A Brief History of Shoes

I “converted” to barefoot/forefoot striking in the Fall of 2010 with a mix of Nike Free 3.0 on pavement and barefooting. I don’t run in the Frees anymore with the more widespread availability of zero drop offerings now. This is a BHoS for my minimal shoes. Not sure I could create a history going back to high school for my wedgies.

I ran my first half marathon in the spring of 2011 in the Frees. Not too bad – and my form was noticeable enough to others that I got some comments. Once I got to the point in mileage and forefoot form where the wedge in the Frees was giving me shin splints, I started to look around for an alternative. First attempt:

  • ZEM ninja originals. The O.G. split toe running slipper. Not much there, but designed for the beach, not the pavement.

While training for my first marathon, I realized I wasn’t going to be happy in the Frees, and the ZEMs were threatening to wear through at any moment. The major manufacturers had stepped up with the:

  • Saucony Hattori. A shoe of much promise – more cush and durability in the sole, but woefully fragile up top. Wore through in less than 100M.

In the mean time ZEM promised (and promised…) but ultimately delivered just in time a more durable version:

  • ZEM 360 ninja. I ran my first marathon in these. They worked ok for race day – but the split toe produced dual blood blisters heretofore unseen during shorter long runs.

So, the quest turned to:

  • ZEM 360 round toe. The ninja’s less cool brother. But less likely to produce blood blisters, right?

The “replacement” for the Hattoris was the:

  • Merrell Trail Glove. A fine shoe – still in use to this day, but I keep it off the pavement as much as possible. My soles are tough, but barefoot in the woods is not in my playbook.

As training for a spring 2012 marathon got bogged down and ultimately shut down with a lingering injury from a December trail run, I came to realize those pavement miles in the ZEMs just weren’t as comfy as I’d like them to be. The solution:

  • New Balance MR00. My current favorite – I’ve two marathons in these – including my PR/first BQ 3:13:55 on 10/20/12. A little more cush then the ZEMs – there’s some EVA in there, but not a lot. Some is more than none. A “break glass in case of emergency” green pair resides in the closet as the red ones have gone over 400M.

2+ weeks out from the marathon, I am contemplating a winter of hard ground and harder pavement. Treadmill is not an option (ok, it is, but it isn’t).

I had hoped this would be the answer:

  • Skechers Go Bionic. It’s not you, it’s me. Can we just be friends?

Currently hoping that Newton’s only zero drop offering will provide some relief as I try to keep my mileage up and fatigue down:

  • Newton MV2. Currently on special order. Wishing you were here.

I’m also salivating over a 2013 slew of new offerings from the traditional running shoe companies. Mizuno Mezamashii Project – are you listening? I’m ready for my advance pair…

January 2013 update: The MV2s were horrible. Narrowest toe box ever. Gave them away. Running in 1st gen Altra Instincts at the moment. Meh. Nice big toe box. Not as flexible as I’d like. The Mizuno Evo Cursoris is en route. On paper it checks all the boxes to be my new BFF.

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4 comments on “A Brief History of Shoes

  1. Two weeks out from ANOTHER?!?! marathon?

  2. I am still tinkering with my gait… but I’m moving from my forefoot strike to mid-foot and letting my heel drop. It is taking some attention. Today I ran 9 on the treadmill, and felt good because I didn’t bang my right little toe too much. The Achilles was sore at the end, but now feels fine. Reduce mileage… more?

  3. This also reminded me that I’ve done two tempo runs in my Brooks Adrenalines – support shoes. Between them, slightly reduced mileage and easing up on the speedwork, I’m happy to say that my Achilles is coming along. Today it was a little sore after the long run (9 miles), but 2 icings and 15 hours later it feels fine. This is an improvement. As you know, I didn’t realize I was an over-pronator, but now those callouses on the inside of my big toes are starting to make sense.

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