I ran enough to kill a pair of runners!
This is a milestone moment. I hope my Official Runner badge from the Order of Proper Runners is in the mail.
Nike Frees, rest in peace, we had a good innings (and ran a half marathon together), but your days are done.
This feels especially exciting because I’ve been on the bench for the last few months with a lung injury (yes, only I would manage to injure a part of my body that is pretty much protected from the entire world) and have only recently been given the okay to lace up and pound some pavement again. My runs have become precious moments, something to be savoured – even when I face the Epic Hill on my way home, which is so steep it cowes cyclists and makes me feel like I’m falling forwards on a Stairmaster.
As I’ve got to lace up my shoes once again over the last few weeks, I have realised how lucky I am to be able to enjoy this time outside, running. I’ve tried hard not to fall into complaining about being injured or feeling like a giant blob (as the girl who routinely concocted ever-more-unlikely excuses to skip PE class, it still amazes me that I miss running now if I don’t go), and to remind myself that there are lots of people out there who don’t get to run at all. I’m one of the lucky ones.
I realised I’ve now been running in some combo of barefoot/minimalist shoes for over two years now. (I also listen to bands that don’t even exist yet.) Barefoot running seems to have tipped over from the edgy days a few years ago when I’d run around East London in my shocking pink Vibrams and people would stop and stare, or ask what on earth was on my feet, or on one notable occasion, tell me they disapproved of my footwear and that my shoes would injure me (fact: Vibrams may cause youth to revolt); although I’d say that I still don’t see many people running in a full-on barefoot shoe, as opposed to hanging out or working in MEC. I still head-nod when I see a fellow Vibram-wearer on a run.
I still put a fair amount of mileage on my Vibram Fivefinger Bikilas and my Komodo Sports. If anything, I slightly prefer the Komodo; while they are a wee bit heavier than the Biks, my Bikilas always slip slightly on my heel and while they don’t chafe, it slowly drives me crazy over the course of a longer run. Vibram chatter indicates this is a common problem, so YMMV. The grip on the Komodo is also WAY better; if it’s more than sprinkling out (in Vancouver: likely) I leave the Biks at home because they are pretty much grip-free on wet pavement and I have enough trouble focusing on my run without also having to put the ninja brakes on every time I go round a corner. The Komodos are grippy and comfy up to about 8-10km or so; anything over that, I find I get very conscious of the front part of my foot hitting the ground.
As an aside, if you’re hiking steeper terrain, I did once do the Grouse Grind trail in the Komodos and couldn’t have been more miserable; my calf muscle locked up about 10 minutes in and I ended up limp-running to the top, so if you’re taking a pass at nature’s stair master, you may be better off with a regular running shoe. Just not high heels, okay?
The Nike Frees have been my everyday workhorse shoe for the last, oh, 18 months (I know, I know, but I’m not a bazillionaire; new runners every six months gets pricey fast and I have a tea habit to feed). We ran a half marathon together last summer with nary a chafe nor a slipped heel, and over the last 9km or so I was glad of the extra cushioning versus my Vibrams. But in the last few weeks they’ve suddenly started to feel pinchy in odd spots and I’ve been footsore especially after hill work, so I realised it was time we started seeing other people.
As I write this, I realise that all my shoes share the same colour scheme. For neon coral makes you go faster.
So given that my Nikes and I have come to the end of our road running journey together, it was time to find a new running partner in crime. Enter someone a little new, a little different: a fresh pair of New Balance WR-1400 racing flats. When I put these on, the lady in the shop exclaimed in surprise and commented on how they fit me like they were made for me. These guys feel light as a feather, even changing straight from the Frees into them. While they may look in pictures like they have a whole lot of cushion to them, in the quick lap I did around the block they felt more minimal than the Frees: giving you a plugged-in, conscious road ride. The toe box has plenty of room in, they run a little narrow but nothing to blow your mind, and overall, they fit me like my very own pair of Cinderella glass slippers. I powered home with the box clutched under my arm, already plotting our first adventure.
I feel grateful and excited that I get to take them out for a spin real soon.