The Beauty Product Guinea Pig column (BPGP) typically features lotions, potions, creams and glosses designed to make women lok and feel their best. But today, I’m reviewing a different kind of beauty product: running shoes. Because being in shape is beautiful (and gasping for air like an overworked golden retriever as you climb the Metro escalator is not attractive).
The last time that I purchased running shoes Bill Clinton was still in office. So when I started a real workout routine back in October, it didn’t take long to figure out that it was time for new shoes. But which kind to buy? The last time I purchased shoes there were 20 choices, now there are 20,000.
A friend of mine who runs three or four marathons per year lent me a pair of odd looking Vibram Five Fingers to try. I was really excited to give the shoes a whirl since she swears by barefoot running and promised me on a stack of Bibles that I’d like it. But since I have two toes deformed by an improperly healed break, the Vibrams caused me so much pain that I couldn’t wear them without wincing. Separating my toes was clearly not an option.
When the Vibrams came up bust, she suggested that I purchase a pair of Nike Free Run 2 shoes ($90). According to the Nike website, the shoes “simulate barefoot running to strengthen your lower leg and foot,” so they’re a bit like the Vibrams in practice.
Since I started wearing them, I’ve noticed that my form has improved markedly and that my lower back no longer hurts after a run. I still wear cross trainers when I’m not running, but these shoes have made my time on the treadmill a little less awful. And for that, I am truly grateful.
Whether they’re working the muscles in my legs in a different or improved way, I can’t really tell. No because the tone of my legs isn’t improving, but because, since I’ve never been a “runner” before, I don’t know how my legs would be developing in another shoe.
For you outdoor runners, these shoes are also equipped to hook into your Nike + iPod Sport Kit, allowing you to keep track of your speed distance and calories on your iPod. Should I decide to leave the comfort of my treadmill at any point, I may invest in the $28 kit. But, to be honest, being able to watch TV while I run is about the only thing that makes running bearable.
The shoes also come in a shocking number of colors. So whether you want plain white or bright neon, you can find a color to suit your personality. Who says you can’t be fashionable while you workout?