How Do You Know?

Finding the right running shoes is a pain in the ass. Or rather, a pain in the feet!

When I started running (it’ll be two years in April) I tried a number of brands. I started with Nike because that has always been my sports shoe of choice. Um. NO. I was in such pain after my very first run. I tried Reebok. Hated them. I tried New Balance and they felt weird on my feet.

Finally, at Ann’s recommendation, I went with Asics. They seemed to work pretty well. I had aches and pains that seemed normal, considering that I was overweight, out of shape, and old! As time went on I was noticing that the balls of my feet were consistently achy when I’d get home from my run. I was fine during the run segments of my training, but the walking segments, the balls of my feet (the left, outside) were sore. It felt like the tendon in my foot was rolling over the bone with each step. Strange sensation, actually. When I’d get home and take my shoes off to stretch I’d find that it was painful to walk barefoot on my hardwood floors. That same sensation of the tendon rolling over the bone with each step.

So I decided I needed to try a different type of shoe.

I went down to the sporting goods store and talked to the guy in the running shoe section and he was very helpful. I settled on a pair of Brooks. They had a lot more cushion in the ball of the foot and were a little wider in that area than my Asics. They really helped with the ball pain. After the first week I was having no more pain in my balls.


Oh my god, my ankles! More specifically the achilles tendon. It has been tight and stiff since I switched shoes. But my balls! They’re feeling so good! So I stretch more. That helps with the tightness in my ankles because having no more pain in the ball of my foot was worth the extra stretching.


I ran my 10K. Granted, it was the furthest I had ever run in one stretch, but I had major pain in my ankle area. Not just tight ankles that needed a good yoga session, but a sharp, stabbing pain. With every step I’d take it was like a knife was being jabbed into my ankle. Not in the joint. Not in the achilles. But just above my inner ankle bone. I took the week following the race off all exercise and spent that time stretching every chance I got. After taking that week off I went for a short run (two miles) in my Brooks. The ankle pain from my races was gone by then, but the tightness in my achilles after my run was so irritating.

I have put a lot of miles on my shoes so I went to get a new pair. I weighed out the pros and cons of ball pain versus ankle tightness and decided to go back to the Asics. WELL, apparently I had forgotten exactly what the ball pain was like. My maiden voyage in my Asics was 2.75 miles and the run was great. My ankles were not hurting at all and I was so happy. Then I stopped running and began walking for my cool-down. Holy shit, folks! The ball of my foot was hurting so badly I thought I might have to call Mark to come and pick me up. I could curl my toes up as I walked to take the pressure off the ball of my foot enough to walk with no pain, so I did that for a bit. Well, hells bells, I could feel blisters forming on my toes because toes aren’t meant to be walked on! So now I have a brand new expensive pair of volleyball shoes because I won’t be running in them again.

With my normal every day shoes, they wear on the outside, so  know that I walk weird to begin with, which I’m sure is why the outside edge of my foot is where it hurts with the Asics. The Brooks, with the wider base than the Asics, helps overcome that gait.

So. What do I do? I really have no clue. I can deal with the stiff ankles and just stretch more. I don’t think I can deal with the ball pain. I’m not sure what my other options are. I have a 5k in a week and will wear my Brooks until I figure out another option. All I know is that I need that wide base like the Brooks has, but I don’t know what part of the shoe it is with the Brooks that makes my ankles hurt.

HELP! The suggestion box is now open!

9 thoughts on “How Do You Know?

  1. I’ll echo what Ange and Beth said about getting fit for a running shoe. I went to the local running store here, and ran on a treadmill while they took a video of my gate. It was very enlightening. I made a switch from Adidas to Mizunos. My feet and legs are much happier.

  2. I’m NOT a runner, so grain of salt and all that.

    But, I’m with Ange in that you should find a running shop and get personally fitted. Hadn’t thought of taking in the old shoes, but that’s a great suggestion! A quick google led me to this site: that has some stores listed in their links section. I also found this one: If none of them are closer to you than StL, then it’s time for a visit to the city! 🙂

    • Thanks, Beth. I’ll look at those links. It’s definitely time for a trip to the city (docochi). I think I’ve been in the city more times in the last month. I’m becoming quite familiar with the downtown stl area. 🙂

  3. If you’re noticing it in your Achilles, it could be because the heel drop on the Brooks is less than in the Asics, I definitely feel it in my calves some days with my Newtons since they only have a 2mm heel drop, so Vibrams might be a bad idea. I know they’re the “cool” thing right now, but they don’t work for everyone, especially if you require cushioning, since Vibram’s don’t have any. Newtons have cushioning but a very small heel drop.
    Do you have a running store, instead of a sports store nearby? If you do, bring in your old shoes and they can look at how they wear and look at your stride and recommend shoes based upon that.

    • Ann was saying that about the heel drop of the Brooks, which is why she can’t wear them. There are no running stores here, but it seems like there’s got to be one or two in the city (St. L). Ann might know.

      • I HIGHLY recommend getting shoes fit next time you’re in the city (if you can). You’ll probably be surprised by what they put you in – definitely try a bunch of different brands and try running in the store with them. I’m a Newton’s/Asics girl for running, Nike/Asics/Reebok girl for cross-training, so it totally varies. Jason is Saucony and HATES Asics, my aunt love Mizunos, etc etc. It’s so varied for everyone.
        Bonus, once you know, you can buy the shoes online for cheaper 🙂

  4. Have you thought about trying Vibrams or another minimalist running shoe? I have wide, flat feet and walk on the outsides of my feet. I LOVE my Vibrams! You have to learn to strike the middle of your foot when you run but it becomes natural pretty quickly. Just a thought. Good luck finding a shoe that works for you!

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