Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brooks Family Photo(s)

A question runners commonly ask is "what running shoe should I get?".  The answer to that isn't simple.  There is no "best" shoe, or "best" brand of shoe.  As an example, I'll give you a bit of my shoe history.

When I started cross country my sophomore year of high school, I used whatever pair of shoes I had around the house.  I think they were made by Adidas.  From there, I tried a pair of Nike Air Pegasus because that's what my coach wore, but they ended up being terrible for me.  I then moved on to a pair of New Balance 765's, and they worked ok.  After that, I went to a real running shop for the first time, and they put me in a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS's.  Since then, the only shoes I've worn have been the Brooks Adrenaline GTS.

Why Brooks?  I had no real affinity to the brand (in truth, I had barely even heard of Brooks at that time), so I didn't go in to get those shoes specifically.  The truth is that I wore the shoes, and they worked.  I was comfortable running in them, I didn't have any injuries show up, and I just enjoyed wearing them.  So I bought another pair.  And another pair.  And another pair…

Here's a family portrait of my Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoes:

Oldest shoes are on the left (series 7, I believe).  Two pairs of series 9 in the middle, and my current (series 10) on the right.

These aren't even all my shoes.  Some of them are no longer in the land of the living.  Some of them have long since retired to grass-cutting duty:

Series 5, living far away in Michigan.

So yes, I own a lot of pairs of Brooks shoes.  I found a shoe that works for me, and I stick with it.  In fact, I get really, really nervous when they bring out a new edition and change a few things.  I always worry that the shoe won't work anymore, and I'll have to go through the process of finding a new shoe.  Luckily, though, this hasn't happened.

Here's my advice if you're looking to buy running shoes:
  1. Go to a running shop.  Not Dick's.  Not Dunhams.  Not The Sports Authority.  Running shops employ other runners, and they know what goes into fitting a shoe.  They'll look at how you run, and suggest some shoes that may work.  Remember, they're not perfect, though, so remember point number 2…
  2. You may not get it right on the first pair.  It wasn't until my 4th pair of shoes that I found the ones that were right for me.  A shoe may feel good in the store, but when you hit the road and start putting some miles on them, you may notice they're not quite right.  That's ok—you now know to look for something different the next time you look for shoes.  This can be expensive, though, if you need to switch them sooner rather than later, but remember point number 3…
  3. Don't give into the temptation to get fitted at a running shop, then go online to buy the shoes.  Yes, the shoes may be cheaper online.  But, you're being really jerk-ish if you have the running shop do the work to find a shoe for you, then don't give them your business because you're too cheap to pay the extra $10 they charge.  You're getting more than a pair of shoes when you buy from a running shop.  You get the service they provide fitting your shoes.  You support the local running community that is sponsored by the running shop (like through races and training runs).  You support a local business that employs people in your town.  You build a relationship with people who know a lot about running, and who can be really helpful when you need some advice.  So, don't be a jerk and pay the small premium at the running shop.
  4. Don't be concerned about brand.  Nike shoes are great for some people.  They don't work for me.  If the shoe that fits you best is a Saucony, then buy a pair of Sauconys.  Buy the shoes that are right for you.

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