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A few weeks ago I bought running shoes for the first time in years. Part of the reason is I really hate shopping. The other part is my Asics 1150s may have tears in the inner lining and holes in the toes, but I have more than 3000 injury-free miles on them. That’s gold in my book. But then there was a sale and while I only meant to browse, I wound up ordering a pair after reading pages and pages of rave reviews that finally convinced me I NEEDED a new pair, if only as a bench-warming alternate.

Asics Zaracas

New shoes, meet old shoes. If you’re good, I’ll run holes in you, too.

After a few runs, I’m not so sure about my choice. For the last week I’ve alternated between newbies and busteds to give my feet a chance to adapt. With less support than I’m used to, the newbies are closer in design to more minimalist shoes. There’s some new-to-me foot niggles going on, but it could just be adjusting to the change.

I had the Asics Zaracas shipped to my sister’s house because packages tend to disappear in my building. Then I forgot them there. It was night when I finally slipped them on. My first response was disappointment. I like a lot of room in my shoes and these feel more narrow, tighter and smaller even though I ordered my usual size. But they didn’t have any holes so I was also smitten enough to take them for a test run right away. For some reason I didn’t even change out of my pajamas.

I broke them in with a sprint.

Stepping out in my sister’s residential development at night couldn’t be more different from going for a night run here in Brooklyn. I loved how dark it was. The crickets and bull frogs put siren volume to shame. What alarmed me was the growling at the end of her street. I was off in will these shoes hurt me land?, so didn’t immediately notice until I was close enough to see this large dog wasn’t behind a fence or on a leash. My head knows you’re not supposed to put your back to an aggressive dog and run, but my feet couldn’t help it. Sounded like the dog chased me just a few feet past the house’s property line, but I sprinted the whole way back and felt surprisingly light on my feet. Score for the newbies, but that run was less than a mile.

Switched back to my busteds for a few days, then wore the newbies for a 5-mile light run. I love how my feet respond differently to bumpy dirt and mulch trails in these shoes. Pavement feels the same. Not loving the lack of toe room, which makes me wonder what my toes are doing down there that they need so much space.

During the run everything felt good. If I tried these on a treadmill in a store, I still would’ve bought them. After, not so much: ankle a little funny (like when you move your wrist wrong in yoga and feel it for a few hours), blisters on both heels and the bottoms of my feet were bright red and sore like I’d just spent the day jumping barefoot on concrete. It wasn’t until walking the last block home that the rubbing against my heels and ankles was apparent. The pain didn’t last more than a few hours, but it was a bummer since I wanted to adapt to these shoes instantly, which isn’t really how adapting works.

Profile face-off. Busteds forever!

So back to the busteds for a few days. DoYogaWithMe.com has a wonderful Happy Feet routine so I’ve been doing that and others that focus a little more on stretching the strengthening the feet and lower quadrants. This morning I wore thicker higher socks, Band-aids over my heels and loosened the laces A LOT – for some reason, I didn’t adjust the tight laces at all those first two runs.

Seven miles later, I have no blisters and my ankles feel okay, maybe a little confused or there’s more stress on them than they’re used to? I don’t know. Playing it cautious. A little while back Sarah, a running coach over at Running On Healthy, suggested alternating between new and old shoes during a shoe transition to avoid injury. So I’m taking her wise advice with fingers crossed I didn’t make a bad shoe choice.

Running in the newbies doesn’t hurt. So far what I like best is that the newness has woken up my mind. Rather than completely zoning out, I notice every step, curious to see how this changes my form, stride, how my foot falls. Will they help me build more endurance? Sometimes in my busteds I finish the loop with a surprise, knowing but not remembering how I got there. It’s nice to have something to pay attention to that’s not the heat or a vicious growling dog-maybe-bear (Which my sister insists was a puppy, but she wasn’t there. It was bear dog. A bog.).

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