Shoe Rivalries

This one’s for my running shoe nerds. And no one else.

Seriously, I’m just going to write this as my internal monologue dictates and not explain a fucking thing.

I’d say my first shoe rivalry was between my Ghost 12s and my 1080v10s (Already, writing the names of shoes feels abstruse and annoying… let’s solider on). I had the Ghost 12 by Brooks as a comfortable daily trainer and at first I hated the 1080 for the way it looked. I thought it was too sneakerhead. Plus, at work we only had the single, horrible, blue version.

But then I tried it on and declared it incredible. The heel cup, the rocker, the cushion, the light weight, I was blown away. I was excited to go out and pay full retail for a non-ugly one outside the company but then I happen to talk to our New Balance rep and got a sick deal. I picked up a 1080, a Tempo, and a 1400 and the dawn of my collection was born.

The dawn was born? The fuck does that mean? Moving on…

Anyway, I was sure, I was assuming, that the 1080 would subsume the Ghost as my high mileage shoe. It’s just such a technically interesting, audacious shoe and the Ghost so dull, so unassuming. But nay. My early runs in the 1080 – admittedly on tired legs from previous day’s hard intervals – were sandy, lifeless, heavy heel-striking runs. Suddenly I feared the shoe was a bust. I only wore mine out to be sneakerhead, and/or hypebeast.

Those are real terms. For real.

Meanwhile the Ghost 12s and I were rolling along like a wonderful, low key loving marriage. Just simply, humbly, putting in the daily work; plowing the modest fields.

Now, I’ve since taken the 1080s out on my biggest run of the year so far – my 30k trip round the reservoir – and we had a wonderful time – but I still feel in my heart of hearts that the Brooks Ghost 12 is my go-to shoe. It’ll put in the work, it’ll get dirty, it’s good for any speed, all substance no flash.

Is there a winner here? Yeah. Me.

Next rivalry I’d say is the Brooks Levitate 3 versus the New Balance Tempo. Battle of the hybrids.

Hybrids because there’s a class of shoe now that’s the racing side of daily trainers but still distinctly not a racer. Like, cooler than a Subaru but still basically a Subaru. Anyway…

I got the Levitates right after my Ghosts and was like, I guess I’m a Brooks guy, they just put out really good shoes this year. And I got my Tempos alongside my sick deal on the 1080s and I was feeling pretty ride or die for New Balance.

So the Levitate and the Tempo both feel like edgy side kicks to the stars of their brands. Well… the Tempo really feels like a stripped away 1080, meanwhile Levitates are the only Brooks shoe with any flash or style. Like, the Levitate to the Ghost is like a Gambit to a Cyclops; the 1080 to the Tempo is a Wolverine to a smaller, more badass Wolverine.

Now there’s two kinds of nerd gibberish to alienate readers.

The glaring flaw with the Levitates is the laces. Period. So I switched those out but now they kind of feel like a Frankenshoe even though there’s nothing wrong with the aftermarket speed laces I put on there.

And the not so glaring flaw with the Tempo is the sizing. I dealt with it when Charles and I were testing them in-store, I deal with it every time I sell one, and I still just don’t know if true-to-size is too small.

Run in a New Balance Tempo in your size and in a half size up and they’ll feel like two different shoes that both work. It’s baffling.

Whenever I’m bringing one out for a customer I bring both sizes and whenever someone buys one I tell them not to hesitate bringing them back and exchanging them for the other size. Which happens.

It’s still a great run. It’s just that the whole run you’re thinking should I be running in the other size?

Now, I want to do some direct speed-work testing in the Levs and the Temps to see which is better but my internal impression right now is I like the Tempos more. I had the most joyful run in months in those shoes and felt like I was just flying. Whereas in the Levs I just felt like yeah, this is some nice running.

And the Tempo offers more on paper. It is lightweight and it is low drop whereas Levitates are merely like a lightweight, low drop shoe.

Levitates are the racing end of the daily trainer spectrum and Tempos are the daily trainer end of the racing spectrum. That’s what it is.

I was tempted to say that the rivalry was really between the Tempo and the 1400 – both by New Balance – because I got them at the same time and had dream-like, wonderful runs in both of them right away… but really the 1400 is just the odd man out, the 3rd wheel in a collection of eight things that come in pairs.

It’s a 10mm drop, who does that? To a racing shoe? Did we all use to do that, is it a relic of a bygone era?

Still an absolutely great run though, being clear. It’s just hard since I mentally organize my shoes into my training by heel drop and stack height and blah blah blah and the 14 can’t hang with the 1080 and the Ghost and it can’t hang with the hybrids and it can’t hang with the low boys like my Tracers and Altras.

Fuck, the straight up nonsense this is for my usual readers makes it so uncomfortable to write…

But one last thing so that I’ll have talked about everything and since I just mentioned them: my Hoka Tracers and my Altra Escalante 2.0s.

And when I said I’d talked about everything I thought wait, that’s seven. What am I missing…? My ASICS. Good old forgettable ASICS.

Anyway the Hoka Tracers are a 4mm drop and the Altras are, of course, zero.

Altra is changing their branding from saying Zero Drop to saying Balanced Cushioning which is, let me the first to be an ass about it, fucking awful. Zero Drop people take pride in being Zero Drop people. I encountered us douchebags at the store like once a month.

Anyway anyway, the Tracers become forgettable because they’re a stutter step to the Altras and it’s important to transistion wisely to ZD and blah blah blah not what this blogs about.

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