It seems like only a couple months ago I had just started wearing my last pair of new shoes. Oh, wait! It really was only two months ago. No, the shoes are not worn out already, since I only have 200 miles on them. However, it is only 5 weeks until the Miami marathon, and I know I will be border line on the timing for needing new shoes. Because of that I decided to buy the new shoes now and give time to break them in.
So, why did I change my shoe and not go for the “cushy” Nike Zoom Vomero 4 again? Well, my plantar faciitus (see past post on that) has really become a “pain in the foot”, and I have resorted to running in my old New Balance cross trainers this past week, and my feet are feeling better. (Not healed since that will take some time, but still better.) This makes it appear as if the cushioned Nike Zoom Vomero 4 shoes may be a partial cause of my problems, so it is time to say goodbye to them. (Of course I will wear them on occasion since they still have more than 100 miles left on them.)
Hearing good things about the Nike Free shoes that are like barefoot running I thought I would give them a shot. After viewing the customer feedback on the different sites I decided that I would opt for the Nike Free 3.0 instead of 5.0 version. The 3.0 seemed to get more 30+ mile per week runners, and the feedback was amazing. The 5.0 seemed to be for the under 20 mile per week crowd, and the feedback was good for them as well, but many complained about rocks getting stuck in the 5.0 treads. From what I could tell the 3.0 was a bit closer to barefoot running, while the 5.0 had a little more support. (Yes, I know. I have never been a half-way kinda guy, and went for the 3.0.) I just wish that Nike would come out with more “realistic” and/or “reserved” colors. I had to get a black pair like the picture above because there was nothing else available in my size. (NOTE: I ordered a half size larger than I normally wear in running shoes, because the Free shoes run a little small.)
This past weekend I wore my new pair of shoes for the first time running a 4 mile, then later an 18 mile route. The first was only a 4 mile run to see how they did. Then if I was pleased I would then run the 18 mile route a couple of days later.
Initially I was a bit nervous because they are so light, very flexible (like the top part serves no purpose except to strap the tread to your feet) and were a bit tight around the knuckles of my feet. One thing I notice is that they do have a little arch support, but there is not much more to them. Walking with them did not really help my opinion much, and even made me more doubtful because they lacked any compensation for over-pronation since I tend to land on my outer heel and rolling inward when walking. My second thought was that this may help me since it may force me to become more neutral now that my shoes do not compensate for it. The important test would be while running because I over-pronate less when running being a forefoot runner. (I run on my toes using the “balls” of my feet to land on.)
After the short 4 mile run I found that the lightness of the shoes caused me to run much faster than I normally would have at first. But by the 3rd mile I started to ease into a steady rhythm and slowed a bit. The shoes really were like running in a pair of slippers, but there was just enough cushion to keep it pleasant yet allow my body to get clear signals from the running surface. I could “feel” the ground more than I had in a long time, and I was loving it. By the end of the 4 miles I noticed that my calves were a bit tender, like I had just worked them out at the gym. I also noticed that the muscles in my arches were perking up a little, as if to say, “What was that?”. Later that day I also noticed that my feet felt much better than they normally would have after running. There was noticeably less tightness in my arches, and I did not have the tender feeling I normally get after a run.
I became excited at what the new shoes would be like for a long run, and would use them on the 18 mile Saturday run.
On Saturday I could hardly wait to get out and run. After I strapped on the CamelBak, stored the gels, Endurolytes, and energy bar in my pockets, and grabbed my mobile phone I was out the door. The day was an awesome 70-75’ish and sunny, with very little air movement. A quick stretch and I was running.
The first mile or two was a little awkward getting used to the weight (or lack of) the shoes, but after I got into the groove it was awesome. I immediately noticed that my running was much smoother, and I “hit” the ground much less with my feet but instead simply “set” my foot down. This was very “automatic” and required no thought on my part, as my body just seemed to do it on its own. It also meant I could hardly hear my feet strike the ground. (Remembering the pain I felt in my feet after running the marathon, this was a very welcomed side effect.)
Later in the run I noticed I could really feel slopes in the surface I was running on to the right or left. I also found that I could really feel contours in the pavement under my feet as the shoes (and my feet) became “molded” to the shape under them. If there was a crack in the black-top and weather had rounded the corners on either side of the crack, I could feel it. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but after awhile I didn’t notice it anymore.
Around 13 miles I tend feel a little pain on the outside of my left knee. (And always feel a little tender there after a long run.) However, I have not felt that yet wtih the new shoes.
Normally around mile 15 of a long run my feet are starting to feel a bit tender, and my nerves are dreading the next step. However, with the new shoes my body naturally ran softly, so my feet were not sore at all. (I could tell that my arches and calves were going to be sore later from a good workout. But it was a good kind of sore, not an injury type of sore.)
After finishing the 18 miles I soaked my legs in the ocean, since I planned my route to end on the beach. My ride was a bit slow arriving, and I felt so good from the run I almost started the 9 mile run home. But my ride did show up, and while I was happy to ride though I did experience a bit of disappointment. 🙂
So the verdict is that I LOVE THESE SHOES! Thank you Nike.