2017 – A Weird Year in Running Shoes

I can’t quite wrap my head around my running or running shoes this year. It has been one of surprises, too many ups and downs, not really running the way that I expected and trying far too many different running shoes over the course of the year.

Just some of the shoes that I have run in this year.

Oh, I know without a doubt that I have no brand loyalty, am a sucker for a great running shoe sale and am fickle as hell when it comes to running shoes, but this year has been the worst one yet. Even back when I was reviewing shoes as a regular part of my blogging I did not go through this many shoes in a year.

Over 20 at last count and no I really do not want to publish the exact number, TheWife is already unhappy enough with “her” husband’s “problem”.

A Little Background

According to my best guess and what the “experts” keep saying when they fit me, the length of my foot is somewhere between a 7.5 and 8.0 U.S, but in reality I have never been able to wear too many running shoes in that size range without a lot of discomfort.

When I complain about how uncomfortable those shoes are for me, the “experts”, just scratch their heads, wondering why I complain so much about how the shoes feel too damn uncomfortable, when they should be fitting just fine based on their measurements.

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Then again back in 2013, an ortho surgeon diagnosed my right foot as having a Tailor’s Bunionette and offered to surgically repair it, but I declined and since it wasn’t really that big a deal. Well really, it is not, but having this damn Tailor’s Bunionette continues to plague me to this day, when it comes to running comfortably in shoes that “should” fit me.

Even when I tell the shoe experts about that diagnosis, it doesn’t seem to make any difference in how they attempt to fit a running shoe to my feet. After measuring my feet, watching me walk or job a little bit, they still bring out the 7.5 to 8.0’s for me wear.

Silly salespeople.

By the time we usually get done finding a shoe that almost fits comfortably around that Tailor’s Bunionette, I usually have to wear at least an 8.5 and more often than not a 9.0 or 9.5 regular width shoe just to get the shoes to feel decent on my right foot. Then I have that extra inch or more at the end of the toebox, which I believe has an effect on other kinetic chain issues in my feet and legs, since the shoes do not really fit correctly, err they are too long.

Finally, after getting tired of running in shoes that were too long and not really comfortable, despite my best efforts to fool myself into hoping/believing that they would get better after I finally got them broke in. I decided to do a lot more research on what people who had issues with a Tailor’s Bunionette did for shoes. I learned a lot, but the biggest thing was when I read one article stating that many/most people with this condition often have to wear “wide” shoes.

That “eureka” moment, where things suddenly made perfect sense and I had a lot better idea of why no running shoes in “my size” fit the way that they should.

Yeah, I am so smart sometimes, it only took me about four years to figure it out.

Really smaht, ey.

Enough whine arsing about how things. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the post.

Running Shoes – So Far

So what running shoes did I use in 2017:

The dates by the shoes are the date of the first run in those shoes

It started out with me running primarily in Puma’s, yeah Puma’s. The prices were phenomenally cheap ($33.95 to $49.95 on Amazon) and I went overboard in getting too many pair, before I found out that they were not the answer. That damned shoe hoarder in me wanted to ensure that I had enough to get through the year at those prices.

12/25/16 – Puma Ignite Powercool (2 pair) – loved the feel, but hated the fit.

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12/25/16 – Puma Ignite Speed 300 (2 pair) – fast as hell shoes, but the narrowness of the toe box really, really was bothering my right foot and contributed to some serious soreness before I stopped running in them in February.

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1/4/17 – Puma Ignite Speed 600 – probably my favorite Puma running shoes, without any doubt.

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I ran well in them and I brought them out of the back of the garage a couple of times after moving on from my Puma fling to see if I could get them just a tad wider by stretching them out or my last effort was to cut away the side of the upper to let my bunionette have a little more room. It didn’t work and I sadly let them go. I have a feeling that if Puma ever came out with a EE-width version of this shoe, I would snap it up.

To be honest I really, really liked the Puma Speed series of running shoes but they had a huge problem, the toe box was just a little, well a lot too narrow in most of their models for my right foot and in February – I moved on to other shoes. I got tired of being in “suck it up buttercup” mode just to run in them.

11/10/16 – Next up I brought the Adidas Adios 3’s out of retirement, but they are not really a daily trainer. Even so on some runs I absolutely loved them and others I despised them. The bad runs began to out number the good ones and finally in September, when I realized that they were never going to really work for me – I gave up on them. No matter how much I wanted them to work they just were not. Damn nice shoe, but my right foot just couldn’t wear them more than 2-3 miles before it started complaining.

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2/7/17 – I did order a pair of Saucony Triumph ISO 2’s and got one 5k run in on the treadmill and quickly figuring out that they were just too small, even if I loved the way they felt on my feet.

12/25/17 & 9/27/16 – In mid February it was time to go back to the Mizuno Kazan 2’s, I had run decently in a pair of size 9.0’s during the fall of 2016, but when the snows came and they sucked in the snow, I retired them to the back of the garage, since they were worse than my road shoes in it. Plus I had gotten another pair of size 8.5’s for Christmas

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The tread pattern just clumped snow and they didn’t feel right or comfortable to run in, so they both went away after running in them both a few more times.

By mid February nothing was working and then I got the bright idea that I really needed to some research online and figured out that I had Hobbit feet (short and wide) and that instead of going with the “normal” D-width styles, that I needed to try out EE-width shoes.

However, I also found out that the offerings for wide shoes is considerably more limited than d-width and also that different brands have different ideas on what is considered a wide shoe and that there is no real standard, anymore than there is for shoe lengths.

2/18/17 – My first foray into the world of EE-width shoes was the New Balance 860 2E’s. It was a novel feeling to be able to run without discomfort or pain in my right foot for any distance.

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They were the Disney edition and heavier than I was used to, so I would alternate in the Adidas Adios 3’s for speedwork sessions. It was then that I realized how much of a difference being able to run pain-free felt.

2/27/17 – Then  found another pair of NB 860’s v5’s at the factory outlet for a crazy great price and alternated them into my rotation.

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3/15/17 – I was enjoying running pain-free for the first time in a long time. Enough that I ordered the New Balance Vazee Rush for faster runs – the size 8.0 in EE fit perfectly and felt good running in them.

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I had solidly gotten into running into New Balance brand of running shoes. They were not my first experiences with New Balance shoes, especially living in Maine where there is a factory and outlet stores fairly close by.

Unfortunately, as much as my right foot was enjoying the pain-free experience with the EE-width shoes, my old nemesis with New Balance shoes reared its ugly head.

  • Plantar Faciitis

I am not sure why or how it happens, but after running in New Balance running shoes for a while, that nasty little issue starts to raise its ugly head and goes from being a niggle (because I am too damned stoopid to stop running in the shoes that cause it), to being a show stopper.

However, the Plantar Faciitis problem just wouldn’t go away and as much as I was liking everything else about my NB running shoes, when walking started to be painful, it was time to look elsewhere.

4/7/17 – The elsewhere turned out to be the Saucony Guide 9 in size 8.0 EE.

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Initially, I thought the Guide 9’s were a part of the solution and while they didn’t bother my PF, they were an example of one brand’s idea of an EE-width not being the same as what I expected or needed. I liked the shoe, but they were too damn narrow in the toe box, which bothered my right foot too much and went away in May.

4/17/17 – I even took a chance on a pair of 880 v2’s that I found on the final discount rack at the factory store in Oxford – they sucked and I did one or two runs in them before they just went away.

I went back and tried my New Balance shoes a few more times later on, but with each of them, I could feel that familiar pulling on the PF after a run or two and finally just got rid of all but the Disney 860’s. They are still out in back of the garage and I don’t know why I am hanging on to them, but for some reason I can’t get rid of them quite yet.

4/28/17 – Next up was the Nike Vomero 11 in a size 8.0 EE. I love, loved, loved the shoe, it ran well for a heavier shoe, was comfortable as all get out and unfortunately, it had the same issue as the Guide 9’s – the toe box pressed in too much on my right foot. I ran in the V11’s through most of May and finally just gave up on them. They just bothered my right foot too much.

I was getting tired of running in suck it up mode after finding out with the New Balance shoes that I didn’t have to.

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I did my due diligence and researched what my next pair of running shoes should be. However, TheWife was starting to get a little WTFO about the number of running shoes I was going through, so cost was also another consideration during this figuring out what worked process – the cheaper shoes went over easier at home.

6/5/17 – Yeah, the broken record – another new pair of running shoes. I liked Hoka and had 3 pair of the Clifton 1’s, but stopped running in them, because the toe box just beat me up too much (sounds familiar right). However, all the reviews said that the Infinite was the “wide” Hoka and I was getting desperate to find a pair of running shoes that I could run in comfortable for both feet.

I ordered the Hoka Infinite’s they were under $50 and a great deal. However, when I started running in them, almost immediately I “knew” they were just a tad too narrow, but they were not as obnoxious as the Guide 9’s or Vomero 11’s, so I kept running in the Infinite’s, but I knew they were not the answer that I was looking for.

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I also found a pair of Hoka Challenger ATR’s (6/7/17) for real cheap on eBay ($15.00) and ran in them a couple of times – too narrow and they went away too.

7/1/17 – After a LOT research and stuff, I decided to go with the Mizuno Wave Rider 20’s in a 8.0 EE.

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I have a love/hate relationship with Mizuno shoes. The higher drop that most Mizuno shoes have don’t bother my Achilles (which have always been an issue), but the higher drop does something with my knees and usually between 100 to 200 miles, my right knee starts to bother, which is my sign that the shoes are no longer working for me – not sure why it happens that way – but it just does.

The WR 20’s came in a EE-width and all the reviewers seemed to rave about how great they were. Plus everything I read seemed to indicate that the ee-width was similar to New Balance’s ee-width shoes, so I took a chance. They fit perfectly and I ran in them for a couple of weeks and was starting to increase my mileage again, when I went out for a long run. At about 5.0 miles my left ankle began to kill and I made it to 10K and shut it down.

What to hell.

I ran in them for almost a month and a half and every time I would get around the 5.0 mile mark that left ankle (posterior tibalis – probably) would bother to the point where I had to shut it down. Not what I was looking for to say the least. I still have them and wear them for my walking shoes or emergency running shoes for short runs.

8/12/17 – Bennie tried to be helpful for my 60th birthday and got me a pair of Brooks Ghost 10’s. Brooks and I go back to the 70’s, but to be honest, I can’t say that recently I have had a lot of luck in their running shoes.

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However, the Brooks Ghost has always been one of those shoes that was always the “next” choice, but never the first choice. So I convinced Bennie to make it the choice this time.

Unfortunately, they didn’t work worth a damn for me, they have a rounded heel counter and it caused a blister on my right Achilles so bad that I couldn’t even wear the shoes, much less run in them after the second time I ran in then.

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I did like the feel and fit other than the blister issue on my heel and since I couldn’t return them after running down-back in them, I attempted some shoe surgery. Unfortunately, there was a lip  of material in the heel area that just bothered my foot too much and the Ghost 10’s went away after 3 runs – too bad because I did like them, but when a shoe blisters me like that I don’t have a lot of confidence in them not doing it again and they go away.

Luckily I was able to wear the Hoka Infinite without them bothering my blistered up right Achilles, but they definitely were too narrow in the right foot even when I walked in them and would eventually go away.

8/19/17 – I still hadn’t found any shoes that really worked for me this year and I settled for a pair of Under Armour Bandit 3’s on a whim. They fit well, no blisters, were light at 8.6 oz and I could run long in them without my left ankle bothering. Of all the shoes I ran in during this year these were the most surprising ones.

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Unfortunately, they felt so good that I used them for everything…walking, running long, running fast, running slow (which ended up not being slow enough) and running too fast, too much, too soon with Bennie urging me on.

Then on a run Bennie pulled left and I continued to attempt to run straight while flying along down on the flats (I was attempting to break my segment record) and did something to my right hip. At first it wasn’t anything serious, but when I went out and did a nice 7.0 miler on it in, without letting things calm down – well it was stoopid me.

The Bandit 3’s were too comfortable and I had done too much, too soon in a light-weight trainer, with my old body and it had broken down – again.

I haven’t given up on the Bandit 3’s, but I also know that I need to have a running shoe rotation, not just a single pair of running shoes that I go out and do everything in. They really are not enough shoe for recovery running and I am too tempted run faster than I am supposed to, too often, when I am wearing them.

9/24/17 – I liked the Bandit 3’s enough that I got the Under Armour Speedtire Ascent’s as my trail and crappy winter weather running shoes. They also double as my hiking shoes and have worked quite well.

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However, I don’t think that I would want to do any real long running in them, but up to 10K they would be fine and I don’t see me doing much longer trail runs than that anyway.

10/4/17 – Hoka Arahi 8.0 D – I accidentally somehow ordered the wrong size or at least that is the size I got in the mail. I tried them on once packaged the box back up and shipped them back – too damn small.

10/6/17 – Hoka Bondi 5 8.5 D – Not the Hoka I expected and it was kind of nice not needing the EE-width. Yeah the color choice was a lot better – so sue me I am a little vain.

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They are a heavier shoe than the 10.0 advertised, but they felt better than any of the 6 shoes that I actually tried on. The weight is really not all that bad, especially, since I plan to use them as my recovery runners and my primary running shoes until this hip flare-up goes away.

Looking back

I learned a lot about running shoes this year.

  1. I have Hobbit feet and need wider shoes than most runners.
  2. Going up in size is not always the best answer, flex points designed in your shoes need to match where your feet are supposed to flex.
  3. Not all EE-width shoes are going to fit the same, anymore than standard width shoes are going to fit the same from different brands, hell let’s be real between different styles within a brand. My experience was that Saucony and Nike EE-width shoes are still too narrow for me.
  4. That most brands make their EE-width shoes in boring colorways. Not that that should matter, but I like those bright neon colorways and boring shoes are such a turn-off. Yeah I know, but that is just the way I am.
  5. Running shoes get pretty damned expensive after buying 20 plus pair and TheWife called me on it.
  6. Just because there is a helluva deal on a pair of running shoes, doesn’t mean that I need to order them, plus a couple of extra pair only to find out that they do not work the way that I anticipated and then get stuck with too many pair that don’t work.
  7. Yeah, I have had too damn many running shoes this year and there are still 2 1/2 months left.

Scary isn’t it.

This doesn’t include the Adidas Tempo 8’s, Adidas Sonics and other shoes that I ordered, got home and immediately put back in the shipping box, because they were too small or didn’t fit the way that I wanted.

I have learned that unless I can actually try on a pair of running shoes first that I probably should not order them for the first time online. There were too many times that I ordered running shoes, that if I had tried them on before ordering them that I definitely would not have gotten them.

It just means that I am going to have to spend the extra time and money drive to Bangor, Brunswick or Portland to actually try on running shoes instead of wasting, yes wasting, so much money online for shoes that might seem to be cheaper at first, but never seem to fit correctly.

That is as long as the stores carry EE-width versions of shoes that I want to try.

Sort of like going back to the old way of doing things – you know try the running shoes on before you buy them.

Well I still have a couple of months left in the year, I wonder how many more pair of running shoes I will go through?

It would be nice if I could get a nice 3 shoe rotation of:

  • Hoka Bondi 5
  • Under Armour Bandit 3
  • Newton Kismet 2 – yes, I couldn’t resist one last splurge at an irresistible price point.

hehehehe Horrible aren’t I.

  • with Under Armour Speed Tire Ascent for nasty weather winter and trail running and as my hiking shoes

Yeah, I have a running shoe problem, but at least I admit it, but TheWife wants me to do something about it this time.

4 thoughts on “2017 – A Weird Year in Running Shoes

    • Yeah, the right foot is a pain in the butt, but finding a pair of running shoes that fit both feet and let me run w/o discomfort has been an adventure to say the least. At some point, I will probably run in a EE New Balance shoe on foot and a Nike Vomero or Saucony Triumph ISO or similar NB shoe in d-width on the left and see how it goes. Now to just get by those super running shoe deals on Amazon and elsewhere, so I am not tempted to spend my money foolishly on shoes that more than likely will not work for me…well let’s they might, so it might be worth it. Yeah, the problem is real, but at times I am my own worst enemy. 😉

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