Tuesday 11 February 2014

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Shoes or Too Much Gear??

If you're asking me, then no way! When I began to take up running seriously almost 2 years ago I figured "Hey just a pair of shoes and a watch, then I'm off!" Wrong. This sport is on the verge of bankrupting me. That being said I'm in it pretty deep. I'm a serious short/mid distance road runner, dedicated trail runner and now entering into the world of long distance fast trekking. The latter is an entirely different post to come. I run all year, 5-6 days a week, through sun, heat, rain, sleet, snow, ice and cold. Between trail, road and the ever changing weather conditions I have amassed a plethora of gear and accessories. Technical clothing for sweat management, rain gear, cold weather breathable clothing, goggles, buffs, face masks, gloves, traction devices for ice and snow, running packs for different distances and of course SHOES!

I will attempt to justify my love of shoes and give you a peek inside the mind of a shoe-obsessed runner. The sport, in essence, is you and your shoes so a good arsenal of foot weapons is key.

Let's do this like an old year book photo.

Back Row:
Salomon Snocross - High-cut, full waterproof Gortex upper, heavy lugged sole with carbide steel spikes for ice traction. These are my winter trail runners.
Salomon S-Lab Sense - Last seasons long distance trail runner and this years winter beater.
New Balance MT20v2 - This years fast and light, minimal trail runner. I use these to build foot strength and better foot placement technique in the trail. With almost no midsole this shoe makes you pay for bad choices io the roots and rocks.

Forth Row:
LaSportiva Anakonda - This years trail runner so I bought two pairs because they were on clearance. This also means I won't have to adjust to a new shoe mid-season. 12-9mm drop, with 6mm lugs. Fast, light and aggressive race shoe.
LaSportiva Wildcat - Got this shoe from a staff auction for free. 25-15mm drop so waaaay to much midsole for me, just thought I'd try them. Unfortunately they didn't make the cut into this years line up.

Third Row:
New Balance Minimus Road - My original long distance minimalist road shoe. Used it to train  and race for Around the Bay 30km, now they just hang out. Sometimes I wear them to work. Sorry shoes but you've been retired.
New Balance Minimus MR00 - My first pair of minimalist footwear. Still my winter speed work shoe and track shoe in the summer.
Merrell Road Glove - Originally purchased as my daily walking shoe to assist in transitioning to a minimalist shoe, as well as build foot strength. I do run in them from time to time. Good natural feel for road.

Now for my personal favs, the Vibram Five Fingers
Second Row:
Vibram Komodo Sport Lace - Two pairs in blue and grey. Love this shoe for road distance running. Lace system helps to hold the foot in place. I did begin using toe socks late last year. It prevents blistering and the famous Five Finger shoe stench!
Vibram Spyridon Trail - I absolutely destroyed my big toe in these last year running trails. They have a nylon arch plate to protect the Plantar tendon and a lugged sole. No shoe will get you closer to the feeling of running barefoot while giving you a bit of protection. You will feel every twig and pebble while experiencing water and mud between your toes. You will also experience the joys of sharp rocks and monster toe stubs at high speeds. These are now my chill trail runners

Front Row:
Vibram SeeYa - The lightest, thinnest footwear I could find. These are pure speed. This is my short to mid distance road training and racing shoe. As close to pure barefoot running you can get while protecting your foot. Found them on clearance so I stocked up.

I'll just touch on gear a bit. As a trail runner I spend a good deal of time way out in the trail
systems of the Halton Region. I'm usually alone so I need to bring gear with me to be safe and comfortable. In good weather it's as simple as water, food, cellphone, medical kit and rain jacket. I also carry a GPS unit with me. In cold weather it gets more intensive. I add extra layers, face mask, goggles, gloves, ice traction device, trekking poles and emergency space blanket. If an accident occurs out in the trail system I may be there for a while before help can reach me so I need to stay warm. I have Gortex over-socks for winter running that waterproof any shoe and insulate as well. Windproof thermal boxer also add some insulation where it counts. After spraining an ankle on frozen footprints I now run the wintery trails with a pair of ankle braces.

MEC Test 9L - my smallest pack for warm weather running. Light and compact, it just fits the basics.
Platypus Duthie 12L - My cold weather running pack. Has the extra room for winter extras and lash-out points for my trekking poles.
MEC Air Hike 32L - My long, fast trekking pack. I'm currently using this for training to build strength and to get used to carrying weight while running. This year I'm looking to do self-supported muilt-day running excursions so this has to carry a sleep system, shelter, spare clothes, cook-set, food and water. I've spent a lot of time lately "nerding out" on ultralight trekking. My base pack weight is under 10lbs now, 16lbs with food and water. I'll be blogging about my experiences with this new aspect to running this summer.

So what started as a simple sport has spiraled into a vortex of research, tech gear and trial and error. As we enter into another Spring/Summer/Fall rotation it's time to get back to running itself instead of all the research and prep that has been the focus of my winter. At the end of the day, it's just one foot in front of the other as fast as I can for as long as I can.