Nu shooz: Brooks Ghost 8

It’s time to sing the new shoes song because I bought new running shoes. Actually, it’s way past time because I bought them in late-January.

One thing I forgot to acknowledge in 2015 was my 10 years of running. I ran off and on before 2005, but did not decide to run regularly until November of that year. Despite a couple long hiatuses, the occasional overuse injury, RAGBRAI training, and brutal winter weather, I have stuck with it and run two or three times a week. I’m not going to qualify for the Boston Marathon anytime soon, but running is a healthy and spiritual habit I enjoy.

Despite the fact I have been doing it for 10 years and it seems pretty simple, running is something I learn something new about all the time. Such is the case with my new Ghost 8s.

Another year, another pair of Brooks Ghosts. Same old, same old, right? Nope. The pair I bought is notable because they are size 11.5 — not 12, like I have been buying since 2009.

After trying on a pair of very roomy 12s, I had the salesman at Running Wild measure my feet. My left foot measured 11.5 and my right foot slightly smaller. Externally I was surprised, but internally I was a little freaked out. Are my feet shrinking? I wondered. Is this a sign of aging, of my inevitable expiration date? Then I realized that I had not had my feet measured since I lived in California, when I wore flip-flops all the time. Feet flatten and expand when wearing flip-flops since the feet are not confined. I stopped wearing flip-flops years ago, which probably explains why I had slightly larger feet in California. (I also learned that shoe companies have followed Nike’s lead in making shoes with single-piece upper sections. The change in construction has muddled sizes, meaning some runners now need smaller sizes and others bigger.)

I settled on the 11.5s, thinking I now had shoes that fit my feet. It’s not that I had any problems with 12s, but I assumed the 11.5s would perform better, wear more evenly, and be more comfortable since they were the proper size. That wasn’t the case with my right shoe. A mile or so into a run, the area around my little toe and the right side of my right foot would begin to ache. Running on surfaces that canted down to the right helped a little, but did not solve the problem. Something was not right and I suspected the half-size drop had something to do with it.

So I consulted the all-wise and all-knowing Internet. I learned that though 12s may have been a hair too long for my feet (though I never noticed), they were the right width. The toe box of my right 11.5 Ghost 8 was just a little too narrow and did not allow my foot enough space to expand while running.

Afraid I would need to buy a new, wider pair of running shoes, a salesman at Running Wild offered another possible, and much cheaper, fix: a bunion lace. “I’m not saying you have a bunion,” he said, hoping he did not offend me. He didn’t, and I don’t have a bunion. But using a bunion lace, I learned, is a simple way to loosen the front of one’s shoe and provide a little more give, solving width issues. All one does is skip one or both of the first lace holes.

Though skeptical, I re-laced my shoes and hit the sidewalks the next day. To my amazement, the bunion lace worked like a charm. No aching, no pain — just smooth sailing along the sidewalks.

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