I don’t really believe in magic. Not when it comes to running, and certainly not when it comes to running shoes. But so far, after more than three weeks of road-testing, I do believe in Somnios.
First off, let me make it clear that I’m no shoe authority. Heel, arch, toebox, midsole – I can point out where those things are on a sneaker. Put me in one and ask me how it feels, though, and I struggle to answer. “Good? I dunno. OK ... I guess?” What am I supposed to say? I mean, it feels like a shoe! I can determine whether it's too big or too small. Beyond that, I’m at a loss.
All I can tell you is this: Pre-Somnio, I was experiencing nagging IT band pain and battling an increasingly sore left calf. The first time I ran in them, none of those issues flared up. The second time, nothing. The third, zip. In fact, after more than 100 miles in the Somnio Exact Change stability shoe ($140), I’ve experienced pain a total of zero times.
And to be honest, I was pretty skeptical when I first heard from Somnio rep Chris Phillips. Using a combination of footbeds, wedges and cushioning inserts that I can’t even begin to understand, these are in exactly the category of shoe condemned by author Christopher McDougall in his bestseller “Born to Run,” which I finished a few days before my fitting at Run For Your Life in Dilworth. (The book was so convincing, I had been THIS close to buying a pair of Vibram FiveFingers in late December.)
When I asked him how I ended up with what I did, he said (deep breath): "You are in our stability shoe with slightly more varus on one side, because you have a different gait pattern right to left. We are able to put you in two totally different shoes to fit each foot. You showed more pronation on one side. The '+++' footbeds give you the maximum amount of arch support for your arch height. The orange durometer in your heel was our way of softening the heel to allow you to control your pronation by making you stiffer in that forefoot and softer in the heel -- based on the way you looked on the RFYL video analysis -- to put you in a more neutral position."
If it sounds complicated, well, it is. So complicated that Run For Your Life last year sent employees from its Dilworth and University locations -- the only two stores in the Charlotte area that are carrying Somnio right now -- to the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Colorado to be trained on this unique fitting process. (FYI: Vac & Dash in Albemarle also is an authorized retailer.)