The Shoe Dilemma - Chi Living

The Shoe Dilemma

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Mon Sep 22nd, 2014, 5 comments

I've often told people that I could give Imelda Marcos a run for her money. She is the wife of former president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos most famously known for having over a thousand pairs of shoes. Over the years I've wear-tested countless pairs of shoes, many of which have ended up in the Goodwill pile and a few have made it into my personal collection… kind of like the row of bottles at a tavern showing you a visual sample of all their beers.

One thing I've learned through all these shoes is that there is not a single shoe made today that will fulfill all of my running needs. I love running in minimalist shoes, but I don't like running downhill in them because they lack the necessary cushioning for faster downhill speeds. Then, I have to slow way down during my favorite part of the run. I can understand why many trail runners are switching to the new over-built, highly cushioned shoes. The problem with these is that your legs have to work harder because the extra cushioning dampens most of the energy return from the earth.

I love running in my racing flats for track workouts, but they're really not good for trails or long runs. I like my zero-drop shoes but, again, I wish they had a bit more cushioning in the heels for all-out downhill running. My trail shoes have great traction, but they tend to be a bit heavy (and sometimes stiff) on my feet. For running marathons, I like a medium cushioned zero-drop, wide toe box, light weight shoe. Am I beginning to sound like the Princess and the Pea?

Given that many shoes are over a hundred dollars nowadays, this presents a dilemma. So, what I've done is to narrow my list down to three different shoes that, between them, can cover the gamut. Then, I use specific shoes for specific workouts. I can't tell you exactly which shoes will work best for your specific workouts, you have to Body Sense that for  yourself. But, I can say that having multiple options, more often than not, leaves my feet and legs much happier… and I think that's the end-result all of us are after.

Let us know what multi-purpose shoes you recommend. I'm sure we could all use your information in making our choices.

5 CommentsLeave a comment below

Stuart Hardie Sep 22nd, 2014 12:57pm

I love my Inov-8 Trail Roc 245s. 3mm drop gives me a little bit of cushioning, big spacious toe box ... they’re as comfortable as my slippers. Also like my New Balance Minimus.  Zero drop but a much snugger fitting. If ordering off the I/net I’d recommend ordering larger than you would normally.

Hi Danny, I’m 53 and have just read Chi Running two weeks ago desperately searching for a way to overcome persistent calf injuries. I mention this because of the issue with the ‘standard’ shoe recommendations for high arches. I read your book and am attempting to adopt the Chi method - why? Because in that fortnight I have run more without pain than I have in the last decade! I ended up in Brooks Pure Flow shoes which are lovely and cushy without a lot of drop. I also run in my Merrell Gauley pros as they are very flexible, fit my foot beautifully and allow me to ‘feel’ the road better.I can’t gush enough about how good this all feels - the column and relaxation has made such an enormous difference. I am looking forward to learning more and implementing it. Thank you.

I agree with you. I have exactly the same feelings about the downhills and the other things.

I’ve been using MR10 (NB) shoes and I’m very satisfied and comfortable with them, but I’m going to try a pair with a little more cushioning but still light and just 4mm drop to toe.

I will share my experience later.

Greetings from Monterrey, Mexico.

What are your thoughts on either the Altra One-squared of the Saucony Kinvara 5?

Hi Danny,
I taught myself Chirunning from your book, about 5 years ago. Right from starting with running, I ran into back and knee pains, and your book has been invaluable to me. The right shoe question comes right after the posture question. If I learned anything about Chirunning, to me it has been, listen to your body. And my body told me, all I need it has for me. Thus it means, no shoes are the best shoes. No man-made shoe can adapt to different conditions as the body alone can. I tried barefoot running, but I can’t find the sufficient patience to get the soles of my foot adapted to this requirement - since I must use shoes in social life. So the next best thing, humans used during their existence, have been sandals. I do not want to advertise a certain sandal here, but there are different ones out there - for running. Some may require getting used to. But, if you give it a try, listen to your body and find some patience, you will find surprising positive results. Questions about warmth in winter will find the answer, once you really start to use them. Chirunning has helped me becoming and staying grounded. It has taken me away from the focus on performance, towards enjoying nature and my body in nature. Performance hinders me and takes me away from my body focus and the communication with my body. I always think, there is always someone faster then me. Always someone slower. But certainly there is no other in my body then me. And no other can enjoy the same perspective and outlook in the nature as I can at this moment wink
So, the first and main question to me is, why am I running? The answer is, for the pure joy of feeling life flowing through my body. Suddenly, the shoe question disappeared wink
Thank you Dany for helping me finding running and not giving up, when I started!

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