Shoe addiction

Over the past year, I’ve managed to collect a random array of running shoes. There is some merit in having a variety I have found. Each shoe has its own benefits and shortfalls and perform differently in different terrains or weather conditions. I must have acquired most of my collection around about the same time as I am finding that most of my shoes are wearing thin in places and are suggesting I should be thinking about replacing them.

Oh the smell…..

To give an idea of what I have currently and the use I have for them, here’s a table describing the bottom of my running wardrobe. (I don’t actually have a running wardrobe, but if I did, and I could withstand the smell it would have the potential for, then this is what you’d find at the bottom of it today):

Shoe Brand Description
Speedcross 3 Salomon Used for general trail running. Provides some cushioning so also useful for mixed road\trail runs. Tread wears down quite quickly though with too much exposure to roads. Not great in muddy scenarios or for hill type running in open moorland.
Sense Ultra 3 SG Salomon Used for general trail running as they have lugs on the sole for grip. Almost no cushioning, but a very light shoe. I used these in the great glen ultra and was hooked as a consequence. They are rubbish on road sections, but I love them for trails.
Sense Ultra 4 Salomon This variant of the Sense Ultra has minimal grip, but is ideal for dry, hard trails. It is a really light shoe and has minimal cushioning, but is incredibly comfortable. I wore these in the Matterhorn Ultraks race and they were perfect for those stony alpine trails.
MT1210 Leadville New Balance This is the most cushioned shoe I own. It has a light grip underneath all that cushioning and I use these today as my road shoes. If I am away for work and squeezing runs in, they are typically around city streets, but every now and then I will find a city trail and these shoes cross over really well.
Mudclaw 235 Inov-8 These are a purpose made hill or fell running shoe. They have rubber studs, rather than grip, on the sole which is designed to give you confidence in wet, muddy hill sides. And they do. In bucket loads. With these on my feet I feel like I can run down vertical slopes. I can’t, but I feel like I could. This is a lighter version, I used to have the 300 (the number refers to weight in grams) and those would start to feel heavy in longer races. These lighter versions are proving fantastic.

That’s what I have today. With the exception of the mudclaws, they have all done around 600km+ of running. Some of them, like the Leadville’s, are doing well. The Sense SG’s have almost fallen apart and I plan on throwing them out any day soon once I’ve overcome my emotional attachment to them. So it’s time to replenish the shoe department.

Now as any runner likely knows, shopping for new shoes is a wonderful experience but one which can be overwhelming. I know from buying trainers in the past that not all of them work for you straight away. The Speedcross 3’s felt like I was putting my feet into inner-tubes. When I first got them they were so narrow compared to other shoes I’d had. Now they feel like wide boats compared to my sense ultra’s.

The Fling in my Leadville’s

Salomon shoes have served me well though. I like New Balance too, the Leadville’s have been good to me and I ran my first ultra, The Highland Fling, in them.

They are a really comfortable shoe for long runs and protect me from hard pavements now. However, they are really wide and my fetish for Salomon has conditioned me to narrow shoes. I’ve also done more road miles recently and they are feeling like they are losing their support, so I think it is time for a change.

My Speedcross 3’s are like a geriatric now who can still do the job they were meant to do, but are getting so old and tired I want them to take up retirement rather than keeping me upright on the trails for any longer.

My Sense ultra SG’s are done as I mentioned, but I think they and the Speedcross were always sharing the load so I can replace them both with one pair. So that means I need a new pair of trail shoes and something I can use on roads too.

When I was in Seattle recently I paid my habitual visit to the wonderful REI to simply browse around outdoor equipment. I spotted a pair of Salomon shoes I’d never seen before, the Sense Sonic Pro. Since coming back they have started to appear in the UK shops too and I’m considering these for my road running. They follow the same lightweight style of my sense ultra’s but look to have a little more cushioning to get between me and the pavements. I do wonder though if I shouldn’t just buy a regular road shoe and see past my Salomon addiction. I think Salomon will win though.

For trail shoes; I’m torn. I love my Speedcross, but I love my Sense ultra SG’s at least as much. I think I will go with the SG’s because I am preferring a lighter, flatter shoe at the moment. I also love the version 4 of the ultra and I see now that there is also a v5 out too. These multiple versions from Salomon I tend to find offer incremental improvements. They seem to do a good job of taking feedback about their gear and striving to improve is. I like that. Comparing the SG’s to the 3’s though and trying to decide between them,  I can’t help think that I am going to miss the cushioning of the 3’s. On a day when I’m tired and I just want a gentle leg stretch, the 3’s provide me with a soft bed to run on.

I’ll let you now what I go for in the end. What stands out for me though is that I put more effort into buying running shoes than I do into any other form of clothing. I own more running shoes than I do regular shoes. This running game develops addictions.