The Right Shoes

I believe it was Marilyn Monroe who said, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” I always kind of assumed that she was referring to that single pair of shoes that make you feel awesome. Now I’m pretty sure that the “shoes” she mentioned just had to be plural.  And I’m not talking about the 3 different pairs of strappy black sandals in my closet.

Once upon a time, all I needed was one pair of sneakers- classic black Chuck Taylors. Then, when I decided to not be a couch potato anymore, I got a pair of New Balances that the dude in the store said I should get. They never really saw much action besides the gym. So now I had normal day-to-day sneakers and gym sneakers.

Well, then I started going up to the Mohonk Preserve for hikes and rock scrambling. You can’t really do that all too well with regular kicks so here come the hiking shoes. I got a great pair Merrell Siren hiking shoes.

Then OCRs came into my life and I needed trail runners. Adidas Kanadias became my go-to shoes for the muck and mire.

I wanted to up my performance at the OCRs so I started running on roads in those poor, neglected New Balances. The ones that spiders had turned into a condominium complex in the recesses of the hall closet. They died the first time I took them out for a 5K. I’m not saying they were bad shoes, but I treated them poorly and paid the price. I bought some Nike Free Run 2s because the dude in the store said I should get them.

More experience and chatting in the OCR community led me to purchase a pair of Inov-8 X-Talons for running up and down slick mountains. I fell butt-crazy in love with those shoes. They were so perfect and made me feel like running on forever, but only in the dirt and mud.  I was still wearing the Nikes for runs on the gym track and on roads and getting pains on the inner sides of my calf/ankle region. I wished I could wear my Talons on the road because I didn’t get that pain when wearing those no matter how long the race was. So I looked on the Inov-8 site and found their Bare-X Lite 150s. As far as I could tell, they were the closest thing to the Talons while still being for the road. Who’da thunk I’d be a minimalist runner? Sure as hell not me, but I felt great in those shoes.

But…

Then I upped the road-running ante by training for a half-marathon that will be on perfectly paved and/or cobbled paths in Disney World. Random short runs on a zero drop, 3mm footbed felt great. Running 3+ miles a few times a week? Not so much. My calves were threatening all out war.

This time I was not going to just listen to the minimum wage schmo in Modell’s or Finish Line who probably knows nothing about foot strike or pronation or any of the skabillion other factors that go into whether a shoe will work with my foot or not. I did some research and found a real running store that employees real runners- Westchester Road Runners. The woman in the store matched me up with a pair of Brooks Ravenna 4s. I ran around the store and then around the block. Then I brought them home and put some real miles on them.  Now I only get a little pain for a very short time right after running (which may have more to do with the shoes I change back into afterwards.) I’m running longer and faster (just broke 10:00/M!) and with no more pain or calf cramps.  I suppose I’m minimalist on uneven terrain and need arch support on hard surfaces. My feet are bi-polar!

So now, on top of the too many (according to my husband) regular girlie shoes, sandals, and boots in the closet, I have to have:

  1. Chucks for regular day-t0-day wear
  2. Merrells for going to the Gunks
  3. Kanadias for short, easy-peasy OCRs. (Though, these may be retired soon and I’m not entirely sure if I’ll replace them)
  4. X-Talons for most OCRs
  5. Bare-X Lites for short warm up runs or cross-training
  6. Ravennas for running

There’s definitely something to be said about having the right tool for the right job.  Maybe Cinderella or Dorothy can conquer the world with 1 stellar pair of shoes, but this girl needs 6. And it’s the combination of all  of these shoes that I use for all of these crazy things that makes me feel awesome while conquering my little chunk of the world.

Wait- make that 7 pairs. I always need a good old pair of flip-flops to change into after a race.

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