If you have read any of my previous blogs, you might think my closet is filled solely with Birkenstocks. That is not the case. I have some Frye boots, a rainbow of Converse, and I always keep a pair of running shoes around. I love to walk. It’s my favorite form of exercise. I walk anywhere and everywhere.
For over 20 years, Sauconys were my shoe of choice for exercising. One of my college roommates got me hooked on this brand. I always bought the same size and model Saucony until one day that model was discontinued. I shed a tear that day.
Since then, finding another pair of perfectly fitting sneakers has been an uphill challenge. I have tried many different styles of Saucony and nothing has worked as well as my beloved Jazz model.
I felt that there were too many bells on whistles on the new fancy running shoes. In addition, they were either too narrow, created a discomfort here, or a pain there. I eventually gave up entirely on Saucony.
I tried other brands after I broke up with Saucony. Nothing worked. Tears turned into utter frustration. Whatever I tried left me with aches and pains in my joints or hurt the side of my feet because they were too narrow. Of course, I did not know these issues would arise until after taking them for a test run. Then it was too late to return them.
One day, I found a pair of New Balance 990 running shoes in a wide width and thought all my prayers were answered. They felt comfy and were wide enough for my feet. The only thing that I did not like was the color, but I could get over that because they would only be worn for exercising.
For the first several months of owning my New Balance shoes, I only wore them for short walks and on an elliptical machine. I found the width to be ideal and the arch support to be somewhat acceptable. On days when I felt like I needed extra support in the New Balance, I utilized my Birkenstock insoles. I have mixed feelings about Birkenstock insoles. Sometimes I like the support and other times I feel like inserts push my foot too far up in my shoe. I currently reside in the dislike phase with my insoles, so they have been removed from my shoes.
The day after I removed the insoles from my New Balance shoes, I had a chunk of time to myself and planned to take a long walk—alone. No kids. No dog. Just me. It was my time to put on the ear buds, crank up the tunes, and get some serious power walking in as I cleared my mind.
I had already taken the dog for her normal walk that morning and wore my Arizonas. When I walk during the summer months I find that I often get dried weeds or little pebbles in my Birkenstocks while walking. I spend a lot of time doing what I like to call "The Birkenstock Shake”. If you wear Birkenstocks, you know what I mean about "The Birkenstock Shake."
I did not want to waste precious “Gina Mama alone time” shaking out debris from my Birks. So I slipped on my running shoes. Since I would be power walking 5+ miles, I figured that it would be ideal to wear “appropriate” athletic shoes.
What a mistake that was! It was not a pleasant walk because I kept rearranging my foot in the shoe and re-lacing. It would have been better to stop a few times for "The Birkenstock Shake” then to wear the darn athletic shoes. I got three quarters of the way to my destination and turned around because my knees and ankles hurt. My feet were flopping around in my New Balance as I hiked up some seriously steep hills. My laces were either too tight or too loose. I could not adjust them to provide me the level of comfort that I required.
I knew that my shoes were the cause of these aches. I would have happily kept on trekking up if I had on a pair of Birkenstocks. If I pushed on in the New Balance, I was confident that the aches would only get worse. I still had to walk back to my starting point which was about 4 miles miles away. I wanted to prevent a serious injury and I decided to turn around.
Less than a half a block from where I turned around, I saw another woman power walking up this steep hill. She was jetting up the hill with a smile on her face and Birkenstocks on her feet. Yup, she was wearing a pair of Mayaris!
I sighed deeply and wished that I had worn my Mayaris on this walk.
Instead of walking faster downhill, my pace slowed. In addition to the aches and pains, I began to develop a blister on the ball of my foot. Despite the fact that I was wearing "appropriate" exercise socks with my "appropriate" athletic shoes, a blister had formed.
By the time I got back home, I was miserable. The walk was suppose to energize me, refresh my spirit, and make me calmer. But, it did not. My knees hurt, my ankles were sore, and I had a blister the size of quarter on the ball of my foot. All because I wore "appropriate" athletic shoes for an athletic activity.
My New Balance shoes work well to use on the elliptical and for short walks around the neighborhood. However, they clearly did not work for me when it came to a long uphill walk. I feel like my New Balance shoes did not support my foot anatomy and prevented my feet from moving in the way that they needed to move on this journey.
The extra padding and cushion of the New Balance shoes was not providing me the support that my feet required. Rather, the heel lift of the cushioned sole positioned my foot in such a way that it was out of alignment. Hence, the discomfort in my knees and ankles.
My feet have become accustomed to the amazing support provided by Birkenstock shoes. The deep heel cup, the arch support, the raised toe bar, and the wide toe box of all my Birkenstocks help keep my feet in their natural position. This proper alignment of my feet also helps prevent the aches and pains in my joints, like I experienced while wearing my athletic shoes. Moreover, the straps of my Birkenstocks are fully adjustable. Once I get them properly buckled, I do not have to readjust them. As opposed to the New Balance shoes that I was constantly retying on my walk. Finally, my well broken-in Birkenstocks have formed to the shape of my foot. This means that the footbed has been customized and thus helps prevent blisters.
Maybe I ought rekindle my love with Birkenstock insoles in order to use my New Balance shoes for athletic activities. For now, when it comes to long power walks, I will use my “unathletic” shoes….my Birkenstocks! I would much rather do "The Birkenstock Shake” throughout a walk then come home with aching joints and a blister. It is safe to say that I love Birkenstocks…for long uphill walks.
What is your shoe of choice for long walks? Send me a message and let me know your thoughts.