I did a very bad thing, and I’ve lately been suffering the consequences.
I bought my last pair of sneakers in December, and, traditionally, I can get about 6 months out of a pair of sneakers before they need to be relegated to the status of “for yard work and trips to the mailbox only,” but traditionally I don’t do even half as much running as I did this Spring.
You may recall that in March I ran the distance of a 10k (and if you don’t recall, I’d really like to remind you), and leading up to that run I was averaging about 10 miles of running per week to train. I know that to the seasoned runner or the competitive I’ve-got-a-whole-level-of-crazy-beyond-comprehension-and-I-run-marathons-because-it’s-the-only-way-I-can-sleep-at-night-and-by-the-way-I-just-might-be-related-to-American-Pharoah runner 10 miles a week is chump change, but prior to that, I ran an average of 3 miles a week. Anybody who can count knows that there is big difference between 10 of something and 3 of something. Actually, even people who can’t count could see how big the difference is; as an experiment, make two piles of Oreos (and be sure they’re Double-Stuf, please, don’t cheap out on your cookie selection), one with 3 cookies and another with 10, locate the nearest toddler and ask him or her which pile he or she would prefer.* Even a toddler can tell the difference between 3 and 10, and I should have been able to as well.
In April, I noticed that my sneakers were feeling a little tired, but I was too busy packing my entire life into boxes to be shipped halfway across the world (where I am still awaiting its arrival, by the way) and bidding adieu to the friends I left behind in Germany to really care. In May, I knew it was time to go shoe shopping, but moving is such an expensive endeavor and I wasn’t working out as much as normal, so I talked myself into waiting and saving what now seems like a small amount of money in the face of my foot pain, and just last week, I suffered the consequences.
I started feeling pain in my left foot about a week ago, and I tried my usual treatment regime of “just ignore it and it will go away,” but it didn’t go away- it actually got worse. By Wednesday, what had started out as a little pain had turned into enough ouch that a three-mile walk was a challenge, and I had to admit that I was wrong about waiting so long to replace my old kicks and also about hoping I could just play through the pain. So now I sit here, with egg on my face, resting my foot (FitBit friends, you are about to see my step-count go way down) and looking longingly at the new running sneaks I bought on Saturday.
I’ve been pretty loyal to the Asics brand of sneakers, and they have served me well, but the last pair I bought, while I loved them at first, felt a little heavy and inflexible after a while. I think that their sturdiness served me well while I was scrambling along the icy bike paths at the end of wintertime in Germany, but when on the treadmill it felt like I had hooves instead of feet. I don’t think this is really the fault of the shoe or the Asics company, I think that, as I become more of a runner, my running shoe needs are evolving.
In the past, whatever sneaker I bought had to be versatile enough for running (inside on a treadmill or outside on whatever Mother Nature threw my way), lifting, dog walking, hiking, and cycling. That is kind of a lot to ask of one pair of sneakers, and I know that, but I also know that I wasn’t doing enough of those things to warrant the purchase of a separate, specialized pair of kicks, but now I am and the time has come when I need a designated pair of running shoes. On Saturday, with the help of the couple who owns and runs the local sporting goods shop Be Fit Kailua, I tried on several pairs of running shoes (I felt a lot like Cinderella) and was shocked to find that I really loved a pair of minimalist running shoes made by a company called Topo.
The backstory to this brand, as told to me by Jeff at Be Fit Kailua, is that the guy who helped create the Vibram minimalist running shoes (yes, THIS Vibram, I know, I know, but I have some friends who swear by them, and it just goes to prove the adage “different strokes for different folks”) struck out on his own and made a more shoe-like minimalist running shoe. I was shocked to find that, out of the seven pairs of shoes brought out for me to try on (and can I add how refreshing it was to not have to hear the salesperson mutter “I’m not sure I have any that big” when I told her my size), the two I liked the best were two minimalist shoes, the Topos that I ended up buying and another pair by a company called Altra.
I was so surprised, that I ended up trying a a few of the pairs on more than once. I walked around the store. I went out into the parking lot to jog around. I bounced on the balls of my feet. I went back out in the parking lot to run around on just my toes. I almost bought the more traditional pair simply because it is what I expected to like. In the end, I decided that, while I had always assumed I’d be the happiest with a pair of pillows strapped to my feet, and in the absence of social acceptability for wearing pillows, I’d settle for the sneaker with the most cushion, since I had felt encumbered by and unhappy with my latest pair of Asics, maybe it was time for a change (Oh god, how I hate change). So, I took the plunge.
What I like most about these shoes (and keep in mind that I haven’t done any real running in them, I have merely jogged the length of a parking lot, so I may have to eat my words) is that they offer the things I really want from a shoe (like being a physical barrier between my foot and the hazards presented by the outside world and providing a little support so that my dogs don’t bark every time I take a step) without actually feeling like I’m wearing a shoe. These sneakers are light and the toe box is much bigger than I’m used to which will give my little piggies some extra wiggle room (a good thing since of late I’d started developing blisters on the tops of my last three toes- who does that?), and I can feel my feet in them better than in my traditional running shoe choice. I guess the theory behind the shoe is that it can help strengthen your feet by allowing them room to flex, but they provide more structure and support than minimalist shoes historically do. They are the happy medium between pillows and bare feet, and I hope I love them as much on day 100 as I did on day 1- I’ll definitely let you know.
For now, they sit dormant in my entryway because I am going to really try to rest my foot and see if it can get better without professional help. Because I’m without a car, I’ve been relying on my feet more than usual. Poor Jack will have to miss out on his walks this week (don’t worry, we’ll drive him to the dog park when Don returns home from work), and I’ll have to plan on doing any errands in the evenings when I have Don to chauffeur me around. I guess this week’s workouts will feature a lot of abs and arms exercises! And don’t think I’m ending my affair with Asics, I need a new pair of all-around sneakers for life’s other activities and I think they are still my go-to brand.
*If the nearest toddler doesn’t belong to you, you should probably ask permission from its parents before whisking it away to your kitchen and its treasure trove of Nabisco snacks, because….well….you know…..prison.