Help me find the perfect running shoe.
May 4, 2012 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Need help finding the perfect running shoe.

Ok, so a few months ago I took up running. In mid-January, I could barely run a minute, and now I can get through at least ten minutes without much difficulty, and I owe it all to the C25K program.

One of the best things I did early on was invest in some good running shoes -- specifically, a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus, which are particularly good for me since I am a) overweight, and b) have a pretty severe under-pronated gait. I really, really love these shoes, as they have been ridiculously comfortable and just good to me overall as I figure out this whole running thing.

The only problem is that a couple of weeks ago I noticed my left big toe has punched through the fabric of the shoe, and the right toe isn't far behind. This shouldn't happen after only 2.5 months of usage, right? As you can see from this picture, there is a small reinforced area on these shoes right above the big toes, but it didn't extend down far enough for my toes.

So anyway, I'm on the hunt for a good pair of running shoes that are designed for underpronators, and have a reinforced area substantial enough to withstand my giant poking toes. Double-super-extra-bonus points if the shoe is sold on Zappos, as I can still return these to Zappos and get a merchant credit to apply to another pair. I've Googled and found lots of articles on places like that talk about the best shoes for underpronators, but all of them seem to have nothing more that the typical breathable mesh over the toe box, so I'm starting to worry that I might just have to suck it up and deal with holey shoes from here on out.

posted by shiu mai baby to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my usage of running shoes, they only last a couple months, regardless of brand.
posted by LeanGreen at 8:12 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your shoes look too small; that's what's causing the toe-poke. There should be a decent amount of room in the toe box of your running shoes, at least enough for you to poke your finger without hitting your toe. This will also prevent bruised/black toenails if you're prone to those. (If you're not, the sort of reinforced toe you're looking for will cause 'em.)

Most people size up from their street shoes; I wear an 8 medium in just about every shoe, but a 9 wide in my running shoes.

The standard advice is to go to a running specialty store and get fitted, and I heartily recommend that, but if there isn't one near you, consider getting the same style a half or full size larger.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:20 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Stop by your local running store, they should be able to point you to a selection of shoes that fit your feet exactly right. Some even have promos where you can take the shoes home and run run in them for a week to see how they feel.

Also, depending on how much you're running, 2.5 months of use is a pretty normal life of a running shoe.
posted by unreasonable at 8:22 AM on May 4, 2012

The other two shoes that are in the super-cushioned, heavy support arena are the Brooks Glycerin and the New Balance 1080. Pretty much all shoes have mesh uppers, that's just the way it is.

If your toe is wearing through the fabric, the shoe might be a bit short -- most of us wear running shoes a half size bigger than regular shoes. It is also the case that heavier folks wear out their shoes more quickly, but 2.5 months is pretty fast depending on how much you run. Most bigger runners get 200-250 miles out of a pair of shoes.

It also happens more to women with pedicures, something about the way the nails are cut. Some folks use a strip of duct tape taped to the top of the shoe from the inside. That will prevent it so long as it doesn't cause blisters. You might also try thicker socks.
posted by Lame_username at 8:22 AM on May 4, 2012

I would also say those shoes are too small. I'd also caution you that buying running shoes without trying them on and jogging a bit in them. This means, mostly, that if you can you should buy your first pair in a specialty store and then you can get subsequent pairs on the internet.

Other people may recommend shoes that felt good to them but they may feel horrible to you. Seriously, there is nothing more worthless than a recommendation for a specific running shoe that you haven't tried on yourself.
posted by OmieWise at 8:26 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ok, I'm confused: if I go for a half-size larger, won't that mean my toe is even farther back away from the toe box and the tiny reinforced area? I was sort of expecting the consensus to be that my shoes now are a tad too large.

Having worn through all of my heretofore non-athletic socks in the big toe region, I am now fully on actual athletic socks. :)

I'm running an average of 4x per week, usually about 3K per session. Mostly on the treadmill, but I am trying to get outside more as well. I've also run two official timed 5Ks in them these shoes, and I've signed up for a couple more 5Ks over the next few months.

The concept of replacing my shoes every few months fills me with equal parts glee, because yay, new shoes!, and dread, because as y'all know, these shoes are not at all cheap.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:48 AM on May 4, 2012

if I go for a half-size larger, won't that mean my toe is even farther back away from the toe box and the tiny reinforced area?

Yep. That's the point. The toe box will be roomier all around (on top as well as in the front and on the sides), and your toe will be able to move freely without hitting the top of the shoe. If you're running and your toe hits a tough surface (i.e. the tip of the shoe) repeatedly, you'll end up with bonky hurt toes.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:56 AM on May 4, 2012

I like Asics, they're my default running shoe for when I don't want to reconsider what running shoe to buy. They last me about six months until I get little tendinitis-y aches, and then I know to switch up. I have never had a pair do what that pair did, though. I think your sneaks are too small!

If I were you I'd go up a half or whole size and try again--really, they're decently made shoes in my experience, and as I said, I like them because they're the brand I don't really have to think about.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:02 AM on May 4, 2012

Finding a shoe that works for you is a good thing, and it's doubly hard if you're a heavier runner like you or me. So I'm Nthing the people who say to stick with the Nimbus but go a half size bigger.

Going forward, talk to people at races and at shoe stores and read shoe reviews and go to the Runner's World shoe forums and read about shoes. You'll learn a lot about different shoes and what their characteristics are and this will give you the tools to select a shoe that maybe even works better for you. But right now, if the shoe choice ain't broke, don't fix it!
posted by ftm at 9:05 AM on May 4, 2012

Ditto to everyone that said you need a 1/2 or full size larger in your running shoe. It makes a huge difference. Also, depending on how much you run - you should be replacing your shoes more often than you would guess.
Invest in everyone says: go to your local running shoe place and get fitted. Spend the money. Find a pair that works well for you, and if long term you want to stick with a particular brand and style and need to be more frugal, you can probably find that shoe online cheaper. I believe in supporting local businesses, but you have to do what is best for your wallet when needed.
Also, as a side note...look into Chirunning- it is an approach to mid-foot strike running that is easier on your feet, legs, back, etc. Changed how I run - I no longer have as much body pain and my shoes breakdown more evenly.
Have fun!
posted by flesti at 9:12 AM on May 4, 2012

I ran with too small shoes for years until I actually went to a good running store who measured my feet correctly and got me the right size shoes. I actually had to go with a whole size larger because they don't make 13-1/2 shoes but I'm way happier and more comfortable with a 14 than I was with 13s.
posted by octothorpe at 9:35 AM on May 4, 2012

And from the unstructured shoe camp (and I'm an underpronator too, who used to own tons of expensive structured shoes), I suggest reading Born to Run and considering some of the barefoot style shoes like Nike Free and Merrell barefoot.

It is good to do this before you get the injuries that seem to be inevitable with structured shoes. And you won't miss your Gel Nimbuses, I promise.
posted by bearwife at 9:53 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've run with the Gel Nimbus and Asics trail shoes for years and swear by them. Although all Nimbus perform pretty much the same, there are occasionally design flaws in a particular model and each shoe pair is different in term of wear and lasts differing amounts of time from 3 months to 9 months. My current pair of Asics trail shoes wore through on the side in 2 months. Buy 1 more pair of Nimbus and see if you don't have a different experience.
posted by Xurando at 10:03 AM on May 4, 2012

PS, Always buy Asics one half size larger. It's just the way they are made.
posted by Xurando at 10:05 AM on May 4, 2012

I don't know much about your specific issue, though my first thought like everyone else was basically just go up a size.

Just a general thought though: I've been wearing the Nimbus for I don't know how many model numbers, and I generally get 300 or sometimes 400 miles out of them before they start to feel flat to me. These miles are almost all street miles. I'm pretty neutral and not overweight, so the differential there might contribute to more wear, but I'd be surprised to see a pair of them wear out (aside from your toe-hole issue that's probably related to sizeing) with your mileage in 2.5 months, particularly treadmill miles.

Running is great! Keep doing it!
posted by dyobmit at 10:14 AM on May 4, 2012

get yourself fitted at a running store. also, as others have said, if you are running distance regularly, it's not unusual to have to replace your shoes every few months.
posted by violetk at 10:35 AM on May 4, 2012

I wear the gel nimbus too. In normal shoes I take a 9.5, and in these I wear a 10.5 wide. The 14 line just came out and I have been for a few runs in my new ones. Much nicer to run in than the nimbus 13 IMO (slightly lighter weight, I think?).
posted by gaspode at 11:22 AM on May 4, 2012

Nike Vomero. Best running shoes ever.
posted by karizma at 11:31 PM on May 4, 2012

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