Sunday, March 4, 2012

Running shoe woes

Dilemma of the day is, nap then run  or run then nap.  It's ok to nap before noon, right?

The Brooks Ghost 4's lost their place in my heart this week.
After a month of running in the Ghosts 3-4 times per week, I can say that they felt great while I had them on, but left me in some serious post-run pain.  I 'forgot' I was wearing them, which is the biggest pro for any pair of shoes.  They were comfortable without being squishy, and their arch support wasn't too much for my relatively flat feet.

Stop here if you can't handle even vague grossness.

Unfortunately, I was taking my shoes off after each run to find some pretty gnarly blisters on the third toe of each foot, much worse on the left than the right.  After a few weeks I had blisters on top of blisters covering most of my tow, and my left 3rd toenail was purple and on it's way off.  (You can say it- ew!)  Initially I switched socks thinking they may be the culprit, but that seemed to make no difference.

After a Monday morning 7.5 miler, the blisters were so painful that I spent most of the day limping around before the pain finally dulled down to a tolerable lever.  That was the last straw, and I made a beeline for the local running store after work on Tuesday.

I can't say enough good things about this place, and I'm glad I didn't settle for the first store I went to a few months ago, which had less than stellar service and less than informed staff.  If you are in the Pittsburgh area, I've been incredibly pleased with Elite Runners and Walkers.  As a physical therapy student (and almost full-fledged DPT!), my standards for knowledge of gait analysis and running biomechanics are fairly high.  I haven't been disappointed by the employees here.  They listen closely and are incredibly helpful in offering informed input and suggestions.

All that good stuff said, it really wasn't clear why I was having the blister problem.  I was stumped and was willing and ready to just shell out for new shoes.  With a closer look, the problem stemmed from two likely sources.  First, the thick seam on the Ghost's forefoot hit exactly where I was blistering.  The second possible reason was that my Ghosts were a wide width shoe, and I don't need a wide width.  I don't know if that was a mistake or mixup when I bought them, but I hadn't paid enough attention to the box to notice.  So my foot was shifting around more than it should have been.

I considered switching to the Ghosts in a regular width, since everything else about them was fine, but was weary because of the stitching.  I decided to go with a totally different shoe, and the guys at Elite brought out a half dozen or so to try with the same qualities as the Ghost but with lower profile stitching.  In the end, I walked out with these beauties.
The Mizuno Wave Rider 15's have been good to me thus far.  I have only done two 3-mile runs in them, but so far so good... and no blisters.  They will get their true test this afternoon when I finally get my lazy bum off the couch and head out for my long run.

One more shoutout for Elite.  They traded in my Ghosts for the Wave Rider with a smile (though I had to pay the small price difference, and did so happily).  I told them I had been running in them for "about a month", and their response was something along the lines of "We just want you to be happy running".  Um, sounds good to me!  Truly genuine customer service is hard to come by, and they nailed it.

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