Run 10 miles in any shoe and it feels great to take those torture devices off! Well, the torture doesn’t always come from the shoe, often it’s maybe a run too long for one’s capability. When I transition from short to long runs, my feet and legs are sometimes not happy. Maybe it’s the shoes, or the socks, or the surface I chose that day. Pavement or dirt, thick sock or thin, I have never wanted to put any shoe back on and repeat a long run for at least a few days after.
My preferred surface is dirt, running off road has always been my preference. Pavement or concrete does not provide the mental comfort I want when running. But do other surfaces actually have a physical effect on my enjoyment? I do not know, maybe science has proven or disproved this somewhere, but it’s true for me. Sometimes I’ll do a few road miles to get to the trail, and those fade away after a few steps into the forest or desert. And, my secret affliction, I abhor white athletic shoes (and socks), and I quickly realized years ago that trail shoes rarely came with any white materials. Perfect!
Dirt is where I belong. Routes that twist and turn and climb and dive, and vary from super tacky clay to loose deep sand, to roots and rocks, leaves or pine straw, wet or dry. I’ve had a variety of trail shoes, but I’ve found my needed fit in Altra trail shoes. I got a pair of Lone Peak 2.0, back in fall of 2015, and the fit around my toes was amazing! The other shoes I had been running in had not caused any toe issues, but these felt so relaxed, and so much more comfortable. The shoe professional suggested I do short easy runs until I get used to the Zero Drop technology, but I’m hard headed, and just continued my normal running. No issues, just pleasure!
After more than a year, it was time for new shoes, the tread was gone in the “busy areas” of these shoes. I had an opportunity to try another brand of shoe, at an amazing price. After a few runs and about 30 miles, I realized the Altra fit was much better for my feet, and there was another issue with the new shoe that I had never encountered before or since, (I won’t mention the brand as they are no longer in the running market). Time for new shoes again.
I got the Lone Peak 3.0, and with a few changes from the 2.0, these were even better! A complete appearance upgrade, and tread pattern change, and these were awesome! I put 361 miles on these, and enjoyed them so much that I bought a new pair about a year later. And I got the same color (won’t get the same color shoe again, as I keep the old ones around for casual duty, I have to look closely to grab the right pair).
The new ones arrived just in time for the 2018 Korea 50 trail race, same model with no advertised modifications. I assumed the fit and feel would be the same, and I was right. Yes, I showed up to a long event with never worn new shoes. And it was a good bet, the shoes were just as I expected, just the old ones when new. I had a great race in those new shoes, the only issue is that I had to stop and tighten the laces once, around the 15 mile point. They worked great in all the rock climbing and descending on the course, all the loose powder dirt, and all the cruising through the forest, and a few road miles (yuck!). I now have 459 miles on these, and they are still comfy!
I do have a pair of road shoes, Altra Instinct 4, and I wear these intentionally, with the plan of doing nothing but road miles. And I sometimes succeed in not going offroad on these road runs, but it’s difficult to go past a trailhead. Got these about a year ago, they now have 254 miles. Is it time for a replacement? New shoes might relieve some of the post-run discomfort, and the mental boost of new stuff always helps performance! These have been great shoes and have helped reduce my dislike of pavement. I ran the 2018 Seoul Marathon in these, and against my hatred of road runs, I registered for the 2019 race. (I think I need new shoes just so I can mentally run faster!)
With the need for new road shoes and trail shoes, I’ll go with Altra again, as I’ve really enjoyed their products. The question is- Do I really need new shoes? Well, the tread on the toe and heel areas is almost slick on the Lone Peaks, either I’m using those sections a lot, or I’m dragging them unnecessarily in my sloppy stride. What about the shoe guts, all the cushioning layers, is this all worn out after the suggested replacement miles?
If I compare these shoes to a dead sofa or my well used car seats, I’d have to agree that any padding or cushioning materials will lose the suspension qualities over an amount of time or compression. Even a metal spring will fatigue with extended use. With a fully synthetic running shoe, there are many different materials, but all will breakdown with exposure to the environment; although I couldn’t tell you how long a new pair of shoes would maintain like new performance if you left them outside on the picnic table, and the dog didn’t chew them up. So, without a picnic table, or a dog, or the resources to just buy new shoes and not wear them, I believe they will breakdown with use. But do I follow the shoe replacement guidelines? Everything I’ve found suggests 300-500 miles, depending on body weight and running mechanics.
For dirt, I’m planning to get the Lone Peak 4, or the King MT 15, and for road, probably the Instinct 4.5. Both have been upgraded, but I have my fingers crossed the replacements will provide the same satisfaction. Maybe I’ll get them in time to put a few miles in each before I toe the starting lines this year. Other than one bad issue with one running shoe, I’m always so excited to have new ones that I’m not sure I’d ever be able to admit there was a problem, especially when I’ve had nothing but good “luck” with Altra. Yes, I could read online reviews, but who does that?