I used to run with a pair of Merrell Bare Access 4 running shoes, then I changed to New Balance 680v3 Tech Ride. At some point afterwards I also bought a pair of Skechers Skech-Knit. They are all great for different reasons.
But my all times favourites and the ones I am currently running with are Under Armour Bandit 3 which now while visiting the website I’m just seeing are actually for women. Well, I feel great in them so who cares really. I like them so much that I got 2 pairs, one in the grey color below and another blue ones. I alternate running with them and still my soles are pretty much done after running for only one year or so.
Now that I think about, I realize I have 2 pair of shoes, 2 pair of gloves, 3 running caps, 2 pair of pants and one running beanie, all from under Armour. I guess I just like the brand. Great prices and great quality that’s for sure.
The Merrell shoes I have which I use mostly for gym / running on treadmill, are minimalist running shoes, great shape with a low profile, zero drop heel-to-toe and not much cushioning. They feature EVA/Vibram rubber outsole with the perfect anatomic toe box for me – they are roomy so I can spread my toes easily. They just feel great. Thinking of them, I better buy now 1-2 more pairs just in case they discontinue soon. Wait, never mind, I cannot find them on the Merrell website anymore but I can still see stores selling them. If you like minimalist running shoes go grab a pair, you won’t regret it.
There is one catch though with minimal shoes. While I definitely love the barefoot format, the fact that I have plantar fasciitis, restricts me from wearing anything that doesn’t have enough cushion. To compensate that I use additional insoles that protect me. They felt a bit weird at the beginning but I eventually got used to them.
The New Balance running shoes I barely use anymore. But they are the ones I used for pretty much all my runs in the past when I started running. They have a lot of cushion and good road grip as well. They are great for running on both hard pavement and trails.
More snug on my feet than any other shoe, the hard material rubbing against my toes bothers me when I run. Thank god, no blisters or hot spots but I wish the upper fabric is more shear and easy on my feet. They bothered me from day one but I didn’t return them thinking they will break-in eventually. They never did. They are not that roomy as Merrells and far away from being as comfy as Under Armour. Despite the fact that they offer more impact protection through the over-sized midsole and beside being more responsive, they are not my favorites, unfortunately.
Another pair I bought which I only used occasionally for running and mostly for daily activities, are Skechers. Due to the toe splay and the snug mid foot area they wrap around my feet like a sock and I cannot get enough of that hug. They are the most comfortable shoes I ever had and absolutely a pleasure to wear them on a daily basis, all day long. But they aren’t that great for running. They lack grip (the sole is not firm at all) and they are bouncy. Truth to be told, I have had more knees pain from them than with the less cushioned Merrell ones.
If you are looking for a pair of shoes for running, you might ask, what are the best running shoes out there? And more important, what’s that one thing that matters? Is it the form factor, the sole, the material, the amount of cushion, the weight or what is it that makes a pair of running shoes great? Or, are they all important factors?
For me personally, a perfect running shoe is the one with no hard parts around toes, laces or back where there Achilles tendon is. It has to be light with a soft yet sturdy upper mesh that will snug my feet like a sock, tight enough to give me good stability but comfortable and with a great toes space. I want something that provides good heel support and great grip on slippery wet sidewalks. Lastly but not last I want it to be breathable, with just enough cushion to be flexible and finally to not buckle.
Here’s a wrap up for you:
- soft but sturdy fabric
- great pavement grip
- solid locked heel support
- breathable textile
What shoes are you running with and what do you look for when buying?