An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another shoe search ensues...

Jason Robillard recently did a post on the Barefoot Running University railing against the common shoe fitting process in most running stores. In that, Jason talks of going to several different stores, and getting varied "diagnoses", all using the same tests.

My wife's issues with her running shoes, which were the final straw in pulling out of the Chicago Half Marathon last weekend, are a personal highlight in the same vein. I do feel that the store really did a dis-service this time. I stayed out of it, and wish I hadn't.

I won't mention the name of the store, but they used similar tests as what is described in Jason's post, done visually. What she ended up with was the Saucony ProGrid Omni, a motion control shoe (the first she's ever had) with a Superfeet insole. Her issues now? She feels like the shoes are forcing her to the outside of her feet, and she's getting blisters on the outer edge of her foot (midway up the 5th metatarsal).

I took the insoles out of the shoes, just to see where they're compressing... Sure enough, the ball of her foot compresses an area about 1/3 of the way across the forefoot area, and the head of the 5th metatarsal is leaned more than half-way off the outer edge. You can even see it in the shoe itself -- the upper in the forefoot is leaned way over toward the outside. I mentioned that she may need to go to a wide shoe, to which she responded that she doesn't have a wide foot. That may be true when measured on a Brannick device, but they may be functionally wide.

Why is this significant? Because the combination of a curved last shoe and the extra arch of the insole, plus the motion control, are forcing her foot to point outward relative to the forefoot of the shoe, and it's riding the edge of the shoe (and insole) because of it.

I remember back when I first started distance running in the late '70s, and the Nike Daybreak was my shoe of choice. The best feature of those shoes? A straight last. I've had a few others like that over the years, and they've always been the most comfortable. Problem is, they're hard to find. And I think that is why the Merrell Trail Glove and the Altra Instinct are the shoes I find most comfortable -- it's not so much the zero drop (which I like), but the straight last. The Altra's are often described as being triangular in shape. I think this may be the heart of the matter I had with the Saucony Kinvaras.

So we'll be on a hunt for running shoes for my wife. Again. She's not ready to go zero drop, so that could make finding a straight lasted shoe more difficult.

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