The Quest for the Perfect Running Shoes

I have struggled to replace my running shoes for ages. I know it has been well over a year. The problem is I fell in love with Vivobarefoot trail shoes (disclaimer I have previously worked with them) but I have worn two pairs completely out. To the point when they actually had to go into the bin!

Vivobarefoot trail shoes fit for the bin

Thing is I have tried on loads of their new pairs and nothing fits, it just doesn’t feel right. Being an ethical company they have changed the way they make them and now use recycled bottles. It just isn’t any good they aren’t the same.

New design Vivobarefoot trails

We did head down to London before lockdown but unfortunately it was a Sunday and so the shop wasn’t open. I have messaged their customer service department but they just don’t care. I have had my old ones for so long that their response is that of course no other running shoes will feel the same! It was actually a very disappointing correspondence. I haven’t tried Vibrams but have heard that they only suit certainly people but no shops stock them. They are all about the padding. This is about some of the running shoes I have tried out recently in my quest to find my match.

Brooks Launch 7

I ended up wondering into a local running shop because well it saved a wasted journey and it was empty. Somehow I was sold a pair of these Brooks which I just sort of ran around a tiny bit of the shop whilst trying to social distance. The guy told me all manner of rubbish that I don’t believe in – such as the notion that you need to “break in” running shoes. I really am in camp comfortable – and if they are right, they are right. I have never had to suffer from pain and blisters in order to get them to “fit” before.

Brooks Launch 7

Sure enough these running shoes blistered and rubbed my feet. So I was advised I needed special socks. Personally I think this is all set to make money out of you but off I went and I ordered these “anti-blister” socks (again my usual running socks are from Aldi and never had a problem before, but they are getting old/falling apart). These socks are hot and I don’t like the heat, and more importantly, didn’t prevent the Brooks from hurting me.

heel lock with laces

I was told about re-lacing them, but I already had done a heel-lock on them, and honestly I am not convinced I should be going to all this effort with running shoes that cost over £100! Another thing was people were suggesting that you need to wait until your foot moulds to the insole properly – you can imagine as someone who has been using barefoot running shoes that this idea really seems ridiculous, besides by that point if they still hurt there’s no way of returning them (and how much running are you going to either miss or be in pain!

Saucony Ladies Freedom ISO 3 SS20 Aqua/Blue

I took the Brooks back and this nice lady served me and got me to try on lots of other shoes. This time she came close to me (checking first) to check the fit and got me to run on the treadmill (the Brooks were over assize bigger than the running shoes I normally run in). They felt a lot better but still felt like they were “slipping” at the back. Everyone just talked to me as if I were stupid to be honest. Telling me that ALL running shoes do that and that they wouldn’t come off. I knew I could take them away and bring them back for a refund if I didn’t wear them outside.

Saucony Ladies Freedom ISO 3 SS20 Aqua/Blue

Sure enough just walking around the house in them they continued to have that uncomfortable slipping feeling that made me feel like I was going to get a blister. The guy in the shop tried to get me not to have a refund and got me to try on “new in” running shoes. He said all manner of things to try and convince me – but it all sounded like sales patter. Besides he did that undermining thing – keep banging on about how bad barefoot running shoes are and how padding is where it is at! Telling the same stories about how his mate who uses them is now slower. That he had been running for 25 years. At one point he convinced me I could take a new pair, run outside with them, and bring them back if I wasn’t happy. I am sure you can – but only for a refund. As the shop has nothing that I feel comfortable in I just had a refund.

Nike Vaporfly 4% Knit

I had been told by an experienced runner that Nike were not very good. But I am running in very cheap Nike running shoes (both some minimalist ones and some pink because they looked nice and were only actually bought for walking in). My friend showed me some on the Nike app, explaining that there was a sale on. She even pointed me at some she thought I might like. But somehow curiosity got me and I ended up buying the Nike Vaporfly 4% Knit. I had liked the knit kind of idea when trying shoes on in the running shop – and this time I really could wear them outside and send them back if they weren’t right.

Nike Vaporfly 4% Knit

So the first time I took these out they were “okay” – which was saying something after the agony of the Brooks. They didn’t feel the magic I was expecting but they didn’t hurt or anything. I guess they would “do” – and besides I didn’t pay the over £200 price tag. But the second time I took them out I did go fast – but after 2 miles it felt like there was a stone in each shoe and that they were going to cause me to get blisters. Trouble was I had done those first miles so well I didn’t want to stop – I was after a PB (and hadn’t got close to my then current one for ages PLUS I was jeffing!). As soon as I completed 5k I got them off my feet and was really disappointed to find no stones. In fact trying to walk in them was really uncomfortable – rubbing the insides of my feet and my heel. I figured maybe my feet roll and the padding was in the wrong place. In the end I had to take them home and just walk back in my socks. My husband wonders if I just did them up too tight. Honestly it is annoying because I don’t know whether the Vaporfly’s were responsible for me going faster or just all the training and techniques I have been putting into practice (and a shorter walk ratio).

Nike Pink running shoes

I guess it is back to running in my cheap pink Nike running shoes, and I do question why exactly I am looking for others when they do me okay! But guess I am worried that over such high mileage then they aren’t going to be doing me any good. I run various distances, on and off road. Currently aiming at over 100 miles a month (apparently I should be changing my running shoes every 400 miles so really do need to get looking!).

5 thoughts on “The Quest for the Perfect Running Shoes”

  1. Oh wow it’s difficult isn’t it? I have been in Merrell’s the past few years and mine have holes in them now, I’ve done nearly 800 miles in them so I really should get some more. I think mine are merrell trail foot gloves or something similar, I’ll have to look it up for you. They have always been comfortable but they do fall apart – I suspect that’s because I was never clocking my mileage before this year and I hadn’t realised how far I’d run in them when the holes appeared. I hope you find something soon.

  2. Oh dear, what a nightmare! My view is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! It’s a shame you can’t get your barefoot ones any more, but in that case I say stick with the pink Nikes! They obviously do the job for you. You don’t have to pay a fortune for shoes that work for you. My BIL, who I ran the marathon with, runs in cheap Karrimor trainers and they are fine for him.
    I’m not sure how often I change my trainers, but I usually get through two or three pairs a year – and, yes, I do break them in! I alternate old ones and new ones and gradually build up to using my new ones full time. I then keep my old ones as ‘walking boots’ until they are even more worn out, so they don’t go to waste.

  3. I’ve used Nike and Asics from the start a few years ago and paid around £50 for each pair. I think I prefer the Nike that I’ve had and that’s what I’d be looking for next time. They seem to suit all different terrain and very comfortable right from the start. I’d like to try others but I like sticking to £50 even more!!!


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