I mean, really, new shoe purchases are not that exciting...except maybe to the person doing the purchasing. So, I looked and looked and looked and couldn't find a single decent pair of trail runners in a store anywhere. After striking out at Metro Run & Walk, I checked out LL Bean and the New Balance store here in Tysons Corner. The Bean had nothing, but New Balance did have most of its line of trail runners in stock. I tried a few on, but I wasn't happy with the fit and sizing. They seem to have a bunch of trail runners for neutral runners and then one or two high end styles for "heavy" runners - big dudes with big arches, basically. Way more shoe than I need. I don't want to drag more weight around on my feet than necessary, nor do I want too much stuff built onto the shoe. I am really just looking for a good tread, a decent toe guard, a fit similar to my road runners, and a style that isn't too weird or garish looking. Some trail runners are really cool, like the Keen Ochoco, but they are expensive and not fully proven in the market yet. I am of the opinion that running companies know more about making a running shoe than do outdoor companies, so a trail runner from Asics or Adidas should be a better option for me than one from Merrell or Keen or NorthFace. Those companies can stick to making wacky sandals and funky hiking shoes and leave the running stuff to the folks who have spent decades working with runners of all shapes and sizes. Do I sound like some sort of running snob here? Maybe I am, but I also find it silly that the wackier, more expensive shoes come from companies that aren't as affiliated with running, suggesting that you aren't paying for experience or actual shoe capability. I think it probably relates back to my Nalgene gripe - these "fancy" shoes are made for folks who just want to look cool as they walk around the rest stops along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
I also went to REI to check things out and was disappointed by them as well. More fancy trail runners there too. Dick's Sporting Goods had some as well, but not the two I have been looking for. So, in the end, I decided to order a pair of Asics Gel-Trabuco's from Zappos. They are more expensive by $8-9 bucks than RoadRunner Sports, but Zappos return policy is awesome. I am buying shoes over the internet that I have never tried on. If they suck, Zappos will let me send them back with no problem. RRS will only let me do that if I plunk down $40 and join their club first. Then, I have to buy a bunch of other crap throughout the year to make up that $40 in savings and free shipping.
I've gotten back on the road this week, running twice on my usual routes. It has a made a world of difference in my mood and I feel totally energized again. Best part is that I seem faster (from the weight loss, maybe) and all of the cranky aches and pains are gone. I think the time off helped me heal up and might have been the best thing for me. I'm going to do a slow 10 miles tomorrow and then a short recovery run on Sunday, maybe 3-4 miles. I want to get back to 4 runs a week, if I can. It is the only reasonable way to continue building mileage without stressing my joints with really long runs. My general plan has been three runs a week, two of them 5-6 miles long and then a third on Saturday mornings that is 10+. I want to transition to four runs, with a more staggered approach through the week and a long run that isn't more than 30% or so of my total weekly mileage. So, to start off, I think that a 4/6/6/12 is a good target. Not the exact ratio I want, but it will get my on the right path.