I was looking for something in my closet the other day when I noticed tucked in a corner a pair of old Nike Free 7.0 running shoes. When I started back running a few years ago they were what I wore on my weekly 3 x 3 runs (three days, three miles). I didn't know much about shoes at the time, so I went to Hibbett sports and just tried on a few pairs. The high school sales girl suggested I try them, and when I put them on I decided then and there they were the ones for me. They were light, molded to my foot and seemed like a good choice.
Looking back in my running log I see that I put about 200 miles on them. I remember I stopped wearing them after sustaining an injury to my right hip flexor. Maybe I was just in the mood for new shoes at that point, but I blamed the shoes and conducted a search for the shoes I've worn ever since, Brooks Adrenaline GTS.
A lot has changed in the last few years. For one, I'm a lot lighter than I was at that time. Probably about 30 pounds. Another thing is that I'm a runner now. Back then I was most definitely a jogger. Maybe they just weren't the right shoe for me back then, I thought?
Anyway, the past 6 months or so I've been trying to get off my heels and transition to a mid-foot strike. I've been struggling with the change in form, and have chalked it up to lack of concentration. When I saw the Free's though, I wondered if maybe my shoes weren't part of the problem. After all, they have a traditional, thick heel pad. So, I laced up the Free's and headed out the door for a 5-mile run.
The first thing I noticed when I put them on was just how snug they were on my feet. I know better now that my shoes need to be at least a half, if not whole, size larger. Still, I figured it was safe to take them out for a few miles, considering I did so for a few months a while back. I hit the pavement and the second thing I noticed was that I could 'feel' the road beneath my feet. I could sense the imperfections and pebbles on the surface, but it was cushioned enough where it didn't bother me. I got a little excited!
After a mile or two of getting reacquainted I noticed how much easier it was to consistently strike mid-foot. The thickness of the heel isn't that much different than my Adrenaline's, but it was definitely enough that I noticed. For what was supposed to be a recovery run from yesterday's 10K, I effortlessly maintained about a 7:40 pace the last 4.5 miles. Amazing!
I took a quick look online and it doesn't look like Nike makes the 7's any more. They do make the 5's which are supposed to be even less supportive, but I don't know if I'm ready to go there quite yet. In the coming days I'm going to do some more research and see what my options are. I've read lately with the whole barefoot running craze that more manufacturers are designing minimalist shoes. Maybe there's some out there that are a good fit for me.