I’ve really struggled with shoes this year, primarily because of my inability to find Altra road shoes that work for me anymore. I have been running in a pair of Skora that I like very much. Unfortunately, past 12 miles I get blisters on the my arches. I still haven’t figure that out.
I bought a pair of Skechers Ultra R after reading a number of glowing reviews and they’re not bad at short distances either. Of course, I bought them for ultras. They are quite narrow in the toebox compared to my other shoes. I wore them for a 30-miler and had numerous problems, eventually cutting away part of the shoe over my right pinky toe. I still ended up with a black toenail. I’ve never had a black pinky toenail before. 🙁
Well, recently I ran across a group review of a new Altra Paradigm model over at UltraRunnerPodcast and one of the reviewers posted an interesting picture:
You can see that he has removed the padding from a pair of Superiors. He comments in the review that, “I performed some surgery on the Superior by removing all the padding around the heel and the ankle and the shoe was way better. No more slipping and lighter.” That got me thinking about whether I could improve some shoes I have: a pair of Intuition 1.5 and a pair of Provisioness 2.0.
I pulled out the Intuitions first. This is the fourth pair of 1.5s I’ve owned, and I would count them among my favorite running shoes, but they have a strip of leather or vinyl or something that curves up around the back of the shoe and it always bugged me. I looked closely and discovered the strip was just stitched on, so I got a seam ripper and cut away the middle part. Eureka! THEY.ARE.AMAZING.NOW.
Who knew that such a small thing could make such a big difference??? The great thing is that this pair of shoes only had about a hundred miles on them. I can easily wear them for 250-300 more miles. The terrible thing is that I didn’t make the same modification to the other pairs of 1.5s I owned and worse, that I didn’t buy up a dozen pairs a year ago when they were on closeout. I’ve done multiple runs in these shoes over the past week and they are so so great. <sigh>
I had almost as good luck with the Provisioness.
I was soooo disappointed in the Provisioness when I bought them! They have a similar heel structure as the Intuitions, except instead of a thinner (sort of flexible) strip, they had a hard, thick rubber arc curving around the heels. My feet would not stay in the shoe and they were actually kind of painful. I only wore them a couple of times before giving up. I decided to cut the rubber away, using a hair dryer to melt the glue and a pair of pliers to peel it off. Again, eureka! They aren’t quite as comfortable as the Intuitions, but I did an 18-mile run in these shoes over the weekend and they were great. 18 miles! And because they are practically new, I expect to get several hundred miles out of them as well.
It’s like having two brand new pairs of shoes. I am going to be hanging out at eBay, in case anyone is selling a pair of the Intuitions.
Next up: I will probably try pulling the padding out of the Skechers and I may just experiment a little bit with a retired pair of Intuition 2.0s that are still hanging around. I’m really really curious about less padding creating better heel fit. (The Skora would bear that out, actually.)
A Google search for “shoe surgery” will turn up dozens of sites in which runners have modified their shoes. Moral of the story: you don’t have to be stuck with a shoe that doesn’t work for you. You can make changes to make shoes better!