Ah, the shoes… After reading Christopher McDougall’s amazing Born to Run (and meeting the author once in Soho, the day I turned 40) I understood the power of barefoot running. I also decided it was not for me. Running in minimalist shoes worked for a few years: the Brooks ST2s, the first Saucony Kinvaras, New Balance 890s.
But since my boring string of injuries has ended I have been running on trails and beaches, avoiding asphalt and cement when I can. Smooth soles and the soft upper on sneakers are useless. A recent purchase of Kinvara Trails proved to be just silly; they are pretty but weak, unfit for rocky trails, hot sand and steep dusty paths. The New Balance Minimus for trails? Comfy, flimsy.
Once again, JackRabbit saved me. I have been going to their Park Slope store for years. The good folks there are runners. They are kind. They know their stuff. They take time, and they chat and smile and make you feel okay even if you don’t make a purchase. The other Jackrabbits are fine, but the original Park Slope store is my go-to running lab.
Manager Todd was in the other day. He suggested the new Brooks Cascadias, saying he likes them himself – the best recommendation. He also mentioned that the great Scott Jurek runs in them. They fit well. My feet felt protected. They were not yellow and purple. I got them. (Good review here.)
A couple of jogs in soggy Brooklyn were perfect for breaking the shoes in. The test came on the trails in the west. They felt a tad clunky at first, but as I wore them on sharp rocks, landing on unexpected roots and in mud, I basically forgot I was wearing them. Just light enough, sturdy, with no more than the right amount of cushioning, they struck the balance you need on the trail. A 12 miler did hurt. I struggled. But it was not the shoes’ fault; I just need to work harder. And I will, in my Brooks Cascadias.