Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shoe Quivers

Written By: Max King

Folks often come in the shop and ask us, "What's the best shoe for me?" So we'll ask a series
of questions to get at what you're doing in your shoes and do our best to assess what you (the 
customer) would likely get the most out of. Now, a lot of times we'll be able to narrow it down to 
one shoe that will do just about everything you want to do in it, but often times we can't narrow it 
down to just one and that's when you start to develop a shoe "quiver".

FootZones' Shoe Wall

I wrote about this in the Newsletter Tip O’ The Month for Feb 2013 but wanted to dive a little deeper as to why and what a shoe quiver could mean to you. If you've been in and fitted for shoes you may have heard a few of us talk about a shoe "quiver" and why it might be important to have a couple pairs of shoes. The quiver consists of a few very different types of shoes for different uses. The easiest two uses would be simply a road shoe and a trail shoe, or indoor treadmill shoe and outside running shoe. This is a simple quiver and one I suspect that many of you already have. But, if you'll let me expand on that notion of multiple shoes I think you'll see a bigger benefit in your varied activities if you can specify your footwear.

Can you do multiple things with one shoe and have it work? Of course you can. If you ride bikes a lot you can think of this as different types of bikes, mountain, road, or cyclocross or maybe a fat bike (Hokas), and how the performance is affected by varying terrain. Can you ride a road bike on a mountain trail? Sure, but performance is going to be affected. Here at the shop I think we take the position too often when working with you to find new footwear that a road shoe will work just fine on the trails. I know I’m guilty of saying “sure, that “road” shoe will work fine on the trails you run”. Sure, it will work, but the shoe isn’t going to perform as well as a trail specific shoe would whether it’s the traction of the outsole, the weave of the mesh upper that’s going to let debris in, or how and inflexible shoe feels fine on the road but will not feel good on a winding forest trail. Trust me, we all hate feeling like we’re just trying to sell you on more stuff. We always take the position that we’re here to serve you, educate you, and make sure you’ve got everything you’re going to need to have a great run and nothing more.

So, what do you really need? First, you’ll need to examine what types of activities you are doing with your running/walking shoes. Are you running in the snow? Do you run on trails, and what type, technical or the river trail? Do you race? On roads or trails? All of these questions can lead to a different type of footwear. For me, I think I would narrow it down to 5 pairs of shoes (this would be totally different for each individual).

1) Road racing flats – I’d do a lot of road training and road long runs in this shoe. It’s light, efficient, narrow, airy and ventilated and fun to run fast in.

2) Trail racing flats – I’d do most of my training and trail runs in them. More traction than road flats, more flexible as well, thicker mesh and tighter weave to keep out big debris, and a full rubber outsole.

3) Hybrid cushy shoe – I’d do some easy runs when I needed some cush in these but they would work on trail or road. A neutral cushion shoe that is very flexible, has a good amount of cushion to it, open wide toe box, and runs well on the road or non-technical trail.

4) Mountain shoe – this is the shoe I use when I’m in the mountains. Tight weave upper to keep out all that fine pumice, big lugs for traction in snow, loose stuff, and off-trail, still flexible but with more protection from rocks than a flat, water resistant, and works with a gaiter.

5) Snow shoe/ valley shoe – I’d use this for running in the snow, slushy days in town, and muddy wet trails in the valley. This is a waterproof, highly lugged trail shoe, similar to the mountain shoe but waterproof and possibly has built in ice spikes.

I find that the more specific a shoe is for a given run, the more fun I have during that run. Take for example a day I had over in the valley: I don't get over to the valley very often but once in a while I do and the trails are always muddy so I always bring a trail shoe, possibly water proof, with big lugs for the mud. This lets me enjoy that run a bit more by not having wet feet and slipping and sliding everywhere. If you're training for something and doing specific workouts I also highly recommend a lighter weight racing shoe. It makes going fast fun, and easier.

Max's personal shoe wall
There are shoes for every type of run you might go on so I'm not saying you need 100 pairs of shoes, although I wouldn't argue if you did, but a small quiver focusing on your primary activities can help you enjoy them a bit more. Now, you also need to take this with a grain of salt from me as I do in fact have the ubiquitous 100+ pairs of shoes but I will say I find a different and varied use for just about every one of them. All this talk of shoes also sounds expensive, and you’re like, I can’t afford to buy 2 pairs of shoes, let along 5, but here’s the thing, how often do you have to run in the snow, or do a road workout, or run in the valley? Not very often, so these shoes last a long time but you’re so glad you have them when you need them. Trust me, it’s worth the investment as it will make some of those runs a lot more enjoyable. And that’s all we want for you here at FootZone. Enjoy the run.

And now is a perfect time to start that quiver too. With multiple sale shoes available and our Big Annual Sale Feb 5th - 9th with everything 20% off there's no better time to pick up that "extra" pair of shoes.

1 comment:

Mark Olson said...

We're a small bike shop just getting into "shoe sales." Thanks for all the great information!!!!