While I love all of my running gear, I would certainly say that shoes are the most important piece. You want a shoe that you enjoy running in and that makes running a better experience. At the very least, you don't want a shoe that you are thinking about while you are running. The wrong shoe can lead to discomfort or even injury. And when you find that special shoe, you don't want to go back to those ones that are just okay. I'm sure most of you have been where I was - you finally find a shoe that you love and so you keep buying it again and again.
I was madly in love with the Asics 2140. I got my first pair when I was starting to train for the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon and it was perfect from the beginning. I had been in a stiffer motion control shoe before, one with more control than I really needed. The 2140 was lighter and felt softer on my feet. It fit like it was made just for me.
(Thanks, Google images)
I went through 3 pairs of the 2140 and every one felt great from the first day. Then it came time to buy a new pair of shoes last fall and my beloved 2140 was no longer available. I ordered the 2150 without a second thought, assuming that it was essentially the same shoe. How wrong I was! From the beginning, the 2150 just didn't have the same feel. I can't even really describe what the difference is, but I knew something had changed the first time I ran in the them. I think it may be that they are stiffer through the forefoot, but I can't say for sure. I tried to convince myself that I was imagining the differences and that it was all in my head. I ran in them from September to November including a painful Baltimore Marathon (which really can't be blamed on the shoes, it was my too fast start that did me in).
It was sometime in early November that I decided I just couldn't keep acting like nothing was wrong. I was just not happy in the 2150s and couldn't keep running in them until it was time for new shoes. My first step was to spend far too much time searching the Internet for a pair of 2140s. I was hoping that maybe some store would still have a pair in my size, even though they had been discontinued 9 months before. The closest I came was a used pair on Ebay and I wasn't desperate enough to buy someone else's shoes with miles on them. I had my own 2140s with tons of miles on them! So I started looking around for something else. As hard as it was to leave Asics, I knew it was time. I tried on a bunch of other brands and settled on the New Balance 760s.
I've been very happy with them so far. They carried me to a marathon PR in December and hopefully will be there for a half marathon PR in six weeks. I'm still running in those 2150s, but only for shorter runs. I like to alternate two pairs of shoes anyway, so it seemed like a waste to completely toss them aside.
Unfortunately, the future is not totally sunny. The 760s are being replaced. I've already got a second pair waiting in my closet and am almost tempted to order a third pair, especially since they are highly discounted right now. Is that crazy? I'd like to be optimistic and think that their replacement will be the "same" shoe, but after my last experience I feel like I can't be sure. And I'm not ready to handle another breakup and long search for that new special shoe...