When I started running I had no idea about picking the “right” shoe and just wore whichever fits me well and looks “decent” enough. In fact, I don’t think that what I wore during my first race were running shoes! (They were most likely badminton shoes that I wore when that was the “it” sport.) Fast forward five years and much more than a dozen pairs of shoes later, I have a list of five running shoes I like wearing for different “occasions.”
This post is solely based on shoes that I actually got to try on and for the sake of simplicity, assumes that your ideal footwear is neutral (nothing in the direction of motion control, stability, etc.). Click here to find out what your ideal running shoe is.
For many people just starting out with running, the most like pair they’d prefer are “soft” ones: cushioning shoes to be exact. Some people naturally land on their forefoot or midfoot while running but others land on their heels, thus the invention of thick soles. Some argue that running injuries were invented alongside cushioning shoes, but that’s up for research and debate. Nonetheless, cushioning shoes make for a good first running shoe while the form and landing of the runner is being developed. And for this category, my pick is the Puma Mobium Elite.
Puma Mobium Elite is definitely not your grandfather’s cushioning shoe as it incorporates the latest development from Puma Labs—the current outfitter of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt. Even if you don’t care about the technicalities, don’t you just love that a running shoe could look like a lifestyle footwear?
The avid runner doesn’t always let the casual rain stop him or her from running outdoors, but no matter how “dedicated” you are it’s really quite uncomfortable to run with wet socks on. Fortunately, someone actually invented shoes that’s water (or similar liquids) repellant—and that’s Nike Free Run 3.0 Shield Pack.
Despite how much I loved this shoe I haven’t really had the time to write a thorough review about it as it’s the dry season in the Philippines (December, 2012) when it was launched! I thought it was awkward to post a review about a water repellant shoe when there’s no reason to wear one, but now that were having so much rains, this shoe is just perfect. Note that it isn’t water “proof” and is just “repellent,” meaning rain dropping on top of your shoe won’t easily get in but it doesn’t mean you won’t get wet if you stepped in an ample amount of water. It’s the same comfort as the usual Nike Free shoes with the added water protection of the Shield Pack. Additionally, it’s also the most reflective pair I’ve ever had so out of the box it’s also good for night running.
I love trails and I encourage a lot of people to try running on trails to be in touch with Mother Nature (just make sure to leave a minimal “footprint” when you do!) and yes, “regular” running shoes may be used, but only on flat trails. For all other terrains, trail running shoes are highly recommended not just for the sake of comfort, but also for the sake of safety. I had quite a hard time picking a pair for this category, but I ended up choosing Merrell Trail Glove because of its no frills fit, excellent traction from Vibram soles, and the minimalist approach.
Merrell Trail Glove may also be used for river crossings but due to the lack of dedicated “drains” it is not advised.
Minimalist or barefoot-simulating shoes are totally on the other side of the spectrum of cushioning or other “high-tech” footwear as it leads you back to the prime basics—no cushioning or support or much of anything else, just bare protection for your feet. And while it may not be for everyone and its benefits are debatable, I really love minimalist shoes. And of course my pick for this category is none other than the pair that made me fall in love with minimalist footwear, Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) Sprint.
VFF Sprint is only one of the numerous VFF models you can choose from, but it’s my all-time favorite as it’s the most minimal of all! I love that it can be worn without socks (which is how it’s supposed to be worn anyway) and brought anywhere without occupying much space in my bag. It’s also always a conversation starter in most events I got to wear it! Too bad that my pair now has a hole in one of its “fingers” but I don’t see it retiring from the gym though.
When it comes to that “big day” you have to wear your best so that your performance too can be at best. Most of us of course don’t have access to the best footwear elite athletes wear, but among all the off-the-shelf shoes available in the market, adidas Energy Boost is my pick for major races. It isn’t a “racer” shoe per se, but it’s a great shoe for running long distances because of its light weight and the “bounce” you get from its specially developed soles.
Aside from the all-black design of the first limited edition release, adidas Energy Boost now comes in more color combinations.
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I sure hope that this list gave you the idea that there’s no such thing as a “shoe for all seasons.” There are as many shoe types as there are foot types and terrains and situations. This magnitude of options doesn’t really mean that manufacturers want you to spend more money by buying more shoes—they’re just giving you the right footwear for the right occasion. Think of it as having different knives or spoons—they’re basically the same but tailored to a specific task. When I was just starting to run I had no idea how to buy the “right” running shoe as all my basis were if it fits well and it looks good! Now that I know better, I got to appreciate the efforts that went into designing each of the pair I wore—and it’s much more than just good looks.