Category Archives: Clothes

Running shoes: on the hunt for something new

The amount of time I’ve spent shopping for running shoes is a little embarrassing. Up until last year, I would only run in one pair of shoes until it was time to replace them. When Mike started experimenting with rotating shoes, I decided to try it out as well to give my feet some variety. Since I had been running in the Brooks Adrenalines for the last few years, I decided to branch out to other shoes in the same line.

A quick history of my running shoes

Apparently I over pronate. I once had custom orthotics made and then was fitted with one of the highest stability shoes that money could buy. A combination of the high stability shoes with my orthotics overcorrected my problem and I ended up with a lot of knee pain. My physio suggested I try a completely neutral shoe after watching me run on a treadmill wearing different types of shoes. During that time, I ended up with a stress fracture which probably had more to do with other factors over my running shoes, but I got spooked and went back to a shoe with a little more stability. I don’t remember the names of all the different shoes I tried, but the latest shoe I’ve come to love is the Brooks Adrenaline. I ran in those exclusively for every single run until they wore out and it was time to buy a new pair.

I started experimenting with wearing a few different types of shoes within the Brooks line (baby steps) last summer and during my last training cycle in Europe, I rotated between three pairs of shoes:

  • Brooks PureCadence for speed days and races
  • Brooks Ravenna for easy runs
  • Brooks Adrenaline for long runs

Brooks PureCadence

brooks-purecadence
Brooks PureCadence

My first big “ah-ha” moment that opened me up to wearing different shoes for different runs were when I tried running in the PureCadence for a speed session. My understanding is that they’re still a pretty supportive shoe but they are lighter and therefore better for speed. I remember doing warm ups in them and feeling like my feet were going numb – but then feeling AWESOME as soon as I would start a speed interval in them. Definitely a great shoe for running intervals and races.

The biggest test was running a marathon in them, and they passed with flying colours. However, when I ran the Scotia Half in them a few months later in the heat, I had to stop mid-race because my entire left toe box had gone numb. Nothing else was different other than the weather so I’m assuming that had to do with my feet swelling up from the heat more than the shoe suddenly being a bad fit for me. My biggest complaint about them, though, are the fact that they feel a little too narrow for my feet. It’s not unbearable, but my Adrenalines and Ravennas are noticeably roomier.

Brooks Ravenna

ravenna3
Brooks Ravenna

I have lukewarm feelings for the Ravennas. I bought them because my coach said they were similar to the Adrenalines in terms of support but a slightly lighter shoe. I actually had some plantar fasciitis issues while I was in Europe that never stopped me from running, but always kind of hung around. Since I only do one long run and one speed work session per week, I was actually running in the Ravennas the most out of any of the shoes I owned. I’m not convinced this was the best shoe for me to be spending so much time in so these were the first shoes I was looking to replace when I retired them. Still working on this one, though.

Brooks Adrenaline

Adrenalines
Brooks Adrenaline

I love the Adrenalines, but they feel like bricks on my feet sometimes. They’re so nice and cushy, but I felt a lighter shoe with decent support/cushion that also felt great shouldn’t be too much to ask for. So I use them for long run days and want to keep them for that purpose.

Mizuno Wave Sayonara

mizuno wave sayonara
Mizuno Wave Sayonara

I went to a specialized run store in Vancouver to ask their opinion on trying a new shoe. Mike suggested I try the Nike Pegasus or the Lunarglide, but the associate there put me in a pair of Mizuos and at that time, they felt the best in the store. I even tried them out right after a long run so my feet were a little tired and “used” haha. I thought that might help get a real feel for what the shoes would feel like. Unfortunately, after 3-4 runs in them, I couldn’t stand them. I didn’t think it was fair to try to return them after running in them for a few days, so they’re currently collecting dust and may turn into my casual every day shoes. 🙁

I feel a little defeated. There are so many shoes out there, but every “shoe expert” has a different opinion on what will work best for you. I don’t have unlimited funds to try multiple pairs of shoes every week and it’s really hard to tell from one test run around the store whether they will be good to train in. So, for the time being, I’ve gone back to adding in my Ravennas into my shoe rotation and when I have a little more money, I’ll consider trying another shoe.

Questions:

What are your favourite running shoes?

Do you rotate between a few different pairs depending on the type of run? 

alison

Lily Trotters compression socks – product review

A few months ago while I was in Switzerland, I got an email from Susan at Lily Trotters asking if I’d be interested in trying a pair of designer compression socks that are currently in development.

LilyTrotters_logo_horizontal_Highrez

As someone who is also trying to get a few start-up projects off the ground, I took a special interest in this. I admire anyone who has the courage to enter a well-established market, who also finds a way to distinguish themselves with a unique offering. After spending a few months with the socks, I’m now confident enough to say that I believe Lily Trotters socks are going to be a big success.

I wear compression socks on a regular basis so this is a subject that really interests me. When I first started experimenting with compression socks, I thought I’d be wearing them during a run and after for recovery. However, I’ve got pretty big calves and compression socks have always been extremely tight – almost to the point of discomfort. I tried a few times, but concluded that the added pressure was NOT something I was willing to run though, so I’ve only wear them as a recovery tool. Usually, I’ll wear them after an interval session or a long run. Sometimes (I’m sure Mike appreciates this), I sleep in them too.

So, when Susan sent me a pair of Lily Trotters socks, I decided to use them for the two things I already use them for as a basis for comparison – post-run recovery and plane rides. Earlier this year, Mike and I were probably averaging one plane ride a week each month so I had lots of testing opportunities. Most of them were short flights, but with all the running I was doing at the time, I thought it was wise to be a little extra cautious so I always wore compression socks onto the plane.

Look

In terms of aesthetics, these socks are adorable.

IMG_4851I am a sucker for anything polka dot and I loved that the material itself felt a little thicker and softer against my skin. I’m a details gal, so I really loved the little frill edge at the top of the socks. I’ve already taken a look at the company website and see a few more designs that I want to buy!

IMG_4852

Feel

I had no trouble pulling them up my leg. This was my favourite aspect of the sock itself. I get that compression socks are supposed to be tight and all, but sometimes, I feel like my circulation is going to get cut off when I’m wearing my other brand and it’s not a feeling I can put up with for too long. I also don’t enjoy feeling like my leg is in a cast and can’t breathe. Mike has been known to rip off his compression sleeves in the middle of a restaurant before because the socks aren’t allowing his leg to breathe. Since I suffer from eczema, breathability is a huge concern for me. I’ve gotten rashes before from leaving on my compression socks for too long and getting sweaty/itchy.

I wore my Lily Trotters socks without a problem for more than 12 hours at a time (including sleeping) and they felt as great as my regular knee high socks except they actually stayed up.

Performance

These socks have travelled all over Europe, and I took them to New York earlier this month and then in Toronto…. so they’ve gotten around. 😉 Washing them in different machines with a variety of laundry detergents haven’t ruined them at all.

IMG_4850

Like I said earlier, they are a good mix of my regular and other compression sock brand. Their fabric feels slightly thicker than my other compression socks, but more soft and plush without actually being thicker (as in, I don’t notice a difference of fit in my shoes when I wear them). They’re obviously tighter than my regular knee-high socks which was great on my flights thanks to the added compression. I haven’t run in them yet because it’s a little too hot outside – but I plan to. I can tell they won’t cut into the circulation of my legs like my other pairs did and would stay comfortable. Even after my long-haul flight back to Canada from Europe, my legs felt fine and I even went for a run hours after I got off the plane without a problem! I love wearing them right after my Sunday long run, even in the summer, because they help me recover without feeling too uncomfortable.

It’s not every day that you get the chance to test drive a product or concept before it hits the market, and I’m really grateful to have been given the opportunity. I will be picking up a few more pairs and will be supporting their Kickstarter campaign which should be launching in the next few weeks.

If you’re interested in learning more about this start-up, head over to lilytrotters.com for more details (and for a sneak peek at other sock designs!).

alison

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