I bought a new pair of shoes this week.
Hardly newsworthy or revolutionary I admit. “Runner buys new shoes” is hardly the stuff of Pulitzer Prizes.
There was nothing fancy about them. They weren’t a brand new make or model, a limited edition or anything with the word ‘carbon’ in the title (or the price). I simply needed a new pair of day to day running shoes as the old ones were starting to wear out.
So I jumped online and bought the new edition of the same shoes I have been running in most days for the past 4 years or so, the Altra Escalante.
Because Running Warehouse Australia is so good, they arrived two days after I bought them and I think I had had them on for less than two seconds when I started to feel both the anger and the panic flood through my veins. They had changed the shoe.
I was angry. I was angry at myself for letting this happen again and I was angry at a large corporation for once again changing something that wasn’t broken in the first place. I feel like the universe is saying to me in a not so subtle way, “it’s not you, it’s me” and I’ve skipped straight over shock and denial stages of grief and gone straight for anger.
I’ve had a sorted history with running shoes. Generally speaking I am actually really loyal to brands who make good product and have good customer service, even if some of their other practices are less than perfect or ideal (I draw the line at Nike, I won’t ever buy their stuff again no matter how good it is).
Not every brand is great at diversity and representation. Not every brand is a member of the Clean Sport Collective. Not every brand markets to women in a non “shrink and pink” kinda way. I know this all sounds a little silly but it’s not just about the shoe.
I started my running journey over 12 years ago in Nike Pegasus. I loved them. They were all I bought. Until one day the shoe changed and I just couldn’t make it work for me. I went on a mission trying so many different shoes until I landed on the Mizuno Wave Sayonara. I wore those for almost 5 years until they too disappeared.
After that I swore I wouldn’t never get that attached to a shoe again. The problem with the Mizuno shoe was that nothing really compared to it. It was flat and hard. It felt close to the ground and responsive. It wasn’t a popular shoe and once everything went plush and foamy, it was discontinued.
I tried all sorts of shoes looking for a replacement daily shoe. I went back to Nike, tried out a pair of Brooks and some Saucony, because I loved their Peregrine on the trails (until they changed that as well!)
I was wearing a dying pair of Mizuno’s the day I walked into a running store on the Gold Coast, two days out from the marathon and purchased my first pair of Altra Escalantes. I loved them immediately and wore them to my first half marathon PB in four years a few days later.
I have only worn Altra’s ever since. I don’t love all of their shoes, my too honest feedback is probably why I’m no longer a part of their ambassador program, but the timp is my go to trail shoe and the Escalante was my road shoe, until today.
I’m perplexed and I don’t really know what I should do about it.
The biggest problem is that there isn’t really anything that compares to the Escalante. (If you have an idea please let me know)
A quick google search and you find thousands of people complaining about the same thing. There are people who say that if they find a shoe they like they automatically buy four pairs because it will probably be discontinued or irreparably changed and others who argue that companies are just out to make profits and don’t really care about improving a product or pleasing a customer base. The cynic in me can’t help but wonder if some shoes are just changed for the sake of change. If a shoe is popular and has sold well, why not just change the colour, maybe improve the look of the laces or something.
This is particularly relevant to Altra who seem to have only make women shoes in coral, black or purple for the past 5 years.
Annoying enough when you google the new Escalante 3 there are rave reviews for it. Yes folks admit that it is significantly different to its predecessor but they like the changes. This frankly can’t be good.
I’m now sitting in an odd position. I’ve been wearing the Altra zero drop shoes for about three years, well since July 2019. In 2018 I was sidelined for the first time with stress fractures in my pelvis and I think part of that had to do with the fact that I was inconsistent with my shoe choices (among other things).
So the idea of just going to my local running store and buying something else kinda freaks me out. I don’t want to risk injury because I’m annoyed about what a company did to my favourite shoe but at the same time, I have to find some sort of solution.
There is also a certain comfort around the things I know and love. It’s been 10 years of experimenting, of finding out, often the hard way, what works and what doesn’t. I need tight shorts because my thighs chafe and longer sleeves on my t-shirts because the same thing happens to my bingo wings (why are ladies shirts so short and the sleeves so small!). I wear injinji socks and haven’t had a blister the entire time I’ve worn them. I’ve only ever had a Garmin watch and I’ve experimented with various different packs and still haven’t found one that I am completely in love with. Call it creature comforts or habits, but this sport can be hard. The training can be hard, the events are certainly hard and a lot of doing well is about controlling the controllable and learning to be flexible with the rest. The gear you use is a controllable and this makes me feel completely out of control.
“The gear you use is a controllable and this makes me feel completely out of control.”
I’m sure I’m overreacting and being over dramatic about this obvious first world problem. What does everyone else do? Professionals change shoe companies all the time. Do they not have feet issues and shoe issues or are they just genetically above such low levels problems?
And before you start, my five little reader friends, don’t even think about recommending I go and buy a pair of Hokas.
But I am legit interested what you did in this situation? Hoarding every old model on eBay is not going to solve the problem.