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New Kicks

I did a daring things last week: I switched running shoe brands. I've worn and sworn by Asics since I began seriously running three years ago (which means for me that I've run down three pairs). But something about my last Asics experience didn't sit right with me. Perhaps it was all of the problems I had during marathon training. Or perhaps it was the inserts I used to help one such problem. Or perhaps it was my fault for believing that a more expensive shoe would lead to a better experience. The shoes I bought at the start of training were an upgrade from what I had successfully worn twice before; the kid at the running store did what he was supposed to do--try to upsell--and it worked. (I'm admittedly a sucker for marketing and sales tactics.) But regardless of where the blame lay, my rosy view of Asics was tarnished.

So when I went to my local running store a couple weeks after the marathon--a finishing treat I'd goaded myself with throughout training--I stood and stared at the wall of shoes for about twenty minutes before I could utter the words, "I want to try something different." My salesman (a boy, really) still brought out a pair of Asics but also a pair of Brooks, per my request. At least three runner friends I knew had recently bought Brooks upon recommendations from running store staff, so they seemed a safe bet (either that or Brooks was paying stores to push their brand--it was an almost eerie coincidence). I tried on both pairs. What I mostly noticed was that the Brooks were roomier in the toe box than the Asics. This was a particular concern to me since I'd developed painful blisters on the bottoms of my toes throughout my marathon training, and I wanted badly to avoid getting any more. Since neither shoe was available in the store in a wide for my special-needs feet, the salesman said he'd order a pair of each for me and I could try them both after they came in.

About a week later, the shoes were in. I excitedly went back to the store to try them on. I put the Asics shoe on one foot and the Brooks on the other. The Asics felt cushy like I thought a new shoe should, but it was still snug around the toe box. The Brooks felt a little lower to the ground, not as cushy, but much roomier in the toe box. I also felt a slight rock forward in the palm (or whatever the foot equivalent of a palm is) area of the Brooks foot. This was new, and not unwelcome with all of the hype about forefoot running.

So with little more deliberation, I decided to go with the Brooks Ghost 4:

I've worn the shoes on six runs now--one of them a twelve-miler. I can definitely feel that I'm still adapting to them. My lower legs, particularly my calves and achilles tendons, are working harder. I've had a relapse of shin splints since attempting to improve my pace after the marathon--but I don't think the shoes are contributing to this (it's a nagging problem nonetheless). I have faith that as my lower legs strengthen, the soreness will subside. Otherwise, I'm loving the extra room I have to wiggle my toes. I may be harping on this issue, but it's rare to find running shoes that accommodate my "unique" feet. So overall I'm happy with my purchase and looking forward to the places my Brooks will take me.


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