Review: My Running Shoes

I picked up these sweet-ass rigs after I finally wore out my last pair of trail running shoes after 2 ½ years (the tread was gone and one of the laces finally snapped). As you can see, there’s all sorts of technology and shit in them—there’s some plastic stuff on the side, and there are different things to run the laces through, and there’s a kind of stretchy thing near the top of the laces. Overall, they’re pretty sweet.

I read this book called Born to Run in 2010. You may have heard of it. Author Christopher McDougall investigates the idea that humans are built to run long distances. Among his findings, and you may have heard this, is the idea that we don’t need running shoes to be all that fancy. Some people read the book and bought a pair of barefoot running shoes. I read the same book, but took some of the information as a license to just buy old, cheap shoes and fix the way I ran—which could maybe have previously been described as “Clydesdale,” but is now more like “gazelle, shuffling in slow motion.”

These shoes are circa 2009, I believe—I bought them used at Wilderness Exchange in Denver in 2010 for $40. I believe they are “trail running shoes,” although I also wear them on approach hikes to rock climbs, hiking, backpacking, and anything else that doesn’t require mountaineering boots. Sometimes I end up downclimbing snow slopes in them. They’re not waterproof, but that’s OK, because I don’t think they were designed to be.

Late last summer, the outer mesh stuff kind of gradually sprung a leak over the course of a 30-mile backpacking trip in the Wind River Range in Wyoming, which ended up being just fine as there was no real structural damage.

Of course, since there was kind of a big hole in the outside, I thought maybe I’d get a new pair of shoes before my pal Greg and I did a one-day Rim-to-Rim run in the Grand Canyon last October. I didn’t make time to go shoe shopping, so instead of new shoes, I just brought a couple feet of duct tape in my pack in case something catastrophic happened to them and the sole ripped off or something. They made it fine, but later part of something in the toe section was peeling away and got kind of annoying, so I ended up cutting it off with a scissors.

Based on my research and testing, I believe the ideal use for these shoes is running on trails, or running on other surfaces, or I guess walking too. But also based on my research, you can do basically whatever the hell you want in them. I wore them to hike into a backcountry ski run once, have bicycled up to about five miles at a time, and I think I played my dad in pool once in them too. I also noted that they performed well when I wore them to eat ice cream cones, including this one time I ate two ice cream cones at once because I thought they were really small for $3.50. Essentially, you can count on these shoes.

Or, I guess, you can count on most shoes. I don’t really have too many problems with running shoes. I’ve never been out on a run and said, “Man, I can’t go on. These shoes are just not high-quality enough.” Usually I get about six or eight miles done, and I’m like, “Man, I’m tired” or “I should call my friend and go smash the breakfast tacos at WaterCourse,” or “I better get back to my phone so I can type in this pithy and witty Facebook status that is bouncing around in my head right now.” It’s really not the shoes that present obstacles to my running.

I have run several 10Ks in these shoes—not 10K races where you register and get a number and stuff; I just like to run for about 60 or so minutes when I go out and I figure that’s about six miles or so, which is roughly 10 kilometers. But, you know, these will “go the distance,” so to speak, if the distance is like 6 miles. Like if you want to run the Bolder Boulder or something like that. Actually, now that I think of it, I’ve run about 10 miles in one stretch, too. So go ahead and max them out. I mean, hell, if they can go 10 miles, I imagine they can go 20 or so. I just get bored running that long unless there’s food or coffee in the middle somewhere.

Anyway, you should get a pair. Of shoes. Not necessarily these, although I can’t complain so far. I think the company that made them in 2009 or whatever still makes them. They’re not super-flashy right now, but I noticed if you throw them in the washing machine and get some of the dirt out, they look brighter for a few days.

-Brendan

Semi-Rad is brought to you by Outdoor Research.

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21 Comments

  1. April 26, 2012

    This is how all gear reviews should read! “Go get something; most any brand will do. Then go use the crap out of it.”

    Reply
  2. April 26, 2012

    Awesome. I’m all for buying quality gear and everything, but this huge hype over ‘I MUST have brand XYZ because it performs the BEST (just because it has the ______ logo on it) is just nuts. I don’t care what logo my gear has on it or what it costs. I’m frequently found at consignment stores, yard sales, flea markets, warehouse sales, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never paid full price for any of my gear, so I don’t feel too bad when I do finally beat it to a pulp down the road. I like it that way. Give me a piece of gear that will last for seasons and seasons, and I’m a happy camper/boarder/hiker/climber.

    Reply
  3. Alan
    April 26, 2012

    My Adidas
    walk through concert doors
    and roam all over coliseum floors
    I stepped on stage, at Live Aid
    All the people gave an applause that paid
    And out of speakers I did speak
    I wore my sneakers but I’m not a sneak
    My Adidas cuts the sand of a foreign land
    with mic in hand I cold took command
    my Adidas and me both askin P
    we make a good team my Adidas and me
    we get around together, rhyme forever
    and we won’t be mad when worn in bad weather

    Reply
  4. Ben
    April 26, 2012

    Perfect review…get good gear, use it for a long time, until it’s really worn out (and repair it if you can). Spot-on as usual!

    Reply
  5. April 26, 2012

    Brendan,

    The shoe ‘review’ was great. Love your simple and practical approach–especially the bit about fixing your running and not your shoes. Your writing is always a pleasure to read. :)

    Reply
  6. April 26, 2012

    this was absolutely awesome to read, and i thank you for it. seriously good writing.

    Reply
  7. April 26, 2012

    Hilarious! You mean…shoes don’t have to be waterproof????

    Though this article makes me envious, as I don’t get to run on old shoes or all my overuse injuries get all pissed off. I’m jealous of people who can run without major issues. And I seem to get blisters and hot spots easily if my shoes aren’t just perfect for me. Sigh.

    Reply
  8. Will
    April 26, 2012

    I’ll step in and defend the 5-fingered shoes. In ’08 I severely injured my left ankle while observing a kickball game (long story), and had intermittent trouble with it for the three years between ’08 and ’11. That’s when I got a pair of “barefoot running shoes”, which is an oxymoron, and which would be better described as “shoes without a heel wedge”. I used these shoes about 1 in 3 runs, and most often ran on trails with them. After an initial few weeks of leg muscle soreness stemming from using leg, ankle and toe muscles you normally don’t exercise in a typical run on “wedge” shoes, I got pretty comfortable running “wedgelesse”. After six months or so, I realized I didn’t have the ankle issues anymore.

    I attribute this to the fact that instead of landing on my heel, as in a “wedge” shoe, I land on the ball of my foot, and thus strengthen my ankle in a way I didn’t before. Other folks claim results like alleviating chronic knee pain, again, from both adding an extra joint (the ankle) to the impact process, and from using different muscles.

    I have the added resource of a biomechanical engineer for a brother. He’s currently running a longitudinal study that will get to the bottom of the claims of barefoot running advocates by using two control groups, one running wedgeless, one wedged, and doing MRIs of their legs throughout the whole study to get quantitative results on any changes. We’ll see in a few months, but the story I’ve laid out here to y’all seems plausible to my scientist brother.

    Not saying that it’s the end all, be all of running, but I think there is a role for wedge-less shoes in a regular runner’s closet.

    Reply
    • April 28, 2012

      Dude, I’m totally with you. I’ve run in my VFFs for over 200 miles now and I love them. I used to have arch problems but not anymore. And my friend who got podiatrist-prescribed insoles a few years back just ran a 50K trail race in Merrell Trail Gloves (minimalist shoes)! I think we (as a society) should ascribe to a physical therapy/muscle strengthening approach to foot problems versus increased cushioning/support/etc.

      Reply
  9. RunWilburRun
    April 26, 2012

    Recognized them the moment I say the small photo on the main page. La Sportiva Wildcats! I have a piar of those I’ve used for everything. Hiking, trail running, climbing approach shoes, and just every day life. Amazing pieces of work. 3 years running and they are still holding strong.

    Reply
    • King Chris
      May 2, 2012

      I think you sorta missed the point…

      Reply
  10. Greg DuPey
    April 26, 2012

    There’s not doubt………….we ARE meant to have our feet on the dirt without a bunch of foam, plastic, poly*^”<#%$ or other petroleum based something between our tootsies and the ground.

    As for BL's beat-to-shit bad boy's pictured above – well, that's as close to a zero foot-to-earth ratio you can get for a fraction of the cost of a pair of 5fingers………..plus his feet are waterproof (a little known fact about this guy) so he doesn't need Goretection like the rest of us.

    Great job, BL!

    (by the way, you're on Mt. Whitney right now – are you blogging from your tent?)

    Reply
  11. Kirk
    April 26, 2012

    Nice work Brendan,excellent read. My shoes usually end up looking about the same and I can never seem to get rid of them, I have 3 or 4 pairs of beat up shoes in the gear room. You never know, I might need them for some extreme ice cream coning. I read Born to Run and came to the same conclusion. My wife takes the cake however, she had the same pair of trail runners for 7 years!
    Kirk

    Reply
  12. April 28, 2012

    I see that you too chose grey shoes. Yeah… grey is definitely where it’s at. Although I had a pair of dark blue shoes that were pretty sweet too. You might want to check those out next.

    Reply
  13. Sarah B
    April 29, 2012

    Ha nice article. As an avid runner, both on and offroad, with half a dozen pairs of old running shoes under my bed, I will however point out that you can get away with worn-out shoes on trails far more than you can on tarmac, just because the trails are far easier on your body.

    Reply
  14. Dominic Rickicki
    April 30, 2012

    Haha oh man, I had a pair of shoes I wore for absolutely everything. From a quick run to work to wading in the river fly fishing. The tread was almost gone from being to lazy to put on climbing shoes and bouldering in them. My mom threw them away though because they started to smell so bad haha. Problems of still being in high school.

    Reply
  15. May 7, 2012

    As someone who has done a couple of gear reviews involving shoes and boots, I found this hilarious! Way to help keep us grounded, man. I honestly cannot understand how people can spend $150 on a pair of running shoes. Oh well, to each his own. Run on.

    Reply
  16. Greg Davis
    May 21, 2012

    Got one of these this year, logged 300 ish miles on them before taking them on a Rim to Rim to Rim via the south Kaibab. Needless to say, they lasted fine and I’ve put another ~50 miles on. Most of the time when people wear out gear its because they aren’t using it as intended. Anythign thats made by a marginally reputable company will be more than sufficiant for anything mortals will throw at it :) its funny how some gear reviews get so intricate, when we all are shaped different and do different things.

    Just found your blog, you are my new fave.

    Reply
  17. June 29, 2012

    I’m not buying used shoes that somebody else put there feet in .I don’t care about brands but I do like Nike not because there Nikes but because I like the look of the shoes they make.one could say it isn’t about looks but I rather wear a pair of shoes that I think look nice then a pair I think look ugly after all I am buying them.people say you should only put 500k on a pair then buy new ones but I put more then that I get my moneys worth WITH INTEREST !

    Reply
  18. AGI
    September 19, 2012

    What, no Goretex?

    Reply

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