After 38 years of running, I have been accused of being an “anomaly” when it comes to running injuries. The fact of the matter is, I have not really been stopped by a running injury, although I think I have had just about every minor one. I believe there are many things that I have done over the years to stay healthy. Part of it is I have been known to “run through” injuries or just back off but never stop training. One of my secrets has been in my footwear selection on daily runs and how I rotate my running shoes.
Running shoes has always been one of my favorite topics throughout my life. I still get excited about running shoes. I get excited about updates on new models, colors, you name it. I can remember back in the 80’s when Steve Carter and I used to go look at running shoes at the Mall or a small Run Specialty shop when we were in Birmingham for a race. We always kept up with what the elite runners were wearing and we always got fired up when one of us got new shoes.
I have been doing the footwear buying at Fleet Feet Huntsville for several years. I still enjoy the shoes. While there are a lot more things to get excited about in running these days, with all of the technical apparel, Garmins, nutrition, etc, I still like the shoes the best. There is just something about a runner and their shoes.
I still believe one of the reasons for my longevity in running is the fact that I rotate a lot of shoes. I see runners who have the one shoe that they love and can “only wear.” They convince themselves that they can for example, only wear the Asics 2000. Where I find this to be somewhat odd is, I have watched the evolution of the Asics 2000 over the last 11 years and I can tell you that the shoe is completely different now than it was 11 years ago. Another thing I know is once you find a shoe you love, the company is going to “improve” it and it is surely going to change. Runners always say, “Why did they have to go and change my shoe, I loved it just like it was.” Adidas had a shoe back 10 years ago called the Boston Classic. The shoe had a wonderful following. They sold hundreds of thousands of pairs. Adidas decided to leave the shoe as is. No changes. Runners loved it for a while because they could get there dependable Boston Classic without any changes. Guess what? The shoe went from being one of the most popular shoes in Adidas history to dead in the water; no one wanted it any more. This explains why shoe companies must continue to change their product. Not only do they need to have the latest and greatest technology, Runner’s like change more than they lead on.
So back to shoe rotation; every shoe in my rotation has a purpose. I wear lots of different shoes and of course I have my favorites. I also like to try most all of the brands since I do the buying for Fleet Feet; I need to know how things are fitting. I am still amazed at how many pair of running shoes is returned to Fleet Feet. Runners have all kinds of reasons for returning them and I just can’t figure out why. I have never returned a running shoe in 38 years of running. I have never had a shoe that I could not get my miles from. When shoes are returned in my size and there is nothing we can do with it, I take home and see if I can find a problem with it. 400 miles later, I am done with that shoe and usually they were just fine.
Some of my current training shoe rotations go like this; Long run shoe. Nike Air Pegasus 32, I have had all 32 versions and is still one of my all-time favorite shoes; I plan to wear this shoe at Ironman Chattanooga later this month. Brooks Launch 2. I have had both versions and love them. I ran 20 miles in it on this past Saturday. Ran 9 miles before Monte Sano 10k, ran the 10k and then 5 miles after. Both of these shoes also have Carbon Superfeet in them. Both of these shoes are standard neutral trainers. Recovery day shoe. Saucony Triumph ISO, Mizuno Wave Rider. Under Armor Gemini. Triumph is very cushioned and I like it for 3-7 mile runs. Wave Rider is a little more responsive and could be used for any distances. The Gemini is just plain soft and cushy, it is also the only shoe I have that does not have a Superfeet in it, because one won’t fit in it. Tempo day shoes. Saucony Kinvara, Under Armor Bandit. These are lighter shoes and designed more for quick legs. Racing shoes. Brooks T5 racer and New Balance Boracay. T5 Racer for shorter races, Half marathon and below. I did Toughman Alabama Tri 70.3 in it. Boracay for longer races, I ran Boston and Strolling Jim 40 in this shoe. For trails. Montrail Rouge Racer. This shoe is older and on it’s way out but time and time again, over the years, Montrail trail shoes have constantly worked best for me.
The foot is a very complexed part of the body and it’s a very important part of your day to day running, not to be taken for granted. The foot has lots of muscles and tendons. Rotating shoes for every kind of run is an important part of staying healthy and to be able to continue running. All of the muscles need to be used in the foot. I know for sure, using Superfeet insoles allows the foot to function more efficiently. Rotating shoes also gives the foot an opportunity to use different muscles and to adapt to different situations. Running different routes, different surfaces, flat surfaces, hilly surfaces, tracks, trails, etc all combine for making a better, healthier runner. The same shoe, on the same surface without variation leads to over use of the same muscles in the foot. Remember, running requires 3-5 times of one’s body weight along with 170-180 RPM (rotations per minute). This constant and consistent pounding over miles and miles can pinpoint a weakness within you and lead to an injury. Do I have any scientific proof of this? No, it’s just what I know. 38 years of running has taught me a thing or two. I ran my first marathon in 1981 and I am still running them today, something I am doing has to be part of the reason.
When I voice my opinion about rotating shoes, often people say, “But you own a running store.” I simply say that yes I do, however, only for the last 11 years. I have been running 38 years and have been rotating shoes for as long as I can remember. Regardless of how much shoes cost, if it’s important to you, it will make no difference. Running is still a low cost hobby. If you are like me, you will do whatever you can to continue running. We run for health. We run because we like the journeys where running takes us. We run because of how we feel when we finish a run. You can’t put a price on that.