Today marked the 150th circuit of my loop at Town Lake, meaning I’ve logged over 600 miles in 2012. Suddenly 1,000 miles for the year doesn’t seem so impossible.
Beyond the accomplishment of achieving my yearly goal of 500 miles so early, my biggest discovery has been Nike Free Run+ shoes. I had seen people running in the Vibram “feet” shoes, and read a bit about the benefits of running barefoot, and while researching shoes for wide, flat feet, I came upon a story by someone who found relief with the Nike Frees. They’re not “feet” shoes, but they emanate from the same school of thought that you shouldn’t try to force your natural feet to some common standard.
I was one of those guys on the endless search for comfortable shoes, and my near-daily loops around Town Lake always brought with them soreness and pain in my legs and feet. I went to the runner stores – they watched me walk, and measured and analyzed my feet, yet no matter what I always ended up with the same pains despite their recommendations for shoes.
I was reading a post from a guy who described his feet like mine – essentially wide and flat. (My standard joke is that the shoe boxes fit my feet better than the shoes themselves.) Well, this guy put on Nike Frees and saw immediate relief, and wholeheartedly recommended them.
I went down to my local Academy sports and outdoors store, and saw the Free Runs, priced at $99. I had spent much more money – sometimes less – in the past for Brooks, Saucony, Mizuno and New Balance shoes, all designed to help with my over-pronated, no arch feet. Nike’s price point being within my comfort zone, I tried them on and found out two things right away:
- Being used to a lot of “corrective” design features in my shoes, these Nikes noticeably had none. They felt like I was wearing stretchy mesh over a pillow of marshmallows. There was almost no feeling of support, at least in the sense I was used to. No rigid part of the upper at all, even in the heel area.
- They were not specified as Wide width, so my normal size felt too tight. I tried on a size larger than normal, and they felt great.
But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so on to the trail I went with my new bright red Nike Free Run+ 3′s.
Holy cow! The pain and discomfort which I had been experiencing for years never arrived. At every step I expected to feel some of my old “friends” but I finished and they never appeared. Immediately, I was able to reduce my time, run more, and recover faster. Apparently taking away all the high-tech solutions to “correct” my foot problems was the solution – at least for me.
I’ve put hundreds of miles on the Nike’s now, and I’m not kidding or exaggerating. I have no heel/Achilles pain. I have not felt shin sprints since the moment I put them on. My quads don’t ache anymore, my hammies feel great. It’s been absolutely amazing. They seem to be holding up pretty well, too.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t worry about something, so now I fret about the rate at which Nike changes their shoe styles. I remember during my competitive tennis playing days how I had to stop wearing Nike shoes because as soon as I’d find a style which fit perfectly, they’d change it and I couldn’t get them anymore. Drove me nuts and I pretty much abandoned Nike shoes for years because of it.
I’m thinking I should buy a couple of pairs of Nike Free Run+ 3′s now, and leave them in the boxes until needed. I don’t want to trust Phil Knight and his marketing team to keep my miracle shoes around for long.