Tuesday, December 13, 2011

this is getting absurd

After miles and miles of pounding on pavement, things wear out. Toenails, socks, knee fibers, and especially shoes. I get that. It's the magic of erosion. But I ate through SIX pairs of shoes this season.

Last year, after a lifetime of wearing heavy Asics and pronating one way or the other, I decided to join the minimalist revolution.

Believe me, it's not a gimmick when a shoe expert/magazine column/pretentious friend wearing Five-Fingers tells you that minimalist running is the way to go. Landing further up on your foot is far more efficient. Plus it doesn't wreck your ankles. Newton has a great graphic here.

But here's the problem with minimalist running shoes. Newton's "light weight" trainers cost upwards of $125. Vibram's FiveFingers Bikila (the running one) sets you back $100, and the New Balance Minimus is just as much. I even got conned into buying Saucony's Grid Fastwitch 5 (the white and green shoe in the middle of my picture) for $90. And those shoes actually made my feet bleed.

I'm over dropping a whole lot of cash for a shoe that's supposed to be simple. So I switched to the simplest shoe I could think of - the racing flat. I couldn't have spent more than $40 on any of these shoes.

But all six of these shoes have lasted me less than a year. Which is a bummer, considering my mileage is considerably less than epic. Mostly what wears out is the rubber tread, but my most recent pair suffers from advanced shoe-osteoporosis.

How sad.

The other day I had a chat with one of my professors about going abroad (I'll be off to New Zealand in the spring). He was really excited that I'd be able to run there, and told me that "everyone" goes barefoot.

That would be terrific. I'd love to be a full-time, real-life member of the barefoot running movement. But that's pretty much impossible in suburban Ohio. We've got a dearth of roads and sidewalks, but not too many other foot-friendly surfaces.

Lots of people like to say that humans were meant to run without shoes. That's how we hunted down wild gazelles and bison in the prehistoric times. But running barefoot was more plausible before the asphalt apocalypse. Imagine if the grasses and woodlands were all made of concrete. I'm willing to bet humans would have evolved with hooves.

So for now I guess I'm going to keep buying cheap track flats... until I go to New Zealand.

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