Fed up

The new "performance" (PL-1) last that New Balance is putting in the bulk of their running shoes (replacing the SL-1 last) has ruined the brand for me. And I'm 8 weeks out from my next marathon without a clue what to do. I am rapidly wearing through my last 2 remaining pair of favorite shoes and my single pair with the new last gave me a nasty blistered right baby toe. Left toe was starting to feel squished, too. Mind you, I ran an entire marathon with nary a hot spot in my beloved NB 902s with that nice, wide SL-1 last.

This new and "improved" (ha, that's a laugh. No, not really) last is more streamlined...which translates to narrower and semi-curved, instead of wide and straight. I have wide, straight feet. NB was pretty much the last company to offer a completely straight-lasted shoe. So now I am, to put it bluntly, fucked. Asics don't fit my heels (I have tried the 2100 and Kayanos), everyone else is too stiff in the forefoot or it's heel issues, again. The Saucony Guide wasn't bad, but bloodied my achilles. I could take an X-acto knife to the back of the shoe to make them work, but I refuse to cut into a $90+ shoe on principle.

Today an entry-level (ie fewer bells-n-whistles) NB stability shoe arrived. It isn't as pointy as the 769s I have been struggling with, but it's just as curved and this pair was short and even narrower. I am exchanging them for the next size up, but I don't have high hopes. I think the arch is going to hit me in the wrong spot with that shoe...so I will likely be returning the larger pair, as well.

I also have a pair of 904s on order--the update of my very favorite shoe, the 902. But several people have reported that this shoe is ESPECIALLY narrow. So I have very little faith that I will have any luck with that shoe, either. Which leaves me with NO New Balance shoes that will work for me. For the 3 years I have been running NB has been pretty much the ONLY brand that fits my foot. Now I don't even have that. Right now there are a lot of former NB fans in my predicament. For years NB had a reputation as company whose shoes fit people with feet outside the average medium-width, curved footed individual.

Maybe those barefoot runners are onto something. The shoe thing sucks.

I'm desperately trying to find *something* that might work, but time is running short. I have 1 more 18 miler, then 2 20 milers, then it's race day. I don't have much time to experiment or "dress rehearsal" a new shoe. On paper the Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 12 (what kind of looped-up freak is naming Nike's shoes? Seriously, brevity, people...) sounds good...it comes in a wide, the shoes are even wider through the forefoot (the 11 was a hint snug), made the forefoot more flexible in the women's version, heel was fairly snug, IIRC. The lack of color choices kind of sucks (seems that wides always get white and blue *yawn*), but beggers can't be choosers...even if they are spending > $90 for shoes to last a couple of months. At least NB still offers a wide variety of color choices to wide and narrow-footed runners, but if the shoe doesn't fit...I ain't wearin' it--even if it does come in flashy colors.

2 days ago I had an uneventful 18 miler (other than the blister issue). It went surprisingly well after my 12 miler late last week that nearly had me collapsed for a nap in the ditch. I asked about my recent sluggish and miserable runs and another female runner suggested anemia. This suggestion was like a lightbulb moment for me. In college I had such a low hematocrit that they wouldn't let me donate blood. I took iron for a while, but hated the "side effects" and stopped.

Apparently anemia is fairly common in runners--especially female ones. Increased blood volume and the common (and benign) sorts of minor internal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and foot pounding leeches a lot of iron out of the systems of higher mileage runners. Plus I still have endometriosis, which means I am losing blood every month via endometrial tissue in random parts of my abdominal cavity with every cycle (don't get me started on that...25 day cycles. I can't wait for menopause).

So I am increasing my iron for a bit...maybe in a month I will have my PCP do a blood draw and see where my levels are at. I saw at least one recommendation that female runners have their iron checked 4x/year. I found some older threads on running message boards where women had corrected their iron levels and knocked a minute or more off of their average per mile pace. That would be really nice. My miles have increased over the past 3 years, but my pace has been stuck for about the past 2. Heck, maybe a sub-4 marathon is even possible...I mean, assuming the whole shoe thing doesn't have me packing it in. :p


  1. Hey, K, I'm so sorry about your NBs. I know they've been your shoe for a long time. During marathon training, too. I hope the Triax works for you. I love 'em.

    I'm glad you posted about anemia. I wondered during M training if I should go get my levels tested and you've inspired me to just go check it out. Can't hurt. Might help.


  2. Have you ever tried Brooks? I'm on my third pair of Adrenalines. I have big, wide, planklike feet and after going through several different manufacturers I finally settled on Brooks because they just fit my feet really well. This time around I am actually in men's size 10 shoes, which are awesome. The extra room in the toe box is great.

    I totally hear you on the female troubles issue. Before I had my hysterectomy in 2007 I was constantly anemic. I was taking two iron supplements a day and I couldn't ward it off. My periods were lasting weeks, not days; the last one, which came to an end the day of my surgery, went on for 83 days. 12 weeks of continuous bleeding. The amount of blood I lost in the six months leading up to surgery was just astonishing. At the time I was barely running because I couldn't go farther than two or three miles without feeling like I was going to collapse from fatigue. Once I had the surgery and recovered, that's when my running really took off. Having that surgery was the best thing that ever happened to me, health-wise.

  3. Brooks fit my feet OK, but they are generally too stiff in the forefoot...stiff shoes = peroneal tendonitis. I have the weirdest needs. I need a shoe that is very wide in the forefoot, narrow in the heels, narrowish in the midfoot, squishy and soft, but of moderate stability. There is no such shoe in production. The 902 + Superfeet is as close as I can get to perfection.

    I found a Puma shoe (Complete Tenos, or something like that) that would fit the bill (soft, widths, flexible, lightweight, stable rearfoot)...but they have stopped making it in wides. Story of my life.

    Re: the hysterectomy. My endo isn't so bad after having thermal ablation 6 years ago...at least I'm no longer hemorrhaging and cramping so bad. Who knows what's going on outside my uterus, though. My best friend had stage 4 endo and a radical hyst. when she was 25. Some days it sounds appealing, but HRT scares the crap out of me and my general symptoms aren't agonizing--at this point.

    I'm glad to hear that no more cyclical bleeding has made such a great difference in your energy levels--I'm sure no more menstrual iron loss is nearly magical.

  4. Gah, that is freakin' miserable. I am trying to figure out the balance of best shoes for my knees and hips at the moment. Add that to my blister problem I have been complaining about and I am at a loss. And out of running for a few days. Good timing with being two weeks out for my half.

    I feel your pain. I hope you find something that works!!

  5. Danielle, ack! Have you ever tried BlisterShield powder in your socks? I swear by that stuff (got the heads-up on it from several ultra runners) for runs over 2 hours. They make a HUGE difference, at least where blisters from running are concerned. I don't think they do much for toe blisters from shoes that are too narrow, like what I am dealing with.

  6. I was also going to recommend Brooks. I used to be a NB guy but switch to the Brooks Glycerin - and now the Defyance - about 2 years ago.

  7. I had my operation when I was 33, and I didn't have to go on HRT because I kept both of my ovaries. They won't remove them if there's no reason to do so. Mine were apparently healthy and unaffected by the rest of the crap that was going on. Therefore, I get to look forward to menopause in another 20-25 years, but which time they'll probably have some magic new form of HRT.

  8. I have not tried the blister shield. But, I did notice that my laces toward the toe of my shoe are too loose. I tightened them before my run today and voila...no loose rubbing. I am such an idiot.

    It won't do much to help the horrible blister on my achilles that has since turned into a huge scab that likes to reopen and stick to my socks. It will heal eventually...right? :)

    Thanks for the advice!!! Turns out I am just a dumb newbie :)