Hey, I Put Some New (Running) Shoes On and Suddenly Everything Is Right


Paolo Nutini’s “New Shoes” is one of my favorite running tunes. It’s catchy and has just the right cadence. Last week it became my mantra.

I’d already gone way too long on my last pair of running shoes, and rather than buy new ones, I thought, Hey, my previous pair seem all right, and they can’t be any worse than what I’m wearing now, so I pulled them out and pressed them into service. If that thought ever crosses your mind, save yourself the grief and dismiss it. There was a reason I’d retired those old shoes in the first place. It took two 6-mile runs in them to realize they were not all right.

The rule of thumb—or is it big toe?—is to replace your shoes about every 300 to 500 miles. Because of my height, my toes strike the ground harder and I wear out the cushion sooner. At about 450 miles on my last pair, I was long overdue. I vowed to buy new kicks ASAP.

Oh, if only it were that easy.

I’ve been blessed with obnoxiously wide feet. Many times, standard shoes will do. Running is not one of those times.

For many manufacturers, skinny runners = skinny feet = skinny shoes, apparently. That’s why I like New Balance. I’ve made it my brand because it makes wide shoes for wide-footed fellas like me.

Again, I wish it were that easy.

New Balance may make wide shoes, but that doesn’t mean anyone carries them (at a decent price). My local running store, which has been a valuable source of running information—they pointed me to New Balance in the first place—keeps only a token wide shoe or two in stock. The special order process there has proved painful.

As much as I want to give local businesses my business, I’ve taken to the internets for shoes that fit my beastly feet. Even at online retailers like Zappos and Amazon, though, extra-wide shoes are in short supply.

Something old. My go-to shoes are the New Balance 860. I order them in twos so I’m sure to have a pair when I need them. They fit well and they get the job done. I’ve suffered very few foot problems in my three-ish years of running—a blister or two, if that, and nary a lost toenail. (I also credit my Feetures socks. But enough with the product placement.)

Something new. Each time I come back for more 860s, they get harder and harder to find. So I ventured out and bought a pair of the New Balance 870 (v3). I don’t like buying shoes online (or any other clothes, for that matter) unless I’ve worn them before and can be certain they will fit, so this is a bit of a stretch.

The 870s are almost 2 ounces lighter than the 860s, which seems like it should help as the miles add up. (We’ll see if they hold up.)

Fashion alert! After four pairs of plain-jane 860s (goodbye, drab whites, grays and blues), I’m tickled that my new 870s have a dash of flash (hello, fluorescent yellow accents!). It’s the little things.

And it gets better. More than just pretty pinstriping, the new shoes are looking and feeling good after this morning’s tempo run. The 870s might be a tad tighter in the toe than the 860s, but I don’t expect that will be a concern. (I’ll update this post if that changes after my longer runs.)

In the meantime, can you do me a favor? Next time you see me running, please compliment my shoes. You know how much trouble I went through to get them.

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