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I have a pair of Nike Fury 2 that have been relegated to APFT use only, because I'm having trouble finding a replacement. They're 5mm drop and I have a pair of Superfeet insoles inside.

I've explored New Balance, but they tend to not have removable insoles. A lot of the most popular options are zero drop, which I spent a year trying to acclimate to, but it was just too much strain on my lower legs.

Normal shoes in the 11mm drop range force me into heel striking, which makes me extra slow. I'd like up stay away from Nike, but at the end of the day I'm going with whatever gives me the best results.

Does anyone have any good feedback on runners in the 4-6mm drop range?

Original Post

I'm not sure about drop, but I recently spent some time looking for new running shoes to replace my Asics 2000s.

I looked at a lot of different options, but I eventually ended up getting a pair of running shoes from The Walking Company.

I ended up with a pair from their ABEO range, with semi custom insoles. Of all the people I spoke with in the various shops, their staff seemed the most knowledgeable about feet and gait, and related stuff. They also were able to use their analysis equipment to measure my feet/pressure points/etc. and email it to me for future reference.

I am really happy with the running shoes I ended up with. The are part of the ABEO PRO range, with Vibram soles.

Regards.

Mark

Linz posted:
Decoy3 posted:

Normal shoes in the 11mm drop range force me into heel striking, which makes me extra slow. 

Interesting.

I have a damaged left knee that results in me taking a shorter left pace.

So dropping the heel might speed my pace up...?

Standard disclaimer about everyone's body being different, but if my heel lands first (especially if it lands in front of me) my momentum is transferred into my leg. Higher drop shoes make it harder to land on the mall of my foot.

Thanks to everyone, there's definitely a lot of good stuff to sort through here.

Hmmm.  Running shoes are just like boots, hard to diagnose over the net.  First of all, the drop has nothing to do with turnover (well it does but not in the way you're referring to); if you have a bad knee, I'd suggest Hokas (I realize that was probably a joke, but get Hokas anyway, the cushioning is awesome).  

What I have found is that your tolerance for low/zero drop is directly tied to years of running.  If your body is well broken in, you can use them, if not, there may be issues.  Years of training directly correlates to years of basically walking barefoot.  So most folks in a first world country, that grew up wearing shoes, have to build up a tolerance (or really build down a tolerance).  Sometimes, younger folks can get away with more (they don't have all that time in shoes).     

I would echo the sentiment of getting into a good specialty running store, and get a foot and gait analysis.  Your foot shape, flexibility, and structure, as well as anything upstream, (ankles, knees, even hips) as Linz mentioned, will have an effect.  There's so much that goes into this, hard to explain in one post.  I have worked in a Buddy's shoe store, from time to time, and I could tell you if peeps had previous broken bones just by the way their body/joints articulated as they walk/run.   I know it sounds like a carny trick but it's pretty obvious (well to me).

I can tolerate a low drop just cuz I've been doing this shit for 43+ years.  But I run in Hokas for the extra cushioning, for higher mileage and ruck runs.  So if you're a grunt, like I assume a lot folks here are, then you have carried shit loads in crap gear, for God and country, and probably have bad knees and fallen arches (and not much else) to show for it.  So for us I say be very careful with this shit.  Don't run hard in any new gear until you've thoroughly checked it out.

To the OP,  get into a good specialty running store.  They will know what drops each brand has and you can go from there.   BTW, that is usually a red flag to me, if you have an insert in combination with a low drop shoe.  Most folks taking advantage of this cat are highly efficient runners, and can get away with minimal support (that is, no insert required).  If you need an insert, that would make me question your shoe choice.  Of course I could be full of shit here, but it's something I would definitely check out.  Might try the Hokas to get the drop you want and possibly get rid of the insert.     

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Diz posted:

BTW, that is usually a red flag to me, if you have an insert in combination with a low drop shoe.       

I have pretty bad arches. My GoRuck boots are the only pair of footwear I own that I haven't thrown the factory insole in the garbage and replaced with Superfeet.

With the Nikes I waited until the factory insole wore out, because I simply couldn't find a replacement shoe that felt as good, though I did like them more after the swap.

Linz posted:
Decoy3 posted:

Normal shoes in the 11mm drop range force me into heel striking, which makes me extra slow. 

Interesting.

I have a damaged left knee that results in me taking a shorter left pace.

So dropping the heel might speed my pace up...?

In a word... yes... think about the mechanics of a running stride.

The heel is the contact / strike surface of what - at extension- is basically a long lever. 

If that contact point happens while the knee is locked out (I know.. it isn't supposed to be- however being real....) then abnormal shocks / stresses can happen making a knee get grumpy. 

This can also happen your legs for whatever reason are not the same length. (a lot of GOOD bicycle shops will actually set you on a rig and have you pedal a bit if you're having them build a bike or crank set for you--- an AMAZING amount of people have one leg a little shorter than the other.. some people are as much as 1/2"...)

Having even a small difference in the length of a leg  (or even heel depth) can have DRAMATIC impacts on stride / ankle / knee / hip / back issues.

Dave

Topos and Newtons in inventory now. Love both. Laces also help a LOT with making shoes fit/work right. Must at least lace properly and... essentially none of them come laced right. This works wonders for me: 

Both my preferred shoe models are essentially zero drop (the Newtons I have are odder in ways not important now). For me, moving to zero drop was also a major change in stride. I was heel-toe for decades, went to mid-foot. That helped a lot also; shoes are not a magic pill. Do fix yourself you'll likely need to stretch, exercise otherwise, change (or just properly-execute) your stride, and maybe more. 

Yes, it is possible that you cannot go that way, but get the PT guy, or worst case a totally-you-are-sure professional running store to look at you and see what might work best. 

Note: low drop / zero drop is a bit religious war to some, so try to find a store that has the full range so they aren't just pushing what their Bible Of Running says, but can offer the full range of solutions to your issue. 

Ha, yeah the "runner's loop", aka "bunny ears" are typically used by women with wedge-shaped feet, that is, narrow at the heel.  Also for guys with narrow-er feet, or again a wedge shape, which resembles a slice of pizza.  It works very well but is a royal PITA  to get in and out of sometimes.  You can't just lace up and go; you have to fine tune the ride.

Good point about "non-symmetrics".  Very few people are perfectly symmetrical on both sides, and for lots of us, one limb is longer than the other.  So we have to compensate somehow.   This is usually done with a tilt through the hip girdle (after several years your body just adjusts to what doesn't hurt as much!).   It took about two full years, when I first started running, to get everything broken in on me.   

And yes heel strike can be adjusted by the height of the shoe, but that's if you are a heel striker.  I suppose that's one way of adjusting your rate of turnover.  Depends on your running style.  With low drop shoes, the idea is to move the strike zone, as it were, forward, to a more "natural" or barefoot strike area.  The theory being that barefoot, you naturally run on the ball or forefoot, whereas with heavily padded (and lifted) heels on your shoes, you tend to heel strike.  And yes, the discussion does reach religious intensities.  

So in this case, if we are talking low drop shoes, I assume we are talking at least mid-foot, if not fore foot strike.  Running on your heels in low drop shoes may not be a very good idea.  There's very little cushioning or support (in general; although Hokas are the exception), under the heels, which can cause problems.  With an insert of some sort, with a hard plastic heel cup, you might be courting disaster.

But again, you'd really need to a get a full gait analysis, to see exactly what was going on.  If they run vid on the tread mill they can show you all this stuff.             

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Eh, well, yeah, sorta what I wuz getting at.  But, you also could say you're dropping the heel but supporting the arch, if you want to split some hairs.  But yeah in general if you are going low drop, you usually won't see an insert in like an Altra. 

But to be fair, the OP  stated he wanted a mid-drop of say 5-6mm, which you could do with a good Hoka, Brooks, Saucony, etc.  And an inset wouldn't be that far out for these shoes.  But you'd have to balance it carefully, as the OP stated.    

standeasy posted:

Here’s the bit I don’t get. If you have low drop shoes, then put super feet insoles in ‘em, you no longer have low drop shoes.......   or am I missing something?

I can't really get all sciency about it. I know they have 6mm of drop and a low stack height, and that the Superfeet didn't really change much except be firmer and offer more arch support.

I know that with any shoe 8mm or higher, I have to focus harder on landing on the ball of my foot, and this generally goes out the window when I start getting really fatigued. 

I could be using hardware to compensate for a software issue, but if putting my foot in a different shoe makes my running easier, that's what I'm going to wear on graded events.

Oh yeah it definitely will.  Just like boots you're gonna find a brand that really fits like a glove, so if you can get to a good store with a shit-load of brands you might be pleasantly surprised.  But you really need to run in them to really see what's what.  That's why a store with a treadmill is so important.  Some brands are made to feel oh so cushy when you first put them on, and that can be deceiving.  You need to see what dynamic feel is like.  Don't get me wrong, it's a good start, but when you're in motion you might feel a difference.

You might have noticed that lots of folks wear sneakers every day just for the cushioning.  So a nice soft ride is great if you're just stroking around town.  But the real specialty running shoes come alive when you're laying it down.  

On inserts, I don't want to steer you wrong, sometimes they're definitely needed, but I think lots of times we over-correct these things.  I wore them for years myself, but slowly worked my way off them.   I now run in a completely neutral, mid-drop shoe, and do just fine.  But I worked up to that point, where my feets where strong enough for it.  

And speaking of that, a low drop shoe is normally a neutral shoe; putting an insert in it is creating a stability category shoe.  Which is fine, but you can do that with several other brands, by themselves.  Try a good light stability shoe without an insert, on a treadmill, and compare to what you're doing now.

There may also be other issues at play; I am guessing that you might be a spartan-sized warrior, if you prefer a heel strike.  I find the heavier I am, when doing ruck runs, the more I go back to heel strike.  But when race weight, I can and will move up to mid-foot strike.  On longer races I will even alternate and give different muscle groups a break.  

One technique I use is to do some heavy 5 x 5's, with some squats, leg presses, extensions, etc.  Then I go out and do a 5-10K run.  This will really help to strengthen those quads, and teach them to run when really fatigued.  So you can stay on your fore foot longer.  Think of it this way.  Heel strike is on skeletal system, fore foot is using arch of foot as leaf spring, and quads as shock absorbers.  Ideally that's where you want to be  (in a nice neutral, low drop shoe), but cushioning will allow you to heel strike, if that's where you need to be.  (And actually Hokas do both, so that's why I use them).  

Another thing that may not be so obvious.  Running shoes are essentially blown rubber and/or other polymers.  Over time they compress, lose the air spaces, and become "flat".  Under a heavy schedule (or loads) they have to be replaced on a regular basis.  I go through a pair every 3-4 months.  Some guys I know go through a pair a month.  Lots of folks run on them way after they are blown.  If you can easily bend them in two, where the toes kiss the back, they're fried.  Compare to a brand new shoe of same type.  It's pretty obvious then.     

I'm a zero-drop guy—to the point that I won't buy something that has an offset—so I can't contribute much.  The majority of my running is on Merrell Trail Gloves (though I'm running on concrete and asphalt).  I got about 500 miles out of my last pair before one of the lace eyelets gave out; fortunately when I figured out I like that model, I bought four more on clearance, so I'm set for several years.

I've also tried Altra, and the Vanish R is pretty good.  I like minimal cushioning, and these are on the ragged edge of what I consider too much cushion.  Anything Altra says is "moderate" is too much for me, and makes me feel like the shoes are soaking up all the energy I could be using to spring forward.  (If it's not obvious, I'm a forefoot striker, something I forced myself to transition to when I picked up running about two years ago after over a decade of sedentary living.)

Altras are my new shoe. So far a great option. I’d recommend if drop seems like an issue to you remediation running to include practicing fore to mid foot initial contact and improving ankle mobility. Basic straight and bent knee calf stretches should be adequate.

Most people I see lack good ankle dorsiflexion (pointing your toes to your nose). I suspect because so many people have lived in 8-15mm drop footwear and that positions your foot from neutral into slight plantarflexion, (pointing toes down). Over time if you don’t use it you lose it and now getting past neutral becomes a problem.

I don’t think shoes all have to be zero drop but I think most people should spend a few hours a day in a zero drop environment (barefoot in the house)

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I've been running Altras for 90% of my daily wear for a couple of years now. I've been a big fan of them since I started wearing them. Now it's hard for me to wear my previous normal shoes like Salomon's or any of my boots. None of them feel comfortable anymore. I don't run much now because of neck problems, but I can tell the difference in my gait and stride when wearing the Altras that makes running posture more natural.  

I liked the feel of the Hokas I tried, but the stack height and cushion were hard to get used to. I may try them again to see how I feel about the newer models. 

geronimo posted:

I've been running Altras for 90% of my daily wear for a couple of years now. I've been a big fan of them since I started wearing them. Now it's hard for me to wear my previous normal shoes like Salomon's or any of my boots. None of them feel comfortable anymore. I don't run much now because of neck problems, but I can tell the difference in my gait and stride when wearing the Altras that makes running posture more natural.  

I liked the feel of the Hokas I tried, but the stack height and cushion were hard to get used to. I may try them again to see how I feel about the newer models. 

I hear that. I dig the Clifton because my feet hurt after two Thru hikes. I’m also a big guy. If I’m on the road I prefer a bit more of a responsive shoe (I dig the Altra provision) but Hokas are almost like recovery shoes for me. I have a pair of Bondis which look ridiculous but when I’m on my feet all day at work are a blessing.

Regarding drop; if you like it you like it. On trail I don’t really even notice the difference between my Altras and the Hokas I’ve used (timp/Olympus vs challenger/speedboats)

I get more life out of Hokas, but Altra claims to be really working on that

For those that are looking to transition from 11mm drops into something lower....but still want a relatively 'normal' style running shoe for running and general PT, I'll throw a recommendation in for the Saucony Kinvara's (4mm drop). 

Couple of pro's on these IMHO:

  • Plenty of cushioning
  • light weight 
  • generous toe box (particularly around the knuckle on the big toe - I find European shoes like Salomons run pretty tight and rub through this area)
  • Great for mid strikers
  • 'Look' normal - know that people rave about Hoka one-one's but they look funny

 

Anyway, just another option that I think are worthwhile checking out.

Cheers

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