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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer 2011 Running Shoes: Lightweight Lollipops!

I noticed while watching a number of televised indoor and outdoor track and field competitions, as well as a few triathlons, that the color schemes for this summers running shoes is finally moving toward my liking. When I got my summer Eastbay catalog, I was absolutely amazed. I love colorful shoes. I noticed some outlandish color combinations, as well as pairs in which one shoe is a different color than the other. crazy fun! Part of the impetus for this is that women are now becoming the majority of runners at major races and starting to run and race in some similarly wildly colored gear. Runners World and Competitor online featured articles about how women are finally taking the drab out of this sport. Good for them. Also, shoes are moving lower and lighter (good thing), and every company is now involved in the barefoot/minimal movement. As I have said before, these shoes, which move to a heel to forefoot drop from 7 down to zero millimeters (flat!), are a danger to 80% of runners who either do not have the proper size and bio mechanics, have been running too long to modify their landing patterns, or are not patient enough to work at this for a year or more. I have a few of them at the Gym on the treadmill and they tend to slap instead of land, and seem to bounce all over the place. My good friend Ernie is a classic example...he is a rearfoot striker with a long history of plantar fasciitis and calf issues. Without a long and slow adaption period, lots and lots of daily stretching of his calf and Achilles, he would be an injury waiting to happen. I am a forefoot striker most of the time, but when I go slow or am tired, I do some heel landing. So, although my injury history is better than Ernies, and I am already a more forefoot striker, I tend to slap land with a shoe with less that about a 7 MM drop. Anyway, another good/bad issue with these new shoes is that, in order to make them lighter, they are using new lightweight insole materials. Many of these break down faster than the old standard form of EVA. Now that is a trade off I accept, but lots of other runners would not. I NEVER buy shoes at retail, tend to buy shoes when they are being closed out for the next generation model, and always find free shipping and at least another 10% off coupon. As an example, I recently purchased a pair of asics gel sky speed shoes. They retail for $105, but are being replaced by a version 2. They were discounted for $69.61, and I was able to use a Runners World code, RWMASTERS, for an extra 10%. Plus free shipping. Now, this goes to my regular shoe goal of paying less than $70 and getting at least 250 miles wear for the shoe, at a cost of .28 cents per mile. Twenty five cents per mile is my perfect shoe goal, but this is going to get increasingly more difficult as shoes are now listing between $100 and $180 bucks in general. Yes, the weak dollar has had an inflationary effect on shoes, and this minimalist movement with new and exotic materials has created much more expensive shoes. But, I guess you can always wait for the next dip in the economy or be like me and be a good shopper who is willing to buy shoes, not when he necessarily needs them, but to stock up as bargains for next seasons running!! Or, you can take a look at the new Echo Biom minimalist shoe with a polyurethane outsole that is expected to last 1000 miles! At $200, thats a good twenty cents a mile!

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