Unexpected Running Shoe Shopping

New Balance Minimus Trail 20

I have researched what my next pair of running shoes would be for the past couple of weeks and had a good list of shoes that I thought would meet my needs very well. Which I discussed in my Narrowed the Choices Down to 5 Running Shoes post. Sometimes you have to throw your plan out the window and go with Plan B, that is what happened to me.

Oh Crap

During my recovery run down-back yesterday, my left heel started to get a blister from the hole in my of Saucony Peregrines, it was more a question of when, not if I would get a blister.

I was afraid that this might happen, before I could get down to Portland, Maine (not Oregon) and check out all of those shoes on my list.

Where to Buy

Although online stores like the Natural Running Store and some of the shoe companies themselves are great, have fantastic customer service and I have talked with many of them on Twitter (Natural Running Store, Brooks Running and Altra) or other social media sites, there is nothing like actually trying on a pair of shoes for the first time in that style or model, before buying it. Especially new models or manufacturers I haven’t tried before at all.

The advertisements and blog reviews for a particular shoe might be great, but until I try a pair on, I really don’t know if it fits me correctly. When I am buying something that is this expensive and I am going to be spending a lot of hours in, I want them to fit correctly. Typically when I go new running shoe shopping, I try on between 5-15 pair of shoes, to get the one that fits me just right. I am a shoe salesperson’s nightmare, but that is how I buy shoes. After having a pair that work great for me, I am much more likely to order a pair of running shoes online and save a little bit of money that way.

TheWife and I had talked about how we wanted to do this and decided that we wanted to stay in the local area. If we went to Portland or Oxford, it would add at least another $50-$60 dollars onto the cost of the shoes (gas, lunch or any other shopping that we did). Also I didn’t really want to spend a week or two running in my old shoes. They are good enough for a day here or there, but not as a primary shoe for any extended period.

That meant that last night going into Augusta, Maine (not Georgia) and try to find a pair of running shoes. This may sound easy to do, after-all Augusta is Maine’s Capitol, has a couple of fairly large Malls and lots of stores. However, there are no specialty running or outdoors stores in the area (EMS went out a couple of years ago).

The Choices

Unfortunately, most of the shoes that were on my list of shoes were specialty shoes and usually sold at those kind of stores, not at regular retail outlets.

My choices were:

I tried on shoes at every store. Saucony, Reebok, Nike Frees, Adidas, Puma, Asics, Merrell, Vibrams and I even looked at a pair of Scotts. The Scotts were very interesting, but definitely were road only shoes, so they didn’t get the third look. I am not quite ready to go the Vibram route yet and everything I tried on seemed to be too stiff or just felt wrong. By the time I got to Dick’s I was tired and hadn’t really found anything that even remotely interested me besides the Kinvara.

Dick’s choices were the best of anywhere I had been in town. After trying on the Kinvara again, Asics – a couple of different models and yes the venerable Pegasus 27 (I ran a long time ago in the first Pegasus), along with the Frees again. None of these shoes made the cut for different reasons.

Decision Time

Finally, it came down to either the Adidas AdiZero (a big surprise) or the New Balance MT20. The AdiZero really was about everything I was looking, but when I jogged in them a ways – on that little track that Dick’s has, they were definitely too stiff for me. I had put on the MT20’s between trying on the other shoes and the more I wore them they just felt right for me.

I had to decide between the 8.0 or the 8.5, so I was wearing one on each foot and then alternating to see which fit the best, when I tried the 8’s on my right foot, I knew it was definitely the 8.5 that fit me the best.

MT20 - Box

New Balance MT20

The reality is that 

I was and still am a little apprehensive about buying such a minimal shoe. In my top 5 post, I stated that I wasn’t ready to move to the next step for minimal shoes yet, because I felt that I still needed the extra cushioning. However of all the shoes that I tried on last night the New Balance Minimus Trail 20s just felt the best on my feet.

It will be interesting to see how my previous efforts of moving to a more minimal shoes for walking, running and how working on changing my form, will aid me in this next move down the minimal running shoe ladder.

Thank You

I do want to thank everyone who took time to give me advice on which shoes to I should look more closely at and representatives from The Natural Running Store, Altra, Mizuno and Brooks Running were very helpful in my search. There were several people on Twitter, Google +  and Facebook who provided me with information that you just can’t get anywhere else about the different shoes I was looking at and helped me make some tough choices.

Today I am scheduled to run 5.0 and do hill repeats, I don’t know if I will do the entire workout in the MT20s, but I will do the warm-up in them and see how it goes from there :-).

Things happen for a reason, let’s hope that the MT20s were the reason for this sudden change, if they don’t work like I expect and want it is going to be a long next couple of months. I have a feeling they are going to be just fine.

Questions for you

  • If you have the MT 20 what were your experiences with the shoe?
  • How well did they hold up?
  • What was your transition time to run in them full-time?
  • What is the longest distance you have done in them
  • How did you find them to be on the roads for a trail shoe?
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17 comments on “Unexpected Running Shoe Shopping

  1. That’s what I had been running in before I just switched over to the Brooks Pure Connects. I put just over 300 miles on my Minimus and didn’t have any problems. I really liked the Minimus, but I felt as I was really starting to up my mileage, I needed something with a tad more cushioning. Also, I was starting to feel my IT band and it could have been a combo of the 300 miles and upping my miles. I would just be cautious of doing too much with them right off the bat. I didn’t really have any issues with tight calves or achilles when starting out with them and had been running in Nike Frees before that. Good luck with them. I’m looking forward to how they work for you.

    • Thanks Carrie – I have been wearing Earth Shoe Lazers (with a negative heel) to walk when it has been decent, plus the 4MM Peregrines. If one of the stores in Augusta had had the Connect/Flow, I would have probably gone with them, but no one did, so I got the MT20s (besides BrooksRunning had been fantastic on Twitter the last couple of days trying to be helpful). I ran 3.0 miles in them this morning (more on that later) and after I got the foot plant figured out, they were very comfortable to run in. They were in my top 5 list the MT20s were not.

      I would like to be able to use these up through a road 1/2 Marathon or if I really get in shape something longer on trails.

      Thank you for the information, it is helpful.

  2. Oh, I forgot to answer a couple of your questions.
    * What was your transition time to run in them full-time? I ran in them full-time right away with no issues.
    * What is the longest distance you have done in them? 12 miles
    * How did you find them to be on the roads for a trail shoe? They were fine on the road, but you REALLY feel everything (rocks, ice, uneven ground). Not super comfortable when we were running on uneven ice/packed snow on the Rail Trail.

  3. Carrie – you beat me to it. I was just getting ready to post that Carrie has been doing all of her runs in them!!! But of course only you can answer all of the questions Harold had!!!

  4. I loved loved loved my NBMinimus Trails! They were my favorite running shoes, and were an easy transition for me as I had already made a transition to a minimal drop road shoe. They hold up well and have the roomy toe box, definitely a solid shoe! A fine choice!

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  6. If you have the MT 20 what were your experiences with the shoe?
    I do have the shoe, I don’t wear it all 😦 because I have too many shoes. Right now my non-technical trail shoe is the Merrell Sonic Glove. I actually just moved on from the MT10 (after 500mi) and they treated me great. I actually prefer the MT10 to the twenty though. I just don’t think I’ve for the MT20 enough though.

    How well did they hold up?
    Haven’t worn them enough to answer this.

    What was your transition time to run in them full-time?
    Honestly, I don’t remember being a heel-striker with bad form. In my “transition” I went from the Nike Shox to the Nike Free Run+ to the NB Minimus MR10 really quick.

    What is the longest distance you have done in them?
    I’ve done 20+ mile runs in the MT10

    How did you find them to be on the roads for a trail shoe?
    !!!The tread will wear out quickly on roads. They feel really good but the rubber sole doesn’t last long on asphalt. My brothers, 3 of 4 have had the MT10 and 2 of them have worn through the rubber in the fore-foot from road running.

    • Thanks for answering the questions Alex. That is a good problem to have – too many shoes :-). That is good to know on the wearing out on the pavement, because I plan to use mine for pavement/dirt roads & trail running.

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