for most of those years I was doing about 15-20 miles/week at slow paces so it really didn’t matter.

    But I still don’t care that much – I have tried to work on my shoe rotation in terms of having two pair of shoes that I rotate between to even out wear and transitions. I am somewhat better with that, but the winter gets rougher (and I care less). My go-to is lightweight, low-drop shoes such as the Saucony Kinvara (that I have started to dislike) or New Balance Minimus – I get enough cushion and like the light weight and low drop feel.

    So I guess I have a three part rotation:
    – Older general purpose shoes
    – Newer general purpose shoes
    – Merrell trail shoes that I only use a few times per year 🙂

    I recently grabbed the Merrell Trail Glove 4, which are *so* comfortable, but between the zero-drop and lower cushion I am hesitant about running with them as of yet, so I am just wearing them around the house (allowed me to toss my old first-gen Merrell Vapour Gloves.

    Not sure what the road from here to 60 holds for me, but I am just going to try not to be stupid … but will very likely continue to be very cheap about buying stuff! 🙂

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    1. Yeah, I think I am starting to catch on and get more of what I need. I am basically down to a 3 shoe rotation, but finding the Peg 33 not quite enough shoe in the forefoot for an old heel striker on longer runs for me. The shoes you wear would tear me up, my mechanics are too sloppy for them. I am sure that you will just keep on doing what you are doing going down the road with monster miles. 🙂 Which is a very good thing.

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