I got an email last Friday from the organizers of the half-marathon I’m running. It’s 4 weeks away. !!!!!
I decided that if I was going to get a new pair of running shoes, I’d better do it now. The number one rule of race day is: don’t do anything new on race day. So, I went to Charm City Run here in Annapolis and tried on a couple pairs. I run in neutral or minimal shoes. Quick aside – if you’re new to the whole concept of minimal shoes, you need to read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It totally changed how I thought about running. Amazing. I switched to minimal shoes over a year ago, and have been injury free. I don’t stick strictly to the barefoot philosophy, though. For the longer half-marathon distance, I decided minimal was probably too…well…minimal. When I run short distances, I use a barefoot shoe that just wouldn’t be right for double-digit miles. A friend of mine wears barefoot shoes regardless of distance. She also just came back from a brutal stress fracture in her foot.
That left neutral models. I’ve worn Nike Frees for distances longer than about 3 miles for awhile now, and that is the pair I wanted to replace. They’ve got a lot of miles on them and it was time. Goodbye, old friends.
I tried on the new Nike Free 5.0s and liked them a lot. I also tried on some Flyknits, which I thought were cool, but not right for a half-marathon (too minimal). The 5.0s fit pretty much the same as my current Frees.
Nike Free 5.0
Next, I tried on a pair of Brooks Pureflows. The Pureflow model is part of a “high tech” line Brooks has been doing. It’s a neutral shoe like the Nike Free 5.0, but sports some additions that Brooks claims make it technologically better. For example, Pureflows feature a “split toe.” From what I can tell, that has no function whatsoever. So, I guess take the marketing claims with a grain of salt. I can say, though, that the Pureflow is extremely comfortable for a shoe with not much going on in the sole department (i.e. no cushy heel that may very well injure you). I’d never even tried on a pair of Brooks before, much less run in them.
The great thing about Charm City Run is that you can try out the shoes you’re considering on a treadmill there. I ran for a couple minutes in the Nike Frees, and then the Brooks Pureflows (having already eliminated the Flyknits). After that, I was really torn between the two. On the one hand, I have owned Nike Frees and know I like them. The Nike Free 5.0s were comfortable, looked good, and felt like a safe choice. On the other hand, the Pureflows were different from any other neutral/minimal shoe I’ve ever tried. They felt like they had a lot of cushion without any of the weight or dangerous heel drop. You can’t land on your heel in these no matter how hard you try. After walking around the store for awhile, making Tom try on the boy versions, and asking a bunch of questions, I finally decided to just get both. It seemed a little bit excessive, but I’m glad I did it.
I’ve run about 12 miles on the Pureflows so far and have zero complaints. I plan to run in the Nike Free 5.0s tomorrow. I expect them to feel pretty much like my old pair, but newer and better.