Tomorrow, I'm planning on attending a running clinic at Appalachian Running Company and it's inevitable that I'll be tempted to purchase a new pair of shoes.
As runners, we tend to over-complicate an otherwise ridiculously simple sport with products designed to make you run better, recover faster, and so on. And for most of us, our worst vice in this area falls under the category of footwear.
Entering my 5th year of running (wow, I cannot believe it's been that long! I should be winning marathons at this point or something...), I feel like I've got a good handle on which shoes my body and mind require for various types of runs and workouts. Not only does it help with injury prevention, it also tends to help me focus on the task at hand, be it a fast workout, long run on roads, or technical mountain running.
Now I'm not going to get into anything scientific or technical about form or footwear. SOOO many other people do this way better than I ever could, and frankly I just don't have the patience to learn all that crap. Instead, I'd simply like to shine a light into the window of my world of shoe choices and purposes...basically a What and Why of what I put on my feet when I head out the door for a run.
Compared to other runners, I think I keep it pretty simple in terms of shoes, but my basis for this statement doesn't have much supporting evidence. I have visions of all other runners with inventories like The Ginger Runner, staring into their technicolor closets on race morning, poring over which shoes to wear like a teenage girl on the first day of 10th grade.
That is not me.
At any given moment, I have 4 pairs of shoes in my rotation:
1) Fast, light trail shoe
2) Cushioned trail shoe
3) Fast, light road shoe
4) Cushioned road shoe
And these are the specific models of shoes that I (currently) wear for each of these categories, respectively:
1) Brooks PureGrit
2) Hoka One One Stinson Evo Trail
3) Saucony Kinvara 3
4) Brooks Ghost 5
Some of you may already be judging my choices, saying things like "the Kinvara isn't really a fast and light shoe" but keep in mind that these are the shoes for me: my feet, my legs, and my fucked up head. YMMV.
So that's the What. As you can imagine, the Why breaks down without confusion as far as Trail vs Road applications. The other considerations really aren't complicated either, kinda like me. And since I'm currently at work while writing this post, why not make a handy dandy flowchart?
In general, if I'm running a "shorter" distance race (which I consider anything <=13.1), then I will use the fast shoe for the appropriate surface. It really helps mentally to "feel fast". The only exception would be when I know the course is going to be very hilly with long descents, which normally will only be in trail races where I live, so I'd go with the more cushioned shoe (option #2) to save my legs as much as possible from the pounding long downhill stretches can impose.
By running varying speeds and distances throughout training for different distance races, I find this logic mixes up the shoes pretty well and I'm not constantly running in the same shoe, day in and out.
"But, hey! I only want to wear one pair of shoes! What would you do then?"