I got only two questions, one of which was from Gundi, and was way too hifalutin for the masses, so the default question is this:
What’s the deal with using multiple pairs of shoes? Should one have multiple pairs of the same shoe or buy a couple different types of shoes?–Waylon Calabrese
That’s a great question, and strangely enough it is asked often, but rarely by people who are named Waylon. I suspect Waylon is bored.
First, training in multiple pairs of shoes is good for the economy. If you aren’t up on your Twitter, we, as a general planet are having some financial issues. The more shoes you buy, the more likely we are to get back to the roaring 80’s/90’s, when Porsches were plentiful and Luby’s served a prix fixe.
We look at training in different shoes from the same perspective as we prescribe training: You have to work all the systems in order to become a better slash stronger slash faster slash healthier athlete slash runner. We want to build you from head to toe, and not just focus on your aerobic system. We know that your aerobic system will only grow to the point that your structure (your body–the musculo-skeletal body) will allow it. It is why we do foot drills, dynamic stretching and General Strength exercises. For the most part, gone are the days when we would just go out and run and run and run and run and run and call it Base Phase. Sure, that does work to a degree, but we know that you increase your chances of success when you work all the systems in the midst of the running and running and running and running.
So let’s say you put on your, oh, adidas Adios, which is a fine, fine shoe by any standard. This is your trainer. You wear it each of the six running days per week. Awesome. Cool. All good. And as you get closer to race day, you wear your adidas Rocket for a couple of track workouts or tempo runs so you can get more familiarer with them before you race in them and thrash your legs. You are running 40 miles per week in a shoe that is worth, I don’t know, 300 miles. So, let’s call it two months. As you wear your Adios every day, they begin to break down. The midsole foam compresses but it doesn’t compress symmetrically. That is to say that the shoe begins to get a bit lop sided, listing to the one side where you mostly load your foot. And so every day your foot goes through the increasingly acute angle in the range of motion, every time you take a step. Your foot becomes familiar with that and that stress increases, so too does your chance for injury.
But that’s not really what we’re looking for, is it?
We want different motions, different stresses, different responses.
The same way we run some on the roads, some on the trail, some on the grass and some on the track, all to stimulate different muscles so that our bodies produce different responses. The same way we don’t do only hills, or only progression runs or only long runs. Our bodies need different movements, different speeds, different efforts each day in order to improve.
And so we wear different shoes on different days. Traditionally, we wore our standard trainers on our easy or long days, and our lightweight trainers or racers on days which required us to put in a bit of effort. But now that shoes are becoming lighter and more flexible, much more racer-like than in the past, we can wear just about anything we want on any given day. One friend wears the Adios and the New Balance 1400. They are similar shoes in many ways–lightweight and flexible racers designed for the marathon–and subtly different–the Adios drops 11mm from heel to forefoot, and the 1400 drops only 8. Both feel fast and protective, while the Adios is a bit firmer and stiffer all around. I haven’t found a pattern in how this friend wears the shoes; likely they are chosen by which one is closest to the door when leaving for a run or workout. But it doesn’t matter, either one works well for just about anything.
I still do recommend practicing race specific workouts with the shoes that you are likely to wear on race day. You want familiarity in a few things, when it comes to racing, so that you don’t have any surprises in store for you.
I don’t know if that answers the question, Waylon; or even if I wrote something entirely understandable. Maybe in the future, bring me an Americano and I’ll do my best to overexplain everything.
We call him our Gear Savant for a reason. If you want to know the lineage of every aspect of a shoe, he knows it. If you want to know exactly how the Nike Pegasus 11 is different from the Nike Pegasus 28, he knows it. If you are the person who can never find the right shoe, then you haven’t met our very own Mr. John Schrup. We now offer a new, weekly blog series – Dear Schrup – where John will answer your tech questions about running shoes, apparel, and other gear. Any question is fair game. We will choose from the questions weekly, and John will respond via the blog on Wednesdays. Submit your questions via email to John (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post them on our Facebook wall.