Between scoring a pair of “new” Nike Free Runs at Goodwill the other day and my reluctance to ditch high-mileage workhorses, I suddenly find myself with an abundance of choices whenever I lace up.
Granted, this isn’t a lineup that would thrill any “real” runners. But it’s been fun to delegate roles — my road beaters, for example, are now my “gravel shoes” — and I find myself mixing up my runs so as not to leave any one pair out of the rotation for too long.
My feet seem to appreciate this new game, though for all I know that’s all in my head (as so many things tend to be). The cool thing is that my whole lineup cost a grand total of approximately$245.
The Showboats — The Saucony Kinvara 3 is the hottest pair of shoes I’ve ever owned, at least in terms of “hot off the presses.” Usually my “new” shoes are last year’s model plucked off the sale rack. Not only are these still being advertised in Runner’s World, but they elicit admiring comments from strangers, which is an unprecedented experience for me.
I got these because A) I was happy with the Saucony Kinvaras I bought last year (off the sale rack), B) They had a much more comfortable heel-toe slope than the Brooks Ghost 5 that I also tried on, and C) The guy at Three Rivers Running Co. said he’d give me the cross country team’s discount, since we were also buying Ben’s spikes that day.
They felt fast and sleek on their inaugural run — a pair of same-day 5Ks — but now they seem a bit stiff for lightweight shoes, especially compared with those Free Runs.
Cost: $100 (with discount)
My Triathlon Shoes — These K-Swiss cuties are gently used hand-me-downs from a “real” triathlete, already equipped with those no-tie laces designed to speed you up in transition. Does this mean that A) I’m superstitious enough to hope I’ll catch a good vibe from the original owner’s superior skill and drive, or B) That I’m too lazy to install similar laces on another pair of shoes?
The answer, of course, is C) Both.
But what the heck. These shoes have felt good on my training bricks, and because the Kinvara 3s and the Thrift Shop Free Runs are locked in a virtual dead heat for my affections, it’s hard to choose between them. So why not go with the sentimental favorite?
The Goodwill Gazelles — My Thrift Shop Nike Free Runs are the shoes I wear when I want to feel cooler than I really am. Why do I think these are sexier than my Kinvara 3s, which have a more exotic, hot pink print? Because the Free Runs are sleeker and way more flexible. If these shoes were in the same yoga class, the Free Runs would drop into effortless, unselfconscious splits while the Kinvaras would struggle to touch their toes.
Because these are at least three or four model years old, I’ve been skeptical about the overemphasis on the heel padding. But so far I’ve taken these up to 7 miles with no issues, so shockingly these thrift store finds have a chance to edge out my “new shoes” as No. 1 in the lineup.
The Workhorses — I got my first pair of Saucony Kinvaras on sale last fall after the new models came out, and I immediately liked them better than the first pair of lightweight shoes I ever bought — Adizeroes that got passed on to my daughter Rowan. One problem seems to be durability; these developed holes in both toes after less than a year’s wear. But the soles are fine, and in a way these are still my go-to shoes on everyday runs when I don‘t feel like thinking about shoe choices. Probably destined to become my trail shoes when I want something lighter than my Road Beaters.
Cost: $65 (on sale after new model came out)
My Road Beaters — I’ve written exhaustively about these poor old Adidas something-or-others, the first pair of running shoes I bought a couple of months after I started jogging in early 2010. They got relegated to lawn-mowing duty recently, then got reactivated as my gravel shoe and heavier trail running shoe. What can I say? I just can’t give them up. Yet.
Cost: Around $50, if I remember correctly.
My Born to Run sandals — Ok, these old orange Crocs are actually my gardening shoes. But back when I first started jogging, when all I had to wear were a pair of ridiculous heavy walking shoes, I sometimes wore these crocs when I wanted to pretend I was a light, freespirited, aspiring barefooter instead of an increasingly less obese middle-aged mom.
And you know what? This little ruse worked — sort of. At least in the sense that it kept me going, got me through another run back in the days when running was much, MUCH harder. So one of these days I’ll have to give these guys another try and see if that whole experience was just a figment of my imagination.
Cost: Free (hand-me-downs from my mom)