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Saturday, February 11, 2012


I'm really not much of a shopper.

I don't like going from one store to the next, searching for the right price. If there is something I need, I do a little research and, if I can't or don't want to buy it online, I'll head to one place, and take it home. No comparison. No extended inquisition. Get what you need, and get out the door.

This goes double when it comes to clothes. Many, if not most, of the clothes I own have been in my position for many years. I get new jeans every year or so, but other than that, anything new in my closet was most likely a gift from someone else. I take pride in how little I spend on my clothes, and at one time, how few pairs of shoes I owned. That last achievement has changed substantially in the last few years.

From my reading about running, I learned that most "serious" runners rotate the shoes in which they run, which adds to the shoe's life. As you run, the sweat gets into your shoe and soaks into the insole. Each step pounds it down until you've essentially squished your shoe's padding flat. If, then, you run in that shoe the next day, you only compound the problem. However, if the shoes have a couple days to dry out, the cushioning re-expands, softening your ride once more.

Taking this information to heart, I currently have a three-shoe rotation system, as you can see in the panel at the right. My oldest pair, however, is nearing the end of its lifespan. Purchased in 2008 in Missoula, Montana, those shoes accounted for all of the miles I ran (however sporadically) through the Austin Marathon last year. They've easily got 300-400 miles on them, just from what they had to do in 2011, and the seams are beginning to break. Knowing they would need replacement soon, I started researching new pairs.

Runner's World has an excellent shoe guide in this month's issue, which led me to four specific models that I wished to try. My favorite running store only had two of them, and I disliked them both. Granted, it probably wasn't a great idea to try on shoes after a 10 mile run, but they need to be comfortable late in the race, so I figured this was as good a try-out as any.

Fortunately, the staff at the store did not want to give up. They took the ideas that led me to the four models, compared those with the issues I had with what I tried, and directed me toward more of what I needed, which turned out to be the Brooks PureConnect. The lightest running shoe I've ever worn, they have a strong enough base to propel me forward on each step. I was looking for something light and durable, and these fit the bill nicely. I'd come in looking for one of four, and left with something completely different.

Shopping for running shoes isn't like shopping for anything else. At least, not for me. For me, it has nothing to do with fashion or statistics or cost or comparison. It exists in a moment of connection, where something simply feels right for the purpose at hand, er, foot. The feeling is important, which is why I could never buy a running shoe online. There is no way I'd spend money on a shoe without trying it out.

But I still don't want to shop around. That's why I go to one store every time. (Also, they have a loyalty card, which helps.) When you find a place that treats you well and employees who know what they're doing, you choose the store.

Then the shoes will find you.

Saturday's Run:
36 Degrees, Clear/Windy
10.29 Miles

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