Favorite Running Groups and Favorite Sneakers

I’ve been doing a ton of hiking lately, and most of the time, I’ve traded in my regular sneakers for either hiking boots or trail running sneakers. However, I definitely haven’t stopped running! I’m lucky enough to live right next to a big Open Space (a protected area that has grass, wildlife, trails, but no buildings aside from a few public restrooms and such), so I’m able to easily do a short run and still get to see some pretty scenery. This is part of why I didn’t want to live downtown – getting to step outside my door and almost immediately be to all the beauty is amazing!

Broomfield Open Space

This is the view from the trails out there. I love it!!! Taken on just a quick 3 mile roundtrip jaunt from home.

I mentioned on Monday how I used Meetup to find a fantastic group to go hiking with. Well, Meetup has also been great for finding running buddies! There are so many awesome running groups out there and I love how Meetup facilitates getting people of like-minded interests together. My favorite running group that I’ve found so far is the Road Runner Sports Run group, which does weekly runs on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings. Once a month, they have a sponsor offer free food/drinks and also raffle off race entries to one lucky runner, which is pretty neat.

Big Dry Creek Trail

And the views on the 5 mile loop we run from the store are nothing to sneeze at – this was in the Westminster Open Space on Big Dry Creek Trail.

There’s also a group that runs from Boulder Running Company every Wednesday evening, and offers free pizza and beer post-run! Boy, they sure know how to appeal to runners. Sadly, I haven’t made it up there yet (thanks to things like Wednesday night ballet class), but I hope to do so soon. Hit me up in the comments if you want to come with and we can make a date of it :)

So now that you know my favorite running groups, I wanted to talk about something I don’t think I’ve discussed before: my favorite running shoes. When I first started running, I just got some pretty pink-and-white sneakers from the clearance rack at TJ Maxx, and off I went. They looked good, and that was all that mattered, right? Well, I know all the experts say “horrible! Stop now!”, but I’ll be honest and tell you they worked just fine for me for a little while. If you’re an absolute beginner, don’t be afraid to run a few miles in your regular sneakers before you shell out for the fancy gear – you need to know if you’re going to like it and stick with it first.

But the longer I was running, the more I heard that you should really get fitted for a pair of shoes by an expert. When I first started running, I remember that Finish Line and Dick’s Sporting Goods had these pads on the ground, and you’d fake run over them to produce a heatmap of where your feet apply pressure while running, which could then be used to match you up with the perfect shoe. That was revolutionary at the time, but now technology has come even further. A good running store will video tape your gait, play it back for you in slow motion, and then repeat the process with different types of shoes so you can see the comparison of how you run differently in different shoes. The right shoe can really make a big difference in your gait, and that in turn affects both whether you get aches and pains, plus your speed. (The best runners are fast not just because they’re naturally gifted, but also because they’ve honed their stride to be super efficient. Shoes help with that!) It’s really eye opening to get a gait analysis performed, and I highly recommend it if you’re a runner who hasn’t done it yet.

If you’re worried about price, remember that you don’t pay for the fitting/analysis; it’s totally free! However, if you’re getting that done, you should really buy your sneakers from the store that gave you that service. I realize that buying running shoes in stores can be significantly more expensive than shopping around for the best deal online, but remember that once you find your perfect pair of shoes, you can comparison-shop for subsequent pairs as they wear out – so it’s really just a one-time investment to get a good fitting. Afterward, I then keep price alerts on my favorite shoes at various stores, and also keep my eyes open for big sales and one-day coupon codes. I end up getting most of my sneakers in the $40-60 range, which I think is pretty reasonable.

I remember getting several “expert fittings” over those first few years of running, but they all kept coming back to the same two pairs of shoes: the Asics GT21xx series, and the Brooks Adrenalines. Given the number of miles that I run (or rather, given the uneven way in which I run a fairly average amount of miles – 26.2 miles on weekends, then 0-5 the rest of the week), I’ve chosen to stock up on both pairs and alternate them. Some races I run with the Asics, some I run with the Brooks. That way, any imbalance in the Asics is corrected in the Brooks, and vice versa. Most runners swear by just one shoe, but I feel like this approach works really well for me at minimizing injuries. Both were fairly unremarkable shoes, looks-wise, but I was fine with that given that they performed fantastically. (I think we’ve established that I’m never going to be a fashion plate.) 105+ marathons later, I still love them both!

While shoe manufacturers tweak their models every year, the Brooks Adrenalines have held up pretty well, design-wise. That is to say, even though new models/numbers come out yearly, I haven’t found there to be really significant differences in the structures – and I’m totally comfortable buying a pair of Adrenalines at a discount somewhere even if I haven’t tried that particular model number. So far, so good! However, Brooks recently blew my mind with their latest model – and I don’t mean they changed the mechanics. Instead, they upgraded the look. Introducing: the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 in Ombre.

Brooks Adrenaline Ombre

SO. BEAUTIFUL.

I love that these are the same sneakers that I know and love, with amazing performance; it’s just the color that’s been jazzed up a bit to comply with the latest trends. And, if your feet don’t fit the Adrenalines but you’d like to get the same look in a different pair, Brooks makes a few other models in the ombre finish, like these Ghost 7s, Glycerin 12s, and Ravenna 5s. Now, when do we get to customize the color so that I can try pink/blue like the Ravennas? I love that too! Perhaps I’ll be rotating different ombre-colored Brooks Adrenalines soon and leaving my Asics on the shelf :)

Overall, I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of straying from my favorite shoes to try out all the snazzy new models from other brands. However, I find myself really regretting it when they don’t get the great performance of my tried-and-true perfect fits. Fortunately, with this new color combo, the Brooks Adrenalines have definitely gotten themselves back in the game by providing both performance and trendy looks! I’ve gotten a lot of compliments wearing them out and about, and I can’t wait to wear them to a group run again this week.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Finish Line for providing me with a pair of the Brooks Adrenaline Ombres to test run. I received no other compensation for this post, and all opinions are my own.

Comments

  1. I’ve worn that style of shoe for ages! It seems to do the trick :) Happy trails!

  2. Pizza and beer run! I’m in :) I move to Boulder in two weeks!

    I have a strong love for small local running stores. I started running in 2007 to relieve serious stress and anxiety from school – with sneakers from Kohl’s. As I continued to do it more and realized I actually liked running (my grade school self would be shocked), those sneakers started giving me huge blisters in my arches. I went to the closest running store, got some shoes, and never struggled with blisters again (except for an unfortunate model change in a shoe I liked). I’ve shopped there ever since, and they know me by name. They know my pace, training style, and always let me know if new models of shoes come in that might fit my running style. I even started a weekly running group as a way to meet friends! Yeah, my shoes are more expensive than what I may get online (but I do get a discount for being very loyal and referring people I know to them), but supporting a local business and being included in the local running community are far more important to me.

    • YAY I can’t wait for you to arrive! Let me know if you have any questions prior to moving.

      That’s so wonderful about your local running store. I love how running can help build communities like that!

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