Finding Bargain Priced Running Shoes Via the Web

In a recent visit to one of my favorite running shoe stores in the Conejo Valley (to be left unnamed), I noticed a trend that I did not like...nearly every pair of running shoes was in the triple digit range.

I also noticed this price trend at another one of my favorite stores to purchase running shoes, the Sketchers store. I've had decent experience with the GoRun shoes in recent years. But all of a sudden it seems the pricing on the shoes is up by $15 to $20 per pair. 

So while I purchased shoes for my son, whose feet are growing by leaps and bounds and thus ensuring a solid fit is critical, I passed on buying myself new running shoes because I'm tired of getting gouged on shoe pricing. 

Before I continue, let me just say that I still do patronize our local running shoe stores as I value their service and supporting local business. But when I find a shoe that I like, I don't want to spend $110 on them. 

Finding a bargain priced shoe on the Internet is not rocket science. Simply "Google" the name of the shoe you are looking for and you are likely to find it on clearance somewhere. Not always, but often.

In my case, I searched for Mizuno Wave Hitogami and came across the Hitogami 2 at sierratradingpost.com. Although the color of the shoe wasn't optimal (bright orange), the price was right. $49.95 for shoes that fit great on me that have a retail price of $110.

Often though, closeout deals like this have limited sizes available. I was lucky in that not only was my size available, multiple pairs were available. When I find a shoe that I like and at a bargain price, hell, why not buy 2, 3 or 4 pairs! 

So I added 3 pairs of shoes to my cart and went to the checkout, entering my information. Then, I searched for Sierra Trading Post promo codes and seconds later had a 25% off and free shipping promo code from RetailMeNot.com. That lowered the price to $37.46 per pair of shoes.

So within literally 2 minutes' time, I ordered 3 pairs of shoes that fit me well for the price of one and got free shipping to boot.

Saturday Morning Run Up to Danielson Cabin in Boney Mountain State Wilderness

This morning I decided to test out my new Sketchers trail running shoes with a trail run up to the Danielson Cabin and back.

I have no affiliation with Sketchers, by the way. Maybe I should, because I'm liking their shoes more and more. These trail shoes feel as comfortable as any shoes I've worn. Every shoe brand is different and everyone has a brand that seems to fit their own feet better than others. I'm finding this to be the case with my Sketchers. They fit snug but not too snug, light, yet supportive. And comfy.

Mind you, I can pretty much run in any shoes. Over the years I've worn ASICS, Saucony, Nike, Mizuno, Brooks and a few others. Since I'm not particularly picky about the shoes I run in, other than they can't feel too heavy, I tend to go with whatever's on sale.

But the price point on the Sketchers I like on a day-to-day basis without having to wait for a sale. Plus, if I can get to the Sketchers store on a buy one, get one at X% off day, that's even better. Also helps that my kids like to wear Sketchers.

But enough about Sketchers, which is just one thing that Meb Keflezighi and I have in common.

What else do I have in common with Boston Marathon winner Meb K? Well we're both UCLA graduates. And we've both run the Boston Marathon. He ran it 37 minutes faster than my time back in the day, enough time to shower and have breakfast. But we both like Sketchers. Except, he gets paid to like his Sketchers. I don't. But that's ok with me. Or maybe it isn't ok with me subconsciously, since I've mentioned it twice now. Hmm.

So my run up to the Danielson Monument this morning was a nice, easy one, no falling and hurting myself, which is good, as the scabs from my last fall have not quite healed up yet.

I'm keeping my eyes on the trail more now. Watching where you're stepping on trails is pretty important. It is ok to look around too, but better to do so on flatter sections so you don't trip on a rock or root and bash your body around. Attempting to practice what I'm preaching.

The sky was pretty clear this morning and it wasn't quite too hot...yet. We are a few days from July and it appears the temps are going up soon. Spring is my favorite time to run, when it's cool out, but not too cool, and the sun's out, but it's not too hot.

From my house, I made it to the Danielson Monument in 36 minutes at casual pace, stopping my watch a few times to take pictures. I was back at the house 34 minutes later, which, given the downhill, seems slow, but I did sidetrack a couple minutes to see if there was even a little dribble of water in the "Waterfall" off of Danielson Road. No such like. Quite dry back there.

I've Been Running in Sketchers Before I Knew Meb Keflezighi Ran in Them

Today I just bought 3 pairs of Sketchers running shoes, including a Go Run 3, a Go Run Ride 3 and a pair geared towards trail running. Yes, 3 pairs in one day, bought with a 20% discount I had. Came out of the store with 3 pairs of shoes for about $200, including taxes.

For too long I've been running in 2 pairs of Saucony Kinvaras, also a lightweight trainer, and a Go Run 2. For the 4th time this year, yesterday I was running in the trails, my foot hit a rock, and I slammed into the ground. My right knee is pretty banged up and I've got a dime-sized lump of skin missing from my left palm from the impact, but otherwise I'm ok. But I decided, I need to buy some new shoes to get my spirits up. Not to mention, my current shoes need to be retired.

I like Sketchers running shoes because they're light, yet feel like they are giving me adequate support. They are comfortable. And I like their pricing. $80 isn't cheap but I like the nice, even number. There's something appealing about the simplicity to me.

So getting back to my latest fall. This time it happened within 5 minutes of the start of my run. And I hit the ground so hard that the pain was too much to continue, with skin and blood involved, so I walked back home.

Chatting with another of my geezer running friends, he believes as we get older, we don't lift our feet as high when we run. That could be a factor in my 4 falls this year. The last fall I thought perhaps it could be due to my Sauconys feeling slightly too big for my feet. Today's fall was in my Sketchers, which fit perfectly fine.

Deep down inside, what I really believe to be the issue is...not enough sleep. Running at 6:45am off of 5 1/2 hours sleep is not conducive to good training. Yet that's what I've been doing. I enjoy too many things, one of which is maintaining this website until the wee hours of the night. And of course my running, taking the kids out, etc. Something's gotta give.

But yes, here I am, typing this at 12:15am, when the creative juices flow the most for me.

In lieu of getting to bed earlier, my plan is to find time to take one solid nap each weekend to rejuvenate my body. If that doesn't happen, which it probably won't, I'll be pondering a plan B.

The Occasional Hazards of Running Trails

I've enjoyed running local trails for over 15 years and am on them almost every day, barring rain and mud. A majority of my mileage is on trails and I enjoy the variety, the peace and quiet, the scenery and the chance of spotting wildlife, like a coyote off in the distance.

For the last few years I've been carrying my camera with me when I run so that when something photo-worthy appears, I'll be ready. Kind of a hassle for sure, in that the camera is not light, and I hold it in one of my hands (switching off to the other hand from time to time).  But occasionally it comes in handy.

This year, 2014, so far I've managed to trip and fall on the trails not once, not twice, but THREE times. I'm not talking a simple trip and catch myself, but a full on, snag my shoe on something, then topple almost flat on my face fall.

No, this is not a pile of poop on the trail. It is a root sticking out of the ground, I believe a remnant from damage done by the Springs Fire of 2013.

This has never happened to me before. Ever. Never have I fallen flat on my face before while running on any surface, and I've run all types of surfaces and have run and raced trails like Bulldog at Malibu Creek, the Catalina Marathon and all around town.

Mostly just scrapes and cuts from my latest encounter with the ground on a trail run.The other day was the worst of my three trip-and-falls. I was running along, la la laaaa, thinking of all the exciting workday activities, when, BAAAMMM, I was down. My right foot snagged either a rock or a root, and I had no time to react. But I did manage to get my right arm on the ground before my head, which saved my face, but got my right arm pretty good. Just scrapes and a little blood. Nothing broken. There were some minor scrapes and scratches on my shin and lower back. THANKFULLY my knees and face were spared.

After my body finished sliding, I got up, assessed the damage, picked up my camera (held in a case, so it was safe, unlike my body), and ran home.

So WHY does this keep happening? I'm almost afraid to continue running on trails because next time I may do some more serious damage.

I think it is one of, or a combination of, three things. I've noticed that the Saucony shoes I currently wear feel slightly too big. I have to re-tie them more often than most shoes I wear to make them more snug. I suspect that this is the main culprit...my shoes are too big and they are snagging things on the trails and damn near killing me.

But perhaps the other issue is that I'm carrying this camera around, looking around for nice shots. Maybe I should be looking at the trail more and the surroundings less...at least when the trails are rocky and technically challenging. That would make sense now, wouldn't it?

Lastly though, I'm turning 50 in a few months. Maybe I'm, well, just getting OLD. Yes, maybe I'm not lifting my legs up as much when I run (which actually is a good thing on the roads, as it is more efficient). Maybe I'm going blind (well to some degree I am, after dealing with a detached retina a few years ago and its impact on my eyesight). Maybe I'm just going senile.

Or perhaps it could be all of the above. I dunno, but I'm gonna continue running those trails until it kills me. Probably. Literally.

In the meantime, time for some new shoes.

Running Through Hamstring Problem and Trying Out Skechers Running Shoes

When my running is "off" I tend to have less to write about; hence the month long break between postings here. My right hamstring became problematic at a local 5K race on April 13th and I've been running through the issue for the last five weeks.

If this were a sharp pain I would take some time off, but since the issue is more of a general, dull, soreness, I opt to continue running. But I generally get away with about an hour of running. But the good news is that it feels a little less sore as the days pass by.

For years my kids take me to the local Skechers store at The Oaks Mall. I've purchased a few pairs of casual wear shoes in there and like their shoes, but never ventured into their "GoRun" running shoes. Well recently I gave it a try. And I like them!

These GoRun shoes only weigh about 7 ounces but actually feel reasonably cushioned to me. I was shocked at how comfortable and light they felt the first time I actually ran in them. I've worn these on trails and roads and they feel perfectly fine on both. And they look different than other running shoes.

Skechers GOrun ride offers extra cushioning for elevated comfort and support on every run. Shop now!

Experimenting With the Vibram FiveFingers: Running Practically Barefoot

While I stopped training for a marathon a several months ago due to my persistent psoas muscle problem, the good thing is I'm still able to run. Maybe not really fast or really long, but I'm still running, which is good. I'm thrilled that I can continue running through a nagging, puzzling injury.

So this past Saturday I was instructed by my wife to take my 8 year old over to Jack's Shoes in Westlake Village to buy him a pair of Teva sandals. I like Jack's Shoes as it reminds me of the good old days when you get great customer service by knowledgeable people at a family run, non-chain business.

I noticed they carried those goofy looking shoes made like a glove, with a compartment for each toe. While for the most part I've been ignoring all the hubbub about barefoot running, seeing these shoes up close made me curious.

So after outfitting my boy with his shoe, I tried on the Vibram FiveFingers Komodo Sport model, which my helpful sales guy said was pretty popular with some runner types. I told him I run long distances. Putting the shoe on was kind of fun. The same process as putting on a glove...make sure you get the toes aligned with the toe compartments, then account for each toe to make sure they're in place.

 

These shoes literally felt like a glove and of course you can't wear socks inside of them. First thing through my mind was, I wonder who else tried these on and placed their smelly feet where my mangled monstrosities were now residing. But I quickly got p

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Feeling Much Better Two Weeks Post-Tucson Marathon

The Malibu Marathon on Nov 14th gave out finisher towels. Came in handy for those of us cooling off in the ocean after the race!It took me exactly two weeks to feel fully recovered from the Tucson Marathon. Two weeks of holiday preparations, parties, eating, festivities and fun.

What wasn't fun was the sluggish feeling a had last week as I creeped my way through 4 to 6 mile runs each day, not particularly enjoying it. My problem was that I was in a perma-tired state because more than ever I was not getting enough sleep each night. Why am I not getting enough sleep? Kids are up later because they're out of school, Christmas came and went, busy, busy with the new toys and games, etc.

In fact, I'm still kind of in that mode as I write this at midnight.

But something "clicked" yesterday, or I now should say the day before yesterday, since the clock has now struck midnight on Wednesday.

Sunday was exactly 2 weeks post marathon and I ran my longest run since then, 8.5 miles in 64 minutes. A moderate pace that I felt o.k. with. But I still didn't feel GREAT.

The "click" happened on Monday morning, when, even though I was coming off of 5 hours of sleep, there was a spring back in my step. Don't know what prompted it, but I actually felt GOOD even though I was tired.

Same thing today. I only ran 45 minute but I felt like running for hours if I could have. The air was nice and cool outside but not TOO cold. My legs felt fresh. It was enjoyable. Something I haven't felt for awhile.

So now that we are approaching the new year, I will have to figure out what's next for me. My more serious runner friends already have their next marathon on the calendar and are planning to do a 20 miler this weekend. I'm not there yet. But I will be checking my favorite marathon website, www.MarathonGuide.com, for upcoming 26.2 milers.

In other news, for the 2nd time in one month, I am about to lose another toenail. The middle nail on my right foot. This is a personal first for me. My first loss was on December 8th. For about 4 days now this nail has looked the hood of a car. It is hanging by a thread at this point but I'm not gonna force it so as to allow the newbie underneath sufficient coverage. There's one more nail on my right foot, the toe next to the big toe, that I predict will be gone in 3 months.

Lesson learned: MAKE SURE YOUR SHOES FIT. I was stupid. I went to Road Runner Sports in Newbury Park, short on time. The guy found me a shoe that I liked, but it felt a bit small. He didn't have a larger size. But I thought, why not, just buy thinner socks and it should be fine. The worker didn't try to dissuade me. Wish he had. I now have a pair of Saucony ProGrid Kinvaras size 10 1/2 that I wore 4 times. Anyone want them?

Cool Summer = Great Long Run Training

It is rare when I have a long run where I feel "perfectly fine" afterwards...not too tired, worn down by the sun, dehydrated, starving, etc. Today was one of those rare days!

Thank you extraordinarily cool summer temperatures here on the west coast this year! According to a Wall Street Journal online article today, Los Angeles area temperatures in July were nearly 5 degrees lower than historical norms. It has been extremely noticeable around here and I LOVE IT!!

Today was an exceptional day for a long run. I awoke without alarm at 6:20 a.m. and was out of the house by 6:35 a.m.  It has been awhile since I described my pre-long run procedures, which goes something like this: eat something very light, band aids on the nips, petroleum jelly on the toes, heels and underside of the feet prior to placing socks on, as well as some where inner thighs meet the running shorts and where shirt meets skin near armpits (chafing is the silent enemy of long runs...it'll ruin your run if you don't prepare for it).

Love my handy 4 bottle waist pack. Available at most running stores. Carry up to 4 different liquids if you want!Lightweight shirt on. Watch and shoes on (double-knotted of course). Cap on with some 4-5 tissues folded up underneath just in case needed for whatever reason. Light sunscreen on just in case the sun makes an appearance. Then grab water fluid belt and place 4 bottles of liquid (3 Gatorade, 1 water) in belt, which also holds 3 gel packets. Place belt on. Grab sunglasses (didn't use them...they sat on top of my hat the whole run). And I was off.

One planned pit stop 15 minutes into the run and otherwise I was non-stop today. Ran a loop course around Newbury Park. For whatever reason, I prefer one giant loop course over an "out and back" course and I haven't figured out why.

My goal today was to run at least 2 hours, given my previous long run 2 weeks ago was 1:54.  I ran 2:09. Tonight I mapped out my run using www.mapmyrun.com, and discovered I ran a solid 17.5 miles, which equates to about a 7:22 pace. Training seems to be paying off!

The only thing bothering me tonight is my somewhat chronically sore left big toe. Better go ice it...

I've Recovered From Every Injury I've Ever Had

I managed to run 38 miles with a back brace on last week. These miles were slower than normal but I was happy to be able to train through my injury.  Most of my runs were 6 miles.  No long runs.  My last long run of 20 miles was over 3 weeks ago.

My training peaked over the last half of July and after vacation week and 2 weeks of battling injuries I'm finally feeling like my body is ready to get back into training.  I've seen a chiropractor 4 times since last week and have appointments set for tomorrow and Friday.

There has been a knife-like sore spot in my lower left back. Over the last week I've been waking up with less pain but within an hour of sitting down at the desk the pain comes back. Then I go back to the chiro, get adjusted, and the pain goes away again. He says that it is basically my body's stubborn way of putting up a fight.

As frustrating as this pain has been, I keep in mind that I have recovered from every single injury I've had over the last 17 years of running.  I'll guestimate at least 100 injuries over the years. Gotta keep that in mind!  Ya may feel down and out, but think about everything you've overcome in the past.

With that positive energy in mind, I continue onwards. Yet another "challenge" on the road to the marathon.

While shopping at the new Trader Joe's in Newbury Park the other day, I bumped into one of my runner friends who just happens to be one of the top 50+ runners in Southern California. Coincidentally he also was the recipient of a lower back problem, though in his case it is his entire lower back. We compared back support braces (his was better) and he indicated he cannot even run.  But good ole Dave had just finished an hour long run in the pool, running with foam pool noodles under his arms. Talk about dedication!

On a different note, on Saturday, with my 2 young boys in tow, I visited Future Track Running Center in Agoura before lunch.  It had been awhile since I last visited the store and I was impressed by the well organized array of shoes, clothing, equipment and other must have products.  I know it is possible to find shoes cheaper on the Internet, but its much nicer physically going into a local store, trying on several shoes, feeling their weight, talking to the helpful staff (and they are definitely knowledgeable...I learned some new things) and got instant gratification. Not to mention, they put up with my 3 and 6 year olds running around the store, wreaking havoc.  Patronize your local running shoe store! It is your civic duty as a runner!  Future Track has a very nice supply of running fluid packs, including my favorite Nathan Waistpak, and all types of running energy gels.

Miles or Minutes? How Should You Measure Your Training Efforts?

The quick answer:  Who cares!?  For most of us it really doesn't matter how you measure and how precise you are.  JUST GET OUT THERE AND RUN!

But let me digress and ramble a bit.

I began running in May 1994.  Feeling happy and bubbly with 5 beers in my belly (and I did have a belly back then), the discussion with my fit coworker in her mid 50s turned towards her marathon training.

Lori (you know your real name) had (and has) a passion for running that kept her going, day in, day out, regardless of how she felt.  I admired her for mental and physical toughness that got her out there training up to 60 miles a week.

I was 28 and had never run much, other than away from bees and dogs foaming at the mouth.  But that beer was messing with my brain and in a sudden rush of drunken stupidity I told Lori that I would run the Los Angeles Marathon next year.

So starting the next day, I stuck with my commitment and got out there and ran.  At first, only a block or two before my knees and ankles gave out.  But I walked back home and tried it again the next day until I could run without stopping.

Long story short. I soon found myself not only running each night, but driving my car along the paths that I ran, jotting down the mileage to the nearest tenth of a mile.  I had several pages of courses and their distance written down.  Boy was I anal-retentive about it, to the point I would drive courses several times "just to make sure" they were correct.

But, at the time, I felt a need for precision because I was really getting into it and enjoyed tracking and analyzing my "statistics."

Here we are now in 2009, 15 years of running later, and my life and attitude have changed.  I don't have the time, energy or desire to track my mileage down to the tenth of a mile.  I still log my mileage, but generally round to the nearest half mile.

But it has been years and years since I drove a course just to measure the distance.  I've developed a decent feel for the "pace" of a run, be it 6, 7 or 8 minutes per mile.  So I simply measure the time run in minutes and quantify the mileage based on my estimated pace.

That said, there are some outstanding products out there now that can precisely measure your mileage for you.  One of them is the Nike Plus gadget that syncs to an iPod Nano and lets you upload your mileage and pacing to a website.  Click here for a decent write-up. I have a Nike Plus and think it is cool, but I prefer to just get out there and RUN.  But if you're looking for data, this is a great, simple, useful and unobtrusive to use product!

I digress again. This talk about data and the Nike Plus is making me think about that cool NikePlus.com website again. Hmm.