Unless you run barefoot, a pair of running shoes is arguably the single most essential item for a runner. Through the years running shoes change, and often times its difficult to replace a shoe that you loved. Sometimes its quite the opposite, you cant wait to retire a pair of shoes and replace them with something better! Sometimes you simply need shoes for different types of runs.
Since I’m tapering for the LA Marathon, I’m trying to stop making myself crazy by obsessing over ever detail of my upcoming race! I decided to review my running shoe history and track the progression I’ve made since I started running.
Non Running Shoes – Nike AF 1’s / Fila Grant Hills: When I had to train in High School before joining the military, it was probably one of these shoes that were definitely not made for running. Hey, I didn’t know any better!!!
Military Running Shoes – New Balance Boot Camp Trainers: Standard issue “go fasters” not sure of the model. I can’t really tell if they made my feet hurt or not, because, lets face it, everything hurt during Boot Camp!
Now here are the shoes that I actually purchased willingly for running purposes…
Asics Gel Cumulus VII: I know I purchased lots of different shoes while in the Marine Corps but these are the only ones I can remember aside from the boot camp shoes. I continued to use these for a little while after I got out of the marines. I had no idea about how to pick running shoes when I bought these but had heard a lot about the Asics Gel. I actually loved this shoes and tried hard to find them again after I got out but never did. Definitely made my feet feel great after many miles of running in them, but the newer model changed so much that it was essentially a totally different shoe! I’m pretty sure these shoes were promoting heel striking so they’re not something I would wear now!
My Brooks Phase – Brooks Infiniti, Brooks Infiniti 2, Brooks Axiom 3: The first time I stepped foot into a specialty running store it was The Starting Line in Venice. I wanted another pair like the Asics Gel Cumulus but since they were so old and outdated I had to be recommended something else. The salesman had me try on at least 6 different pairs of shoes, asking me which one felt the best, while looking at me run down the road in each shoe and telling me that I over-pronate. He recommended the Brooks Infiniti which were the most expensive at over $120. I wasn’t sure, but I took his expert advice and bought them. I ran my first Half Marathon in them (’09 Surf City), and then picked up another pair at the expo which I used to run the ’09 LA Marathon. The thing about the Brooks Infiniti, though they had great cushioning and pronation control, they were very heavy (about 13+ oz). I wore the Brooks Infiniti 2 for my next full before picking up the Brooks Axiom in an attempt to go lighter. Aside from them being lighter, I never really liked the feel or the ride of the Axiom that much. As a result I didn’t run any races in them, but they stayed in my rotation for a little while before I finally retired them for good.
My Mizuno Phase – Wave Elixir 4, Wave Elixir 3, Wave Inspire 4, Wave Ronin 2: I first fell in love with Mizuno Shoes during a fun run at Runnergy in Sherman Oaks. Mizuno was there for shoe testing and I tried a pair of the Elixir 4’s, I picked them up and started using them for my speedwork around the time I was still running in the Infiniti 2’s. I loved them so much that I wanted another pair. I couldn’t find the 4’s but I did find the Elixir 3’s on the discount rack in Roadrunner Sports. After a little while I loved them more then the 4’s (better fit) and I ran the 2010 LA Marathon in them as well. I rotated between the 2 during the 2010 Ragnar Relay. What I loved about the Elixirs were how low to the ground and light they were. I had never run in a shoe quite like that and I was running faster as a result. However, the lightness of the shoes took their toll and I needed another pair with more cushion to rotate them out with. When I picked up the Elixir 3’s I also picked up the Wave Inspire 4’s. These were supposed to by my “every day trainers” but after 2 runs I realized they weren’t going to work. They simply hurt my feet and did not find their way to my permanent shoe rotation. Even though I got them for dirt cheap they were still a waste of money! I discovered the Wave Ronin 2 the same way I discovered the Elixirs, during a Mizuno Test Run at Runnergy. These shoes were even lighter and lower the the ground than the Elixir and just looked fast. For such a low profile shoe, I put a lot of training miles on these puppies! I ran the 2011 Pasadena Marathon in the Ronin’s and thought for sure they were my secret weapon to qualify for Boston. Well, 2 things messed that up: a hilly course and improper training!
Nike Pegasus Bowerman 25: I won these shoes in a Nike + contest. I thought I was going to get the new Nike Lunar Glides (remember those?) but I was sent the Pegasus instead. I thought these shoes were big and bulky, but they didn’t annoy me like the Wave Inspire so they found a place in my rotation. I used these shoes for trail runs, in-climate weather runs, and recovery runs when my feet and legs were sore.
K Swiss Blade Light Run: Another shoe I discovered during a fun run/test run at Runnergy. I actually really enjoyed these shoes they were fast yet cushioned and had a smooth ride. The one gripe at the time was the exposed foam, but now that’s something that is becoming more and more common place in an attempt to make shoes lighter. The only reason I didn’t run a race in this shoes is because the Ronin’s were much lighter and I thought I could PR in them, though I ran some 20 milers in the Blades and felt great! These shoes also had an 8 mm heel to toe drop which was the lowest I’ve run in at any point up til then.
My Saucony Phase – Kinvara 2, Fastwitch 5, Kinvara 3: I started hearing a lot about Saucony shoes, specifically the Kinvaras for a while. The first time I heard about the Original Kinvara’s I thought they were too “minimal” for me. Since I started making the transition to lighter more low profile shoes I finally decided to try the Kinvara 2’s when I found them on sale online. Yes, I purchased these shoes without having tried them on and was pretty certain I was going to love them, and when I got them they didn’t disappoint! When I first started training in the Kinvaras my Ronin’s and Blades were nearing the end of life, but I was rotating them. While the Kinvara’s felt great there was a transition to be made to this reduced running shoe. I was making the transition to running on my midfoot/forefoot and my calves were adjusting in a major way. Once I was fully adjusted, it was on. I picked up another pair and wore them for the 2012 Malibu Half Marathon. I picked up a pair of the Saucony Fastwitch 5 on a whim during a trip to the Saucony Outlet in Camarillo. I was actually looking for another pair of Kinvaras but they didn’t have my size, so I picked up the Fastwitch instead. With a 4 mm drop, light weight, and stiffer ride they were great for speed work and tempo runs. I ran the Rose Bowl Half Marathon in them and they held up pretty well through the mixed terrain. Even still, I enjoyed running in the Kinvara much more so when the time came for another pair I picked up the Kinvara 3 instead. I recently ran the Ventura Marathon in them, finishing with my second fastest time.
Going Minimus – New Balance Minimus M3090v2, New Balance Minimus MR20v2: I almost wasn’t going to “Go Minimus”, I actually was content in “Staying Kinvara”, but I am glad that I have discovered the New Balance Minimus line of shoes! I have already reviewed both of these shoes in detail on this blog so I won’t go into too much detail. I received the Minimus M3090v2 as a Christmas gift and the Minimus MR20v2 as a birthday gift 2 weeks later. A natural progression from the Kinvaras.
Brooks Pure Drift: This is my first pair of Brooks since the Axioms and my first pair in their “Pure Project” line. Early this past week I learned that I won a $100 gift card from Brooks Running. Since I’m not currently wearing any of their shoes I decided to try something from their Pure line which I have been very intrigued about. I chose the Pure Drift because it was the lightest and most “minimal” of the choices. I figure, if it doesn’t work out for longer runs its super light so I can use it for speed. But if it does work out for longer runs then all the better! I’ve read some very mixed reviews about this shoe, and while I have yet to run in them they were extremely comfortable and fit perfectly when I tried them on. It’s also worth noting that I may be the demographic that Brooks was going for when they designed this shoe. I’m a light weight runner looking to run fast!
So now you’ve taken a look at my running shoe history whether you’ve actually read all of this or just looked at the eye candy 😉 Go ahead recommend some shoes for me to try! Merrell, Altra, Newton, Vibram? Something else form the brands I’ve mentioned above, or something else all-together?! I’d love to hear what you think!