The Year in Running Shoes – 2018

This has been a really strange year for me with regard to running shoes. After saying at the start of it that I would reduce the number of shoes that I would run in to around ten, I have run in closer to thirty.

Yeah, quite a lot closer to thirty pair of running shoes, actually twenty-eight and this doesn’t include the VF 4% or a couple of pair of Torin 3.5s that I got to play around with one day for short distances thanks to Sam at Road, Trail, Run. Plus all the ones that I tried on and either didn’t get or didn’t keep.

  • Green – Still in Rotation
  • Yellow – Not sure of their place yet
  • Red – Not in current rotation. Either gone, going to be gone or are legacy shoes that I will put into storage and keep the memories.

As you can see from my running log screen shot that the mileages varied considerably. Some shoes I found out pretty quickly they were not going to work that well for me and others even though they made it to the 50 mile review – they were not really what I was looking for.

Current Rotation

However, as the year went on, I was able to narrow down what works for me and have mostly settled pretty much the following running shoe rotation by December 2018:

  1. Adidas Tempo 9

  1. Reebok RunFast

  1. Adidas Adios 3

  1. Adidas Response Boost 2

  1. Nike WildHorse v1

I spent most of the year searching for a daily trainer that I could run comfortably in and while I have been able to find three to four “go faster” shoes over the course of 2018, finding that daily trainer has been an elusive beast. Well it is has been an elusive beast for several years now, so what else is new.

What kind of running shoe am I looking for as a daily trainer?

  • Lighter weight – under 10 ounces
  • Softer midsole on slower runs, but firms up when you pick up the speed
  • Multi-purpose outsole
  • Wider toe-box
  • Narrow heel cup
  • Light stability for those longer runs when I get tired and need a little extra support
  • 8-10mm drop to accommodate a balky Achilles’ tendon

In late October, I finally figured out that I really, really like the way that adidas’ Boost midsole felt underfoot better than the other options that were out there.

How did I get to this rotation?

That really is the question isn’t it.

How did I get to the running shoe rotation that I have today?

Back in January, I was pretty sure that I had found the brand that I would be using going forward – Newton Running, unfortunately the more I ran in the Gravity line off the treadmill and outside, the more my forefoot bothered and I moved away from their line-up. I have a feeling if I would have stayed with the POP 2, things would been a bit better. Someday I will the the POP2 line-up again, but not right off.

While I was wandering around eBay one night I had a chance for an amazing deal on a pair of Brooks Green Silence shoes and had about 33 seconds to make up mind whether to bid or not. At that price I couldn’t resist. I used them for some speed work and a couple of races, but while I was running well in them I could tell that the midsole was a bit dead and didn’t compare to current race day shoes. Sometimes our memories of how favorite shoes used to be, do not do as well, when actually compared to the shoes we have now. I won’t get rid of them and will hang on to them as legacy running shoes, but I don’t see me bringing them out of retirement very often.

Then I went into Skechers Performance running shoe mode again (I love their lines and when they work they tend to work great for me – at least until they don’t) and found that I loved running in the their GoRun Ride 7s, which were a great shoe for me. However, as much as I loved the ride, fit and feel of the GRR7s, I tore up the heel cup and side wall of both pair that I ran in and decided that even though I loved the shoe, the upper and my foot just didn’t work well together – which really sucked.

With the second pair this happened just before 50 miles and by the time I got to 50 miles, I could feel a blister forming in that part of the heel from wearing through to the heel cup. I gave up on the GRR7s at that point.

Another shoe that I did run well in from them was the Forza 3, unfortunately at times it felt like I was running on boards (yeah, they were extra firm) and the tread design led me to take a hard fall when cornering on some sand and I just couldn’t bring myself to run in them again.

I also found that the other Skechers Performance models that I was attempting to run in tended to bother my ankles due to the high sidewalls on the sides, which caused me to stop running in those other models that I had.

Maybe it is just me but, I find the sidewalls of the ankle well on most of the Skechers Performance line of shoes to be rather high and it hits almost uncomfortably on my ankles. Which is odd because they design their shoes so that a runner can take out the insole and run without it on many of their models, which causes the ankle side walls to become even higher and more likely to rub against the bottom of the ankle bone. I guess it is just me, because I don’t hear that complaint from other runners.

As much as I liked Skechers Performance lines, the fit and durability issues I had, meant that I looked elsewhere.

From there I thought the Saucony Zealot 3s met all my criteria for a great trainer. The initial step-in was great and I did a 10 miler as my first run in them. Didn’t work out all that great since the forefeet of both feet felt a harsh burning sensation after 5.0 miles and I had to just grin and bear it the rest of the way in.

Then I got a pair of Liberty ISO V1s from Sam that I really loved the looks and how they felt on the road.

Unfortunately, both models bothered my metatarsals and created a burning feeling in that area of my feet. Not a pleasant feeling or one that you want in your daily trainers.

Plus I was not and am not all that impressed with the slide-through lacing ISO Fit that Saucony used in those models. Between the metatarsalagia and ISO Fit issues I stopped running in them and put them out in the back of the garage to go away.

I had three pair of Hokas wandering around the house and while I like the feel of them when running, their fit and my feet just do not work well together – the toe boxes and my Tailor’s Bunionette didn’t like each other. Luckily SD1 wears the same size running shoes and loves Hoka – she got a helluva deal on them – free.

Which lead me to get a pair of Topo Ultra Fly v1 – I had always liked Altra and when I had the opportunity to run in the Torin 3.5s I remembered how much I liked running in them. Unfortunately, Zero Drop bothers my Achilles too much and every time I get running in the Altra lines it gets wonky.

The Ultra Fly was 4mm, so I thought the Topos would be an Altra with a little drop – it is not.

While I like the fit of the forefoot, the heel and the almost dead feel of the midsole to me wasn’t what I was looking for. After getting the 50 mile review done in them, I moved on and they went away. They were a shoe I could run in, but didn’t enjoy running in – if that makes any sense.

Since I wasn’t all that crazy about the Topos, one day when I was wandering around Mardens (a local discount store), I saw a pair of Nike Pegasus 33 – Shields for an amazing price. I ran well in them for distances up to 7.0 miles then I found the forefoot to be a bit thin and pay the price for it after the run. Also they are not a summer weight running shoe and after running in them, I would have a bad case of swamp foot. I still have them for winter running and they will be great for those 3-6 mile runs that seem to dominate outside running in the winter, especially once the really cold weather gets here.

As a result of how good the Peg 33s were doing I ended up getting a pair of Nike Wildhorse v1s for a song on Amazon and have been using them as my go-to trail shoes and will be using them this winter as my nasty weather running/walking shoes. I like the fit and feel of the Wildhorse and between these two shoes, I really thought about a pair of Pegasus 35s, but never quite got to get them. Even though I did try them on and bid on a pair (lost) on eBay.

I did get a pair of Nike Speed Rival 6s and while I like the shoe and will put it in storage, I have other shoes that fit better and work at least as well for an old fart to run fast in.

For my birthday, Reebok’s newer running shoe lines found their way into my rotation. Reebok has really upped their running shoe line-ups to where they compete with other running shoe brands quite well.

First up was the Grasse Road a present from Bennie. A really nice running shoe that unfortunately, I had to do shoe surgery on the heel cup so that I could run in them. The hard heel counter had cut into my ankle while side hilling on a run and while I ran in them for almost 100 miles, I never completely trusted the shoes.

They did okay after the surgery, but did not impress me enough to want to keep running in them once I found better fitting shoes. Also I didn’t want to get another pair of Grasse Roads when I knew going in that I was going to have to do surgery on the heel cup to let them work for me.

The other present was a pair of Reebok FloatRide RunFasts. I love this shoe. It is light, mostly comfortable (I have a little trouble with the outside once in a while where it flexes in the toe box and rubs against the outside of my foot), has a great outsole and has done everything I want. It is a more a speed shoe than a daily trainer, even though in a size 8.5 it is more of a trainer fit than a performance fit – which I do like.

I have a feeling that if I wanted to I could do most of my training in them out to 7.0 miles or so, but prefer to save them as my go faster shoes. They are still in my rotation and would be my current choice as my race day shoes.

In September I found a great deal on a pair of Salomon Sonic v1, a running shoe brand/line that I always wanted to try. I loved the feel underfoot when running, but unfortunately, they caused my Plantar Faciitis to flare-up and even when I tried to wear them walking after the flare-up subsided, I could tell they were going to bother it again, so they went away.

At about that same time there were a couple of deals on eBay for the adidas Response 2 and a pair of Adios 3 that I couldn’t resist. I ran well in the Adios 3 in the past, but the toe box bothered too much, but I remembered how much I liked the feel of the Boost midsole and at that price point, I wanted to try them again.

I put the AB3s into storage as a possible Christmas present from Bennie. Then I started running in the Response 2s and they bothered my previously compromised PF also. So much that on one run I had to stop and take the shoes off. Not a good sign, but it was also the same time that I was dealing with the PF problems. As a result I put them in the back of the garage to go away.

As you can pretty much imagine by this time I was frustrated and felt like I was throwing money at the wall and not getting any running shoes that actually worked.

So I got thinking about all the shoes I still had lying around the house and thought about how I could get them to work for me. I did like the Saucony Zealot 3s and Liberty ISO and got to looking a lot closer at them. I finally figured out that it was more than likely due to the inner bootie compressing the metatarsals too much.

As an experiment I cut the inner bootie on both pair of shoes and it helped a lot with the Liberty and enough so that I want to keep them as a change of pace shoe, but not as a regular part of my rotation. Unfortunately, the trick didn’t work as well with the Zealot 3s and they will go away eventually. Also I had learned to double-lace through the last slide lace hole in the ISO Fit, so that I had a more consistent fit each time I put them on, versus that creeping tightening that was happening.

In October, since I was running decently in the Saucony’s I got a pair of Saucony Breakthru 4s (they do not have the ISO Fit or a bootie), through eBay and while they did well and I can run comfortably in them up to 6-7 miles, after that point they are not as comfortable, so I keep them around as just in case shoes.

I have found better options.

After my Plantar Faciitis flare-up calmed down towards the end of October, I was getting ready to do a Goodwill run to get rid of a bunch of stuff and in the pile were the adidas Response 2s. On a whim, I decided to run in them again just to see how they did. No issues with the PF, although I could feel a little pulling at the end of a longer run, nothing serious.

However, I loved the feel of the Boost midsole and even got out the Adios 3s for some runs. While they had more of a performance fit, they are not bothering me like the last pair did.

I did learn that if you are going to put shoes out in the back of the garage that the mice out there like them as well.

At that point I decided that I wanted to find a pair of Boost midsole shoes that I could use as my daily trainers. Looking at my requirements for a daily trainer and doing a LOT of research, the Tempo 9s seemed to be a perfect match. It ticked off all of the boxes I have for a daily trainer.

So I asked Bennie to get me a pair for Christmas.

However, when they came in, I really liked the way they fit my feet and decided to swap out a different pair of adidas that I didn’t like into box and start running in the Tempo 9s. Since I have started running in the Tempo 9s they have done everything I have asked of them – comfortably. A 10.0 mile treadmill run in them really made me stop and go “wow”. It has been a long time that I have been able to run that far on the treadmill and not pay for it that night or for a couple of days afterwards.

It is a good thing too, because there were some amazing deals on the Tempo 9s and I asked Mary and D2 to each get me a pair of them while they were on sale. I did that after the first run in them – that same night. Yeah, they felt that good on my feet and the runs since then have only solidified my initial impression of them.

The only things that I don’t really like are the colorways and the tongue is a bit thin. I do have to get the snugness on when tying up the shoes “just right” otherwise there is a slight uncomfortable pressure on the top of my feet from the laces.

The reality is that

I have run in too damn many pair of running shoes this year.

However, it seems that I have pretty much culled down my running shoe rotation to a much more reasonable level and don’t believe that I will be going through the same “gotta find” a daily trainer or race day shoes again going forward.

The adidas Tempo 9s seem to be everything that I want and have looked for, for so long in daily trainer. Enough so that I have two more pair waiting in the wings for when this first pair wears out. Also I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Tempo 9s as my race day shoe for anything over 10K, the comfort and added cushioning would they would give, outweigh the weight penalty for these old legs.

For speed shoes the Reebok RunFasts will be great through 10K, although I do have the Adios 3s and I do like they way they feel underfoot too. They are more of a performance fit than the RunFasts and while a little heavier are still good shoes to run fast in.

To be honest I do not really do that much technical trail running (more moderate and snowmobile trails) and the Nike Wildhorse v1s are probably more than enough to get me through most of my trail running adventures.

Especially, since I am pretty sure that the Tempo 9s can handle most of the trail races over at Quarry Road that I do during the summer if I want them to.

I have learned a LOT about my running shoes in 2018 and the biggest thing is that while I like trying, running and writing about different brands, models and styles of running shoes, it is time for me to be more selective about what I run in. In all honesty, I want to just get back to focusing on me as a runner versus what shoes should I be running in.

I think after 2018 I will be able to do that and I have to remember:

The shoes do not make the runner, but the wrong shoes can sure screw you up and the right running shoes should be forgotten about and not get in your way while you are running in them.

It has taken a while and way too much money for me to figure that out. 🙂

While I didn’t talk about all the shoes I ran in this year, the others either didn’t fit right or feel right, so there wasn’t a whole lot to really say about them.

The shoes that are no longer in my current rotation, that I now have hanging around the house are more “filler” shoes or if I want to run in something different on a particular day. Most likely a lot of those shoes will disappear, if things work out the way I think they will. Hopefully, 2019 will be a lot different than I am used to when it comes to my running shoes.

Who know maybe I will get to that under 10 shoes for the year in 2019.

Well at least that is the plan.

8 thoughts on “The Year in Running Shoes – 2018

  1. Scott Martin

    You probably don’t want to hear this, but I ran in four shoes (well, shoe models) this year. Two I put on the shelf in February, one has been on since May. All four are still shoes I could and would run in. Guess I’m lucky.

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    1. You are where I need to be and hope to be in 2019. Though I would be completely happy if I kept the number in the single digits. I am glad that you are running better and have been following your adventures right along, you will be ready for the 10 miler, NYC Half and Chicago. I predict you will run a 3:44:32 for Chicago 🙂

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  2. Michael Lancaster

    Great post, thank you. I feel like I have been through a very similar process, although my journey started with the Tempo 9s before coming back to them. Like you, I had decided to stop obsessively looking for a shoe that suited me even better. But now you have got me wondering about those RunFasts…

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    1. Michael thank you 🙂 So far the Tempo 9 is working great for me, but I can’t anoint it as an all time great for me shoe until they get at least 400 miles on them. That is usually the point where I have a really good idea of how they are doing. Plus I have a sneaking suspicion that they will be my first 500 mile shoe since the mid 80s, when I did that with a pair of blue Marathon Trainers with the Dillinger web. The RunFast are a great shoe too, but for different reasons, go faster in the RunFasts and do everything else in the Tempo 9s. They are lighter than the Adios 3s, more in the range of the adidas Feather line and probably have about the same kind of use, but with a better midsole. Although the outsole is a bit more versatile too. I just hope that adidas doesn’t screw up the updates to the Tempo line – we will see.

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  3. Egad I almost fell out of my chair by the time I saw that table! Haha – yeah, like Andy I too recall you saying you would be cutting down on number of shoes this year! Oh well 🙂

    I think this is the key “The shoes do not make the runner, but the wrong shoes can sure screw you up and the right running shoes should be forgotten about and not get in your way while you are running in them.”

    For myself, I have done ~3200 miles and just started on my 6th pair of shoes – with two pair being 2017 holdovers that I retired by March. Four of those pairs were Saucony Kinvara (a 6, 7, 8 and now 9!) and the other two were New Balance Minimus … well, one pair has fewer than 50 miles on them, never even put in lock laces! I had to re-learn the lesson that the Minimus is really just not enough of a shoe for my volume of running over any extended time. Sometimes the cheap pricing gets the better of me!

    Ultimately I just need to stick with what works – lightweight, 4mm drop, decent cushion. The rest seems negotiable. Will have to hit the new running store in downtown Corning over the holidays to check out a variety of types to see what other options I have.

    Good luck in 2019 – and stay healthy!

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    1. Hehehe I thought the chart might make a few people cringe :-). Yeah, I didn’t do so well on the numbers, but learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work for me again. So back to the drawing board and I have a feeling that finding a daily trainer that works for how I run is finally happening. The Tempo 9s seem to be a good for me shoe. Still too early to shout hallelujah from the skies, but good enough that there are two more pair waiting in the wings when these do their best Icarus impression. 🙂

      You have done well with the Kinvara and that was one of the reasons why I thought the Zealot or Liberty lines would have been good for me a little extra Cushion than the Kinvaras, but between the bootie style, ISO Fit lace loops and 4mm drop the old body couldn’t quite keep up. I am glad that they work well for you and I remember when you got the Minimus and kind of scratched my head, because you do some big miles and they don’t have a lot of anything but outsole. 😉 Glad they didn’t get a lot of miles and bother you. Stick with the K9, I have heard through the running shoe geek community that the K10 is a killer shoe. Good luck this weekend and don’t be like me and stick with what is working for you.

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