Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Haven't a Thing to Wear

...on my feet.

I have a pile of running shoes in my closet; four of them were purchased this year. None of them suit me and it doesn't seem that anything on the market matches what I perceive as my need. Over the years I've run mostly in Asics Evolutions or a similar medium motion control model. I usually ran on the roads and the typical feedback from my body during those years told me that my limit was about 35 miles per week.

Last spring as I incorporated barefoot running, I switched to mostly trails, and my feet and ankles strengthened accordingly I discovered I could run much more without my body complaining. Unfortunately, the Asics were causing a problem that wasn't apparent until the miles went up and was exacerbated by scanty padding in the FiveFingers or bare foot.

After seven weeks off because of a stress fracture I believed I should ease back in to running while protecting the injured part; I was sold on some big New Balance boats (1226)which allowed Achilles tendonitis to develop in just 44 miles of a walk/jog combination over 18 outings. I've gone back to the old Asics, but the problem of uneven thickening and callus build-up caused by the pronation-limiting features returned. This is what caused undue stress to occur to the second metatarsal that fractured. I've cut a hole in the insole to allow some space there.

I like the flexible bottoms of the FiveFingers although a couple millimeters more in thickness might protect better on rocky trails. They don't protect well from stubbing a toe. They're also quite cold in the winter. I was hoping the NB MT 101 would be the shoe, but they haven't been available around where I live (Boulder) to even try on and they don't make them in a width other than a D. I have the Nike Free. I was sold a larger size to make up for their lack of width so I can tolerate running in them for three or four miles on pavement (they do permit a typical minimalist foot strike) but they're like wearing skis on a trail, not to mention that the tread is unsuitable for trails.

I may venture to market again to see if there isn't something I previously presumed unsuitable. If I do find a shoe I am convinced that it is important to break myself into it little by little. The alternative shoe and the fall back shoe will be the old Asics, the tread worn off, but with hex-head screwed for traction.


  1. John, you should visit the Barefoot Runners Society ( It is a group of barefoot/minimalist runners that range in experience from lifetime barefoot runners all the way to true newbies. They would be able to give you some advice about your current situation. Membership is free. I believe you can read the forums without joining, but you may have to join to post, not sure. Good Running!

  2. You can send your pile of shoes to me or I can buy it for a cheap I think the types of shoes you're going to need is either Sockwa or Zem. These shoes are much better than Vibrams or NBs. One of the things these shoes can offer aside from comfort and protection is the health benefits especially for our lower legs. To know more in details, visit the link here.

  3. Thanks. I'll look into the shoes and the site.

  4. I have my doubts about the Zem being suitable for the trails I run, but the Sockwa Amphibian looks like what I was imagining I wanted but 1.5 mm seems a very thin sole for the rock-laden trails I go up and down. I'll compare it to the FiveFingers sole, which has been OK on the trails.