An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Forefoot width -- a surprise

I had a bit of a shock last night.

I don't have a wide foot. Either one of them.

Gordo on the Born to Run forum posted this chart on standard shoe widths for mens' shoes. According to the chart, a standard D width mens' shoe is made to 4.1" in width at the forefoot. So being the total shoe nerd I am, I decided to lay out the measuring tape and step on it. I measured both feet, in socks. And then I measured again. And again.

The largest I got was 4". Even. Not even the 4.1" that's considered "normal", medium, D width.

So why does it feel like my shoes are too narrow? Why am I leaving the last two (or more) lace eyelets loose? Why did my last shoe purchase (dress shoes) need to be EEE width to feel comfortable? Why are the most comfortable daily-wear shoes I have a pair of Nevados boat shoes that look like duck feet?

I can't say it's that my foot splays out, because I measured my foot under load.

I can't say that all the shoes I've ever worn are just made narrow.

I seem to have very long toes. Maybe that's the issue.

The only thing I can come up with is that the shoes, while "wide enough", are just the wrong shape. I guess it remains to be seen whether the Merrell Barefoot line, the NB Minimus line, or the offerings from Altra, will be of the "right" shape for me.

I took a picture of my feet... See for yourself. Do they look wide? I didn't think so either, but how all my shoes were feeling was leading me to believe they were. And to address some questions: The left foot has seen some issues over the years. The second toe overlaps the third as a result of the corrective surgery I had in 2008, addressing the Frieberg's Infraction in that toe. Maybe you can see the long scar over the toe joint... The two red patches over the 4th and 5th toes joints are the result of a swimming incident this past summer, where I kicked something under the water that took two very large "divets" out of my foot. They'll start to look "normal" in about a year...

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