5 mile test: Encore Breeze & Waterpro Sable

Encore Breeze

I managed to get in two 5+ mile walks this weekend, despite abysmal weather on Saturday. First up was an after-work walk on Friday. Usually by the time Friday rolls around, unless I have plans, I'm so tired I just want to go home after work and veg out. But the weather just was too nice to do that, so I headed down to the mall and took a route around the Tidal Basin, down the national mall, and to Union Station.

I was wearing my Merrell Encore Breezes, and very curious about whether I could remotely approach five miles in these. They're my go-to shoes when my feet are sore from walking in other shoes, but they fit, well, like clogs, and I don't know that walking long distances with your foot rattling around in your shoe is a good idea.

It was an interesting walk. I started out at about a 17:30 per mile pace, which is usually way too fast for me to continue comfortably with my foot, but that was the pace I felt comfortable walking at. They felt great for about the first mile and a half, and then my left foot, which is my good foot, started getting oddly sore in places. At about two miles, both feet were sore, but then they didn't get any worse the rest of the walk, and I didn't have any trouble hitting just over five miles. And strangely, I finished at about a 18:30 per mile pace, which considering stops for traffic lights and taking pictures of my foot in front of the Washington Monument, was pretty good.

Waterpro Sable

I did another post-brunch walk on Sunday in what are probably my favorite walking shoes, the Merrell Waterpro Sables. Because I thought I'd charged my cell phone overnight, but in fact, hadn't, my phone was down to about nil battery power, and I had to keep it turned off. This meant no RunKeeper to track my distance, and no music to listen to.

So I set off for a quite boring walk, sticking to a route I knew, from yummy brunch spot Nage, which is north of Farragut North, down to the mall, back around the Tidal Basin, down the mall, and to Union Station. I knew the core of the walk was about five miles, but what I didn't realize was that with the extra walking down to the mall, I actually ended up walking about SEVEN miles (which I calculated with Google Maps Pedometer when I got home).

I had a little stiffness in my bad foot arch left over from the Friday walk, and an odd little pain in my heel that seemed to be sock-related, although I couldn't find anything when I stopped and did a sock investigation. But aside from that, the Waterpro Sables felt great the entire walk — it was more my post-bottomless bloody mary and mimosas self that was dragging, and even with that, it looks like I did about a 17:30 pace. They have a Vibram athletic tread, and the extra shock absorption makes a difference. I've also noticed that I don't feel so shin splinty when I wear shoes that have more freedom around the ankles like these do.

I'm not sure that the Waterpro Sables are meant for this much walking, but this is the farthest I've walked since I had the foot problem, so I'm quite excited. What they're really meant for, as the name suggests, is as a water shoe. I'm hoping to use them for that purpose on my upcoming trip to Greece — they seem like just the thing for pebble beaches AND lots of walking. Although Merrell doesn't make them anymore (added bonus — I got mine on clearance), the Waterpro Crystals look nearly identical.

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