Running Shoes, or: How I Bit the Bullet July 27 2014
Admittedly, I just spent a full day researching running shoes on the interwebs instead of making kimchi and planning for the shop's upcoming tour.
In my defense, a batch of dapper pomade was simultaneously being melted, so I feel like I can cross at least one thing off of my list...
Now, let me just mention that I'm not a runner. I'm an athlete: I swam competitively for 17 years and I am one of the drinkers of the "Insanity" kool-aid. But I dislike... no no... I loathe running. It's jarring, my stomach feels like it's inside out, and my last attempt left my shins feeling like pure fire for about week. If you also don't find yourself to be a strong runner you may relate to my feeling excluded as I read reviews from people who have owned 10 to 20 pairs of running shoes at once and know their own style and preferences well enough to know what to look for... I don't have the time, money, or running capability to test that many pairs of shoes!
So why on earth would I start a routine of running if I hate it so much, you ask? Well, I'll be on the road with the shop from September through December and I need a practical way to stay in shape and have a physical and mental outlet. I can't exactly do my usual plyometrics and calisthenics in the Minnie Winnie, and running gives me and the pup an excuse to get out in the fresh air, out of the RV, and be present in nature: really soaking in all the sights. I'm not one to advocate shutting things out just because it wasn't perfect the first (or tenth) time.
I try to keep an open mind and challenge old habits, because my body and my mind are constantly evolving. I didn't like brussels sprouts when I was a kid but I love them now... Maybe the same thing can happen with running...
But back to the shoes. I decided to go the minimalist route after reading how unnatural traditional running shoes cause most bodies to move. Basically, traditional running shoes have a difference of 12-15mm in height between the toe and the big ol heel cushion so you can't help but land on your heel, absorbing the impact in your joints. But minimal shoes have a difference of 0-4 or 8mm, causing you to land more in the middle of your foot and absorb the impact with your muscles. more here.
You may have heard about the lawsuit that recently was filed against one company that makes those hideous toe shoes. From what I can tell, it doesn't appear that the shoes actually physically harmed anyone, but someone complained that the company claimed the shoe was "effective in strengthening muscles or reducing injury" and that this claim wasn't based on any scientific evidence. My bet is that the people who filed the suit realized how completely silly they looked after their crushes all simultaneously burst into laughter when asked "How do you like my new shoes??". Regardless, the fact that some of the greatest Olympic Marathoners of all time as well as cultures like the Tarahumara in Mexico always have and always will run barefoot is enough for me to think it worth a try (all claims aside). But I'm not about to run down the asphalt of Southeast Portland with no shoes on (I live past 82nd, after all). So minimal shoes (sans toesies) offer protection while still allowing my body to run in a more natural state.
So, after staring at them in my Zappos shopping cart, searching more reviews, and staring at them more in my online cart, I thought to myself "Self: maybe you should support local business and head down to your local Foot Traffic to try them on." Well, apparently I'm not the only person in Portland who wants to try the new Saucony Kivana 5's . Two places I went were sold out. At least I tried though, and I found out that running shoes typically run about a full size small. I normally wear an 8.5 and the sales person had me trying on 9.5s, encouraging me to actually go for 10s since feet tend to swell while running.