Saturday, October 20, 2012

Update on the low- to zero-drop shoe experiment

Back in June, Online Shoes and Brooks generously invited a group of area bloggers to dinner to learn about both companies at "Girls Night Out." As a parting gift, we were given a goodie bag with a shirt, notebook, and little ditties, and TWO PAIRS OF BROOKS RUNNING SHOES. Amazingly awesome.
Brooks shoe line-up

I have been running in Brooks since about 1999 or 2000. First in the Adrenaline (12mm heel-toe drop) then the Addiction (12mm heel-toe drop), then the Adrenaline for years. In the last couple years, I've graduated to a non-support/non-control neutral shoe, the Ghost (12 mm heel-toe drop),  and love them. I especially like the slightly roomier toe box in the Ghost. I tried on the Ravenna which is a step between the Adrenaline and Ghost but the fit just wasn't as comfortable to me. As I've tried to change from a strong heel-strike to a mid-foot strike over the last 2 years, I've been proud of my move to the Ghost and was very excited when Brooks came out with their lower heel-to-toe drop PureProject line (4mm, which is pretty darn close enough to 0mm).
Adrenaline
PureFlow, sexiest shoe ever

I really wanted to like the PureProject shoes and this spring, I purchased a pair of the PureFlow. These shoes were easily the sexiest shoes I'd ever owned. A couple days after running in them (too far, too fast), I developed plantar fasciitis. In the months I couldn't run, I wore my PureFlows around & to work to help my feet build up strength. Also, during this time, I ditched all my Daskos and any other shoe in my closet (work shoes especially) that weren't flat or flexible.

Months later after starting to run again, I started back using my Adrenaline and the Glycerin that I got at the Online Shoes/Brooks girls night. The Adrenaline offers more support than the Glycerin, which is a more souped-up version of the Ghost (i.e., more cushioning). I have no complaints about either the Adrenaline or the Glycerin but I think I still prefer the Ghost as it's just a little, tiny bit easier to get my mid-foot strike in the Ghost.
Glycerin

Elixir
 I also have been wearing some Mizuno Wave Elixir that I received via the Mezamashii Project and frankly...I LOVE THEM. They have minimal padding in the toe box, which is gloriously roomy, and I like that I can actually feel the ground under my feet. This is something that frustrated me in the PureProject shoes - too much padding for my liking. These are NOT low drop (12mm), but something about them does not discourage my mid-foot strike.

In the last month as my confidence as grown, I started using the PureCadence, also received at the girls night out. Wearing them just walking around and also on shorter runs, I could feel my PF niggling at me again. Coincidence? I don't know. To be safe, I recently donated my PureFlows (logged < 10 miles in them; donated while in NJ at the Seaside 5k, hopefully they will find someone to love them) and I just mailed my PureCadence (logged < 30 miles) to another local blogger.




Intuition
In further experimentation, I picked up a pair of Altra Zero-drop Intuition runners. I've actually been wearing these foot-shaped shoes around all summer long as my casual shoes and have run a couple times in them but not more than 1 mile. They have the fantastic roominess in the toe box and minimal cushion that I love. I can actually feel the ground beneath me. Yesterday, I went out in for an easy 3-mile run in them. I could certainly feel a greater impact since they are fairly minimal, and my feet definitely felt like they had to work harder to land and take-off. Of course, my calves could feel that zero-drop and were fairly tight the rest of the day. But all in all, it was good. They forced me to stay off my heels more than any of my other shoes so will be good for training me to keep my mid-foot strike.

So where does this leave me? I'm content with my Ghost and Glycerin, am pleasantly surprised by the performance and fit of the Elixir, and am cautious about the Intuition.

I'm thinking I will continue running in my Elixir for most shorter training runs, Glycerin for longer runs, due to the extra cushioning, and will see if one of those wins me over. Because the Elixir has less cushioning, I am a little concerned about its performance for longer (> 2 hr) runs. Also, I will try working in the Intuition for runs up to 3 miles to see how my feet/calves handle the truly minimal shoe.

It seems crazy that I have this many pairs of running shoes, as normally I have ONE pair only. I'm thankful to Online Shoes and Brooks for allowing me to experiment.

Anyone have thoughts about these shoes? Does heel-toe drop affect your foot-strike? Do you think I'm grasping at straws?

15 comments:

  1. I have not run in anything other than Asics, so this was interesting to read! I'd love to branch out and try something different soon!

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  2. Wow. You have tried a lot of shoes. I was a Brooks Adrenaline only but now wear Hoka Bondis so I have gone opposite to very cushioned.

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  3. Last year I went from an Asics 2160 (12mm heel drop) to the Saucony Mirage (3mm). I did ok for about 6 months and until I really increased my miles over 10. I started having plantar fasciitis pain and tried rest and ice in May and by June it was really bothering me. Since then I've had 2 cortisone shots and some nerve pain from taping (maybe). I think I just moved too fast. I have bought the Saucony Guide 5 and Hurricanes (8mm)that have more stability but have lost a lot of the mid strike. Anywhooo.....Podiatrist and I have decided that I need to go back up and stay up in heel drop until the PF is gone and then strengthen my feet and work into them slower. Frustrating, but you are right in being careful with your feet.

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    1. I seem to followed the same pattern. Plantar fasciitis after doing too much too soon, shots & months of PT later and am backing off to more heel support. Hard to find the right balance! I hadn't seen anything between a 12mm and 4mm drop so will check on the Hurricane that you mention. Definitely makes it easier keeping that midfoot plant having less heel.

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  4. I bought a pair of PureFlows this year and have put over 250 miles on them. Trying to go to a midfoot landing, as well, but by looking at the bottom of my PureFlows, the heels are looking pretty worn, so it looks like they aren't helping me get away from heel striking as much as I thought they would. Otherwise, they have not given me any kind of injury. Sounds like everyone has a different experience!

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    1. Glad they are working for you and others, maybe I was over-reacting & my PF would have come regardless of shoe choice. I really love Brooks products & like the concept of the PureProject line in general. Happy running!

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  5. This sounds just like my story! I used to run in Sauconey guide's, but the Guide 5 (which came out in spring) was completly different from the Guide 4 (I usualy wear). I had to check for a new running shoe I love and did also some experiment. I tried PureFlow and PureCadence and wanted to love them, but they didn't work. It felt off an my arch hurt. I tried vibrams and loved them, but usually don't run more than 3-5 miles in them. I also tried Brooks Defyance and Nike Zoom and both just didn't feel right, so I bought all online available Guide 4s I could find. I'm still trying to figure out which shoe is next. I have a hard time with the heel drop.

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  6. yes!!! i just got a pair of the Altra Zeros this weekend. I agree with you on the brooks pure line. I had to get rid of mine because they were causing issues. and i love my mizunos. I learned a lot at the clinic about altra zeros. post to come soon-but basically, they aren’t shoes to help with proper form-they are shoes to help YOUR form work naturally. whatever that may be. it was very interesting.

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  7. I have a pair of Brooks pure cadence. I like them. I may need to try something new in the spring for marathon training. I am having some issues with my left knee after long runs (13+).

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  8. What do you do with your old running shoes?

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    1. It depends on their mileage. My recent PureProject shoes with low mileage I gave to other runners. Otherwise, I donate them if they are still in decent shape or cycle them through to walking/yard work shoes.

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    2. Do you ever throw them out?

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  9. It is nice to see that companies are aware of how important you are for your readers.

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  10. I have been running in Brooks since about 1999 or 2000. First in the Adrenaline (12mm heel-toe drop) then the Addiction (12mm heel-toe drop) ... brooksadrenaline.blogspot.de

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