New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo 1st Runby Justin Michalicek on June 25, 2016, 3:36 p.m. UTC
I've kept the rare posts on this blog technical, but I'm expanding in hopes of having more to say. Back in August or September 2015 I started running fairly seriously. Since then I have been on the search for running shoes which don't suck. I have wide, flat feet, with additional weird bones on the outsides near the middle which stick our further than on anyone else I have spoken with about it. It makes it hard to find decent shoes which fit. Additionally I've been fighting with knee pain... possibly due to over pronation (which tends to go with flat feet) or possibly just because the distances I have been running for the last 5 or 6 months are fairly hard on the body. The distances aren't going down unless I absolutely have to though, so I'm trying to solve it with shoes and knee/hip exercises.
Anyway, my first decent running shoes were Nike Flex Runs... they only come in medium, so they weren't much good for me but were still a big improvement over what I had been using. After that I went to a running specialty store and walked out with a pair of 12 Wide Saucony Echelon 5s. Those are straight lasted, wide enough, soft, but so heavy and I still did quite a bit of fighting with knee pain. Overall, they were very nice and I almost went back to them, though. After the Sauconys I decided to try the Altra Instinct 3.5. The Altras have an extra wide toe box, which was nice, and they were super light. Unfortunately they just aren't meant for wide feet and at pushing 7 miles/day 5 days/week the lack of padding was noticeable. Altra does make more padded shoes and ones more intended for flat feet, but nothing for wide feet. Their wide feet solution is "remove the insole". That did make them wide enough, but the reduced padding was noticeable and my weird foot bump is positioned right over a supportive bit of plastic and gets beat to hell without the insole.
New Balance has always been good about wide feet, flat feet,etc. I went to the local New Balance store in hopes of having the widest variety available in stock to try on compared to small running stores carrying many brands. I ended up walking out with a pair of size 12 2E width Fresh Foam Vongo shoes. They are definitely heavier than the Altras by quite a bit, but a bit lighter than the Saucony Echelons, which was my main goal as far as weight. The official weight on them comes in at 10.6oz I think. These shoes are only a 4mm heel to toe drop, which is close to the zero drop I had gotten used to with the Altras and something I have grown to like. I hope New Balance continues to add low drop shoes to their lineup. My previous shoes have all been neutral shoes, so these are my first support shoes, which are generally recommended for flat feet anway. I fought wearing support shoes in hopes of getting to the point where neutral shoes worked well through strengthening and just making my body adjust, since that opens up more shoes. The Vongos are also incredibly soft and cushiony, which felt great on my first run with them. I've only worn them one day, but I ran just over 7 miles, averaged 30 seconds/mile quicker pace than I had been managing for several weeks, and my knees, quads, and ankles all feel way better than they usually do after I run. I may have finally found "my shoe". I'll have to see if I still feel the same way about them after a week or two of running. Right now I am more excited to run than I have been in quite awhile, though.