At the moment, I rotate between four pairs of shoes.
Last night I wore my red and gray New Balance 767s for my four-mile tempo run at (attempted) 10-K race pace. The font that marks my shoe mileage on my running log turned to red, signifying that the shoes had surpassed 500 miles.
My blue and gold 767s crossed into that dangerous red territory last week during my track session.
My Brooks Adrenaline 7s, which I had retired after Cooperstown and then un-retired in February, are 33 miles from reaching the reddened 500 miles.
My Adrenaline 8s first touched pavement during my first run of 2009. Those have 417 miles until that fateful 500 mark.
Five hundred miles. It's the magical number that gurus say is the life span of your running shoes. (Or is it the shoe manufacturers who say that?)
After some field
I chose to run in 2006 as an exercise largely because I thought it was cheap. Then I learned that I needed to buy running shoes. Then I needed a running watch. Then I needed running apparel made with technical fiber. We all know how expensive is the gear we "need."
I drew the line at socks. You all know by now that I pretty much stopped wearing socks when I run. I never understood why anyone pays $12-$30 for socks--one pair of socks.
On the occasions that I do wear socks, I wear that dreaded natural fiber, cotton. My only requirement is for my socks to be seamless, because I like to prevent blisters. These socks cost me $11 for a six-pack.
Furthermore, I refuse to bow to your Garmin god.
I don't need all this stuff. I want it. I want to feel more comfortable. I want to fit in with the other runners. I want to look the part.
Running is primal. We don't really need to wear anything to run. And no, I'm not about to start running naked. But I have considered taking one step closer to that, from sockless to shoeless. However, there's that whole problem of puncture wounds that scares me off.
I have seen the "barefoot" shoes, such as the Vibram FiveFingers, showing up at races. While I find these funky toe socks intriguing, the price of $75 a pair seems to defeat my purpose of running cheaper. I might as well stick to shoes.
But do I really need all the stability support of my current shoes?
In my quest to get faster, I have started to consider the weight of shoes. Motion control and stability support typically adds one to three ounces to shoes. What if I started wearing neutral cushion shoes? Or racing flats, for that matter? I'd be running lighter, and therefore faster.
But wouldn't I get hurt?
Our bodies are incredibly adaptable. Most runners notice the changes in their physiology that running causes, the sturdier knees and stronger calves. Our feet adapt as well.
Running has strengthened the structure of my feet. Since I have been running sockless, my soles have gotten tougher. As my shoes get older and continue break down after each run, including the deterioration of the stability support, my feet (and ankles) must adapt to this as well. So how important are the stability elements to my shoes?
This is the chicken-and-egg argument. Do I need stability support because my stride is out of whack? Or is my stride out of whack because I wear shoes with stability support?
In short, I'm not buying shoes until all of my current pairs wear out. When they do, I'm buying neutral cushion shoes. Or racing flats. Or maybe I'll even try those funky toe socks. And I'm buying them from the cheapest place I can.
Got it? Good. Hiccup.