Updated on July 18, 2011
Even though he’s been running for four years, Brett Stevens still considers himself to be quite an athletic dilettante.
He reinforces that notion at his blog The Running Moron, where he shares his racing stories and reviews with a hint of snark. Last week he answered a few questions for us via email.
Being a self-professed non-athlete, what turned you into a runner?
It was fate. I was getting into cycling as a way to exercise when I had an accident. I wrecked the bike and broke my shoulder. While recovering from that, I gained some weight and joined a gym to work it off. I couldn’t really lift weights or anything so I started on an elliptical machine, got bored with that one day and walked on a treadmill for a change of pace.
That led to me walking faster, then jogging on the treadmill, then wondering what it would be like to run outside. Next thing I knew I was registered for a 5K race, which led to a 5 miler, which led to a half marathon, which led to a marathon. I’m still a little bewildered that I’m a runner, to be honest.
Why call yourself “The Running Moron”?
Probably because I’m the self-deprecating type, but I wanted to convey the fact that I really am some ordinary idiot who didn’t know anything about running and just started to put one foot in front of another one day to get started. I’m not a former champion runner. Heck, I was never even a competitive runner before I was 37. And I’m only competitive now because I pay to compete. Plus, it sounds better than “The Running Idiot.”
How long have you been blogging?
I’ve been blogging pretty regularly since 2003, but I narrowed my focus down to running exclusively in 2008. My old blogs are gone and forgotten, which is probably for the better.
Why should people listen to you?
No one should listen to me. I am not an expert, or a pro, or anyone with any real knowledge about running or health or fitness or anything. But there’s nothing wrong with taking the opinion of an ordinary guy and his experiences with running and see how that compares with what the pros and experts say to make up your own mind about running and stuff regarding running. I’ll be the ordinary guy in that equation.
What have you learned since becoming a runner?
Running isn’t nearly as inexpensive as you might think.
What positive effects has running had on your life?
Wow, there are many. Health, both physical and mental. Friends I’ve made through running. Giving me something to write about and having a few people read what I write.
Any negative effects?
Not really, but I guess one is that if I’m training for something like a marathon, I feel like I become a slave to my training program. And setting an alarm for 4 a.m. to get a 9-miler in before work isn’t completely positive all the time. And while I’ve been lucky to have not suffered any serious running-related injuries, it’s hard to see my running friends deal with theirs.
Tell us about your favorite pair of running shoes. What brands do you love/hate?
I had a long-time affair with the Asics Gel-Cumulus until the latest update came out (Gel-Cumulus 12). It just doesn’t work for me, so I’ve been out in the running shoe wilderness some lately.
I’ve gravitated toward Saucony and their minimalist Mirage and Kinvara lines of shoes. The more I run in my Mirages the more I like them. They feel so light on my feet and seem to eliminate most of the fatigue I feel in my legs during mid-distance runs of about 10K or so. I’m still looking for the shoe in which to push further than 10 miles. I’m down to my last pair of Asics Gel-Cumulus 11s for those runs.
The brand I haven’t been able to run in at all is Nike. I don’t know why, but I always manage to roll my ankle whenever I wear them for a run. So, I fear them.
Also, this isn’t a brand, but I can’t wear blue shoes, even though blue is my favorite color. I always struggle when I wear blue shoes of any brand.
What’s your goal for the next year?
It’s been a while since I ran a marathon, and I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. My only goal for the next year right now is to run across the finish line at the Marine Corps War Memorial on October 30, 2011.
What’s your advice to folks out there longing to be active but always making up excuses to not do it?
It’s really cliché, but it’s also really true that the hardest part of running or doing anything active is taking that first step out of the door to do it. Once you start, you’ll be so happy you did. Some of my best runs have come on days when I wanted to run the least and I’ve never, ever regretted making an effort to exercise or be active. I’ve certainly regretted not making the effort though.
I’ve known people who were worried about how they would look while they were running or walking or lifting weights in a gym, and the truth is that no one cares. In fact, I’m willing to bet that if someone sees you making an effort, even if he or she is as fit as possible, they’ll be more impressed by your making effort than what you look like making it. They probably won’t even notice how you look exercising, and if they do and they think you do things a little better they’ll probably come over and show you how.
What’s something you wish you had known before becoming a runner?
I wish I would have known — sorry for the pun — how far running can take you. Because of running, I’ve traveled to places I never would have, met people I never would have, and attempted to do things I never would have, and it’s all because I became a runner.
Running shoes are just fancy sneakers, right? But they’re the same as cross-trainers, no? And what about walking shoes? Where do they fit in?
When it comes down to it, there are a lot of athletic shoe types out there. Since physical activity can really push you to the limit, wearing the proper footwear is important—namely ones that fit the activity and your feet. So, school yourself in the nuances of athletic footwear. Because the more you know, the better your feet will feel.
Lightweight trainer – Designed for racing and speed work, this type of shoe generally has no medial support, which is support provided around the inner side or arch side of a shoe. However, there are some exceptions. If you use these shoes for daily training, beware of costs of the lightweight—less cushion, less stability and less durability.
Cross-trainer – This is a non-running shoe trainer that works well for sports with lateral movement, such as aerobics, or those that necessitate a stable platform for heavy lifting.
Trail – Trail runners feature aggressive traction, water resistance, extra upper protection and generally a darker color scheme. More hardcore trail shoes will have a lower profile for added stability on uneven trails and extra forefoot protection to prevent stone bruises.
Stability – Sometimes referred to as support shoes, stability shoes are designed for mild to moderate overpronators. Overpronation is when your feet excessively roll inward. Stability shoes provide medial support to slow down pronation, which is normal foot motion. The majority of runners can run successfully in stability shoes.
Cushioned stability – Picture a stability shoe with more advanced cushioning and stability, and you have a cushioned-stability shoe. It is generally considered a high-end stability shoe.
Neutral – These shoes are designed for biomechanically efficient runners who do not need active support inside their shoes. Neutral shoes do not use a medial post, which is a dense material used to increase the firmness and support throughout the medial area of the shoe.
Motion control – For those with overpronation, motion-control shoes offer the maximum amount of active medial support. Again, medial support is provided around the inner side, or arch, of the shoe.
Walking – Walking shoes are aimed towards the fitness walker who wants the varied stability and comfort of a running shoe but with the conservative visual appeal of a walking shoe.
Racing – As the name indicates, racing shoes are for racing and oftentimes are referred to as racing flats. These shoes are exceptionally light and have minimal amount of cushion and support. Studies have shown that racing flats can lower times by four seconds per mile. It’s an ideal shoe for distances below 10K. Half-marathon and marathon runners should use caution before wearing racing flats.
When you’re not out hitting the pavement, where do your running shoes go?
A recent poll conducted at OregonLive.com asked readers where they stored their running shoes. The poll’s creator swears that her running shoes multiply like rabbits when she’s not looking.
So far 34 people have participated in the poll, with the majority reserving their closet as home for running shoes at rest. Others store their shoes in the entryway, mudroom/utility room/garage or place them wherever they decide to take them off around the house.
Apparently nobody leaves them out on the patio or porch, which makes sense because you don’t want a daddy longlegs setting up shop in your Mizunos, do you?
So, where do your shoes go when you’re not wearing them? Take the poll.
[Image via Flickr]
Shopping for running shoes can be a workout in and of itself. The brands, the lingo, the technology—it’s enough to make you run the other direction.
But wait. Before you disappear in a puff of smoke, read through these helpful tidbits. It might just ensure that next pair is the perfect one.
Do buy the same shoe twice. If it worked for you before, why wouldn’t it work again? No need to reinvent the wheel here. And if your favorite style is discontinued? Use your worn-out sneaker as a prototype for the next one you purchase.
Do observe your last shoe’s soles. Reading wear patterns can be tricky but helpful nonetheless. If the most wear is found between the big toe and the edge of the shoe, it’s time to switch to a more stable shoe. However, if the area behind the second and third toe is most worn, change shoes but stick to the same category.
Don’t pick a shoe for its color. As appealing as hot pink can be, it doesn’t mean that shoe is right for you. There is a multitude of considerations, and color should be the last thing on your mind. After you narrow down the selection, the shoe’s hue can once again come into play.
Do determine your arch height. When it comes to running shoes, arches matter. If it’s as high as the one in St. Louis, a neutral shoe type could be in your future. Or is your arch flatter than a pancake? You might need a motion-control shoe. Watch the following video from Runner’s World on how to figure out your foot arch type.
Don’t change your shoe category. Even if you’re tempted to mix things up when purchasing your next pair, don’t do it. Well, you can, but it might not be a comfortable experience. Your best bet is to select a different style of shoe from the same family. Those families include motion-control, cushioned-stability, stability or neutral shoes. Your feet will thank you.
Do listen to your feet. They know what’s up. If your last pair gave you blisters, numbness or even black toe nails, your feet are definitely trying to tell you something. Perhaps you should try a larger size or wider width. But if you choose to put on earmuffs instead, your dogs will only start barking again.
Don’t assume pain comes from the wrong shoe category.. Running shoes wear out. Many of us like to ignore this fact in order to get our money’s worth. However, wearing your shoes past the expiration date could mean discomfort and injury. So, if your feet start feeling ouchy after the 350-500 mile marker, you probably just need a fresh pair—not a new category all together.
What’s your advice to running shoe shoppers? What have you found the most helpful?
[Image via Flickr]