I mentioned briefly in this training week in review post that I started running in new shoes. And I did. And now… well, the romance has fizzled a bit, and I have ended up, once again, in the arms of Nike Free 5.0’s (read more about my running shoes here.) But still… let’s talk about shoes.
When I am in the thick of training, my right ankle starts to ache. It’s worse in the mornings and when I first get up. I have to hobble for a bit before I can walk normally. It goes away fairly quickly, it has never prevented me from running and it’s not enough of an ache to require ibuprofen, so I usually don’t think much of it.
When my ankle started to hurt earlier in the training cycle than normal (it was about 11 weeks pre-marathon, and it usually happens about 4-5 weeks pre-marathon) I started to wonder if I was going to need some more significant, supportive shoes.
I went through this same routine about a year and a half ago and headed to my local (small) running store. The employee was super helpful and seemed confident that the shoes he suggested were the ones for me. He wanted me to love Newtons, but I have tried them a couple times and they have never felt right to me (he was Newton wearer and I have noticed that those who wear Newtons are usually very in love with them.) That day, I went home with a pair of Brooks PureFlow and Brooks PureConnect, but knew early on, after only a few runs, that they were not the shoes for me.
I ended up back in the Nike Free’s, just decided that I needed to buy a new pair more often.
But, I made this recent trip to Roadrunner Sports because my neon coral pair of Free’s (I try to buy new colors each time so I can differentiate the new vs. old) were fairly new and my ankle was still achey in the morning.
I walked into the store and quickly gave the employee the rundown on my shoes. I told her exactly what I liked/disliked in a running shoe (nothing too heavy or bulky, no Newtons and no Brooks Pure series.) She grabbed a handful of pairs and I tried them all. I tried the Asics 33-DFA 2, the Brooks Launch 2, New Balance Fresh Foam Zante, and the Asics Gel Nimbus 17 (for this one, I wanted to try it because I was just plain curious. It’s a very popular running shoe.)
At first try, the Asics 33-DFA 2 felt like heaven- so cushy and molded right to my feet. The only thing that felt awkward was the way that I felt that I was sitting back in my heels. Then I tried on the Zante- I didn’t dislike them, they just didn’t feel as comfortable as the Asics did. Then I tried the Brooks Launch. I really liked them. They were extremely light, supportive, and very comfortable. Then I tried the Gel Nimbus. They were incredibly comfortable and supportive… I can see why everyone loves them! I do prefer a lighter, more minimal shoe though, so I ruled it out. At Roadrunner Sports they categorize their shoes into levels of cushion. I found that I preferred shoes in level 3 (the lower the number, then less significant the shoe) and the Gel Nimbus was a level 5.
My first run in the Launch were great, and I still love to wear them. They are comfy, bouncy, and lightweight.
On the other hand, during my first run in the Asics I knew right away that they were not the shoes for me. They were loud (each footstep was a bang, I’m not sure why) and I could tell they were affecting my running form. I can’t pinpoint details, but they just didn’t feel right. I am so grateful that I am a V.I.P. member at Roadrunner because returning them was so easy (I highly recommend the V.I.P program and no, I am not getting paid to say that.)
I still love the Launch, and my ankle aches did go away (yay!) but I seemed to have traded my ankle aches for other aches when I traded shoes. Nothing major (like the ankle) but it would be a achey knee here, a weird foot pain there. After a few weeks in the Launch, with the weird aches, I switched back to the Nike’s and every healthy joint and muscle went right back to where it should be. And now, after a full two weeks in the Free’s, guess what aches when I wake up in the morning? Yep, my right ankle. I’ll keep it.
I still will get new shoes frequently (the minimal shoes break down faster) and I’ll be good about post long run ice baths (they help so much!) I’ll wear the Launch occasionally to keep the ankle pain at bay.
I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again… there is a running shoe out there for everyone! Just because a shoe didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.
You have to kiss a ton of frogs before you find the one that you are meant to be with!
Here’s a few of the shoes that I mentioned in this post: