Is there anything that speaks to hope and the power of forgetting past failures than a new pair of running shoes? I'm hoping my latest, a pair of Brooks Ghost in 10D, will be my sole-mates.
I have tried dozens, maybe even hundreds of different kinds of running shoes, and so far, my perfect running shoe has been elusive. Dozens of times, I have gone to the running store to get fitted and get recommendations, as every expert and article suggests, and to be honest, it has been a crapshoot.
There was the time that I got put in men's shoes, which were huge and sloppy and never comfortable. There were the times that I tried to go the minimalist shoe route and bought the trendy Vibram Five Fingers, or just super-flat and unsupportive shoes that only made my feet hurt more. There were just lots of times that I got put in $120 shoes that I knew I hated after two runs but couldn't take back because of the store's return policy.
Then I tried the cheap route -- went to a big-box store like Shoe Carnival, tried on every pair of shoes in my size under $80, and picked the pair I liked best. To be honest, this didn't work any better than the above route, it just cost slightly less.
I had two experiences that made me sure I had to do something about my running shoes. There was the Quarry Ridge Triathlon, where my feet hurt so bad that I ripped my shoes off in disgust as soon as I crossed the finish line. A friend of my husband's, a running coach too, said, "You should love your running shoes." And I thought, yes, I really should, but I hate these.
Yesterday, I wore another pair running shoes (bought for $65 on a remainder table) all day to volunteer for a triathlon. They hurt terribly after about an hour. I was on my feet for three hours. I was talking to someone who is coming back from a very serious injury to run his first triathlon in early August, and I thought, why am I being held back by something as dumb as shoes?
So I thought back on all my good experiences with shoes. There were my beloved Rykas, which used to be great running shoes for me -- they had a wide toebox and a narrow heel. There were the New Balance 585s I loved and had about 5 pairs of, which I always bought in a wide width. Of course, all these shoes were discontinued long ago. Once you find a great pair of shoes, it will probably be discontinued or "improved" to the point that you no longer love it.
Why had I stopped buying wide-width running shoes? I really can't remember. So I went out yesterday, back to the running stores. The first store was a strikeout. They had one pair in my size, Gigantor shoes. They checked their other stores and only carried wide-width shoes in similar huge, bricklike models, apparently pigeonholing wide-width wearers as big, lumbering types. Maybe this is why I stopped buying wide-width shoes?
I tried another running store, feeling less optimistic. I started with "What do you have in a 10D?" Thinking of my interview with Robert Gillanders, I said I wanted a basic, middle-of-the-road shoe, nothing minimalist or too huge and motion-controlling.
The Brooks Ghost was the only pair like this they had in my size. They had a couple other pairs in 10.5, but those were much too big for my feet. These fit perfectly. The color scheme was great, not too pink and purple, not too masculine. They felt great on my feet, which appreciated the wider width.
I've only done a couple of short runs in them, once on the treadmill in the store and once on a gravel trail. This store has a 30-day return policy as long as I don't get them too muddy. Fingers (and toes) crossed that these will work for me.