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5 Running Shoe Design Elements That Drive Me Nuts

Posted on January 10 2013

English: Angry

English: Angry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My preferences in running shoes are well known to those who regularly read this blog: lightweight, mid to low heel-forefoot drop, roomy toebox, etc. But, even in shoes that meet these major criteria, there are some design aspects that I encounter frequently that irritate the heck out of me. I was going through a mental list of these annoyances as I was running in the new Brooks Drift this morning because it has one of them (#2) – thought it might make for an interesting rant post.

Here are five that jumped to mind:

1. Memory Foam Insoles

Memory foam insoles feel great for step in comfort (i.e., standing in a store making a buying decision), but on the run they are awful. They seem to rob me of spring and energy with every step. I now rip them out of every shoe I find them in and immediately replace with something thinner and firmer. This makes me happy, and I’d be even happier if I could burn the memory foam in my wood stove without worrying about toxic fumes.

2. Integrated Footbeds that Incorporate Cushioning

This is the one that is found in the Drift and some other shoes (there is some discussion of this issue in the Brooks Drift on the Runblogger Forum). I love when shoe companies finish the footbed underneath an included insole so the option of running without it doesn’t cause abrasion issues due to exposed stitching. However, when they try to build some cushioning into that footbed it often leads to the formation of a raised ridge along the margins of the footbed where the material is stitched to the sole. This typically causes me to experience hotspots and even serious blistering on the ball behind my big toe – this essentially renders a shoe useless to me for running. Happens in the Drift, and it happened in the Saucony Hattori and Skechers GoRun (socks can sometimes solve the problem though as in the GoRun). For examples of how to do this well, look to the Merrell Barefoot shoes, the New Balance MT110, or the Skechers GoBionic. If you want to incorporate cushioning into the footbed, just go with an insole!

3. Ankle Collars that Are Not Cushioned

Think razors slicing into the Achilles tendon. Pretty self-explanatory.

4. “Barefoot Shoes” that Require Socks

I’m always perplexed when I put on a “barefoot shoe” and realize that there is exposed stitching or some other type of abrasive material inside the upper. If I can’t wear a barefoot-style shoe without socks, what’s the point? The most recent example was the Vibram Fivefingers SeeYa LS – solid shoe, but it caused me hotspots along the arch.

5. Velcro Closures

Just don’t do it.

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