As a minimalist, I’m committed to only making purchases when I really need them and not when there are clearances, or the products look nice or when a new version is out for sale. But it hasn’t always been like this.
A tale of two pairs
Back in 2015, both myself and Andreea started to train with our buddies at the Marathon Store in Bishopsgate. They had a running club there sponsored by adidas. One of the nicest offerings was the fact that they were giving free running trainers to try during group runs. The trainers were top of line adidas Ultra Boost and I kind of liked the upgrade. And so, because my Nike Free ones didn’t fit properly and started to give me black toenails, I decided to purchase a pair of adidas Ultra Boost. Dark blue in colour (they’re actually black with a bit of blue, but let’s call them blue).
Then at the beginning of 2016, the same Marathon Store offered to their running club members the opportunity to enter a mini-ballot for 3 places at the London Marathon, conditioned by the purchase of the new edition – at that time – of the same adidas Ultra Boost top of the line trainers. A nice green colour. I did win the place in the marathon, so I don’t regret the purchase, a non-charity spot in the London Marathon is extremely hard to get.
And that’s how I got to 2 pairs of adidas Ultra Boost, bought at about 6 months difference. The mileage difference between the two pairs was just about 4-500km. I figured since the blue ones were the older, I’d use them for training, and the new green ones would be suitable for races, since they had lower mileage. At the time when I ran my first London Marathon, I had about 100km with the green ones and 800km with the blue ones.
New becomes old
But things turned around. The more I started to run in both pairs, the more I noticed that the new pair is… chubbier. They are both the same size, but the heel part of the sole is a bit higher for the new ones and that makes them a bit heavier during the runs. So after running for about half a year in both I got to the conclusion that the old ones were the ones that I feel better running in. They fit better, the landing seems softer and more natural, I just prefer those against the new ones.
And so, mile by mile, I started training more in the green ones, keeping the old trainers in a better condition. Some of the final races of 2016 were already done in my old ones and that’s how the purposes of my two pairs of trainers turned around.
Both 2016 and 2017 saw a gradual increase in my mileage and I am now proud to own a pair that has over 2000km, while the old one looks a lot better with just over 1000km. Even though the fabric got some small holes here and there, I’ve got absolutely no complaints. I ran in them in mud, trails and off road paths, roads, rain, cold, hot. All fine. Both pairs make me proud in their own way, to be honest.
I know manufacturers recommend changing the trainers once they’ve reached 6-800km, but I don’t believe in this being anything more than a sneaky marketing strategy. I’m not saying the gels and the rubbers and every component of the trainer in general still provides me with optimum performance as they were at the beginning, but, after all, I dare to say, they’re just trainers. The soles don’t turn into stones, the rubber is still bouncy. At least this is the case for Adidas Ultra Boost.
Looking at my Strava following list, there are lots of people out there who run every day, on all surfaces and under all conditions and they also have few thousands km in their trainers, none of them complained of joint pain or any injuries caused by this. In fact, I don’t believe that trainers are the main reason I’m no longer having black toenails. Improving my posture changed the way I’m landing my feet on the ground, which changed the pressure points on the toes. Yes, it was also buying half a size bigger than my old Nike Free trainers, but I had times when I got black toenails with these two adidas pairs, so it’s more about how you train rather than the shoes alone. And honestly, all runners get black toenails every once in a while, we accept that.
I am still not sure about the strategy for buying my next perfect pair of trainers, though. I’ve heard perfectly good stories with all kinds of trainers, cheapest of the line, medium and top of the line, and not so good stories. But at the moment, I think these two pairs still have a lot left to give. All I know is that I’m going to do a bit of research, but not by reading (sometimes) biased paid blog posts. On one hand I have my running buddy Ilia who knows lots of things about trainers – and he owns a considerable amount of them 🙂 – and on the other, I have my Strava list where the vast majority added their trainers and I can draw conclusions based on the pictures people post with their trainers and the mileage from their profile.
Trainers should just fit as perfect as possible with your running style, but if the trainers are the ones giving you the edge between winning or losing a road race, then I think you’re not training properly.