Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Kicks From New Balance

Leave it to a married pair of runners to turn a date into a running shoe shopping trip.

I dropped off our little girl at Grandma's house, then headed over to the elementary school my wife where my wife teaches. We headed into town and would up making a short stop at a store called Hyder's that sells factory second shoes. A pair of Inov-8 shoes caught her eye, but they were too small, then we wound up each finding a pair of New Balance Minumus MO10s that fit. We spent a total of $60 for two pairs of shoes.

Did I really need another pair of shoes?

I had decided I didn't really need another pair of shoes. I was planning on getting through this winter with what I had, but I kind of wanted a pair of shoes good for cold weather, more waterproof than my VFFs (not hard to find that) but still minimal. The Merrell Sonic Glove was on my radar as was the VFF Lontra, but being on a budget was a deterrent there unless I found a great deal.

The MO10 seemed to fit the bill, so I quickly checked the ankle cuff to see if it had the same problem I found with the NB Minimus Trail Zero pair that I returned. The cuff was sewn in so no problem there. They were a size larger than my size, but I often go up a size to accomodate my forefoot. Even in minimal shoes with a wider toe box, I have trouble getting a good fit just behind my toes. (My wife has the same issue.) I tried them on, liked the feel and bought them.

This shoe has a 4mm drop from heel to toe, more cushioning than any of my other shoes, and a slight arch support. I was concerned about these factors, but so far they have not shown a problem for me. In fact as I am still recovering from a couple of injuries (I think my glute/hamstring issue is the root of my plantar issue in my left foot,) This slightly more supportive shoe has been leaving me less sore the day after a run. I was also concerned about the band across the forefoot causing a problem with my wide foot, but it turns out not to be an issue for me. It does, however cause an issue for my wife. Perhaps if she went a size up or found a wide width version she would be OK.

Warm and dry.

 These shoes have a gusseted tongue and water resistant upper so these will be my go to shoes for wet or cold weather. While there are plenty of folks running in snow in Five Fingers, I hate having soggy toes, and am a weenie about the cold. I've been wearing them about in temperatures in the lower 20's Farenheit and they provide adequate warmth, especially if I add socks to the mix.

Too much shoe?

I've been working on improving my form as I think that some of my soreness is due to my twisty duckfeet. So I was concerned about a shoe that has more cushion and support might allow me to relapse into poor form. I was excited to try them out on a run though, so I got ready for my long run wearing my new shoes. Just in case of unforeseen problems with the shoes, I threaded a race belt through my Xero Shoes huaraches, so that I could change shoes if the need were to arise.

So how was the run?

I was able to run the full distance in my new shoes with no problems, and as an added bonus, there was no soreness the next day. these are the only shoes I run in now, that I continually notice while they are on my foot. There was much less ground feel than my VFF Treksports, Bikilas, or Soft Star Dash Runamoc. I could also feel the arch support and the elevated heel. There was not so much heel lift as to cause heel striking while running, but I have found myself scuffing my heel occasionally while walking in them. I also noticed that my foot does not get cold in them. I don't know if this will become an issue for running in hot weather, but I am not concerned as my intent is to wear this shoe for cold and/or wet weather.

The other use I will have for this shoe is as a casual shoe. I like to have shoes that serve multiple purposes, until they finally wore through the upper after nearly two years of use, my black Treksports were my all-purpose shoe. The only two complaints I had with them was they were not all weather, and I was a constant walking FAQ for Vibram Five Fingers. I feel like these shoes will blend in better than toe shoes.

Summing it up.

These shoes have a soft comfortable upper that I like with or without socks. Sized up they give me enough toe room while being a little long. The length is not a big issue because of the slight toe spring lifting the end of the shoe over obstacles. The sole is flexible, less than my other minimal shoes, but sufficiently flexible. The heel lift and arch support I generally think of as negatives, but they appear to be helping me keep running minimal while recovering from injuries. This shoe should be good for someone interested in heading towards a more barefoot shoe, but not quite ready to go all the way minimal. It had earned a place in my shoe rotation, especially through the cold winter and wet spring.