Running in 2020 has been a challenge for most of us to say the least!
For a self-professed running shoe geek, who at the start of 2020 promised to significantly cut-back on the number of running shoes this year…well it didn’t happen. Somehow or another I ended up running in at least 26 pairs.
Fortunately or unfortunately depending upon how you want to look at it (I know how TheWife sees it), trying out running shoes became one of my coping mechanisms to motivate me to keep running, while also taking my mind off of all the crap going on with multiple injuries, nasty politics and COVID-19. Thankfully, the running shoes I tend to get were not in short supply like toilet paper or other things.
For the record I did zero races (well one fake race) and have run from someplace other than my house less than five times since March 5th and zero treadmill time since then. I am not good at this housebound stuff, but have made the best of the situation and know that I am very lucky that I can still run freely.
What did I learn about running shoes this year?
1. That I am still searching for a pair of Salomon, HOKA, Skechers and Saucony running shoes that I can actually run in consistently. Clifton 6, Bondi 5, Triumph 17, Predict RA, 2 – Razor 3 and 3+, GoRun 7, GoRun Ride 8.
2. High ankle wells still wear through and blister under my ankles too much. Skechers GRR8 & Razor 3, New Balance Propel, Summit Unknown.
3. That thick, stiff midsoled shoes with steep forward rockers bother my ankles — ASICS Glideride and Bondi 5, both of which I loved until I couldn’t run in them without hurting so much that running was not enjoyable. Which means that most likely many of the so-called super shoes will not work for me all that well.
4. I hate, hate, hate with a passion unpadded tongueless knit shoes. Nike Odyssey React that I loved everything about except for the lace biting the hell out of the top of my feet. Same issue with Skechers GoRun 7.
How did I come to these wonderful conclusions — I ran in too many running shoes again this year. Below is a listing of the shoes I ran in during 2020, but the mileage total is just that total miles run in that shoe, not just 2020.
My current shoe rotation is:
- 1. 167.3 – Topo Ultraventures — 10/10/2020 — Great walking shoes and okay trail runners. Most of the miles in these have been walking miles. When it is time for them to go away, I will not miss them that much.
- 138.5 — New Balance Beacon v2 #2 — 8/12/2020 — My preferred treadmill shoes, but no indoor training since March and none for the foreseeable future. Getting good heel lock hasn’t happened despite using multiple lacing techniques. They are little too loose in the heel when running on hills (hotspots but no blisters), so not quite what I am looking for, since I live on a hill and almost all of my routes from the house have hills.
- 114.7 — Nike Zoom Fly SP-Red — 5/28/19 — Good weather race day shoes — no races.
- 91.9 — New Balance 1400 v6 — 8/22/19 — Bad weather race day shoes — no races.
- 26.5 — On Cloudflyer — 11/27/2020 — Nothing bad to say about them, still learning more about how I run in them. 🙂
- 34.2 — 361 Meraki v1 – 12/2/2020 — Liked enough after 2 runs that I ordered another pair to put in the closet for when these are toast. After 30+ miles, they are pretty much the shoes I have been looking for all year. I run well, without discomfort and don’t worry about how the shoes are going to bother my finicky, Hobbit feet. White is not my favorite color, but I will deal with the colorway, if I am running well in them and I am.
- 4.0 — 361 Pacer 2 – 12/1/2020 — Blew me away on a no-track Tuesday where I did 8 x 200 for my first run in them on a cold and rainy day. Just need more runs in them to see how they really are.
The following shoes have either gone away or retired to the back of the garage (their fate is to be determined):
1. 240.8 — ASICS Glide Ride — 2/28/2020 — Gone. Loved them until I couldn’t run in them anymore because my ankles hurt so much to run in them. Then I kept trying to make them work, they didn’t and I had to get rid of them or not have any ankles left.
2. 148.6 — Nike Zoom Fly V1-Blue — 4/29/19 — Gone. Size 9 was too large and after I developed a stress fracture in my left leg in 2019, I lost confidence in them and kept waiting for something bad to happen whenever I ran in them after that.
3. 147.0 — Skechers GoRun Ride 8 — 8/15/2020 — Retired. Wore hole in ankle well that was a blister factory waiting to happen (same thing as 2 pair of GRR7s), otherwise loved them
4. 138.9 — New Balance Beacon v1 – Orange(W) —1/5/2020 — Not sure, but believe I still have miles to be run in these. It was a matter of too many other newer shoes getting in the way. They just work.
5. 102.5 — Hoka Bondi 5 — 10/6/2017 — Gone. I just love the way I ran in them, but hated the way that my right foot felt when running — too narrow. That I kept them 3 years and kept attempting to make them work lets me know how much I did like running in them even when they hurt my feet so much.
6. 69.8 — Topo Zephyr — 9/9/2020 — Not sure. Harsh, not firm and while I can run well in them, I don’t enjoy the experience. Right now in the back of the van as just in case shoes.
7. 69.5 — Nike Vomero 14 — 2/1/2020 — Gone — Felt dead underfoot to me.
8. 63.5 — Skechers Razor 3 – 8.0 — 4/28/2020 — Gone. Too tight in the toe box, but loved the weight and fast paces I could run in them, but hurt too much to use very often.
9. 55.8 — Mizuno Inspire 15 — 6/22/2020 — Gone. Bothered my ankles, which is a problem that I tend to have in Mizuno shoes.
10. 40.9 — Hoka One One Clifton v6 — 4/2/2020 — Gone. Never liked the feel or fit.
11. 40.9 — Skechers GoRun Razor 3 – 8.5 — 6/18/2020 — On Hold. Ankle wells and bottom of my feet (metatarsals) would feel like they were burning after 3.0 or so miles.
12. 25.0 — Skechers Razor 3+ Black — 11/3/2020 — On Hold. Ankle wells bothered the bottom of my ankles and bottom of my feet (metatarsals) would feel like they were burning after 3.0 or so miles. Both Razor 3 models after 3 or so miles make my feet hurt so much it is not worth the price that is paid to run fast and yes, I do run fast in them.
13. 24.1 — Saucony Triumph 17 — 11/20/2020 — On Hold. Bottom of feet (Mets) felt like they were burning, when running or walking in them, will probably go away soon.
14. 22.3 — Nike Odyssey React 2 — 2/18/2020 – Gone. LOVED the shoe, but hated the no padding tongue, to get a good heel lock down caused lace bite and bothered the top of my feet too much to run in them.
15. 19.0 — Skechers Go Run 7 — 8/7/2020 — Gone. Hated the upper, same issues as the Odyssey React 2s. Loved the Hyperburst.
16. 17.0 — New Balance Propel v1 – Yellow — 1/15/2020 — Gone. Same issue as the gray Propels I had and they were going to blister the ankles due to high ankle wells and heel cup was starting to wear through after only a few runs..
17. 15.6 — Nike Wildhorse 5 — 12/8/19 — Yard shoe. Hated running in this shoe, but is a great shoe for snow blowing and yard work this summer.
18. 8.3 — New Balance Summit Unknown — 8/11/2020 — Gone. It was forcing my right foot to land oddly and even walking in them was painful, along with the high ankle wells.
19. 7.34 — Salomon Predict RA — 7/25/2020 — Gone. A shoe that I really wanted to work and hated more than any other shoe this year. Most uncomfortable shoe I have run in for a long time.
What Did I Learn?
26 pair of running shoes this year, most of which I bought during the pandemic, since I seemed to need some extra motivation to keep running through it. Also I was injured more than usual and the search for the Cinderella shoe became, at least in my mind something that needed to be done to stop being injured as much.
In reality, changing shoes so often probably contributed to the injuries in some cases and training errors that I made accounted for the rest. But it was a great excuse to keep trying new and different shoes again this year.
The other thing is that I do not have a shoe of the year this year.
Although the 361 Degree Meraki if I had gotten them sooner in the year, would hands down be my choice. They simply feel right on my feet and I run well in them. Very well. It is a brand that I have never run in before and so far the Meraki is more than checking off ALL the boxes I have for my running shoes.
Time will tell how they fair, but right now they are making a helluva impression.
2020 has been a tough year and one that I am ready to be done with and hopefully in 2021, things calm down a bit, we get our lives back in whatever the new normal ends up being. Then I get to eventually go back to the gym and not have to wear a mask everywhere when I leave the yard (even if I am finding on those cold winter days it is pretty nice to have) and who knows, I might even find that mythological running shoe that actually works for me.
Here is to another year where I ran in way too many pairs of running shoes and ended up with a smile on my face anyway.
Just an old running shoe geek.