For a relatively skinny guy, I like to eat. I’m hardly Anthony Bourdain in terms of food knowledge and/or palate sophistication, but I enjoy the process of learning about and devouring good grub. And I wouldn’t think of ordering the same entrée every time I dine. Because variety is supposed to be the spice of life.
But this mix-it-up philosophy does not translate to shoes.
I have purchased over the past maybe 3-4 years six pairs of the exact same model of running shoe: The Nike Structure. There are slight variations in color and design, but it’s basically the same shoe every time.
There are legit reasons, primarily that I’m an avid exerciser and plantar fasciitis sufferer – have been since middle school or longer. There are two main components to the Structure that help with the affliction: Extra stability in the inner heel in the form of a super-dense insert – excessive cushioning is no help – and a narrow forefoot. I’m still in pain every morning and many nights, but not while working out.
I’ve tried a couple other models to no avail. So I’m stuck at Applebee’s, per se.
Am I missing out? Maybe. Probably. Yes.
Although steadfastly against the foot-glove thing, I’d be up for wearing something other than, one of the cool, hyper light and thin models that seem to be the future of running shoes – not that my shoes look orthopedic or anything. It’s just that nothing really changes aside from, say, the color of the sole.
I’m not really complaining – more like lamenting. Because I genuinely like shoes, especially the athletic kind. That likely dates back to playing sports as a kid. Having a special shoe made just for that activity – football spikes, baseball cleats, high tops – made you feel official. That was back when everybody wore some sort of worn-out T-shirt under their uniforms as a way to soak up sweat.
Timing is a factor, too. I was born six months after Nike officially became Nike, arguably the start of the modern sneaker industry. To this day, I identify some of my childhood heroes – Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley, the Fab Five – with their signature sneakers. I had some of those kicks and the corresponding clothes or posters.
I grew out of that stage during college when I started running for the sake of exercise rather than as athletic punishment. In short order, my knees started to ache and somebody pointed out that my Allen Iverson’s probably weren’t ideal for running laps on an indoor track. They were right. (Side note: The shoes weren’t great for practice, either. Rimshot.)
That was a decade and a handful of children ago. Now, substance unquestionably trumps style, although I prefer to have both. The Structure gives me enough of that so I’ve resorted to becoming a collector, of sorts, keeping one eye open for an updated pair because my mileage has increased and they can be somewhat hard to find. I’ve purchased them in Vegas and Seattle, online and in stores – I’m like a ceramic cat hoarder.
I suppose I could go back to using an orthotic, but then I’d have one less inane thing to bat around. This makes much more sense.