Inevitably, a week or two before every half marathon I run, my shoes crap out at about 300 miles. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. But when your shoes are done, you KNOW. And I always know right before it’s race time.
This is a frustrating thing because a few weeks before you race is not exactly an ideal time to be breaking in a new pair of shoes. For this reason, I’ve been switching to a new pair of the same model of shoes for a couple of years now. And those shoes — my beloved Brooks Pure Cadence — have been very good to me.
The last pair of Pure Cadence I got felt lovely on first run. I met my spring half marathon goal wearing these shoes, and even PRed at the Bix with these cranberry kicks. But there’s also an ugly secret. My poor, poor toenails have been black and blue since May.
So when my Nike+ told me we were nearing the mileage capacity for my shoes three weeks out from half marathon time, I was faced with a tough decision. Should I get another pair of Brooks Pure Cadence … or *gasp* try something new?
So off I went to the running store. I found a helpful employee at the local Cincy Fleet Feet and launched into my diatribe. I rapidly rattled off my laundry list of foot issues, running history and other neurotic things that probably made said employee wish someone else had asked to help me first. Then, I tried on no fewer than 12 pairs of shoes. With each pair, I went for a short jog outside. After about an hour and countless short sprints outside of the store, we had whittled down the pile to a new pair of Brooks Cadence (the devil I know) and a pair of Nike Zoom Structure (the wild unknown).
DECISIONS ARE HARD!
But why are they so much harder when it comes to running shoes? I toil and torment and hem and haw over which pair to get. And if I think about it, they’re not all THAT different, and I’m going to need a new pair in a couple of months, anyway. So why do I stress so much about which pair to get?
They’re JUST SHOES.
But they’re not. Running shoes are so much more than just shoes. After all, the wrong running shoe could lead to discomfort, blisters and sometimes, injury. And the right running shoe can make running easier, more effortless and, by extension, more enjoyable. That’s a lot of pressure for one measly pair of shoes, isn’t it?
It almost feels like my running hopes and dreams are figuratively tied into the laces of my shoes, both physically and mentally.
So what did I choose? Tried and true (and toenails blue)? Or uncharted territory?
Well, friends, I got crazy and went with something different. I wore my old shoes for the last long training run of the season and broke in the new guys slowly over short runs before the race. And you know what? Different can be good. — Aidz