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A Questionable Guide To Buying Running Shoes


Unlike many runners, I don’t have a “go to” running shoe.

Asic Gel Bandito

Asic Gel Bandito

I keep a pair of Asic Gel Bandito’s in my locker at work for my daily lunch break runs.  These are designed as a racing shoe, and are a few years old now.  They’re light, without much cushioning. I picked these out solely because they were on clearance at Running Warehouse. I used to run in Vibram Five Fingers at lunch, but the stitching came apart on one of the big toes, and I kept scraping a couple of layers of skin off my toe.

Columbia Ravenous

Columbia Ravenous

For trail running, I wear a pair of Columbia Ravenous trail shoes.  They’ve served me well, having brought me across the finish line of my 100-mile ultra.  They’re not the lightest shoe, but they’ve never given me any blister problems.  I picked these out solely because they were on clearance at Running Warehouse.  I also have the same shoe in a Gore-Tex model.  It was also on clearance.

Brooks Ghost 2

Brooks Ghost 2

For everyday running (not on my work lunch break), including my long runs, I wear a pair of Brooks Ghost running shoes.  They are an older model, but they’ve served me well.  I probably have over a thousand miles on this pair, and they’re still going strong (I used to retire shoes at 500 miles, now I retire them based on how they feel).  I picked these out solely because they were on clearance at Running Warehouse (are you seeing a theme yet?)

Looking ahead to the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler (in 5 weeks – oh shit!), I felt like I needed a new pair of shoes.  The trail (apparently) isn’t very technical, and I’ve read that you can easily get away with wearing road shoes.  I don’t want to run 100 miles in my Brooks Ghost, since they are so old and the traction on the sole is largely worn down.  I also don’t want to run in the Columbia Ravenous trail shoes if I can avoid it, since they are relatively heavy.  So, I headed over to to check out their clearance shoe section.  I ended up with these bad boys:

Nike Zoom Waffle Racer 8

Nike Zoom Waffle Racer 8

I didn’t really find a lot of info on people running ultra’s in cross-country shoes.  Maybe because it shouldn’t be done, I don’t know.  But in my mind it seems like a decent idea.  Light weight shoes with good traction.  Not a lot of cushioning, but I don’t really want that anyway.

These are almost exactly half the weight of my Columbia Ravenous shoes.  There are a decent amount of articles on the internet (so they must be true) that say that for every ounce you cut from your shoes, you gain one to two seconds per mile.  I’m not really concerned about the time as much as I am the energy I’ll save by having lighter shoes.  Let’s say I take 2000 steps per mile, times 100 miles, equals a hell of a lot of steps.  For that number of steps, I’d much rather be swinging light shoes on the end of my legs than heavy shoes.

Will running an ultra in cross-country shoes work?  I don’t know.  I’ll test them out ahead of time and see how they feel.  I’ll also pack back up shoes in my drop bags on race day, just in case.  But to date, my system of picking out shoes based on clearance price from Running Warehouse hasn’t served me wrong!



  1. tlsylvan says:

    I need a pair of trail running shoes because the 50k I’m doing is very technical I hear. I’m like you – I currently run trails in my old Ghost 6s (wear tested them for 600 miles and they have holes all over the place) but am looking for the cheapest pair I can find that won’t hurt my feet. Good to hear that you have good luck with clearance shoes!

  2. Jill says:

    Okay, first off – don’t go changing your blog and NOT telling me about it, I can’t follow if I don’t know where ya’ are for heaven’s sake! 🙂 Okay, lecture done – thanks for the comment and letting me know where ya are. I’m super crazy excited for you and Rocky. Whenever I think about you, I think of that day you ran that 100 miler and how freaking tough as nails you are! I hope you find a pair of shoes you love. I’m considering doing the Leadville 50 this year (cough cough) and not sure my Brooks PureGrit will do the job. Every single trail runner here in Colorado runs in the Hokas. I’ve tried them but I don’t see where the love is for $170. I dunno. Happy New Year, Jesse! I will tell Tara that you are still around the blog world, not that she blogs anymore (she had a baby back in August….her and I are doing the Boise Half IM together in June :)).

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