Sunday, 1 March 2020

Out of the running shoe loop

I havent bought a new pair of running shoes - road or trail - for a few years. Needless to say, I've run the treads flat! My shoes are on their way out, especially the trail shoes, which have holes now in the upper. 

With what to replace them?

For the past few years my running shoe purchase has been more luck based as I've been running in Inov8s picked up on clearance sales. For R650 I'm happy to try something different and I've ended up with whatever was available in my size. 

I have the fortune of having great biomechanics and I've loved various trail models from Adidas, Asics, Saucony, Inov8 and Salomon over the past 21 years. So I'm open to trying shoes. But I'm not prepared to spend two grand to try something unfamiliar. 

I recently submitted one of those Asics team applications - I've had a few great pairs of Asics trail shoes. In fact, one of my all time favourites was the Asics Fuji Racer. Like a racing flat, this shoe had great tread, sufficient foot protection, almost no cushioning and was a superb ride.

My current Inov8 trail shoe is the Trailroc 245. I've never liked the heel box but the rest of the shoe has served me very very well. Flat, minimal, long lasting and tactile.

While my Asics team application was unsuccessful (they had something like 35,000 applications for 200 slots), they did send me a 20% off voucher (I don't know whether it is valid in South Africa?). I thought I'd take a look at their line-up to see what they have.

Back in the day when I was Gear Editor at Runner's World Magazine, I used to write the annual Shoe Buyers Guide and I knew well the road and trail shoes of the brands available in South Africa. In writing these guides, I'd researched the lineage of shoes and knew the background and heirachy. 

The Asics model names confused me with some looking like a fusion of two lineages. 

I was in JHB yesterday so I swung past a sports store to see for myself the one that had caught my eye. While they didn't have it in stock, I did try what they had as well as some from their sale table.

I realised how unaccustomed I have become to puffy, lifted soles (I'm on zero drop or no more than 4mm) in road and trail shoes. The shoes also felt narrow in the toe box (Inov8 has space) and it felt like the soles were 'forcing' my forefoot to over-roll inwards on the take off. No wonder physios are so busy. 

I didn't risk buying anything and will search online for a store that stocks the model that I'd like to try. 

I've also been keen to try Mr Price's Maxed shoe offering. Man, it is scary to spend a lot of money to just try a shoe. It helps that I know what to look for and what I like best. This 25-minute stop at the sports store reminded me what a minefield buying running shoes is - and even more for newcomers to road and trail who tend to focus on price and the colour and appearance of shoes. 

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