Working Out A Mile In Another Man’s Shoes

There was a special event today at my gym. Well, marketing thingy. I don’t know. But people from Nike were there, and there were a couple of workouts that were open to sign up for to do with the new Nike Free shoes.

We didn’t, obviously, get a pair (or two—more about that later) of free shoes. We just got to use a pair (or two) of communal shoes. Sort of the bowling alley model of footwear distribution.

But I’m already getting ahead of myself, because the first thing I got when I arrived was a wristband, so I was like, “Yeah! I can drink all night without having to show my ID!”

Ah, but this was not to be a drunk workout. (My gym never institutes that, no matter how many times I ask for it. Something about liability, and healthy examples, and get out before I punch you.) The wristbands were simply to divide us into groups. The workout was roughly my gym’s standard Warrior class—a circuit training workout that’s generally done in two parts. Normally we all stick together or, if the class is big enough, we’ll split into two organically. Since it was at capacity, though, it was probably easier to just assign everyone a place to start.

Due, presumably, to the different models of shoes in the Free line (which, I’m fairly certain, aren’t free), the workout was a bit more segregated than usual. One part was heavily running focused, and the other “training” (a more general strength-based workout). I had a blue band, signifying I would be starting in the run section.

So, I got my first set of shoes, the ones apparently designed for running, which either happened to be blue to match the bands, or it was all a coincidence. (Probably the latter, since the women’s shoes were a different color.) While waiting for the workout to start, Nike’s photographer was meandering, photographing. He passed me several times and, well, declined to take a photo. In fact, the last time, I swear I saw him look at me and just shake his head in depression at the delusion that anything might induce him to waste a couple megabytes on me.

Which, on the one hand, I get—I’m probably not the target demographic or image for Nike. But on the other hand, it’s foot modeling. I could totally be a foot model, given how much I look like a foot. Plus, I’ve been told on many occasions that my calves are my good side, and this is pretty much the one time when that could be of any use to anyone.

(Should I start being offended? It’s sort of like, “Hey! Literally the only part of you that’s worthwhile is your legs. But not the whole leg, only the bottom half. And only the back half of the bottom half of your leg. And, if we’re honest, it’s really only the top half of the back half of the bottom half of your leg that has any merit whatsoever. The rest, we’ll just save in the deep freezer in case a horde of zombies attacks and we need something to make them think, ‘Wow! Look at how ugly that is! I should go eat brains somewhere else!'”)

But alas, my big break into foot modeling failed to materialize. But I can tell you about the shoes.

Of course, I’m uniquely unqualified to do so. I’m on the record as not caring too much about gear. I have no idea what makes a “good” running or workout shoe. I’ve found models that work for me and I stick with them. (New Balance, if you care, and you shouldn’t.)

Also, my feet aren’t terribly normal. I wear 12 wide, and they didn’t have wide sizes. I don’t even know if they make them in wide sizes. So a good fit wasn’t likely.

Also, I was in a slightly pissy mood anyhow. It started yesterday, when I took a yoga class, which made me angry because yoga is supposed to bring inner peace but all it really does is make you hate how unflexible you are and hurt because you’re trying to stretch and it hurts and why didn’t I go to the yoga class where you can swear all you want? Then, I had a couple bits of job-hunting anxiety. And then, a small amount of drama in a freelance gig that caused some last-minute schedule adjustments. Nothing real serious, but I wasn’t in the mood to like shoes just because a multinational company asked me to.

So keep all that in mind and take everything with a grain of salt when I tell you how much I hated these shoes. I mean, I have never hated shoes so much, apart from possibly my size 10 (ladies) purple chunky wedges. (I was in a show that needed someone to play Barbara Bush, and I was the only one with a mind beautiful enough for the job.)

Purple wedge heel shoes

My Barbara Bush shoes (with an actual shoe for comparison). At least the matching dress was comfortable.

Owing to the lack of wide sizes, I decided to go up a half a size in the running shoes. That didn’t help—they were waaaaay too long but still really tight. The tightness may have been a feature—there was a short presentation about the shoes before the workout, but all I remember is that they were designed to be “socklike” and the bottoms have this weird multi-hinged thing that looks like it will all fall apart if you step on it hard enough. (Although I did exactly that and it didn’t fall apart, so point to the shoes on that one!) Anyhow, the sides and tops were this sort of stretchy mesh thing, so it was probably intended to be tight to the (actual) sock.

The notable thought I had about those shoes were that, shortly into the workout, my feet felt waterlogged. Not really heavy—more like they do after you’ve been running in the rain and you finally get to take your shoes off and your feat are pale and bloated. That feeling did pass, so I can’t say for sure if it’s a real thing or my general moodiness that caused it.

After the first half, we switched shoes (Be sure to tip your shoe deodorizers, folks!) and headed downstairs. Now the training shoes, I don’t feel like I need to put too many disclaimers on. I definitely hated these suckers.

Since I had about 2 inches of toe room in the 12 and a halfs of the running shoes (one of the Nike guys—for some reason, they referred to themselves with the title of ekiN, as if that was a career path to aspire to—even commented how big they were on me), I went back down to size 12s in the “training” shoes. This would prove to be unwise, as my toes would eventually reach all the way to the end of the shoe. When I took off my socks after the workout, I discovered—maybe not a full-on blister, but at least a bubble on the ends of a couple toes.

But I’m getting ahead of myself again, because just getting the bloody things on was a struggle. In addition to being a shocking amount shorter for half a size—seriously, at this rate, a size six would literally be no shoe at all—it was narrow for my feet. And, most of all, there was this really tight collar at the top of the shoe that I think was supposed to have some purpose, although I don’t remember it, but I do know that that made it really hard for me to put the shoe on. Like, a full minute of squeezing and tugging and stretching. Per shoe.

The thing is, once we got into the workout, the heel (or above it) was the part that really hurt. The shoe was digging into the back of my foot, and there is definite rawness there now.

At least the photographer was back for that part, and I know he got some shots of me this time—doing burpee/jumps onto a big tire, and also rowing. I made some of my most aggressive (or probably ridiculous) row faces. In my defense, I was sprinting.

So hopefully, I will have the honor of being a foot model after all. And especially, the honor of modeling shoes I hate.




1 Comment

Filed under Commentary, Funny, OCR Gear

One response to “Working Out A Mile In Another Man’s Shoes

  1. Jamie Fellrath

    Awesome review! Amazing how shoe designers keep trying to get away from the simple model of “protect your feet from little rocks and shit” and toward things like hinged soles. It’s like “um…maybe you should make shoes that work WITH the feet, not treat them as if something’s wrong with them.” But I rant…


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