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I am benched

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.05.2010

For a little while. Let me explain.

I went to get new running shoes on Sunday, but since I have a million and one things weird about my feet—they’re extra narrow, I have flat feet, I was getting blisters on my pinky toes, I have flat feet, my heels tend to slip in shoes, I need a wide enough toe box, and did I mention I have flat feet?—the salesgirl had to pause for a freak-out moment before settling down to help me.

I was in more pain from my blisters than anything else, and since I’ve lived with my narrow feet for so long, it doesn’t register as a major thing wrong with my feet when I go shoe shopping. I had told the salesgirl I had narrow feet, but I also mentioned that my feet had expanded considerably in the few months I’ve been running. In fact, I ended up needing a shoe size TWO half-sizes larger than the pair I walked into the store with. But I also didn’t insist the salesgirl remeasure my feet to make sure my width wasn’t the same narrow 2A it had been.

So the salesgirl concentrated on my raging blisters and my need for stability (for my flat feet) and got me a nice roomy toebox pair of shoes that were unfortunately a D width.

I didn’t notice because the new pair was so SHINY! and they felt very cushy when I tried them on at the store.

I went for a run the next day. The first thirty minutes were great. But then after thirty minutes, my arches were killing me. The D width was just tons of room for my miniscule arches to collapse. I needed the narrower width to prevent that from happening.

So I went to the store yesterday to get another pair. They were very nice about letting me return the shoes for store credit even though I’d run outdoors in them. However, I found I had to insist TWICE before the salesgirl remeasured my feet width. And guess what? I’m still a 2A narrow.

My feet are wider than they were when I was a 7.5 narrow size, but now I’m a 9.5—but still narrow. So my feet have grown longer, but they also remained proportionally narrow with my new size.

The store didn’t have any narrow sizes and they ordered a new pair of narrow shoes for me. I’m benched because I’m waiting for my shoes to arrive next week and I can’t run in my current shoes because they’re too small (the blisters I mentioned above? Not pretty). I can only hope that despite the narrower size, the toe box will be large enough to prevent the blisters. But blisters are more preventable than collapsing arches, so I opted for the arches.

The salesgirl was very knowledgeable when I asked her about brands and styles that are best for flat feet, and I feel I’m with the best brand for my feet shape (New Balance). However, I did have to ask semi-intelligent questions to get the answers I wanted. If I’d been clueless, I don’t know if I’d have gotten my needs across. I might still have ended up with a B width shoe that made my arches hurt because it was too wide, and I wouldn’t have understood what was happening.

I guess I assumed that salespeople at specialty running stores are all-knowing gurus who can look at my feet, quiz me, watch me walk and run, and be able to offer some shoes options for me to test out. My salesgirl did not watch me walk and run, and I had to make sure I gave her all information as opposed to her asking me questions, although she did try her best to offer shoe options for me. She looked like she was in high school or college, so perhaps she’s on the school track team and working at the store for the summer. Heck, she might be the owner’s niece or something. She definitely looked like a runner and seemed to know the nuances between the different shoe brands and styles.

Long story short, I’m waiting for my shoes. I’m apprehensive my new (narrower) shoes will not give me blisters (the best part about that D width shoe was the roomy toe box! Heaven!). And I’m a bit frustrated that my search for new shoes is taking so much time.

However, Nicole on Facebook mentioned that my situation is not unheard of among other runners, so I shouldn’t feel put upon. Also, I’ve heard from several people that once you figure out the brand and style of shoe that fits you, you can pretty much count on fit and function from every new product from that shoe style line until they stop making it.

Oh, and I had gone online to New Balance and saw a style of shoe that I wanted to try. It was a special “last,” or mold for the shoe, that was made for overpronators like me (flat feet). However, the running store didn’t have it, so I went home and ordered a pair online. So now I’ll have two different shoe styles to run with, and hopefully find my perfect style. And live happily ever after.


  1. free overnight shipping!!! :) I'm not kidding, free exchange too. I went through about 6 pairs last year until I found the one I'm wearing. It's still taken some adjusting to my NB shoes and they're not *pretty* but seem to be working well for my flat neurotic feet. And I don't run, ever (well, except running after my 4 children when one wanders away)! Good luck, I hope one of the pairs works perfectly.

  2. OMG Thanks for the tip!!! I'll check them out now!

  3. Have you thought of orthotics for your arches. Yes, expensive, but some insurances cover them. Shoe styles change from year to year and don't always work for me the next time around.

  4. Hi Linda,
    Actually, I do have orthotics. I wouldn't be able to run without them!

    NeedaNap, Thanks so much! I just ordered new shoes from Zappos w/ overnite shipping, although it wasn't free, but I was more than willing to pay the shipping cost because my old shoes are causing blisters and my running store shoes won't arrive until next week, and I wasn't willing to not run for an entire week! I think I'll get the shoes by Friday, although I've got a spark of hope they might come tomorrow. Yay!!!!

  5. I keep thinking it's Wednesday. I hope to get these shoes by Saturday, although I am sort of hoping they'll come tomorrow.

  6. I hope your shoes arrive soon, Camy. Benches are for the birds.

  7. I'm praying they arrive soon, too! I just got a nice tweet from Zappos on Twitter to thank me for my order. Now that's neato customer service!

  8. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

    Flat Feet

  9. Camy, I sympathize with you when it comes to narrow feet. I wear 2A also and I know how hard it is to find it in anything. NB is the best for narrow running/walking shoes. I love mine.

  10. Here's a product that may help that I can personally vouch for:

    WrightSocks Double Layer Anti-Blister Socks:

    The two independently moving layers reduce the friction that leads to blistering.

  11. Thanks, Yashila!

    Kathy--OMG we totally ARE twins! You're one of the few people I've met who has narrow feet, too!

    Fred--Thanks for the recommendation! I had heard about those socks before, but it's always good to get a personal thumbs up from someone who has used them!


  12. Nike Air Max..always. I overpronate too but am a wide size 9. Yep and add two different kinds of orthotics. LOL

    Also be sure to add antiperspirant to your tootsies (in between and around) to prevent blisters.

  13. You know what's funny? I've never been able to wear Nikes because the shape of the toe box hits the small bone under my pinky toe. So Captain Caffeine says I have been "saved" from overpriced, overhyped Nikes. LOL

    I'll try the antiperspirant! Thanks! I've been using injinji toe sport socks for my blisters, and that seems to work to an extent. The majority of the time, my blisters happen because the shoes is either too small or my toes swell because of hyponatremia, so I've been taking electrolyte caps and taping my toes, too.


  14. I'm glad you liked Zappos, it really is a cool site. Sorry you didn't get overnight shipping b/c you're on the west coast. YES, they have the best customer service. Their selection is difficult to navigate unless you've been to a running store or know what you want. I hope the shoes arrived and they work!!! Don't be afraid to call and ask a few questions and see if they offer you better shipping. :)

  15. Thanks so much for recommending them! I'll definitely be using them in future!


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