I’ve used a lot of running shoes over the years, 43 to be exact. I have around 6 – 7 pairs in daily rotation that I cycle through depending on workout type. Currently they are:
- Trainers for longer runs: Mizuno Rider 17, Saucony Kinvara 4
- Tempo or quicker runs: Mizuno Hitogami
- Speedwork: Saucony Gridtype A5
- Barefoot: Vivobarefoot evo (on roads), Vivobarefoot Trail Freak (for trails)
- Offroad and snow: Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock (wet conditions), Brooks Pure Grit 2 (dry conditions)
As you can see, nowadays I run mainly in low drop and flexible shoes, as I believe that extra heel cushioning and pronation control affect the stride style and hence running economy in negative way. As a result, my foot strike has become more and more fore footed over the years and I believe that this was mainly the consequence of using lighter shoes with lower heel-to-toe difference. The graph bellow presents the average weight of shoes that I ran with over the years. My progression to lighter shoes was slow, where I managed to drop the weight of shoes for about 100 grams (-30%) over the span of 5 years. As studies have shown, a 100 g reduction in running shoe weight presents approx. 1% improvement in running economy (~ 2 minutes at 3h marathon).
Otherwise, I started running in more conventional shoes in 2004. There were no “barefoot “or “minimalist” running shoes back then, so I was of course heavily influenced by marketing and “pronation control” dogma. So my early shoes were mainly pronation controlled Asics shoes, from 1000 to 2000 series and then finally to Kayano. Being overly cushioned shoes with pronation control, really heavy with large heel to toe height difference, I then started using 2 running shoes simultaneously. The second pair was usually a lighter trainer (i.e. Nike Elite) for races and speed work. In 2009 I made my first foray into minimalist running shoes with Nike Free shoes. I barely managed to run 5 km in them once per week, as I got sore calf muscles after every run in them. The next stepping stone in my transition to more minimalist running shoes were Saucony Mirage with their 4mm heel to toe drop. I really needed a couple of months to get used to running in them, but then I was hooked. Especially when I later progressed to Kinvara (4 mm drop) and now to Virrata (0 mm drop).
Nowadays I ran mainly in low drop shoes with occasional runs with barefoot and traditional drop shoes in-between. I really like rotating through various shoes as they alter my gait and foot-placement pattern. Instead of having my foot hit the ground the same way on every stride on every run, I’m mixing things up enough to build the micromuscles in my feet, ankles, lower legs and even hips just a twinge more. And hopefully that’s something that contributes to becoming a stronger and more agile runner in the long run.
I am also quite nostalgic, as I took pictures of all my running shoes so far. Below is the collection of every running shoe I ever ran in. Brings back a lot of memories, when I look through the pictures. Hopefully you will recognize a model you ran in too!