Nice run this morning! But, WOOF! …It was hard to get up. And the funny (obsessive?) thing is, my first conscious thought? What to do about my running shoes. That’s sad.
My running shoe dilemma is due to me breaking my own cardinal rule for equipment purchase. DON’T BUY CHEAP! I always harp on my family and friends about “Getting what you pay for” and yet when I found a (supposedly) decent pair of shoes at over 60% off I bought them on impulse without checking their quality and I am paying for it. Or, rather, my knees are. I can tell immediately when a pair of shoes starts to fail because the front, outside parts of my knees get sharp pains and my calves want to constantly cramp. My 12 miler on Saturday was full of these pains and twinges. So I decided to test my theory this morning and go back to my old (and arguably the best I’ve ever had) running shoes, a pair of New Balance 1061s. Since they had been put out to pasture (read: dubbed my “mowing” shoes) they were full of crud and spiders in the garage. A bit of pre dawn beating (no, I don’t have any neighbors close by) managed to dislodge mud and spider alike and I put them on and headed to the trail.
It didn’t take long to sense that I had made a good decision. The conditions were perfect. Fifty eight degrees, light breeze, dry… lovely. We were running one of my favorite routes, a 10K with a couple of good, long hills in it, but generally fast. I stepped in with the lead pack for the warm up and just listened to the conversations, foot strikes, breathing and early morning critter noises. With all the headlamps I’m sure we looked like some Frankenstein’s tractor trundling and bouncing down the trail with 30+ eyes. My warm up felt good and my legs wanted to push the pace. My lungs were great. It took me about a mile to get past our “pacers”. Two guys that always lead the group out at about an 8:30 pace and then move to side to let the horses pass. It always makes for a crowd at the front but it’s great for pack running!
Have you noticed in all this that I haven’t mentioned my shoes or leg pain? About half way up the big hill, I realized that my legs felt really good and I was holding a strong pace. I spent the rest of the hill trying to figure out why when it dawned on me that I had my old shoes on and THAT was the reason I didn’t have pain.
I have always felt that the true mark of a great piece of equipment is when it becomes a part of you. When you don’t even know it’s there. It just works and does its job. A great ball glove, the perfect pair of hockey gloves or skates, a well fitted bicycle, and especially shoes. I know that my running shoes are doing their job when I DON’T NOTICE THEM. This means two things. First, they are DOING the job they were designed for. Second, they are NOT DOING things to distract me like making my knees hurt, constantly coming untied, not protecting my feet (stone bruises), etc. An ill fitting, poorly designed or poorly functioning piece of equipment, for me, quickly becomes a distraction that ruins my groove. Even clothing that doesn’t fit or rubs, etc. makes me lose focus. In short, I know that equipment, such as shoes, is working properly if I didn’t even notice it was there.
So even though the shoes I was wearing today have over 600 miles on them and should be falling apart, I didn’t even notice I had them on. This is much better than the painful knees and tight calves I get with my “new” shoes.
Anyway, back to the run. I was able to maintain a very consistent 7:40-7:45 pace for the entire run and felt strong and easy all the way. I probably could have run faster, but I didn’t want to. I was right where I wanted to be. Now I just need to figure out what to do about my shoes…!