Shoe Boner Awards: The Trailer

by John Schrup

In a month or so, and by month we mean in the future, but before the end of the year, we’re going to release the Rogue Shoes of 2012:  The Shoe Boner Awards This list will include the very best shoes available by Rogue standards and presented to you in a way that only we can do it.  Which is to say that if you are running in a model that is not found on the list then, well, two words:  Dance off.

We must apologize in advance, because you will be offended, perhaps disgusted and because we can’t give you a more specific ETA on the SBA.   I’m behind schedule on several things, including laundry, due to the unfortunate encounter with the clam paneer at the Taco Delhi.  So you’ll see it when you see it.  I hope.  I’m still sweating.

What makes a shoe Rogue?  What makes a shoe worthy of The Wall at Rogue?  You mean, besides when you put them on and all of a sudden old ladies in track suits are frisking you in the HEB?  We like shoes that are simple designs, functional shoes.  That’s pretty much it.  We don’t go in for the bling, the “technologies” that are less technology and more, you know, stupid.  We tend to prefer shoes that might seem a little basic, a little old school.  We like shoes that allow you to do what you’re designed to do.   And we recognize that a shoe is only a small piece of the puzzle.  First you’ve gotta get fit, and we’re not talking V02 Max fit.  Structurally sound fit.  If you’re looking for the magic bullet, stop!  There ain’t one, except the one you see when you look in your mirror each morning for your daily affirmations.  Your running shoes are your most personalized tools.  If you’re thinking about them, noticing them when you’re running, then they aren’t doing you right.

You know the shoe is the right one for you when it is the one that disappears most on your foot.  It feels like an extension of your foot.  It feels most natural to you.  It is the one you notice least.  It is the one that you are intuitively drawn to.  It is easy to overthink the process because we have been taught that we need all kinds of stability or cushioning and all that shit.  No, no you don’t.  You know what you need, intuitively, you just have to learn how to recognize it.

So what are some things to look for in a shoe?  Well, several things. None of these are writ in stone, but they are great places to start.  We have noticed over the years, after fitting, like, bazillions of people and coaching almost that much, that the following design characteristics tend to work best for the widest variety of runners, , including you.  And if you think we are just going to list “minimalist” shoes, because we are a “minimalist” store, which I’ve heard several times in the last few weeks—in other cities, nonetheless—then you will get West Nile.  First, I don’t even know what that means, and B.) I’m pretty sure Donald Judd didn’t help with the build out of either store.  In your face!

Minimal overlays.  Most overlays are unnecessary.  They just are.  Most of them are there to make the shoe prettier, or more space shuttle-y, or something.  If a shoe is well designed and with good materials, there will be just enough up top to secure the shoe to the foot, and nothing more.

Lightweight.  With the resources, materials and talent that the shoe companies have these days, if your shoe is heavier than 10 oz. in men’s 9, or 8.5 oz. in women’s 7, they’re on the heavy side.  I know, right?

Flexible.  The shoe should be at least moderately flexible from heel to toe and from side to side.  Most feet are pretty flexible, and they are that way for a reason, for shock absorption, for propulsion.  If a shoe is too rigid or inflexible, it hinders the ability of the foot to do what it is supposed to do.  You’ll know if it isn’t flexible enough if you hear a slapping when your forefoot hits the ground or if your heel slips a bit at toe off.

Complete ground contact.  WTF is that?  Put your shoe, sole down, on the table or person in front of you.  From heel to toe you should see very little daylight along the point where the shoe meets the surface it is on.  You won’t find any midfoot trusses, just foam and rubber.  Complete ground contact makes the heel-toe transition much smoother, makes the shoe more inherently stable and, yep, lighter.  What does it look like?  Look at the Launch.  Classic example.  The 890/1400/1600?  Totally.  Pegasus?  Yes’m.

Lower offset.  Traditionally, the standard offset has been about 12mm.  That’s the difference in foam height between the heel and the ball of the foot.  There is endless argument about whether it makes a difference, or not.  Here’s how you know what works for you:  Try different heel heights.  Then you’ll know.  Almost invariably, people feel more comfortable in offsets that are lower than the traditional heights.  The shoes feel smoother, your gait feels smoother, your skin feels smoother.  I’m not going to go into the argument here, because I don’t have enough coffee for that, but I will say that our experiential information tells us that lower is better.  How low?  I don’t know, mofo.

Knowing all this, there will be someone who says, “Hey man. What’s up with the Adios 2?  That one’s got all the shit you don’t like on it.  WTF?”  Yes.  Yes it does.  And it is still bad ass.

Straight ballin’ EVA.  Proprietary cushioning technologies really don’t do much for you except give the shoe a certain feel, maybe add a hint of durability and that’s about it.  Straight EVA is so much smoother underfoot, you don’t even know!  It might seem a little far-fetched, but bounce with me here for a second:   I think if you have, like, three or four or five different densities, materials—whatever–under your foot, your nervous system is picking up on that, whether you notice it or not.  Now think about walking on a surface that is just one material—grass, concrete, dirt—and then compare that to walking on a surface that is a mix of a whole bunch of different things—twigs, rocks, grass, dirt.  Which one is smoother?  I know, right?  Ok, so that’s a terrible analogy.  I’m a terrible analogyist.

Hold your breath.  Shoe Boner Awards coming soon.

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