Running Shoe Rotation – Whittling it Down Some

I am finally getting my running shoe rotation under control – hopefully. After years of chasing after the next great pair of running shoes I am attempting to take back some semblance of sanity. Sometimes I think the thrill of the chase to find those shoes was more important than the actual running and caused more issues for me as a runner than it solved.

Top Row: Beacon v1, Zoom Fly SP — Bottom Row: GoRun Ride 8, Beaconv2, Zephyr

Attempting to get the shoe rotation under control has been one of those ongoing things that I have been attempting over the summer. I have been working on weeding out the shoes that do not work for me, who’s fit is questionable or that I just don’t like. Then actually getting rid of them versus keeping them around and bringing them back out of the “pile” to remember why they didn’t work the first or second time around.

I also deleted my eBay account and made it more difficult for me impulse buy a pair of running shoes on other sites. So that when I see the next great thing for me or a deal on running shoes that I always wanted to try, I could not just click and suddenly a few days later they would show up. This has slowed the onslaught of new shoes coming through the door to a more reasonable trickle, instead of the veritable flood that had been happening for the past few years.

The other thing is that during August I had decided to take a month to improve my running form (which didn’t work out as planned) and had an minor injury that ensured that my running was minimal. That idea of taking time to heal, cleaning up my posture and not attempting to do too much too soon (like I usually do), helped clear my head and look at things, including running shoes differently.

WHAT DO I LOOK FOR IN A RUNNING SHOE NOW?

There are certain shoe styles, not brands that I have found work better for me:

  1. Different shoes for different uses – Yes, I do believe using a specific running shoe for a specific purpose works better than a single shoe for everything:
    1. Race day shoes are lighter and give me the psychological boost that I am supposed to run fast in them.
    2. One or two pair of daily trainers that eat up the miles.
    3. Tempo shoes that are lighter than most daily trainers (7-8 ounce range), but not as minimal as speed shoes for training at faster paces, but offering more support or protection.
    4. Trail shoes should be comfortable, but with enough protection/grip to keep me upright under most conditions, decent in crappy weather on tar roads and be able to wear as daily wear shoes during the winter, but fit well with wool socks.
  2. shoe upper design – I was diagnosed with a tailor’s bunionette on the outside of my right foot and know that what I was feeling there was not just my over-active imagination. I now look for a wider toe-box, narrow heel cup, lower ankle wells and an upper with minimal overlays, a little stretchability and definitely no “straps” over my bunionette. Although I do like some padding in the tongue to avoid lace bite on the top of my feet. In other words keep the upper as simple as possible.
  3. drop and stack height – I have a range of drop (6-10m) and stack heights (heel 25-30 and forefoot 20-25), that seem to best fit my unique running style and feel more comfortable to me for daily trainers or trail shoes. With the new super shoes coming out this may change, but I have so far stayed out of the super shoe vortex and do not see me going down that path. I am too cheap and the prices are too exorbitant.
  4. Weight – I prefer a lighter, yet cushioned shoe and have pretty much stopped looking at running shoes that weigh more than 10 oz. I just do not enjoy running in heavy running shoes.
  5. shoe bottom design – I am a heel-striker and don’t see that changing any time soon. I prefer a shoe with a bevel in the heel and a forefoot that has a bit of a rocker, which in turn makes for a quieter ride and a smoother heel-to-toe transition. I just feel more efficient in this style of running shoe and I don’t feel like I am dragging my heel then slapping down with my forefoot, like I do with many traditional flat soled shoes. Although for where I do most of my running a decent outsole tread makes more sense than something that has very little tread.
  6. cushioned – I like firmly, cushioned running shoes, if that makes any sense. Ground feel is not all that important to me, protection is, but at the same time there is a line where the cushioning becomes too much and I know it when I feel it.

Based on what I want from a pair of running shoes and where I want to go with my training for the rest of 2020, my running shoe rotation looks like this:

  • Skechers GoRun Ride 8 – recovery, easy and long runs and longer treadmill stuff
  • Topo Zephyr – Originally I had planned on them being my GRR8 replacement shoes in late October, but after trying them on, I decided to alternate them with the GRR8s. They have a completely different feel underfoot which is something I felt I needed.
  • New Balance Beacon V2 #2 – tempo runs or faster long runs and routine treadmill runs
  • Nike Zoom Fly SP – Race Day and speedwork – If I had to run a fast race I would use these shoes without question.
  • New Balance 1400 v6 – Nasty weather racing or tempo work.

This is where I will start my Fall running shoe rotation, but the Zoom Fly SP have about another 50-100 miles of useful life left in them and I will probably be looking at something for Christmas to replace them.

At some point in December, a pair of trail running shoes (probably Topo) will show up to be used for crappy weather running and general winter wear. I don’t have a pair of trail shoes that fit the way that I want at this point for this purpose and other than the Zephyrs, the others would not be great picks for running outside very often this winter.

For the treadmill the GRR8, Beacon v2 #2, or even the SPs would be fine, but unless the pandemic magically goes away, I am fairly certain that I will be doing most of my running outside this winter.

Now to see if I can stick to this rotation through December and not get sucked into the gotta get this next great running shoe maelstrom. It hasn’t worked all that great yet, but my mindset is different than it has been in the past. I know my wallet and wife hopes it is.

Time will tell if the Running Shoe Geek will return or if a more rational rotation guy will emerge. 🙂

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