Sunday, 10 June 2012

And now back to our favourite topic - shoes!

"....these shoes were made for walkin', and that's just what they'll do...."

 I was getting to the point as I attempted faster speeds in racewalking that I needed lighter, faster shoes. As everyone who has ever tried racewalking knows, this is THE quest, the Holy Grail - shoes that are flat enough, fast enough, light enough, comfortable enough and sturdy enough to take the abuse of a long race....and they will be different for each individual person, as different as their fingerprint or their foot structure. So, while we can take recommendations from others, we can only try them oursleves and work through trial and error. This can, understandably, get very expensive.
Now I still stand by my trusty old Rykas (see previous "shoe" entries), and they were just what I needed at that time due to severe foot problems. However, I have now started looking for lighter, flatter shoes. This has become a lot easier with the "minimalist" movement in running; lots of lightweight styles! You do, however, sacrifice durability and relative comfort for weight and road feel.
Poke around on the web long enough and you get a lot of recommendations. I diligently wrote these down, then searched out what shoes I could so I could actually try them on in person; for me this is essential. I settled on the new New Balance 730s (be careful! In their infinite wisdom, NB has given two VERY DIFFERENT models the same number. I'm talking about the new, minimalist style) because they fit well, come in different widths (the wider D width was perfect for me), are very light, have only 3 mm drop, mesh uppers, have a good foot feel and can accommodate my rather extensive prescription orthotics. Be warned, however; they do not have removeable insoles as the entire interior is a sock liner (so they can supposedly be worn without socks). This makes them very, very close to the road, so to speak.
I bought a pair (they have very funky colours, but not my size in all of those) and they felt perfect from the get-go (Laces have to be tied quite tightly as they have a tendency to come undone, though). I did realize, however, that they did not have enough mid- and fore-foot cushioning for longer races like half marathons, at least not for me. Even with my orthotics, I have major left forefoot issues (which also contributes negatively to my toe-off). No sense in aggravating that, so I bought another pair and had Carmen Jackinsky of Re/shod ( work her magic yet again for me. First, I asked her if she thought the uppers could support the re/shod soles. Turns out she had done a pair of NB Minimus for herself to train in and they worked great. The results on mine are beautiful, and again, exactly what I need at this point. I'll likely use the non-re/shod 730s for training and shorter races, like 5K and the new re/shod version for my longer races. Here's a comparison of them all, with weight:

Quite a difference in weight, no? The mesh upper is considerably more comfortable as well.

Here is a comparison of relative heel height of the four styles:

Flexibility in the toe of the shoe is essential once you get to tweaking your RW technique. The Rykas had little (almost none), but the new NBs have quite a bit, even the Re/shod version:

They even look good, even with my super-skinny ankles:

Time to hit the road!

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