If I knew that running shoes would be such an issue I would have prepared better for this. But hey, for a rookie I didn’t make so many mistakes, let this one slip by, would ya? So here is the center of the drama: I am having trouble choosing, buying, and using running shoes. But first let’s get to what I thought would be the solution from the time I was training in Miami:
Early during the training phase I bought these Vibram Five Fingers and I love them! Sometimes I use them even when not running, just to have the feeling of bare-footing without getting my feet all dirty. I would use them any day in the city. I would use them in parks and bike paths. But I would not use them on the road. There is so much trash, thorns, nails, and glass on the side of the road and on the breakdown lane that the VFFs wouldn’t have survived Florida, nor would my feet. I need some protection from all that trash, so I used these:
These were my old Adidas. By old I mean about 15 (yes, fifteen) years old pair of Adidas that I got while still in Brazil, sometime during the last century. These shoes were so worn out that they were totally flexible, comfortable, and with about 10mm of soles in them there was plenty of protection from debree. They were so light that I could run well on them, and did plenty of running, all the way to Houston. A little over 1100 miles I put on them until they started falling apart and the soles were so worn out that you could see through them. Job well done!
Then in Houston my friend Alain Ducante gave me a pair of brand new Asics racer shoes. I loved them! The feeling was exactly the same of the very old very beat up Adidas, but even a bit lighter! Perfect shoes! Lightweight, cool, and great traction. No heel padding, no bullshit, just great shoes. But the folks at the store told me they would last about 200 miles. They were about right. At 300 miles or so those shoes were done.
That is when I made a mistake. I was in Austin when the Asics were showing signs of serious wear and tear. I decided to keep going and I thought I would just buy other shoes in the next city or so. Bad mistake. When I got to Mason (TX) those shoes were totally spent and I needed something new. Badly! There were no shoe stores, actually no stores of any kind better than a Dollar General. There I found something I thought I would like:
At first I liked them: Very light, very cheap, flat, and I had a good feeling about them. I was very happy and feeling very smart after spending $8, instead of the hundreds of dollars other people spend in shoes. Well… not quite that smart: Those shoes lasted about 60 miles and they were also falling apart.
At this point I was in another little town in the middle of Texas called Eldorado, and of course, there were no stores there better than the Dollar General. So I searched their inventory and found something that looked promising:
These shoes were 50% more expensive than the previous ones ($12) and looked sturdier. They were Female models (I didn’t even know feet have gender) number 10 and felt good enough so I put them to work. The soles started falling apart the very next day. At some point they were so bad that around Iraan (TX) I decided to try again something I only tried in the past after reading Born To Run, more like a funny experiment, but never took seriously:
Huaraches are some kind of sandals popular in Mexico, but what they refer to in Born To Run are the Huaraches made by the Tarahumara indians, basically a piece of car tire with some leather straps. That is how they run hundreds of miles! I was looking at my old Brazilian Havaianas the other day and thought “If I just at some straps to the back they would be just the same thing…” and I was right! I used the old shoe laces from the Asics and when I put them to work I was surprised at how light and easy it feels. I can walk, or run, and they are perfect. The only part I don’t like is that going through the desert my feet get really dirty, and in a part of the country known for snakes and scorpions having my feet out in the open is not appealing. So I like the Brazilian Huaraches but will keep that as a “Plan B” while I test the new possible solution:
These shoes are made by Starter and I found them at Wal-Mart in Pecos, TX. Not great, not expensive ($25), but also not too bad. The structure seems to be better than the previous ones so I am guessing they will last at least until I reach El Paso, where I hope I will find a good running store to buy some high quality minimalistic shoes, or some other racers like the Asics I liked so much.
So here I am longing for my incredibly old Adidas, appreciating the high-tech comfort of a new Asics that won’t last long, and experimenting with some crap I can find in country stores in dusty little towns in West Texas, while the only solution that has been working well and lasting the trip has been some Brazilian sandals with additional straps from old shoes…
Then in Phoenix AZ the store Sole Sports Running Zone gave me a pair of trainers made by New Balance. So far I like them, they are very lightweight and are minimalistic, so I will be running on them all the way to Venice Beach.