Saturday, November 17, 2018


It is often said that running is a free and easy sport. You just throw on some shoes and head out the door, whereas cycling you need to be kitted up and with a set of wheels, gyms cost to enter and kick-boxing needs a ring and gloves. While that street cred for running might be good, but the idea that it's "free" has never walked into a shoe shop. The retail price for shoes tends to be between $200-$300 and and a pair of shoes lasting between 400 to 800km of running, every four kilometres run costs at least a dollar. That means my average weekly mileage of 80km should be costing me $20. (Well, it would if I hadn't found ways and means for getting cheaper shoes.)

My wife often chides me on the number of running shoes I have "on the go". If you asked me how many pairs, I wouldn't be able to tell you; so let me count now: I ran this morning in my Asics Gel-Cumulus 19; yesterday in my Asics Gel-Pursue 3; Wednesday in my Hoka One One Bondi 6 - that's four pairs in four days! I also have my Brooks Glycerin, New Balance 680v4, New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 and my newest purchase, Asics Gel-Sonoma, for trail running. So that's... seven pairs. Even to some of my running friends, this is a bit excessive. But there is a method to this madness.

Firstly, my feet are special and have history. Flat-footed with in-soles and a belief that my feet destroy shoes, I have rarely given much pity, thought, consideration or kindness to shoes, even when I took up running again in recent years. The reason I believed my feet destroy shoes was that my feet would start bending and wearing shoes in a particular way, and that bending and wearing would in turn change the way my feet were landing intensifying the wear and tear. When I started running again in 2016, I had one pair of shoes and occasionally another when I thought I might need a replacement broken in and ready. 2017 was my first big year of running and it started with a pop with a calf tear, which took a couple of months to completely recover from. Twice in 2016 and 2017, I developed ITB syndrome, both of which could directly be linked back to wearing the same pair of shoes. Then in August 2017 I strained a tendon in my knee and barely made it through to my first marathon at the end of the October that year.

It was around that year I started recording which shoes I was using on which runs so the mileage I was doing in each would be monitored. And it was shortly after that I start building a range of shoes. My philosophy was that my feet would never completely adjust to a single pair of shoes to overwork them, and also my feet would always experience and shoes of an average level of wear. Shoes that are too new blister and take time to adjust, older shoes have lost their cushioning, and different brands have different design principles. Since March this year I've only suffered some arch irritation (which is common for me, plantar fasciitis) and in that period have clocked up 2500km running in 8 months. For comparison, I did 2000km last year in 12 months.

Where I before didn't really respect my shoes, each pair of shoes has a distinct impression, personality and history. The oldest of the pack are my Asic Gel-Pursue 3's. I was intending to retire them at 800km but they're still running really well. If you consider them as almost a third of my running this year you can imagine my desire to hold onto them for as long as possible. But it was the New Balance 680's which I trusted to run my two marathons this year. At first I hated them and had decided they were only for training. But the simplicity of it all suddenly became appealing and I chose them over all others at crunch-time and they got me to my goal. The Brooks are the second oldest and also favourites. I bought them at full price and they got me my best half marathon time. They're one of my normal width shoes so they're snug. I run mostly in wider shoes which seem to blister less. I can take the chiding when my feet are healthy, I'm achieving my goals and my shoes are lasting longer and longer.

Fortunately apart from shoes and entry fees, serious runners do get event t-shirts, free socks galore, carry packs and event hoodies as give-aways or race pack loot. (For some reason they don't often give running shorts.) 2500km up and an investment of about $500-$600 for this hobby. I think it's worth it. It is a cheap and easy sport!