Running shoes are very personal -- a matter of inconvenience for the shoe companies that must produce them for the masses. Many stores dedicate major equipment and man hours to helping customers pick the right shoes, based on their particular gaits and anatomies. But there are some truths that apply to us all -- or at least some basic decisions and requirements: Do you want extra support or a more barefoot feel? Are you comfortable wearing neon pink, the fitness industry's near universal gendered color designation?
I decided to try six of the new models from top sports companies to see what's up in the world of running shoes. First, a bit of information:
I'm a casual runner. I run for mental clarity and for fitness, but I am not a big race runner. I don't consider myself "in training" for an endurance event of any kind.
I have a very normal, straight gait. No injuries, no major anatomical considerations to be made.
I have high arches and small feet, narrow ankles and though I've traditionally run in the bigger, foamier running shoes of yore, I'm beginning to shift slightly toward the cross-over "barefoot" style models that have popped up in the past few years.
My testing ground is also a route I've been running for probably 12 or 15 years: A straight, two-mile expanse from my parents' house in Massachusetts to the beach and back. There are a couple of hills and, yes, typically I run for longer. But given the circumstances, I wanted to keep all things equal between the six models and avoid injuries that can come from not properly acclimating to new shoes.
I don't recommend trying new and different shoes in quick succession: I certainly felt sore and stiff, especially in my calves. I was a bit concerned I'd hurt myself, though I happily emerged unscathed.
Have a look below for my thoughts on the latest in running fashion. Tell us in the comments: have you tried any of these models? Are you excited to try? And, while you're at it, what else would you like us to test for you? We're here to be your guinea pigs!