Posts Tagged ‘Saucony’

Agony of the feet

March 12, 2017

There’s a phobia for everything. Podophobia is fear of feet. Agliophobia is fear of pain. So I have Agliopodophobia, I guess. And the headache to go with it.

Some runners have shin splints or sore knees. I have feet that have morphed and changed over my 40ish years of running. They no longer conform to traditional running shoes, and shoes that worked in the recent past have been discontinued, so finding the right pair is an endless cycle. The pain issues are kept at bay when I’m home chugging around my usual trails and cross training on my bike or swimming to keep from wearing my feet out, but right now I could use some relief.

It’s with great irony that I write this as Nike unveils the shoe that’s supposed to help the most elite runners in the world complete a marathon in less than two hours. That’s great, but what kind of resources is the shoe giant expending to keep over-50 runners on their feet a few more years? We’re certainly a bigger demographic than those twiggy Kenyans who defy gravity.

So, this is what’s on the floor next to my workspace.

IMG_20170311_164936_274

Worst part is that they’re all rejects, collected within a week. I had high hopes for each that they’d solve my issues and allow me to keep hitting the pavement. So far, no dice. I even went off the reservation for the Altra Impulse (yellow/pink ones) which look like “corrective” shoes of a bygone era. I had such hope — I waited for their delivery with desperate anticipation — but sadly their weirdly exaggerated square toe shape just didn’t do the job.

Not shown are the Hoka Cliftons that I wore for a couple weeks then sold online when they caused one of my toenails to violently detach from my foot. That wasn’t good, but other than the toenail they mostly didn’t hurt my feet, so I kind of liked them. They’re the kind with almost clown-like huge soles, called “maximal” cushioning. It was a new feeling for me to run a good 8-10 miles one day and not have sore feet the next day (other than the one toe that was in pretty constant agony), so the Hokas had some redeeming value.

The reason for this exercise in footwear testing is that there’s a race event on my schedule this spring that I already have something like $300 invested in. I don’t want to miss out on training and I’m actually enjoying “long” runs again (long for me). I’ve figured out the right mix of Tailwind to avoid dehydration and cramping (which is HUGE), started getting some speed work in on short run days… it was all lining up for me until I had to admit I couldn’t wear the Hokas any more. Back to square one, and no running for a week as I waited for new shoe orders to arrive.

Don’t tell me to check online reviews — I’d catch holy hell if Someone knew how much time I’ve spent trying to research the right shoe. Forget the online gurus and comparison guides and “best of the year” articles. It all comes down to how it feels on YOUR foot, which today meant blowing most of a Saturday trying on one pair after another.

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Apparently after working my way down the above pictured wall of shoes today IN EACH OF THREE DIFFERENT STORES, the simple request for shoes that fit and don’t harm my feet may indeed be elusive. It’s strange that New Balance makes great trail shoes that work for me (Leadvilles) but it’s been such a challenge to find NB road running shoes that fit right (note the purple Vazees in the “rejects” photo — never even wore them across the living room!). There were even Nikes and Asics in the mix during a full day of running shoe shopping today, and I haven’t worn those brands in many years.

I’ve thought about keeping a spread sheet of all of the different types of running shoes I’ve had — or remember having — so I don’t go back to bad ones that didn’t last or caused problems. It’s a waste of time though because manufacturers are always coming up with new styles and materials.

Here’s my rating:
“fresh foam” soles that everyone is selling: good if there’s enough in the right places. not everyone is a heel-striker and the foam is too thin under the ball of the foot in so many shoes

stretchy mesh uppers are a great addition to shoe options, especially when paired with fewer stiff design components that rub against the foot over long distances (even some Asics have bonded designs rather than their old stiff style on the sides as shown in photo below)

integrated tongues that are seamlessly part of the upper rather than a separate piece sewn in — fantastic!

 

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I love running shoes, but I love running in them most — not spending a beautiful Saturday schlepping from one store to the next, hoping to find something adequate and not painful.

In the end, I forked over an extortionate amount of money at a specialty running store after trying on at least 10 pair and listening to the advice of a saleskid who wasn’t born until I’d been running 20 years. I took the shoes home and did 6 miles in them.. and will probably take them back tomorrow. The struggle is real.

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The end of a long relationship

December 23, 2012

It’s over. Sorry Saucony, but I just can’t do it anymore. My feet belong to Patagonia. At least for now.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I didn’t do this on a whim. I’ve owned and worn more running shoes than you’d believe. But I’ve finally had to break ties with an old favorite, and this is why:

Saucony just doesn’t hold up anymore. The integrity of their construction is poor, in my opinion, particularly when compared with the Patagonias I’ve had since spring. There are major differences between the two, but for now Patagonia has my heart laced up.

Years ago, I’d take the Green Line to Lechmere and walk a long way down Cambridge Street  to get to the Saucony outlet store. That was, like, 1985, proof that I’ve worn a few pair of Saucony. There were others, too: for a while, Nike was my brand but the shape of the footbox has not been consistent. And I flirted with Reebok, but whatever happened to that brand? And there was a period of Adidas as well, I trained for and ran the marathon in them. Despite those experiences I always seemed to gravitate toward Saucony because they consistently fit my foot. But there’s more to the equation than that.

Last year at this time I was having massive foot problems. I was up at night with pain and developed awful blisters on high-mileage days. I worried that I was headed toward horrible invasive surgery like my sister had, when the doctor broke all of her foot bones and ran wires through her feet to straighten the bones as they healed. In fact, I had been running quite a bit and the Saucony sneakers I was wearing were breaking down faster than anticipated, causing the pain (or perhaps they just didn’t offer enough stability to begin with). At the time I owned three pair of Saucony that I was loathe to part with.

breaking up is hard to do

breaking up is hard to do

You’ve heard of the “devil you know” situation.

The foot pain wasn’t enough to stop  me from buying more Sauconys! I found a pair of trail shoes that, like their predecessors, I was in love with at the beginning. They fit well, had the right amount of flex and great treads. I put a bunch of trail miles on them this summer.

At the same time, I got a pair of Patagonia Tsalis inexpensively and decided to try them out, alternating between the two. The Patagonias also fit my foot well. They don’t have the same flex and I don’t like the tread as much but wow, have they held up! There’s almost no comparison: the Patagonias are not breaking down like the Sauconys, they still offer plenty of support and stability. And my feet don’t hurt when I wear them.

Ultimately, I’d love running shoes that blend the attributes of the two pair I have now, and I will continue to watch for them. But I won’t spend my hard-earned money on those that don’t hold up and may be damaging my feet. In fact, I’ve just ordered another pair of Patagonias. I’m really doing it this time. Goodbye Saucony.

All I want for Christmas

December 14, 2011

A guy stood in front of me, gesturing something. His shirt? I was confused. I was on the elliptical at the gym, headphones on, surfing three channels of nightly news. I popped one earbud out to see what he wanted. “The race? I ran it too,” he said, pointing at our matching shirts. Ugh, the race.

Some races are memorable for a challenging course, others for the scenery. The Providence Rock and Roll half marathon last summer was run in a monsoon. And it ranks as one of the worst running days I’ve had. Ever. In, like, 30-something years.

The hills, chilling rain and other factors conspired to tighten my IT bands to a very painful degree. I’d never dropped out of a race before, but considered it that time as I hobbled the last couple miles in exquisite pain. Afterward I went home, took Ibuprofen and got back into bed. I avoided questions from friends about how it went. That night at the gym, months later, was the first time I felt comfortable talking about it.

It had made me feel old, to wonder if my body had enough and was punishing me. Or if I were doing something wrong. You see, I love running but running doesn’t always love me. And I’m still looking for a happy medium.

All I want for Christmas is two new feet.

When I was training for the 2010 Amica Half-Marathon in Newport, RI things looked really good. I was back to medium-distance running and loving it. But strange stuff started happening with my feet. First, I ruined a newish pair of sneakers because I was dragging the outer heel when I ran. The race itself went okay, but something happened to a toe, I guessed it was a wrinkle in my sock, which made the final few miles challenging. Then my good old hamstring stopped cooperating around mile 11, but that was expected. The result was sore feet, and “baby” toes that looked like someone tried to hack them off with a dull knife.

Winter was fine: more skiing, less running. In spring it seemed like a good idea to sign up for another half-marathon in August 2011. Plenty of time to plan and train, I thought. But it backfired. On training runs, those “baby” toes were now consistently curling under my other toes and getting chewed up in the process. And other foot pain was becoming an issue.  Wrong shoes? Oh crap, I liked them so much I’d invested in several identical pairs to guard against them becoming discontinued.

yes, I will walk away from this investment in running shoes if it's what's messing with my feet

Meantime, the image of my sister’s toes, each with a tiny silver wire sticking out of it, constantly flashed in my mind. She’d had major, painful surgery that broke and re-straightened all of her toes, requiring an extended period of immobilization (no driving, no walking). Scary stuff.  More recently our very active sister-in-law started getting shots in her feet to relieve painful neuromas. She’d done the 10-mile Tough Mudder successfully but sat out much of the rest of the summer in pain. Maybe it is something as simple as the shoes, but at the same time I’m afraid to find out if the solution isn’t that simple.

So I’ve been trying everything. Nix the high heels. Trail running seems to do less pounding than road running. And less running, more biking overall is even better. Then there are the toe spacers. Injinji toe socks. And even swimming (or a reasonable facsimile) and a boxing class.

Maybe what I really need for Christmas is snow, so I can give my running feet a break.


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