In Which Jenn Plays Fast & Loose With Shoe Sizes

Running shoes

I’ve been a loyal user of Brooks Ravenna running shoes for around eight years now, but I like to sprinkle in other models into my routine just to give it a try. For a brief period I was running in Nike Air Zoom Vomero 10s, which I liked a lot, but when Nike released the 11s I fell out of love.

Still, the Vomeros have hovered in the back of my mind – those 10s just fit so beautifully. Sometimes I wonder – what about the newer versions? Would they feel good again? They’re on the 14s now, so I looked up some reviews. 

The Vomero 14 seems to garner mixed opinions, so for now I think I’ll hang tight and see how the 15s fare. But I did notice something interesting in the Runner’s World review: “The tongue stops at the top of the collar, so too-tight laces can cause irritation at the front of the ankle. If you tend to wear your running shoes tight, try a slightly looser fit with the Air Zoom Vomero 14 and let the new fit system do its job.”

This concept intrigued me – the idea of purposefully going up a size in running shoes. I mean, most of us wear a larger size in our sneakers anyway, since the foot needs more room to expand during our physical exertions. Indeed, a shoe fitter once told me that soccer players and dancers tend to wear their street shoes tight anyway, and as a member of the latter category I found that interesting. I was already going up a size from street shoe to running shoe, but what if I added an extra half size on top of that, for insurance?

So I did just that. My next pair of Ravennas I ordered in an 8.5 instead of my accustomed 8. I have a pair of size 8s that’s still in my training rotation, and they fit fine, but I wanted to see if that extra bit of room felt good or just floppy. Sometimes my toes get sore after a long run, and while I’ve never felt like my toes were bonking against the shoe, I thought some extra space might help.

Running shoes

And the verdict is: it feels good! I find I enjoy having extra room to spread my toes. I don’t feel insecure in the fit at all – no slipping or sliding. After all, a half size isn’t that much bigger, and there are other elements of shoe design that help keep the fit secure. I ran a 16 miler last week, and I haven’t noticed any toe soreness, either.

In short, I’m calling this experiment a success, and intend to continue buying a half size up in the Ravenna for the foreseeable future. I’m no fit professional, but if you’re having a bit of trouble with your shoes and you’re not sure what the problem is, maybe try a half size up and see how you fare. It might just be extra space you’re looking for!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Selects New Running Shoes (Small Giveaway!)

Hey, remember that time I went to Road Runner Sports for a shoe fitting and walked out of the store with the Nike Vomero 10? And remember how I wasn’t sure it was the right shoe for me after awhile? And then remember how I ended up loving it and using it anyway?

And then remember how Nike ruined everything by changing the Vomero 11 so much that it didn’t feel like my shoe anymore? 🙁 🙁 🙁

When your favorite running shoe betrays you, there is only one cure: a new fitting. In that spirit, I used my half-day off last week to head back to that same Road Runner Sports for a new go-round with their Shoe Dog fitting system.

The Shoe Dog process starts with a fitter asking you some questions about your goals, mileage, injuries, etc., and measures you feet. After that you run on a treadmill while a video records your steps (one thing that was different – last time they had me do it barefoot, whereas this time they put me in some neutral, basic sneakers).

A weird thing happened: after watching the video, my fitter declared that I had mildly flexible ankles and needed a support shoe. Last time my fitter declared that while I had some very slight flexibility in one ankle I was definitely neutral and he would never put me in a support shoe. So shoe fitting is not an exact science, I guess…

Anyway, with my new diagnosis in hand I headed over to the try-on area, where some employees brought me a bunch of shoes to try. There were several treadmills available, and I was left to pop a pair on and give a bit of running a try largely unsupervised (it was pretty busy and I guess I looked like I knew what I was doing?).

First up were some New Balances; I’m not sure what model as I couldn’t seem to locate that info on the box. Not that it mattered because the second I hit the treadmill I haaaaaaated them – they were so loud and clunky and stompy! I felt like a Clydesdale and not in a good, majestic way. Just a loud, clunky, stompy way. Instant pass.

Next I tried some Asics Gel Kayanos. I liked these well enough and found the gel interesting underneath my toes, so I stuck them in the maybe pile. One annoying thing, though: there was a tag attached to the laces, something informational about the gel, I think, and I was constantly afraid I would trip on it as I ran. Knock that off, Asics!

I also took shots at the Brooks Adrenaline and Adidas Boost Supernova, but neither of them really registered with me. I didn’t feel blind hatred a la the New Balances – I even gave the Adrenaline a second chance – but they both ultimately went into the no pile.

One thing I remember distinctly when selecting the Nike Zoom Vomero 10s was the beautiful fit. I specifically recall pulling them onto my feet and feeling Cinderella-esque comfort. I hadn’t been brought any Nikes, but I wanted to know if they could pull it off again.

I was initially brought a pair of Nike Odysseys, and they looked like the winner for awhile – essentially the structured version of the Vomero. But there was something slightly off. The fit wasn’t flawless; I felt my foot inside the shoe, if that makes any sense. I had accepted this in shoe fittings in the past, but after my transcendent Vomero 10 experience I was reluctant to do so again.

So I requested any other structured Nikes with medium-high cushioning they had – and when I slipped on the Lunarglides, I knew I’d found the one. It was that same incredible feeling of the shoe kind of… existing around my foot, you know? Bonus: they were $30 cheaper than the Odysseys and super cute. Score!

Did I make the right call? That remains to be seen. I learned from the Vomeros that sometimes you have to give your body time to adjust to change (I’m a slow learner). I’ve taken the Lunarglides on a couple runs now, and so far so good. Further updates as events warrant!

Mini-contest of sorts! My receipt came with a one-time-use $20 off coupon to Road Runner for a friend. Should work online, not just in store. (Sadly it’s for new customers only.) I’d be happy to give this away to anyone that wants it. If that includes you, reply to this post by noon Monday. If only one person replies, great! It’s yours. If multiple people want it, I’ll assign numbers and randomly pick a winner. And if no one responds by the deadline, the first person to ask for it gets it regardless of time lapse so long as the coupon hasn’t expired (September 30). Good luck!

Cannot be used on Nike’s latest release, the Ruffian (runs large).

When was the last time you had a sneaker fitting? What criteria do you use to make your selections?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn’s Favorite Running Shoe Betrays Her

I was a Brooks Ravenna girl for a long time. I started with the Ravenna 4 and rode it out to the Ravenna 6 with no problems. Each iteration may have had some subtle differences, but for the most part they were unremarkable in that they continued to work fine for my feet.

Then, a little over a year ago, I was fitted for the Nike Vomero 10. It was a switch from a support shoe to a neutral shoe and that took some getting used to, but after a rocky start we found a groove. I’ve gone through many pairs of 10s now and thoroughly enjoyed the bouncy ride.

Once I’ve selected a shoe, to save money, I like to stay one model behind. So when the Vomero 12s came out, I knew it was finally time to take a crack at the Vomero 11s. I found a great post-holiday deal and they were mine.

I immediately noticed a difference.

Not saying which is which so that if I’m making up a difference you can tell me.

Look at that heel! It’s so thick. Weird! But squeezing it was pleasantly squishy, so I didn’t worry about it. Versions are never that far removed from each other, right?

A few weeks post-WDW Marathon I decided to take my new shoes for a test drive. Putting them on was oddly difficult – I had to loosen the laces and then readjust them to get my feet in properly. The toe box felt smaller, too, in that I could actually feel it. What drew me to the Vomero 10 in the first place was its incredibly comfortable box, like it was made just for me. I wasn’t loving this.

I took ’em for a test run just the same. They were okay, as it turned out. But the seam of my left sock rubbed a sore on my big toe, something that has never happened in the 10s. And I just didn’t have that Cinderella feeling that the shoe was made for my feet.

I’ve run in them again since then using compression socks instead of regular socks and they worked fine with no rubbing. I got the 11s for a great price and they do work for short runs so I intend to keep them. And who knows, maybe once I get through the break-in period they’ll be great. But I’ve ordered a pair of 10s off eBay for the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in March, because I am NOT taking that chance.

For the future, I know Vomero 10s are going to get harder and harder to come by. I probably need to get fitted again. Maybe the Vomero 12s are awesome? Or something else is. I’ll stop by Roadrunner Sports sometime this summer and find out.

Have you ever been betrayed by a new model of your favorite shoe? How did you cope?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Gears Up For Fall Race Season

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you: Team Jenn’s Fall Races!

Consisting of two pairs of Nike Zoom Vomero 10s and two rolls of Team USA KT Tape Pro, which I found on clearance at Target which was awwwweeeeesoooooome.

Plan is as follows: wear first pair of 10s for remainder of training cycle + Navy-Air Force Half + National Capital 20 Miler; swap to other pair for last couple runs before + Marine Corps Marathon and then Wine & Dine a week later. Switch BACK to first pair for more training as they’ll still have some life in them, after which I’ll hot swap in the second pair for the WDW Marathon.

Hot swap.

Then we’re back up for review. KT Tape to be applied as and where needed, most likely to hips and/or knees.

I may be adding a few team members at a later date; namely, a pair of Vomero 11s just to see and some running socks. Any recommendations on that front? I had ordered more socks with my sneakers but the warehouse ran out and then Jackrabbit just refunded me.

But what you see above is the core. Now let’s all go destroy our fall races!

What gear is in your race rotation?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Gets New Sneakers At Road Runner Sports

Guys! I finally got myself re-fitted for sneakers and it was WAY more involved than last time.

A little background: I’ve been using the Brooks Ravenna 5 since October of 2013. It replaced a pair of Nike ProFits that worked pretty well but in which I occasionally succumbed to some knee pain. The Ravennas seemed to take care of that problem, and I used them happily for almost two years.

Until the Ravenna 5 was phased out for the new 6 model. Sure, I could’ve just bought eighty pairs of 5s on clearance and hope my stash lasted me the rest of my running career; likewise, I could’ve just bought a pair of 6s and trusted they would rock. But I wanted more than that. I wanted to try on shoes!

The past couple times I’ve had sneaker fittings they’ve taken place in a Fleet Feet. I probably would’ve gone back there but I happened to drive past a Road Runner Sports near work one day and figured I’d give it a try. I’m glad I did because their fit process is INSANE.

The process began with the help of Mesa, a fit expert who ran the technological side of what they call the Shoe Dog fit method. She did a lot of your standard stuff – asking me about my running habits, any problems, if I was training for anything, getting a shoe size. She also had me stand on some sort of pressure device that determined my pressure points (here I was complimented on my arches; Mesa said they were the highest she’d seen. FTW!).

Things started heating up when she had me take off my shoes and hop on a treadmill – and a video camera recorded me running from behind. Mesa brought up the footage and slow-mo’d her way through my stride, showing me how my left foot stayed perfectly straight as it hit but my right turned inward just a bit. “I actually never would have put you in a stability shoe like a Ravenna,” she said. MIND. BLOWN.

(Side note: Mesa also fit me for some custom shoe inserts during this process. A coworker of mind warned me against these, saying she had tried them and taken them back as they were causing her problems. Regardless, I knew they would be expensive and didn’t want to spend the extra money when I was already buying crazy expensive shoes; still, I let them go ahead and make them since it’s part of the process. I even tried them in a couple pairs but they felt weird more often than not. Maybe they would’ve helped and if you want to try them, go ahead! Personally after my third pair I asked if I could toss out the inserts during my search and they were fine with it – no pressure at all. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Or don’t, as the case may be.)

I was then handed over to Lee, Master of Shoes. Poor, wonderful Lee! I put him through his paces for the better part of two hours, and his smile never slipped. It was a pretty great process, actually – Lee would bring me shoes he thought would work for me, and I would put them on and go run on the treadmill. What I liked I kept in the pool; what I didn’t got tossed. (I never touched the Ravenna 6. SCANDAL! SACRILEGE!)

I tried a pair of Sauconys, two pairs of Brooks (Ghost and something else I don’t remember), a pair of Adidas (“a wild card” according to Lee), Nike Zoom Vomero 10, and the Asics Nimbus, which really DOES feel like running on a squishy cloud. The Adidas and Saucony shoes were briefly in the running, but I ultimately found the former lacked bounce and the latter were too wide.

That Nimbus squishiness tempted me, but there was something about the way the Nikes fit that felt right. Indeed, in a way sneakers had never felt right to me before, like they were made to hang out with my feet. I hadn’t yet tried every brand in the store, which some might say is less than thorough (next time, Mizunos and Hokas!), but that fit… what shoe dreams are made of, I tell you.

I did get talked into one thing – a VIP membership. It does cost $20 but you get a minimum of 10% off for a year (that day I got 20% off due to a sales promotion). I am often suspicious of such programs but I’m sure I’ll need at least one more pair of these in October for MCM, so I don’t think it was a bad call. This may or may not be a good deal for you – take a moment to consider before you commit.

One pack of socks later and I was out the door with my new Nike friends! As of this writing I have now run with my Zooms three times and I continue to be pleased with them. They feel good! They do – and will continue to for a bit – take some getting used to. Going from a stability shoe to a neutral shoe changes the requirements you’re making of your muscles, so I am proceeding with caution. But very optimistic caution! I’m taking them on their first outdoor, real-terrain spin on Thursday morning. Wish me luck!

When were you last fitted for running shoes? Have you ever switched brands unexpectedly?

Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!