Sunday, July 17, 2011

Buying Running Shoes...For My Daughter

There aren't too many rules in cross country. I can easily list most of them. Let's see. Once the race starts, you are not allowed to have any assistance of any kind, you are on your own. You are not allowed to wear jewelry. You are not allowed to tackle any of the other runners, I think, although getting spiked in the calf can happen on occasion. One big rule is you must wear shoes. The daughter Victoria has run with me barefoot a few times and is OK with it, but not in love with it like her old man. So I don't think that one big rule disappoints her too much. And she's a girl, so she must like shoes? So Amy and I took our girl shoe shopping the other day at our new, local running store, Foothills Running Company. It's owned by Brian Shelton, a local fast runner. He placed 4th at the Country Music Half Marathon last spring in 1:13:something.

But Brian's store wasn't our first stop. When we were in Florida last month, Victoria found a cute pair of yellow Merrell shoes at a touristy shop on the boardwalk. I think they were called Pace Gloves. She liked them, but I was really hesitant to buy them, so we didn't. I can't recall how much they cost, but it was too much, like $110. One of my pet peaves is the non-minimal price of minimal shoes. It's not just Merrell either, Terra Plana and Vibram have high prices among others. Even the small guys like Luna and Soft Star have high prices. Aqua socks are one of the few reasonable alternatives for minimal footwear at minimal prices.

So back at Foothills, Victoria was trying on shoes for cross country. The only thing that these shoes seemed to have in common with the minimal shoes category were the high prices. The spikes and flats came close, but even those seemed to me from my barefoot perspective to have a lot of cushion. The shoes in this store were just like the shoes that I wore running for 25 years, off and on in between injuries. After years of chronic achilles tendonitis, not finding a shoe solution and after reading "Born To Run", I opted for an alternate solution. I suppose it could be called the Null Hypothesis, not wearing shoes. In two years since adapating this hypothesis, I haven't found a reason yet to go back to those cushy shoes.

But this was about Victoria's experience. Brian was watching her walk in several pairs in the store and also watching her jog outside the store. One thing that I read on his website and liked was that the shoe fitting process was not an exact science. He pointed out that Victoria's left foot kinda dropped inward when she landed. I couldn't really see what he was referring to. He was guiding her into shoes that had more support with that grey material under the arch. She wasn't digging the feel of them. Finally, he brought out a pair that she settled on, Saucony Kinvara. I think these were a good choice for her. They were one of the closest to minimal shoes in the store. Brian even pointed out that they have a minimal heel-to-drop of only 4 mm. There were also some of the cheapest at $85 (imagine that, the shoes most like minimal were the cheapest, the irony).

My food scale weighing the shoe (yes, I can get that anal about food)

Running and Rambling offered this review of the shoe. Under 8 oz. the shoes are relatively light. There's very little rubber on the sole, only on the high wear locations. This really shouldn't be much of a durability concern for Victoria because most of her running will be on the grass of the cross country course. Another advantage of the minimal rubber on the sole appears to be good flexibility, as you can do the burrito roll up test on them (sorry, no pic). Anyway, if the shoes give her problems running, as Brian said, they'll look good wearing them to school. I suppose the best part about the shoes are that their purchase supported our local running store.

Victoria and Sylvester on the Porch


  1. They didn't throw you out of the store for being a barefoot runner?

  2. No, I wore shoes. I'm not brave enough to walk into a shoe store barefoot.