Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feats of my Feet

I have fat feet. I have flat feet. I have voluminous feet. I have size 13/14 (depending on manufacturer), wide feet. I have fins attached to my legs. Lets look at a picture of these suckers (soda can for perspective).

With that established, it's story time.

My foot issues started in grade school.  I specifically remember a trip to Foot Locker, where a referee-jersey clad sales associate explained to me how tall I was going to be, when I grew up.  He sized me for a pair of basketball shoes and proclaimed how I was going to grow into my feet and at least be over six feet tall. I walked away ecstatic. Smile brimming from ear to ear. Would I play for the Sonics, Lakers, or Bulls?

I'm currently 5'10 at 28 years old.

Feet in Swimming 

I decided to pick up this running thing about three years ago.  Being a former high school and college swimmer, I was not used to footwear of any kind for athletic endeavors.  Swimmers utilize fins for potions of some workouts, but I didn't use them on a daily, or even consistently, on a weekly basis.  When I did use fins, I was scrounging around for the sole pair that were built for size 13-14 feet. Often times there were only a pair or two of those, and usually being occupied by the over 6 ft teammate, who had feet that were much more proportional to height.

If there was any reason I was competent in swimming, it was surely due to these babies. My feet were/are perfect for sprints. I've got big built-in flippers that generate a tremendous amount of power when asked for a swim.  Don't think so? Ask Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps also has large feet (size 14).  He's got a couple of gold medals.

By the way, you know how tall he is?  SIX FOOT FOUR.

Point: In swimming you don't worry about your feet that much.  You work with what you got, and spend more time doing things swimmers do (blog post coming on that as well).

Feet in Vibram Five-Fingers

Shaped like my foot, and comfortable.

A lot is made of 'transitioning to barefoot footwear' in the running community.  Most runners are used to these cushioned, high heeled shoes, they have been wearing for some extended period of their lifetime. I'm not used to wearing anything on my feet.  The Vibram Five-Fingers mimic what I'm used too, and are extremely comfortable. I'm used to naked feet.

The transition to running in Vibrams felt the most natural for me. Not only do they accommodate my wide, flat, fin-shaped feet, but they also promote good running form. Vibrams have absolutely no heel, therefore, I found I was forced to land on mid foot, and shorten my stride.  After a short transition into them, I'm now comfortable taking these out for training runs of up to 20 miles, but 12 is normally the limit.

Point: I wear Vibrams because they are comfortable, fit my wide feet, and promote good running form.

Vasque Mindbender (Wide)

After running the Gorge Waterfalls 50K, I knew I needed a shoe with cushion.  I managed to rack up more than $1,000 in charges between Zappos (free returns) and Running Warehouse (free returns) to try and find that ideal shoe.  After many tests to no avail, I came upon the Vasque Mindbender, size 13 wide, on Amazon.  Fit like a glove.

The shoe has a fairly roomy toe box, wide mid-foot, and fits my flat feet with a very minimal arch.  It has superb toe protection for when I boot rocks. It ate up the rock infested Yakima Skyline Rim course, and I only came out with one blister on my big toe. Probably should promote Injinji socks as well, as they are my default socks for any type of run.

Point: When you run 20 or more miles on the trails, you need cushion, and protection.  This shoe does just that.

Perfect Shoe

While these shoes both serve specific purposes, the search will always be on for the 'perfect shoe'. While both the Vibrams and the Vasques are good shoes, they don't meet every requirement to be the 'perfect shoe'.  So as request to any manufacturers out there that would like to create a shoe specifically for me...

Things I care about:
  • Anatomical Fit
  • Wide Mid foot
  • Wide Toe Box, plenty of room for toe splay
  • 'Lock-Down' Heel
  • Low arch
  • 8 ounces max
  • 6 - 10mm drop
  • Lugs that provide serious traction
  • Cushion meant for ultras
  • Quick Drying
  • Toe Protection
Things I Don't Care About
  • Color 
  • Name 

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