This post seemed appropriate for Black Friday…
I’m a barefoot runner, yet I have a shoe collection that takes up an embarrassingly large space. Most of my peers are in the same boat. What’s the deal?
The best way to explain our affinity for shoes is to describe the process of becoming a barefoot runner. *Note- this assumes you’re not a road-only barefoot runner that lives in a temperate climate.
1. You try barefoot running. It feels great! You forever swear off all shoes.
2. You become more proficient; you perfect your form. You start running faster and longer. You still consider shoes to be medieval torture devices designed as part of an elaborate conspiracy headed by Nike.
3. Emboldened by your past successes, you begin pushing your limits. You try trail running. You test both cold and hot temperatures. You try racing barefoot. Sometimes you succeed. Sometimes you fail. When you fail, you can’t help but consider the possibility that shoes may have helped you succeed.
4. You find your limit and want to explore more. You decide to try out some shoes. You do research to find the perfect pair of all-purpose shoes. You buy said shoes and enjoy the new-found freedom of minimal protection and great running form.
5. You enjoy said shoes immensely, but find they’re not perfect for all conditions. You decide to purchase another pair in hopes of matching the shoes to different conditions. You find the new shoes work MUCH better in certain conditions. BAM! You just took the first step to becoming a shoe whore.
6. You begin obsessively matching specific conditions to the appropriate shoes. You spend all your free time reading reviews and testing new models. Your collection of shoes grows immensely.
The traveling Shelly and I do perfectly exemplifies the need for a variety of shoes to maximize performance and enjoyment. Over the last month or so, these are the conditions we’ve encountered. The red activities could not be done barefoot.
- The streets of New York City,
- The ocean beach in Connecticut,
- The Bimbler’s Bluff course in Connecticut (rocky, technical trail),
- Eighteen inches of snow on roads of Western Massachusetts,
- Ankle-deep mud on trails in Southeast Ohio,
- Cross-training on gravel roads,
- Semi-formal dinner in Las Vegas,
- Rocky, sandy desert in Arizona,
- Snow-covered summit of a mountain in Northern Arizona,
- Cactus and rock-covered mountain trails in Southeast New Mexico,
- Cross-training on grassy field,
- Country roads outside Dallas, Texas.
For these runs, I used a full compliment of my shoe collection- Merrell Road gloves (crosstraining), Merrell Trail Gloves (most trails), Inov-8 Baregrip 200s (mud), Chaco sandals (casual use), Merrell Tough Gloves (Vegas), Luna huaraches (hot roads), one of the new Vibram models for SS ’12 (cold roads), and even my Hoka One One Mafates (as an experiment.) Even with all of these, I still could have used a Trail Glove with a hearty rock plate in New Mexico.
I’m slowly approaching the point where I have the perfect shoe for any condition I may encounter, but there are still holes. I don’t have a shoe that is great for night mountain running, or a shoe that drains well in extremely wet non-muddy trail conditions. I think the New Balance MT110s or Merrell Mix Masters may be ideal solutions for the night mountain running, but I’m still searching for the water trail shoes.
Why are we shoe whores? We’re searching for the best tools for each condition.