This year I splurged a little for a new pair of running shoes.

I customized a pair of Nike Frees through Nike ID. The cost hurt a little—it was roughly double what I paid for the shoes I ran all my 2012 races in.

The shoes I built for my races this year are a hybrid of the Nike Free 3.0 and the Nike Free 5.0. I went with the soles of the 5.0 and the top part of a 3.0. The design of the 3.0 is ultra lightweight, which is what I prefer, but the sole of the 5.0 appeared more similar to the shoes I wore last year (Nike Free 2.0).

Nike ID also lets you customize colors and the writing on the tongue. I didn’t have anything fun to say on the tongue, but since the only running shoes I can find in stores are weird neon colors I don’t like, I tried to keep my colors basic. But still flashy… because I still like my shoes to stand out… but just not thanks to ridiculous color schemes.

I ordered them March 10. They arrived March 29. And I was VERY anxious to receive them. After I received the email saying my order had shipped, I tracked it online pretty much every day. From Vietnam to Taiwan to the Philippines to China to Alaska to Kentucky to Illinois and finally to Wisconsin.

I wasn’t too excited that UPS just left the shoes in the entryway of the locked lobby of my apartment building; however, fortunately for me, I’m on the good side of a nosy neighbor who doesn’t work due to disability and who sets certain peoples’ packages by their doors, presumably for precautionary reasons as much as for something to do.

My first thought upon opening them was that I’m not sure whether I should run in them or if I should never run in them? I was THAT excited. I thought they were THAT awesome. I mean, take a look at these bad boys:

Josh's 2013 running shoes

Josh's 2013 running shoes

I ultimately decided that I would run in them and not simply stare at and admire them. I eased myself into running in them. I’ve slowly phased them in as I’ve phased out my 2012 race shoes, although I haven’t run farther than 3.6 miles at a time in these shoes (4.8 is about the farthest I run at a time, so I’m getting close).

The first thing I noticed was that my new ones felt a lot more narrow than my old ones. Almost uncomfortably so. They’re the same size, but I’m not sure if the newer models are sized differently, or if my old shoes were possibly a wider version of my size?

Either way, they’ve been breaking in quite nicely, and thankfully they don’t feel as tight any more.

This whole process was a lot different than when I ventured out a year earlier and bought my first real pair of running shoes.

In 2012, I went to Performance Running Outfitters in Brookfield and went through the process of having staff evaluate how I walk and run in order to gauge what shoes would be best for me.

When I walked in, I was approached by a salesgirl who seemed friendly. She ultimately turned out to be not only friendly, but also very helpful. However, when we first started talking, I mentioned I’d been running in an old pair of Nike Frees I got at a Nike Outlet a few years back. She sort of chuckled at me. And she chuckled at me in a way that made me feel like she thought I was ignorant. About running. About running shoes. More than either of those, though, her chuckle made me feel she doubted my ability to run.

Then again, I was ignorant about running. And about running shoes. But I was confident in my ability to run.

After talking a little about the type of running I do, she had me take off my shoes and roll up my pant legs. She looked at my arches. She had me stand still to evaluate the positioning of my legs. She had me walk to evaluate my gait. And, finally, she put me on the store’s treadmill to evaluate my running.

After I jogged smoothly for a minute or so at 6.5 mph, she remarked with an almost surprised tone:

“Oh. Yeah, you can run in Frees.”

She went straight to the back and proceeded to bring out a stack of about 10 pairs of shoes, most of which were Nike Frees; however, she also brought out other brands, including Brooks. She had me try them all on.

When all was said and done, I actually slightly preferred one particular pair of Brooks that she brought out; however, I did like the Frees I tried on, and since they had some on clearance for about $20 cheaper than the Brooks, I decided on the following:

Josh's 2012 running shoes

They had a gray pair I liked better, but those weren’t available in the size I ultimately decided on getting (a half size smaller than I had previously been running in).

I ultimately ended up really liking how these shoes felt, although I regretted going with the blue—the yellow-ish green lines on the sides annoyed me. Of the options in that size, I always regretted not getting the bright orange and dark gray pair they had in stock.

So far, even despite the fact I go to great lengths to make sure my new shoes stay clean, I don’t regret taking my shoes to next level through customization and paying the higher price.

Let’s just hope my race times don’t give me something to regret about them.


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