Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Feet and Trail Shoes: And the Winner is . . .

A few months ago, I posted about "My Feet and Trail Shoes" and it has been the most-viewed post on this blog.  Weird.  Weird because I would think things like the WURLOS or Uintas Traverse or Skimo would be more interesting, but no; it's my ugly feet and their promiscuity with trail shoes.  In my previous post, I hadn't yet formed any solid conclusions, but now, after a solid 6 months of trail running, I have.  Here they are:

1. Minimalist Shoes Hurt My Feet.  There isn't a universally accepted definition of minimalist shoes, but I consider shoes with little to no arch support, minimal cushion, and a very low heel to toe drop to be minimalist, i.e. Five Fingers, New Balance MT 100, Inov8 Talon 212.  I like the lightness and nimbleness of these shoes.  Unfortunately, after 35 years of bondage, my feet are not strong enough to run in them all the time, on any terrain, for long distances.  Most of the summer, the my feet were bruised, my arches hurt and ached a lot.  I thought I had plantar facsciitis.  I probably ate an unhealthy dose of Ibuprofen to mitigate.

But I continued to run in wimpy flimsy shoes.  I ran the Wasatch Steeplechase, the Jupiter Steeplechase, and the Speedgoat in Inov8s.  I did it because I thought it was cool and that they made me faster.  I did it because they helped me adjust my running technique.  And because of the latter, the price in pain and discomfort was worth it, well worth it.  In hindsight, however, I probably could have also used some more supportive shoes to ease the pain and discomfort.

2. Trail Shoes Must be Sized Big and Not Tied Too Tight.  Many people have told me this, but I guess I didn't know that trail shoes need to be THAT big and THAT loose.  After I finished the Jupiter Steeplechase, I couldn't walk for a week and had to take an additional 2 weeks off before I could run normally again.  Why?  Because my shoes were tied too tight and my shoes were too small.  I thought that the key to preventing blisters and toe bang was to tighten the laces down.  I was wrong.  For me, the key is to have what I consider a very loose fit.

3. And the Winner is? My favorite most comfy shoe that I have run in thus far, and continue to run in, and will continue to run in for awhile (I ordered 3 pair), is the Montrail Rockridge.

Initially, I was skeptical.  In fact, I returned a pair before I actually bought one for keeps.  It's not a sexy shoe like the Crosslite.  There isn't anything uniquely special about it like the Hokas.  The heel to toe drop is a bit high at 10mm.  They look quite ordinary.  Yet, after a short break-in period, my feet are quite happy in these shoes.  They are amply cushioned, have a bit of arch support, and allow me to run down the rocky and rough Wasatch trails with more confidence and comfort than I do in other shoes.  My only complaints with these shoes are durability (the soles wear out fast) and the laces are too short.

I will continue to run in minimalist shoes every once in a while in order to refine technique and because it is the cool thing to do.  But the Rockridge is my go to shoe for now.


Aaron said...

I've been running in the MT101 shoes (1 better than the 100's), and have loved them so far... but I'm not putting in long distances yet (6-7 miles is all). We'll see how I like them after I build up to longer runs. Glad you found something you like, even if they don't make you very cool.

Anonymous said...

The montrails are the first pair of trail runners I have ever bought, in fact I am wearing them now

Jared said...

I ran in the 101s this morning and like them too -- for about 8-10 miles. Then, after that, my feet hurt. That said, my limit with the 100s used to be about 3 miles. I think as my feet get stronger, I'll like the 101s and their progeny more and more. On the uphill, they are noticeably lighter and nimbler and much much cooler.