Saturday, April 7, 2012

The week in review 4/2-4/5/12

Interesting week thus far...

Got a new pair of shoes on Tuesday. For trail shoes, I've already learned that I love the Merrell Trail gloves. I've tried a few others, like the New Balance MT10s, and the Brooks Pure Grit, but I just love running the trails in the Merrells.

The problem I've been having is in the search for my perfect road shoe. I've tried several on, such as the the brooks Pure Flow and Pure connect, which I really wanted to like, but just found too narrow for my forefoot (which I found surprising since my Pure Grits are one of the most comfortable shoes I own). I own a pair of Saucony Kinvara 2's (my first pair of "minimalist" shoes aside from a pair of VFFs) that I actually loved, but found that the more miles I put in, the bigger my forefoot gets, and now they are just a bit too small.

A few weeks ago I went on the search again, determined to find a new pair of road shoes that was low to the ground, and wide enough for my forefoot with as little cushioning as possible. (Yes, I have a pair of VFF KSOs, but I don't like doing long runs in them, I use them more for casual wear and shorter training runs.) The first thing I learned, is that the minimalist running shoe selection here in Jacksonville is almost non-existent. The one "specialty" running store we had in town, Omega sports, closed months ago, so now we are only left with the big market stores, such as Dicks, Shoe Carnival, Finish Line, etc. They provide a great selection of running shoes, as long as the running shoes you are looking for are huge Nike's or Asics. Not really my style. I considered a pair of Nike Free's, but they don't even have the Free 3.0s, so even the ones they did have still made me feel like I was walking around in a pair of heels.

Eventually, I came across the New Balance M730 at Finish Line. I was happy to find that there was a New Balance shoe, in the minimus line, that I hadn't yet heard of and was available at the mega market stores! I tried it on, and eventually ended up buying it. Ran in it a couple times the week that I bought them, and then realized that they have this weird thing with the sole that causes the opposite side of the arch of the foot push up, almost causing my foot to pronate un-naturally, and ended up causing me knee pain. Too bad, because like the MT10s, I really wanted to like these shoes, but so far every NB minimalist shoe I've tried has given me posterior knee pain after only 4-5 miles. So the M730s were not a good fit either. Unfortunately, the big box stores like to have the policy that if it's been on your foot, it can't be returned. I ended up giving them away, hopefully they will work for someone else. I suppose the plus side to the 730s is they were probably the least expensive running shoes I've bought in awhile. The MT10s I kept around, because I love them for casual wear, I just can't seem to run in them without pain. Kind of disappointing, because I love what NB is doing with the input of Eric Skaggs and Anton Krupicka with their Minimus line, and I really want a pair of the MT110s. But, the wife has been the voice of reason on those, and thus far succeeded in preventing the purchase of another pair of New Balance shoes.

Anyway, fast forward to this week. The wife needed a new pair of running shoes, and I was still on my quest for a road shoe. We ended getting the wife a pair of the Sketchers Go Run's, which I have to admit are an odd looking shoe. However, I've really yet to find a bad review on them, and most of the shoe reviewers/bloggers that I follow have given good reports on them. They aren't really my style (I admit, I focus almost as much on style as I do function with my shoes), but I think they will be a great choice for the wife; time will tell for sure. I ended up buying the Merrell Road Glove for myself. I figured, if I love the Trail Glove, then the Road Glove should be good too, right?

Wrong. They are better. The search is over, because I believe I have finally found my perfect road shoe, and possibly my perfect running shoe all together. The shape of the shoe fits my foot perfectly. The Vibram sole is awesome to run on. While I love the sole on the Trail Glove, and find that for trails it is awesome, it's not that great on pavement. The Road Glove, however, is amazing. They are like Ninja shoes. I can move so silent in them. I've been a fan of Merrell hiking shoes for everyday/casual wear in the past, so now I think Merrell has reaffirmed themselves as my go to for footwear.

I've got about 20 miles in the Road Gloves now, on varied hard pack surfaces (treadmill, gravel road, sidewalk, street, hard pack dirt track), and they performed awesomely on all of them. As a matter of fact, for well groomed, hard pack trails, these may actually replace my Trail Gloves as the go to for racing. I'll post more updates as I get more mileage in them...

Future Race Plans (so far)

North Face Endurance Challenge D.C. Trail Half-Marathon and Marathon Relay

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