Would it surprise you to know that there is more similarity than difference in my running experience with the two shoes pictured above?
On the surface they’re on opposite extremes – the ultimate minimal sandal, the Pocket Rocket from T-Rockets, and the maximal Olympus from the young guns at Altra. The shoes are similar because they both have a zero drop, allow maximum spread of my toes and they make no attempt at controlling the natural movement of my feet. Put simply, both allow me to run with my natural-born form.
These are not shoes that think they know more than I do about how to move. They simply provide me with protection from the elements and the terrain I’m going to take on. I use Pocket Rockets for road and light trail on sunny days when I want to feel free and unfettered. I also use my Pocket Rockets for making my feet and my calves stronger.
The Olympus are reserved for days when I want to hurl myself down steep rocky trails that ordinarily require a lot of concentration. The thick sole allows me to be totally reckless. The sharp rocks that would usually hurt, are smoothed out by the plush cushioning. I make hulk like leaps on the downs because the sole of the shoe sucks up the shock of the landing. Anybody who thinks that I run the risk of rolling an ankle in these babies hasn’t actually looked at them. They have a wide toe box, which is standard with all Altra shoes. They also have a very wide sole which actually improves stability on the sketchy stuff that might try to roll my ankle. I may also use Olympus on rough trails where I expect to be on my feet for upward of 10 hours.
So far I’ve only spoken of two different shoes on the extremes. But in my cupboard are other shoes from other brands including Vivobarefoot, Inov8 and yet more shoes from Altra and T-Rockets that fit between them. I have different shoes for different conditions and I choose them based on race distance, my mood, race terrain, weather conditions and sometimes I just want to wear the lumo green ones.
The one consistent thing across all my shoes is that they allow me to run with the natural form that will have me running ultras on the road and the mountain well into my 80’s. Shoes shouldn’t dictate how you run. The body you were born with should.