Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not One to Advocate

Yes, I have tried barefoot running and will try it again soon, but I'm not about to tell you that your shoes are the devil. There are plenty of barefoot acolytes out there already doing that. My caveat for running is do what what works for me.

As I have said before, I started to run because I thought it was the cheapest option for a fitness lifestyle change I made in February 2006. My goals then, as now, were better health and fiscal responsibility. Despite some lapses into expensive technical clothing, I have tried to stay true to my financial motivations behind running.

I search for the lowest prices and I shun those who say I need to spend a fortune on a pair of shorts. I lost a lot of respect for Runner's World when its editors had such a hard time finding a running outfit for less than $100.

Sure, I buy light-weight, moisture wicking apparel, but I buy most of my gear from either Target or Joe's New Balance Outlet, where I can find almost anything for less than $20. I still wear cotton socks (if I wear socks at all), which cost less than $10 ... for six pairs. And they don't chafe because of the super high-tech design: they're seamless.

I made myself sick this summer buying an $18 Nike visor from Dick's Sporting Goods. I balked at the purchase a couple times and left the store empty handed, but after a few visits I finally decided to splurge.

I rail against Garmin not because I think such devices provide superfluous data, but because I think I can collect that data in a much cheaper way. I'm not willing to pay hundreds of dollars for something that tells me where, how far and how fast I ran.

I have used the same $25 Timex for three years. I map my routes with free online mapping programs like MapMyRun.com or trust in sometimes mismarked mile posts. Despite my frugal ways, I bet I'm every bit of a numbers geek as any overly gear-clad runner.

Shoes are the most expensive items I buy, but I try to limit my spending. I have bought only two pairs of running shoes at full price. I have sought discount prices ever since I got properly fitted for my last pair of full-price shoes.

For a while I admit I went a little shoe crazy. I acquired four pairs of shoes from August 2007 to September 2008. Two pairs were purchased and two were free as giveaways from running the Akron Marathon. But this year, I decided enough was enough.

I can't justify spending anywhere from $40 to $100 every 500 miles, as the experts and shoe companies suggest. I need to get more out of my shoes -- especially if I want to continue racing (another $20 to $90, depending on the venue and distance).

First, I ignored the mileage on my shoes. I am currently running on three pairs of shoes that collectively have 1,529 miles and counting between them, and that's after retiring one pair that started to wear through the bottom after 630 miles. With Bill Rodgers as my witness, I like that broken-in feel. These shoes got me through my strongest, fastest and most injury-free marathon training cycle. I no longer believe the hype.

Aside from those well-worn shoes, I now have two fresh pairs of soles I'm now running in. My new Brooks T6 Racers (10 miles), which were on sale at the Akron Marathon expo, and my bare feet (two miles), which were included with my birthday suit.

The minimalist trend in running shoes is something I can support because so far it has worked for me and if it continues to do so, it means I am staying true to my goals of a fit and fiscally healthy lifestyle.

I won't tell you to try barefoot running. But I will say, if you decide to try something new with your running, whatever it is, ease into it and progress with caution. Listen to your body and do what works for you.

Sip the Kool-Aid, but if it tastes funny spit it out.

21 comments:

southofthecliff said...

Many runners swear by the broken-in shoe practice. I had to change mine out around 300-500 miles (depending on brand) when I wore them. I could really tell the difference.

It's probably a difference of styles; I was a real stomper. I loved the bouncyness.

The Enthusiast said...

Amen! C9 by Target saves me lots o' money. I also suggest The Sports Authority Outlet, just google it - some seriously good deals!

needlerunning said...

I agree wholeheartedly on the Target C9 stuff. I just discovered it about a month ago and I bought 4 shirts. Since there is no Target in my hometown of Worthlessville, I usually don't shop there.

There is nothing wrong with being a cheap a$$ runner. There are many of us out there.

Vanilla said...

I think that one of the things that bugs me the most about barefoot running is that a lot of its advocates are so fanatical about it. And also they post pictures of their feet. I don't really want to see pictures of people's feet.

nwgdc said...

I've found most anything in runner's world is a joke. i'm with you on Joe's new balance...or target. you can't tell me there's a difference.

David said...

I'm not sure I agree with Vanilla. I want to see ESPN's pictures of Lolo Jones' feet. And all the rest.

Ms. V. said...

I like this. Sipping the Kool-Aid was funny.

Go Dodgers!

Carolina John said...

i need to get some new running shoes now. everything else is target or outlet stores. well done, cheap brother!

Meg Runs said...

Sounds like simplicity is your good friend, I like it!

mr loser said...

Right on: running gear way overpriced and over-rated (my stop-wrist watch cost $9.99 five years ago). The only brand-name running products I purchase are Kamchatka vodka and Baja Bob martini mixer.

Jess said...

Frugality was one of the reasons I started running too. That and ease. With running, I just have to walk out my front door and go; when much else is asked of me, I don't always do it.

BTW, you can find Garmin 205s for pretty cheap now on places like eBay and Amazon...if you're ever interested.

Jess said...

Saving money is one of the best benefits of running. I love not paying a monthly gym fee and I try to buy all my running clothes on sale too. I want a Garmin so bad, but I won't be splurging for one. (But if someone decides to gift me with it one day, I won't complain)

Betsy said...

That Runners' World article was ridiculous. If you can't find running clothes for $100, you're not trying hard enough.

The Sean said...

I find the approach of us OLD-SHOERS to be a great middle ground b/t the BRIGHY WHITES and the BAREFOOTS.

After all, these savings can go to more important things... like a sweet 4-pack of Old Rasputen...

Morgan said...

Thanks for sharing your insights, seriously, because I get a lot of shit for not having/using a garmin. Running doesn't HAVE to be expensive, I mean some things you have to make a sacrifice and pay for but you don't HAVE to have all the latest gear, no one needed it before it came out so why do you need it now. Preach on brother.

As for barefoot running... I'll save mine for the beach.

BrianFlash said...

I'm definitely with you on the shoes. My three pairs are in continuous service until they start to fall apart.

No Garmin though? Gasp! Even in running the 'subdivision loop' which is exactly 1.5 miles, I still use it - even though a stopwatch would be a tremendously cheaper alternative...

Nitmos said...

Are you a bird? cheap cheap cheap that's all I hear. Look out ladies of Akron, he's single and looking for a nice evening of dumpster diving and hobo rolling. Get him while you can.

Viper said...

Thankfully, I'm spoken for.

Roisin said...

I'm all for the cheap clothes, socks, and shoes, but I do love my Garmin. Yeah, it was expensive, but it was worth it! For me anyway ;)

Spike said...

you are a numbers geek, but we love you all the same. I appreciate your opinion, and loved how ture it is about the cost of running gear ($$$)!

X-Country2 said...

Half the reason I run is because I love shopping for running apparel. I'll save elsewhere in my life. :o)