FitOldDog’s Running Shoe Secrets For Happy Feet


Hi folks,

Three secrets of FitOldDog's shoes, odd sizes, elastic laces, wooly socks (not in the rain!).

FitOldDog's running shoes hold many secrets to happy feet.

Endurance running sucks with sore feet, blisters, painful arches, tight or loose shoes, skin abrasions, plantar fasciitis, or any other types of foot discomfort. Alternatively, comfy feet are a delight, no matter the weather or other conditions. So, how do you get there when it comes to the best shoes for you? I’ll tell you about the results of my shoe journey, which took about 15 years, but now all is well. Take a look at my shoes, in the picture opposite, and then see if you can discern my secrets to comfy feet on the run – I’ll be running in them (except the socks!) in the rain in Spain as soon as I get this blog post out.

  1. Shoes fitted by Fleet Feet staff, who are great – Brooks Glycerin.
  2. Odd sizes, left 11, right 10 – my bike guy, Victor of Bicycle Lab, spotted this, whilst fitting me for custom bike shoes. I had always struggled with one running shoe being too loose OR one too tight, whatever I did, and this explained it. I have one complete size difference between my left and right feet – they even look different. Brooks offer odd sizes for an extra $30, making it a good deal compared to buying two pairs.
  3. Thick wooly socks, made by SmartWool – I started using these socks on the advice of my youngest son, Nigel, a real triathlete, in response to my saying that I often had sore feet whilst running. Nigel said, “I think we have thin skin on our feet, and I find that thick socks help.” They really do help, but don’t use them in wet weather as they fill up with water – I completed a marathon this way, carrying about half a pound of water in each shoe. Never again, but on dry days they are great.
  4. Elastic laces – when you have a stone in your shoe, off they come in a trice, stone gone, and on you go. Furthermore, I find that elastic laces are more comfortable than standard laces, probably because of the elasticity, but YOU MUST FIT THEM CAREFULLY, which takes time at first and may need the odd adjustment for a few weeks.
  5. New shoes – SECRET -> my previous pair of these shoes (just retired) lasted almost two years, and I bought these new ones simply because the stitching was going on my old ones, in which I completed two Ironman races and associated years of training. In my opinion you don’t need to change shoes very often at all, but this does not apply to the arch supports, in my case at least. I got this idea from that great book, ‘Born to Run,’ by Christopher McDougall. I am one of those people who cannot handle barefoot running due to weak tendons, which I think is linked to the mechanism responsible for my abdominal aortic aneurysm, probably an elastic tissue defect. However, wearing the same shoes for years (wash regularly!), whilst replacing the arch supports from time to time seems to work well (for me but not the shoe manufacturer!).
  6. The correct shoe inserts – this is up to you to explore for yourself, but do try to get it right. I have SuperFeet inserts right now, and they seem to be functioning well as I ramp up my distances in preparation for the Lake Placid Ironman 2012.
  7. I wear these shoes for general use in addition to running, mixing and matching with my Nike Frees (not for running) for a change. I don’t just limit my Brooks shoes to running, which I think is as much a mistake as training with different wheels on your bike than you use for races. I don’t believe in race shoes or race wheels (nor does my bike guy, Victor, for the wheel part, at least), as it is not a good idea to change anything for race day.

Time, patience and listening to wise guidance from experienced people (and your feet) are the keys to happy feet on the run.

FINAL NOTE: many sources of foot pain do not lie in your feet or your shoes, but in your calf muscles (plantar fasciitis), imperfect strike (body position and running skills, control of deep pelvic muscles), and poorly integrated biomechanics, which can involve things as remote from your feet as your shoulders or eyes. So make sure that you are not looking in the wrong place for a solution, before messing with expensive shoe exploration as it will just be palliative, not curative.

-k @FitOldDog

Today’s workout:

Steady run in the pouring rain – the rain does NOT only fall on the plain in Spain.



  1. I am realizing that you are a well-oiled machine. This is useful post to me. Thanks.

  2. Well oiled, but a bit rusty, just like my old truck, and we are both still moving along. Can’t do better than that! -kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.