During this latest Achilles injury, I have had time to think about my relationship with running shoes, writing reviews and I asked myself:
- Do I want to review running shoes on my blog?
- Should I run in as many different brands/styles of running shoes in the future?
- What brand has worked the best for me?
- What kind of running shoes do I run most comfortably in (different than a brand)?
Remember, I am a confirmed running shoe geek and probably always will be.
Answer — No.
There are many other running blogs out there that do a much better job of reviewing running shoes than I do. Adding in my two cents after the shoe is on clearance doesn’t add much value to the conversation. My blog niche is more about the trial of miles of an aging runner than reviewing running shoes or anything else. I know that I will still write about the shoes or other stuff that I use in my RunLog posts, but as far as writing specific review posts on this blog, it serves little to no purpose.
Answer — No.
Since I am not worrying about doing reviews of running shoes any longer, it makes zero sense to continue attempting to run in as many different running shoes as possible. It is time to focus on the shoes that work for me, fit comfortably, and not worry about how other runners might view a shoe based on my thoughts about them.
This will mean fewer mail orders and more visits to Brunswick, Portland, or Bar Harbor to get running shoes – now that we are getting to the new normal. Visiting specialty running stores to do more than drool, which I believe will, in the long run, save me money by reducing the number of running shoes that I buy. Still, the upfront costs at run specialty make the old sphincter muscle clench pretty tight. 🥸 However, at least when I walk out the door with new running shoes, I know they will fit correctly, even if I had to try every damn shoe in the store on.
Answer – ASICS
The most critical factor in my running shoe selection is fit and comfort while running, not what the brand name might be. However, I am not interested in chasing down that “Cinderella” running shoe and want to stay with one or two brands for a while.
Fit has always been an issue with almost every brand except ASICS through the years. I always loved how ASICS shoes fit my Hobbit feet, with narrow heels (the ASICS thunk) and a wider forefoot. However, I never liked the heaviness or two-stage landing that most ASICS shoes had, due to the lack of a well-beveled heel. When I say two-stage landing, it is where the heel lands towards the back of the outsole and causes the shoe to slap down to the forefoot, versus a smooth heel-to-toe transition. Yes, I am a confirmed heel-striker and probably always will be.
Now that ASICS has upped their game considerably with modern designs and function, I like their offerings a great deal again. Also, ASICS was the first “real” running shoes that I used back in the day, so this choice is more about going back to my roots as much as anything. I plan to use their running shoes for most of my runs, especially the Glide series and their “go faster” shoes.
The other brand that I want in the rotation with the ASICS eventually are On running shoes. I love how they fit my feet, and the construction quality has been impeccable from what I have seen. The only complaints I have about On running shoes are the price points and harshness of the midsole. The pair of Cloudflyer v1’s that I had were fantastic shoes but just a bit too firm a ride for where the body is now. I ran well in them but felt too beat-up if I ran more than 3-4 miles in the older Cloudflyers. I like a cushioned but firmish ride, so as On gets their offerings dialed in for the American market, I will keep looking at what they are doing.
Over the past ten years, my thoughts about which running shoes work for me has evolved – several times. I have gone with the ebb and flow between stability, heavy/light, big drop/zero drop, soft/firm, minimalist, or maximalist running shoes. I think that I finally figured out that I run best in shoes somewhere in between all those extremes.
Where I am on those continuums depends more on the mileage, pace, terrain, the seasons, what kind of race I am training for, my current conditioning, or more likely whatever injury I am rehabbing, than a particular “ist” philosophy. In other words, a multiple shoe rotation that has a more specific use for each pair and provides variety for the legs.
My running shoe preferences are:
- Make sure they fit my feet and don’t worry about the claimed size on the tag
- Narrow in the heel (I like that ASICS thunk) and not rub against the Achilles (a notch or flare is better)
- A little wider in the toe box and roomier in the midfoot, not a performance fit
- A real tongue, not a single piece upper, and preferably no elasticized panels (I tend to cut them out) on the sides to hold the foot/tongue in place.
- Cushioned yet firmish feel, with a touch of stability for when I get fatigued during longer runs
- 6-10mm drop, zero drop doesn’t work for me (I’ve tried), and higher doesn’t feel quite right
- Lighter is better than heavy, trainers should be sub 10 ounces and go faster shoes around 7 ounces or less
- Yes, a rocker or at least a nice heel bevel. Flat bottomed shoes slap too much for me and do not have a great heel-to-toe transition
- The workmanship of the shoe should be spot on, not slipshod
- I like bright colorways. I don’t want boring grays, blacks, or dull colors.
The so-called super shoes will interest me more if I decide to do a marathon, but otherwise, at the price points and with my lack of running prowess, they are not a priority at this time. I am not a bad runner, but unless I become more competitive in my age group beyond the local scene or decide to chase that elusive BQ, paying $250 or so for a pair of running shoes isn’t one of my current interests.
My present rotation will serve me well up to the half.
- ASICS EvoRide 2
- ASICS Magic Speed
- ASICS Nimbus Lite 2
Eventually, I will add in a pair of On’s with Helion or whatever new midsole material that On comes up with that is not quite as harsh as the older On models to add a little variety to the rotation.
The reality is that
Looking back, I have had a great time reviewing running shoes, checking out most of the different brands and styles that we now have available to us, and meeting or making new friends with runners who share my passion for running shoes.
However, it is time to move on from reviewing running shoes on my blog. It will be enough to be a running shoe geek who tends to drool over the latest and greatest shoes out there now or coming in the future. Even if I usually don’t get to run in them until they have been out for a while.
All I know it is a great time to be a running shoe geek. Especially when there are so many great running shoes out there, I know it was tough to narrow my running shoe brand choices down to ASICS and On, but for me, at this time, they are the correct choices.
This brings me to what is the next phase in my running.
And yes, all of this post is a part of the simplification process. 😁