An Evolution of My Shoes

Reebok Transition 2.0

When you’re working out 4+ times per week, shoes get to be pretty important. I’m pretty picky about shoes and knowing a lot more about biomechanics of the lower extremities it’s a hard subject not to totally geek out about for me! I started my CrossFit journey out in a pair of Reebok Realflex Transition 2.0’s. I liked the look and they were pretty much a basic crosstraining type of shoe with a nice, squishy sole.

I was surprised when I was sizing them at the shoe store because I am a 9.5-10 in most shoes and these were snug at 10.5! But, sizing is meaningless so no big deal. I wore these for the first 2-3 months of CrossFit and overall I liked them. They broke in pretty quickly and I found them to have good durability, very comfy and with a lot of SQUISH, which is not necessarily the best thing (read on). The tongue of one of my pairs (I bought two because I got a killer sale deal on them) started to rip at the seam where the thread came loose, but they’ve been fine without repair and that pair is my around-town/beater pair now.

A lot of people rave about Inov-8 shoes in the CrossFit community and a few months ago I got a good sale on a pair of F-Lite 230’s on TheClymb.com. They regularly carry sales on Inov-8 and other “minimalist” shoes and they have awesome sales on outdoor stuff in general (it is a “referral” site so if you order something if you’d use my referral link I get a little kickback and would appreciate it! Here it is: http://www.theclymb.com/invite-from/SteveAgocs). Anyway, the 230’s are CRAZY light, have less drop (i.e. the heel is only a few millimeters higher than the toes, which has a lot to do with biomechanics and etc), a much thinner sole and therefore, a much firmer and less squishy feel.

I found the Inov-8’s to have a weird fit at first but they broke in pretty quickly. I bought a size 10 and that seemed right. I liked the firmer sole for all lifting, which is important because a thick, squishy sole is like working out on stability pads and it destabilizes you as well as making your leg muscles work harder. Anyway, the Inov-8’s seemed on the narrow side, although they aren’t super structured in the upper, so there is room for your toes to spread out after a few breaking in WOD’s. I also noticed that the toebox is kind of pointy at the end, with some extra material at the tip that wants to catch on box jumps, lunges, Turkish Get-Ups, etc. I am not the only person I’ve talked to who felt like they fit similarly for them, too.

Inov-8 F-Lite 230

Inov-8 F-Lite 2.0

That being said, I really liked these shoes despite the few shortcomings. We did a 1/2 Murph on Memorial Day a while back and I switched back to the Reebok Transitions because of the running and they were SO much more squishy. Felt good on the runs, but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND something more like the firmer and more minimal sole of the Inov-8’s for all the lifting and stuff in CrossFit.

I’ve really been wanting Reebok Nano 2.0’s since I started CrossFit and finally found some on sale in the Earth/Khaki digital camouflage version, which is probably being discontinued because I found it for around $80-$90 on several sites. Being a cheapskate I can’t pass up a deal even if those aren’t my ideal colors/look! LOL

Being that my other Reeboks were 10.5’s and I know the Nano 2.0’s were wider in the toebox, I ordered 10’s and they were HUGE for me. I went down to 9.5 and they were great. So much for sizing standards, even within the same company!

Reebok Nano 2.0 in Earth/Khaki DigiCam

Like the Inov-8’s they have a more neutral drop (but not neutral/zero drop by any stretch) than a regular running shoe, they are light and the sole is firmer, thinner rubber. Unlike the Inov-8’s they have a wide toe box and lacked the “point” at the end that annoyed me on my Inov-8’s. I’ve only worn the Nano 2.0’s on one WOD (my wife has two pairs and loves hers, including one customized pair. Sigh) and I loved them. My only complaint was on some planks we did during the warmups, my Nano’s didn’t have a great grip on the rubber flooring in the box. The Inov-8’s are basically glued to the floor, but the Nano’s had noticeable slide. I’m guessing this will go away as whatever release agent they use in their molds wears off and/or the rubber breaks in a little, but it could just be the compound they use in the sole, too, which would be a bummer because you don’t want to be slipping around when you’re doing planks and such. I’ll report in after some more use to see if this problem goes away.

Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0

Overall, I think the Nano’s are going to be my keepers. I have seen photos of the new 3.0’s and I think they look horrendous, so I hope they keep making 2.0’s for a while because I like them so much.

 

4 thoughts on “An Evolution of My Shoes

  1. Just wanted to say thanks for the blog. As another “big guy” who just started Crossfit, your posts have helped me stay motivated. I’m about a month in, and while I wish I could say it’s getting easier, as you know, it’s not! LOL

    I’m also glad you posted about the shoe situation. I have an extremely large and very wide foot (size 13, 3E or 4E width) and generally only find my size in a New Balance shoe, most of which have HUGE soles in the back with tons of cushion. Probably for mall walking. I feel like I’m doing my lifts while standing on a foam mattress!

    I’ve tried searching for wide width shoes online through Zappos and various sources, but everything I find that would fit me has these huge overly-cushioned soles. It’s extremely frustrating.

    With your knowledge of biomechanics, what is your opinion of the ol’ standard Chuck Taylors (Converse All-Stars)? I have been able to find my size in these, and wear them occasionally for “fashion”, but they make the arch of my feet hurt if I walk too far in them. It feels like I’m stretching an imaginary tendon over a bone in the arch of my feet every step I take (perhaps I am!) If I wear them short periods, they don’t bother me.

    Thanks for listening, and keep up the blog. It’s helps us other fat guys know we aren’t alone in all those Crossfit boxes out there!

    • Look Alive, sorry I missed this! I have been a lazy blogger the last couple months! I think trying to do CrossFit in traditional running shoes is a nightmare. Just WAY too squishy. There are a few things that happen with squishy shoes (which do have their place, but not in CrossFit, in my opinion):

      1) You lose an important connection between the floor and your nervous system. I don’t want to get into neuro geek stuff, but check out Emily Splichal’s Evidence Based Fitness Academy (some free webinars and things there) and you’ll pretty quickly see that having less squish between the foot and the ground is important for generating power and proprioception (body’s sense of where it is in space).

      2) A harder sole = more power. There is a reason weightlifting shoes have soles made from wood. The difference is dramatic.

      That being said, we ciccio’s cannot get away with doing CrossFit barefoot or in too minimal of a shoe or we’ll be in the hospital before long! LOL I really like the Reebok Nano 2.0’s for their width in the toe-box, a bit of rise in the heel (but not too much like a traditional running shoe) and the feel of the sole, which has cushion, but not too much cushion.

      If those fit you too narrow I’d suggest trying Altra Instincts. These suckers run so wide you won’t believe it. I wear a 9.5 Nano and 10.5 in the Altra, so they run somewhere between 0.5-1 sizes small. They have “zero drop” which means the ball of the foot and the heel are on the same plane. This can be a tough transition for runners, but may not be bad at all with CrossFit. I haven’t worn my Altra’s for CrossFit yet, but I think they’d be good for everything except rope climbs because they don’t have a lot of structure and would get torn up on those. The Clymb was blowing out Instincts for $45 recently, so that may be worth seeing if they have any more in stock.

  2. I’m wearing inov8s for everything, but I agree with you about the pointier toeboxes – the place I really notice it is when I attempt double unders – I can only get one at a time and the second one ALWAYS catches at the toe of the shoe! I might be wrong, but I’m secretly convinced that a squarer toe would let me get two double unders in a row.

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