Monday, April 16, 2012

In Praise of Cheap Shoes

This is just a "stuff" post.  But it's stuff that has really helped me, as a runner, walker, and bi-ped, so I thought maybe I'd share it.

My mother was a frugal woman.  But one thing she insisted we spend money on was good, quality shoes.  I still remember the fancy store she'd take me to because my feet were narrow.  I, in turn, was the same way.  I bemoaned my daughter's insistence on wearing flip flops all of the time because my knees hurt.  Wouldn't hers one day too?  

Turns out, she was right.  The girl, that is.  For a couple of years, I've been transitioning from air-gel-pumped-hexa-addiprene-super arch running shoes that I wore most of the time to cheapo flats.  The result has been to save money on running shoes that no longer have to be tossed after a prescribed number of miles, to be able to wear fun shoes again, and to lose the knee and arch pain I lived with for several years.  

As far as everyday wear goes, I've fully transitioned.  When running, I've moved down to an almost flat racing shoe.  It has been a slow process adjusting to these kinds of shoes.  Though the arch and knee pain seemed to leave immediately, I found the top of my foot would hurt if I transitioned too quickly.  I took almost a year to move from one running shoe to the other.  This along with arch exercises, and walking more, allowed my feet to grow stronger where restrictive shoes had weakened them. 

Let me state here, that I get the whole barefoot thing.  Really, I do.  But I'm never going to run past Texas roadkill in bare feet.  Never.  Sorry Ken Bob.  But I do employ as much of the technique as possible.

There are lots of running gurus out there with recommendations on the best shoe for your feet, but many are expensive or impractical for someone who isn't running marathons.  These are some of my favorite, affordable minimal shoes, some for everyday wear and a couple for sports:

Tom's classics.  They have a narrow toe box, but are nice and flat.
(Image via toms.com)

Feelmax are something I still don't feel comfortable running in for any length of time.  (I haven't tried them for much distance yet- I'm chicken,) 
but they are light as air and look a little more shoe-like than Vibrams.   


Addidas Adizero Rockets are a good transitional shoe.  These are what I usually use for 3+ miles at a time.  They're discontinued, but there is always some incarnation of these racing flats available.


Sseko sandals with interchangeable straps 
and the added benefit of helping women in Uganda earn their education.

(Image via ssekodesigns.com)

Feiyue martial arts shoes.  These are a kung fu version of  Bensimons for $15 a pair.  Actually, they are very flexible and made for martial artists.  I've read a lot of minimalist runners use them too.  I know for a fact that Feiyues can take quite a bit of abuse.  I've done everything from running to kickboxing in mine.  The only drawback is that they look cheap, with painted on logo and exposed glue, but that's part of the charm too.  
(Feiyue has recently revamped their shoes with a thicker sole and cool colors, but they're rumored to be less flexible and more expensive, so I made sure the last pair I ordered where the old kind.  They're the ones with the green triangle on the sole.)

And there are always Minnetonkas.  




Timberland's  Radler camp shoe is super lightweight and zips itself up, for some reason. 
They are quick drying and durable.  These make me think of canoeing.
This last pair has been on my "I Vant" list for a while.  
I either want to buy some of these Luna Sandals or make my own running huarache.  
I don't know if I'd run in them, 
but they'd be comfortable for all sorts of spontaneous play. 

(Image via lunasandals.com)

And don't forget Converse, Keds, and lots of knock off versions.  They may not be as flexible as some of these, but they work for me.  That's all, just in case any other people out there find the more they baby their feet and knees, the worse they feel.

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