Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Archive for the tag “shoes”

Daily Minimalism?

There is no question that the barefoot and minimalist running trend has certainly caught fire in the running world. Shoe companies are quick to cater to the interests of the running community, who are quick to fork over the $$$ to support the latest trend. I will say from the outset that I have been skeptical of minimalist running from the beginning. The idea we were born to run this way doesn’t hold much water for me since we weren’t “born” on concrete and pavement! I am more willing to entertain the notion that minimalist running may have more benefits for trail running, but I’m on the fence there as well.

Regardless of my beliefs, one thing is for certain- any new “tool” is worthless without proper training. You wouldn’t get in the cockpit of a plane without flying lessons, so why would you lace up minimalist shoes without understanding how to run differently in them? Now, while I’m not prepared to take the plunge and buy into the trend, momentary as it may be, I am intrigued by the idea of using minimalist shoes for everyday wear. In theory, wearing these shoes has the potential to strengthen my legs by forcing me to use different muscles as I walk throughout the day.

The science is mixed about whether or not minimalist shoes decrease injury or improve running. It also seems clear that foot strike plays as much a role as choice of shoes. However, as with many “tools” of this nature, if it works well for you, then it works. Thus, I’ve been doing some research on the best minimalist shoes to purchase for everyday wear. Ideally, I’ll find a pair that blend in fairly well with my normal wardrobe so my feet don’t stand out anymore than necessary! Based on reviews, I’ve narrowed my choices down to the following shoes. If you have any thoughts or experience with them, I’d certainly love to hear from you!

Brooks Green Silence: these don’t exactly qualify as “blending in” but I’m definitely interested in the design.

Merrell Barefoot Tough Glove: these shoes definitely fit the bill for blending in, and many of the reviews suggest them as excellent shoes for any office environment.

NB Minimus Trail: With material real estate being at a premium as it is, the idea of trail shoes seems reasonable to avoid slipping and sliding on anything more than smooth, dry terrain.

NB Minimus Life: These appear to be the more general use cousin of the Minimus Trail, with similarly strong reviews for everyday use.

NB NewSky: They are made out of recycled water bottles! Need I say more?!

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my final choice and review them following a thorough testing!

Marathon Sports: Checking Out the Best of Boston

During my most recent vacation with the beautiful epicurean, we spent the tail end of our trip in Boston. Now, I may have no delusions of being able to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but being in such an energetic and active city still takes on additional meaning as a runner. As we walked through the various neighborhoods, I couldn’t help but think about the history of the roads I was passing. Which world record-holders have trained on these very same stretches of pavement? What segments of the Boston Marathon have the eyes of these communities seen? Boston is a city filled with history, and I would certainly welcome the opportunity to sit down and chat with some of the fabled buildings, perhaps over a nice beer.

Our time in the city was short, but I just so happened to be nearing the end of the life cycle on my current pair of shoes, and it seemed only fitting that I stopped in at Boston’s favorite running store to pick up a new pair of trail ready shoes for my upcoming race. Marathon Sports was founded in 1975, and has been voted as Boston’s Best Running store for 12 straight years. They now have six locations around the city, and have become a running icon in the Boston community. So, I snagged my Dunkin Donuts coffee and headed off to check out just what they had to offer!

When I walked in, I was immediately greeted by one of the three employees working at the time. I explained my current situation and let him know that I was looking for a trail shoe for my upcoming race. Before pulling out a variety of shoes, he asked me to take off my shoes and walk/run so he could judge my stride and foot strike. They call this “The Right Fit” and it has become a staple of their business. I was thoroughly impressed with his ability to analyze my gate and found it matched up pretty darn well with what I had already known. He then went back and grabbed three different pairs of shoes for me to try on.

I was pleasantly surprised when I indicated that I should head outside and run up and down the block to get a better feel for each of the shoes. This was the first running store I had been in where I was allowed to actually take a pair of shoes out for a legitimate “test drive” and it certainly made all the difference. After trying on all three, it became clear that the Mizuno Wave Ascend was my clear favorite and felt the most comfortable. He agreed and indicated that it would hold up the best over the long distances I was going to be covering.

Now, I didn’t exactly have room in my suitcase for an extra pair of shoes but I wasn’t leaving the store without them, so I committed to making them fit. They were even on sale! All-in-all, it was a great experience and a wonderful way to end our time in Boston. In case I needed any further evidence that Marathon Sports had recommended the right shoe, I broke them in the next day with a 28 mile run, and they felt great. Now, if only I could say I would be going back there for all of my running needs!

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