Saturday, June 10, 2006

New shoes

After I had been running for about a year, I went into the running store in Champaign, IL, and said to them, "I started running a year ago and I think it's time I got some real running shoes. Help." I spent almost an hour there that evening. They analysed my gate, watching me both walk and run. I tried on probably about 15 pairs of shoes as the guy who was helping me explained the slight differences between each pair. In the end, I settled on a pair of Brooks, which I fell in love with. I had never had shoes of any type that were so comfortable.

Since that time in summer of 2003, whenever I have needed a new pair of sneakers, I simply brought the current pair in to the running store and said, "I need a pair of these in size 12." I had no desire to change shoes, they were awesome.

About 2 weeks ago, I felt my shoes starting to have some serious wear. Last weekend, I realized that I had about a week left in them, and I had planned on getting new ones this weekend. Thursday, I was running, and at about mile 6 of a 9 mile run, something changed, and all of a sudden, every step I took hurt. My knees were killing me. My shoes died right in the middle of my run. I only made it about half a mile before I had to stop and limp home. When I got home, I was looking at my poor shoes, content that I'd have a shiny new pair in 2 days' time. As I was looking at them, though, I noticed that the wear on the treads was in a different place than any of the previous 3 pairs, which had all worn in exactly the same way.

I didn't feel like my stride had changed, but apparently it had. So today, I went to the running store with my shoes, and when the guy came to help me I said, "I have had 4 pairs of this exact model in the last 3 years, and I love them. But I had knee surgery in February, and the soles wore out in a different place on this pair than my previous pairs. Something in my stride changed. What do you think I should do for shoes?"

So he got out a new pair of my current shoes, we went outside, and he watched me run up and down the block in them. After watching me do this, he got a funny look on his face, like there was something weird that I was doing that he could sort of see but not quite put his finger on. So he literally sat on the ground and watched me run (apparently to get my feet closer to eye level), and he spotted the problem.

My current model of shoes would no longer do. They would be fine, because normally I had a very neutral stride, and that shoe is great for neutral strided. But I am slightly favoring my knees now, probably a side effect of the training I did early on as I was coming off the injury, since I don't have any knee problems these days. I am running more up on the balls of my feet and not getting a full heel strike, and it's causing me to hit harder on the outside of the balls of my feet (which is where the shoes wore out).

So then I proceeded to try 4 pairs of shoes on, and finally settled on a pair, but, I am sorry to say, they aren't Brooks. I loved my Brooks, but my new Mizunos are specifically for people who tend to run on the balls of their feet. As I ran in them, I could actually feel my feet trying to push out, because the shoes were resisting, and pushing me back more towards center. The first few times up and down the block, it felt weird to feel the shoe actually correcting my stride, but once I got used to it, I really like it. I tried running in my old shoes up and down the block, and I can totally feel the change now, and how the new shoes will be better.

So rest in peace, my faithful Brooks. With four pairs in three years, we had a good run. But my gimpiness has caused me to move on.

5 comments:

Lisa said...

"After I had been running for about a year, I went into the running store in Champaign, IL, and said to them, "I started running a year ago and I think it's time I got some real running shoes. Help." I spent almost an hour there that evening. They analysed my gate, watching me both walk and run. I tried on probably about 15 pairs of shoes as the guy who was helping me explained the slight differences between each pair. In the end, I settled on a pair of Brooks, which I fell in love with."

-- if you substitute "Toronto, ON" for "Champaign, IL", that is pretty much exactly how my trip to the shoestore went yesterday.

Also, way to be a scientist about your shoes. I am impressed.

Danielle said...

You had knee surgery? Why don't I even vaguely recall this? Am I a horrible friend?

Joe said...

when i was sick for a month back in january-february and couldn't walk b/c of the leg thing? it's easier to describe what happened as "knee surgery" than "a large infection which needed a doctor to cut open the back of my knee to drain the abscess."

Danielle said...

Er, and a lot less gross to just call it knee surgery :-)

Joe said...

i figure when a guy whose job title is "orthopedic surgeon" uses a scalpel to cut me open, it's basically surgery. :)