After debating with myself for a long while, I finally bit the bullet and bought a new pair of running shoes, mostly for running the Austin Marathon in about a month’s time. I was balking at the idea of spending $100+ on a pair of shoes only for one race, in addition to the $100+ to register for the race in the first place. Normally, I could justify it because I’d do plenty of running in the shoes anyway, but these are relatively fast shoes, not the type I usually train in. Those shoes take me years to go through, and I already have a pair like that, with most of its life still to go.
So if you already have a similar pair, why buy new ones? Plantar fasciitis.
Ever since hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2015 (side note: if you already like hiking, don’t hike the AT), I’ve had a mild on-and-off case of plantar fasciitis. For those that don’t know, it’s a physical condition that causes pain towards the back of the arch in your foot, one of the more common injuries among runners. What’s strange about my case is I didn’t get it from running, and oddly enough, when I maintain a consistent running routine, it gets better. Normally, the best way to get rid of plantar fasciitis is to stop running.
That said, my case tends to flare up during particularly long and difficult runs, especially if the shoes I’m wearing aren’t well cushioned and/or don’t offer much support in the arch. I don’t have high arches, but I’ve always felt like most shoes need higher arches, especially now with this injury.
The fast pair of shoes I have offers enough cushion for the type of shoe it is, but isn’t good enough in the arch. In last year’s Austin marathon, what bothered me most in the last 30 minutes wasn’t my quads, my calves, my lungs, my glutes, my core, but my friggin’ left arch. And the shoes were almost new then; their cushioning would’ve broken down somewhat by now. In the Decker Challenge, only a half marathon, it came up. Not so much “ow ow ow”, but more “Not this crap again…”
So when I read about a particular pair of shoes that were lighter than the fast ones I have, have a snappy bounce to them, and offer an almost unfair amount of cushioning considering their weight, I was immediately drawn. If true, this was the Holy Grail of marathon shoes: cushioned/supportive enough for a long run, light enough to do it well.
Armed with a coupon and in Austin anyway, I decided to go into a store and try them on. Ho-ly crap...just lacing them up, I was in love. Aside from a too-wide forefoot (I’m patiently waiting for that trend to die), it felt like someone shaped the inside of the shoe with my feet specifically in mind. Running around the store for a bit confirmed everything I’d read: cushioned, bouncy, light, fast. More than anything, effortless. The kind of shoe where you don’t realize you’re going fast until you look at your watch. I bought ‘em.
After running a whopping 3 km on a track, I decided to use these for the 3M Half Marathon, two days later. I was that convinced.