>Gears and Wears>Nike Free
I've been slowly getting over a bad case of plantar fasciitis. When I was vacationing this August, I did a lot of barefoot beach walking. To my surprise, this really seemed to help a lot. I figured that this was a form of stretching the fascia. I later figured that running with the Free's would have the same effect and I do think this helped.
Even if they don't work out for running, they'd make great slippers (they're really comfortable).
I liked the way these shoes felt. I completed a marathon in them without problem. They were even comfortable while completing their last run after the sidewall blew out on the right foot. The shoes are now retired after logging 453 miles. The left shoe showed signs of imminent sidewall failure too. Perhaps it is the way I land. I had a pair of Asics that passed 1100+ though and have never had any other shoe blow out on the side -- so I may try something by Merrell. I don't know. Four hundred miles for a pair of shoes is not a good value proposition.
I've had Free's in the rotation for a while now and have also had PF problems.
I now wear Free's around the office most days and for walks. For runs I use an insert to provide support. It just seems to work out better for me to go minimal on walking around and then get something to remove the stress on the fascia during running. Some day when PF is a year behind me and I am 10 pounds lighter I'll probably eliminate the insert for flat runs.
I've always liked my Free's and they've held up well for me. The pair I am wearing right now was purchased over 2 years ago.
I do think I developed some problems (achilles tendonitis and possibly the PF) from doing hill work and so I'll probably steer clear of anything minimal when doing hills. I don't think my body is cut out for minimal on hills as I run too much on the front of the foot and something like Free's without support seem to be a problem.
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Wow - that photo looks like a manufacturing defect to me, maybe not stitched/glued right??
I used Nike Frees for 18 months or so: a pair of solid black 5.0s for work that helped strengthen my feet a lot, and later a pair of 3.0s that helped me transition to barefoot running. I got well over 600 miles from the 3.0s - both pairs felt a little like wearing slippers. All this to try and get rid of chronic PF, which worked for me. I think the Frees would feel really good just for a casual shoe as well.
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I think they have pretty great cushion, but it depends on what you mean exactly. The cushion holds up well and isn't too hard or too soft. I think the bigger potential problem has to do with how you make impact in the shoes. They have a lower heel-to-toe offset compared to normal trainers. This means the Achilles/calves need more elasticity in order to run in them without straining or tugging on a tendon or muscle. Forefoot/midfoot strikes with a good history of not relying on their heels probably won't have any problem. Others with tight calves or a shortened Achilles will find some strain while running in them. Running is a sport of repetitive stress, so any problem will be made worse the longer you run on it. Most people can get away with doing a few miles in them once in a while. Far fewer people can get away with running in them on a daily basis and for long distances.
I find that minimal shoes perform pretty well on trails and grass. It's hard to find one that does well on road, though, since they usually have less cushion. The Frees are in my mind one of the few minimalist pairs of shoes that still feel good on road. If you need supreme flexibility, then they might be the way to go. If you're just looking for a faster shoe or something lower to the ground, plenty of racing shoes can do that for you. The Frees aren't your only option.
This thread reminds me of this classic thread, over at letsrun. NIKE FREE ME's posts begin on page 3.
The Logic of Long Distance
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