Monday, March 16, 2015

A Tale of Three Shoes: Are Pairs of the Same Model Shoe Created Equal?

My injuries can never be run-of-the-mill. Allow me to tell you a cautionary tale, dear readers; a tale that does not currently have an ending!

I swapped out my old Saucony Guide 7s with a new pair last Monday, in preparation for the Get Lucky Half Marathon (check out my Facebook page for the results of that race, and a full recap is coming soon!). They had served me well, but had over 500 miles on them -- I couldn't trust them when I was trying to run speedily! When I put on the new pair, they immediately felt tighter than the previous pair, but I didn't think too much of it. I even shrugged my shoulders when a few blisters formed on the sides of both feet (the inside on the left, and the inside and outside on the right). The shoes just needed a break-in period. Sure enough, the blisters popped and I thought that was the end of it.

A few minutes after I finished my half, I started limping and my right foot started hurting at the sites of the old blisters. My pal Wendy even asked me what was up. I told her I was breaking in new shoes. After my treadmill recovery run on Sunday (the day after the race), I saw a hotspot on the inside of my right foot, and the skin on the top of my right pinky toe was blistered and peeling (don't even ask about the toenail).

Then I am the Queen of Awesome. Image found here.
After viewing the toe-tip blister, even head-in-the-sand me knew that my shoes must be too small, as hard as that was to comprehend (they were the same freaking model!). I bandaged up the wounds as best I could, and decided to switch to a new pair of Guide 7s for today's run (yes, I stockpiled them at half price when they came out with the Guide 8s). The new Guides immediately felt roomier in the toebox, but the sites of the blisters were still tender.

Today's run was outside on one of my favorite routes. I was really looking forward to it, as temperatures were in the 50s. The pain at the blister sites was noticeable, but manageable. About two miles in, the blister at the site of the hotspot popped. Ow. I started running with my right big toe pointed upward to take the weight off the blister site, which wasn't sustainable (and not conducive to a good pace). My legs were still pretty dead from Saturday's race, so I called today another recovery run and packed it in early.

I was pretty depressed for a while after I got home: Can a marathoner really be brought down by a blister? I am hopeful that the popping means my foot will begin healing, now that I have a roomier toebox in my shoe? Why in the heck do three different pairs of the same model shoe fit so differently? Can I put my 500-mile shoes (or heck, the other three pairs of Guide 7s I wore before those) in a time machine and make them brand-new again?

I'm currently wearing slippers. Will my blisters be healed enough for tomorrow's run? Does anyone have any advice to speed the recovery process? What silliness! To be continued...

Seriously, some help would be great.


  1. Yes, I may have a few answers :-) I'm not a podiatrist, but I worked in a shoe store many moons ago. Not every "identical" model of the same shoe may come from the same warehouse. Even if they do, the odds of every size XX of model YYYY may not be identical. They all will (most likely) be close enough that it's not an issue for most people...and some may actually be "identical." That's why it's always best to try on the shoes before you buy, just to play it safe. As I said in a blog post (or maybe it was on my FB page?), I cringe a tiny bit when I hear about people buying their shoes's kind of a gamble, even if they're buying the same brand/model as they've used before. Hope that makes sense :-) And, I hope you have speedy healing :-)

    1. Thanks, Kim! I really appreciate your informed opinion! That is very interesting that you have encountered non-identical models before. Obviously, this is my first time, but I have definitely learned a lot! I also agree with you that buying online is not ideal, but this model saw me through a bunch of PRs last year and I wanted to put off transitioning to the newer model as long as possible. I gambled, and I lost. :( Fortunately, my run this morning was much better, now that I switched to the next pair in my stockpile! I hope that other folks can learn from my pain! :)

  2. Ugh. You looked really uncomfortable after our race. I hope your blisters heal up quickly, but I'm so worried that you got so many blisters from these shoes! Maybe you should size up? My beloved Gel Nimbus are a full size larger than my regular shoes. I can lace them as tight as I need, but my toes need room to wiggle.

    1. Thanks for your sympathy, Wendy! I agree with you, that pair was too small. They definitely weren't the wide version (which I need), and if I had to guess, maybe they were a half-size smaller as well. I am a 6 1/2 or 7 in street shoes, and I'm a 7 in my running shoes. I have heard the "size up" advice before and I have been measured at Roadrunner three different times and I've asked the salespeople about it, and they swear that I'm a 7 Wide even when sizing up. Perhaps I'm only a 7 in street shoes because of my wide feet? If I ever win the lottery, I might order a 7 1/2 running shoe just to see if it makes a difference. But normally, my Guide 7s fit great with no blisters. This morning's 'mill run (using the next model in my stockpile) was much better, with no new blister action. Hopefully I'm on the mend -- whew. I've definitely learned a lot! :)