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Five MORE running shoe questions, answered!


Two weeks ago we discussed the top five questions I receive at the running store. However, it doesn't stop there! Listed below are the next most common questions I receive at the store. I hope some of these answers will help you find the best running shoe for you!

  • Why do I have to go up a half size in my running shoes?
  • I'm a size ## in my running shoe. Why are my shoes suddenly too tight?? Did my feet grow?
  • Do athletic socks really make a difference? 
  • What do I do if my feet are two different sizes?
  • What do I do if my feet are a FULL SIZE (or more) different from each other?


1Q: Why do I have to go up a half size in my running shoes?

1A: Many customers walk into the running store and immediately request, “I’m not sure what size I am. Can you measure my feet?” I can and I will, but it won’t tell us everything we need to know about your size. The measurement you will get from using a brannock device reveals the measurement of the exact outline of your foot. If we chose a shoe that size it would be like running in skin tight pants- completely restrict movement and just plain uncomfortable!

Nearly every customer will go up a half to sometimes even a full size in their running sneaker. This added space gives room for your toes to splay out naturally during the gait cycle. Also, during long distance runs blood tends to pool in the feet making them swell. An extra half size reduces the likelihood of lost toenails, blisters, popping through the mesh in the toe box and in general makes for an all-around happier runner.

2Q: I’m a size ## in a running shoe. I’ve always been a size ##. Why do my shoes suddenly feel too tight?

2A: Did you have a baby recently? How long has it been since you’ve purchased running shoes? Are you a little bit older and your arches have collapsed? All of these are legitimate reasons why your shoe size may have changed.

More often than not your feet will change sizes and shape throughout your lifespan. Often women who have just carried around an extra 25+ pounds of baby weight report that their feet lengthen and sometimes widen post-baby. Also, throughout the lifespan your arches are likely to collapse and bunions may develop causing buyers to need a larger size and/or a shoe with a wider toebox to accommodate the bunion.

Lastly, in the past two to four years the vast majority of shoe companies have begun to design shoes with a seamless upper. While the new design often helps to prevents blisters the material tends to tug from the toebox to the next seam a little bit more than in the past causing customers who were between two sizes to require the next size up.

Bottom line: purchase your shoes based on FIT and FEEL, not the number on the box!


3Q: Do socks REALLY make a difference in the quality of your runs? What are the best brands of athletic socks out there?

Your sock choice can impact the quality of your run just as much as your running shoe. I know, trust me- it’s just a sock, right? WRONG. It’s not just a sock. Investing in a higher quality athletic sock will make your feet happier and your runs more enjoyable. Unlike cotton socks synthetic athletic socks maintain their shape throughout the years, wick moisture away from the foot on the run thereby preventing blisters, are seamless and will not move around/slip down in your shoe while running. The best part about athletic sock is that the sock hugs to your foot so much so that you don’t even notice it when running.

While I personally love Feetures socks, Balega, Smartwool, The Wright Sock, Darn Tuff and Thorlos are other very well received brands in the running world. Do you prefer a lightly cushioned, highly cushioned or left-right specific sock? Yes, sock companies have thought of every possible option to keep you happy on the run.

Bottom line: ditch the cotton socks that lose their shape, slip down into your shoe while running and bring about blisters. An athletic sock has the power to make your run significantly more enjoyable.


4Q: My feet are a half size different sizes- what do I do?

4A: The vast majority of people have one foot that is a half size longer than the other foot. In this case I always size the shoe to the larger foot so that it is not cramped in the sneaker. Consequently, the other smaller foot may experience some slippage. Yes, slippage is a real problem that happens to real runners. Sad, but true. In this event I suggest an alternate lacing pattern that utilizes the second hole to create another eyelet and locks the ankle into place.  

Many runners assume that lacing the shoe in the traditional criss-cross fashion is the only option. However, dependent upon your instep, foot size and various other factors another lacing pattern may be ideal for you.

5Q: My feet are a full size (or more) different from each other: what do I do?

5A: You should go to Nordstrom. Nordstrom allows its customers to purchase shoes of two completely different sizes for the price of one! While the staff at Nordstrom probably isn’t trained in how to fit you for athletic shoes, the company does sell many running shoes/brands ideal for marathon training. Kindly ask the employees at your local running store to assess your stride and recommend specific shoe then head over to Nordstrom to customer order your shoes.

Hope this helps you on your next shoe search! 


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