When I was a kid, I’d love to smell different things. I know, it sounds weird, but I was a weird one. Heck, I’d play an actual football game in my front and back yards with….myself. Yeah, and my parents have videotape of it. Heck there was even a halftime show, with me marching along, holding a shovel or a broom in the air imitating a flag being held by a band member. I also played baseball by myself, whipping a tennis ball against a very large rock in our backyard. I’d throw the tennis ball against this rock and wherever it went from there, was the hit of the ball against the bat…an imaginary bat. First base was the clothes line post, second base was the corner of the house, third base was the little tree, and home was the rock. It wasn’t uncommon for me to smell the inside of a baseball mitt, or the tennis ball I was throwing. I would even smell a brand new pair of baseball cleats, or any sneakers for that matter.
So now that I’m all grown up, I still smell my new sneakers I buy. These days I’m buying many pairs, all of them are running sneakers. I know a lot of runners that live and die by a certain pair they’ve had success with. After all, if it works, why change it. I can’t say the same thing. Over the past seven years, I have owned the following road running and trail running sneakers: Nike, Mizuno, Asics, Adidas, Altra, and am currently rotating the following trail and road running sneakers: Saucony, New Balance, Brooks, Puma, and Hokas. I have even contemplated buying a pair of running sandals. Yes, there is such a thing. I have run a few miles in an older pair of Timberland sandals (don’t ask why) and they did the job.
I’ve never had a major running injury before where I have had to take, say, 3 to 6 months off of running. I’ve had a tight hamstring, a pulled groin, a tight calf, a twisted ankle, and a metatarsal injury. It seems like a lot, but I’ve run a ton of miles. None of these were too severe to stop running, and none were due to my choice of sneaker. The twisted ankle was actually due to a very bad twist from basketball years ago and I had stepped on the side of a big pot hole and re-aggravated it. The metatarsal injury was due to my own stupidity, wearing running sneakers on a tough terrain trail years ago. Never run a rocky trail with a pair of worn down Asics 1130’s.
What I believe has helped me stay fresh, and basically injury free, is the rotating of sneakers. The sneakers I am currently rotating are definitely different from each other. The New Balance doesn’t have much cushioning. I like to wear these on the track for speed work. If I haven’t worn them in a while, I’ll just put them on for a 5 miler around the neighborhood. The Brooks are my main road running sneaker right now. They’re light, with good heel cushioning. I’ll wear them for races and long runs on the streets. The Pumas have just about had it. When they were new, they were very light and had good tread. Now, with over 600 miles(by the way, I GO BY FEEL, NOT BY MILES!!!!) of trail running, and with the tread and cushioning diminishing, it’s almost time to hang them up. The Sauconys still have some good trail tread on them. They seem to be a little big on me, so I’ll wear thicker trail socks with these. I’ll use them from time to time on both easy trails and rocky trails. I’ve even worn them on the road from time to time. My go to trail sneaker right now are the Hokas. If you haven’t seen them, they look like moon shoes. The cushioning is unlike any other and they appear not to interfere with my foot strike. I’ll wear them on rocky sections of trail and in races. They did wonders on the more rocky sections of the PA Appalachian Trail when we went through there. One complaint with them is that you roll your ankles a lot with them. They aren’t very stable. It’s true, I have rolled my ankle a few times with them. It is definitely noted…
I may be sniffing a new pair of trail sneakers soon!
What are your thoughts on sticking with the same pair of sneakers, trying new sneakers, and/or rotating sneakers?