Shoe Advice

edited December 2012 in Running Shoes - General
I need shoe advice.  I have been running in "minimal" shoes for about 2 years now (mostly the Saucony Kinvara, I use the A4/A5 for racing and speed work).  I have flat narrow feet.  Before this, I always wore stability trainers (Brooks Adrenaline and Asics 21XX).  My switch to minimal shoes has been pretty good for the most part except for one problem, my achilles are always sore.  When I ran in the "traditional" shoes, I never had this problem.  Does anyone know of a different shoe I could try that may help this?  I am open to anything that you might think will help.  

I am getting really frustrated with this problem, it does not seem to be getting any better.  It is worse in the morning (some days I can hardly walk) and takes a while to loosen up when I am running.

I usually run between 30 - 40 mpw.  5' 11", 160 lbs.  My 5K's are usually in the mid-17's and my normal training runs are 6:50 - 7:20 pace.  

Any ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated!


  • Maybe try something with a 8mm drop?
  • Yeah, I was thinking of trying the Saucony Guide.  Does anyone have any experience with this shoe?
  • I'm afraid that I don't.

    Just out of curiosity...would you describe it as "soreness" or "pain"?  Soreness should go away within a few weeks/months (it did for me when I went from 12mm to 4mm and from 4mm to zero drop).  The fact that you're noting it two years later seems like a red flag to me.

    Do you have the soreness all the time?  Just after each run, or only after certain workouts?
  • I had a similar issue when I went from 12mm to 8mm and from 8mm to 4mm and zero drop. My achilles would be sore in the morning and the during the first mile of my run. In both cases it only lasted about a month. When I went from 8mm to 4mm and zero drop, the pain felt worse than during the first transition, so I tried to run in the 8mm drop shoes again and believe it or not, it felt worse. I toughed it out with the 4mm and zero drop and have no issues now. I do find myself reaching for the zero drops with a little cushion most of the time.

    I'm not sure what your particular issue might stem from, but if you have been running for 2 years in lower drop shoes, your discomfort should have subsided awhile ago. You say you have narrow feet....maybe the issue is the heel is slipping on your Kinvaras and A5's and pulling weird on your heel and achilles causing the pain. You may want to try the heel lock trick with your laces (utilizing that extra lace eyelet in your shoes) or try a shoe with a narrower heel and midfoot like the New Balance M730 (3mm drop) or New Balance Minimus MR20 (4mm drop).
  • Thanks for the feedback Brian and Sentz.  

    Brian, I would say at this point it is more "pain" than "soreness".  This is definitely not the initial soreness that I went through when I first switched to minimal shoes.  

    Sentz, yes, I always have trouble fitting shoes because of my foot shape.  The kinvara's actually fit my foot pretty well and I have tried various lacing techniques with other shoes.  

    Anyone else have any feedback or ideas?  

  • It sounds almost like plantar fasciitis except that it's your Achilles versus the bottom of your foot. Have you tried stretching and rolling your soleus and gastrocnemius muscles (calves)?
  • I'd have to agree with tintallie, it sounds more like Plantar.

    I would like to onto runz request.  I'm having a very similar situation.  I've been running in the Kinvara's for 2 years now, and through this have battled plantar.  Its not an acute pain, just dull.

    Because of that, i'm looking for a shoe similar to the kinvara, but with slightly more support.  I'm currently testing the Brooks Cadance and the Saucony Mirage 2.  They have a similar drop but with more support, however they feel hard on my feet and I'm not 100% digging them.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a kinvara-like shoe with more support?
  • Interesting thought tintallie.  I have never heard of having a plantar fasciitis type achilles injury.  Anyone else have more insight on this?

    Yes, I do stretch frequently, use a foam roller, and "the stick."  

    Anyone else with a shoe suggestion?  Along with the Saucony Guide, I was also looking at the New Balance 890.  Any other thoughts?  
  • If you want to stay minimal but need more heel, the Adidas Gazelle has a 6mm drop.
  • I would be looking to strengthen your feet not more support.  Take a look at the videos ; and the book Anatomy for Runners

  • The Kinvara 3's aggravate my knee as do other shoes that are more cushy (Asics Nimbus!). I have found the Saucony A5 to be the best shoe for me when I am religious about stretching and rolling. I need a flexible, but firm shoe and have been able to run in Mizuno musha 4 even with its 9mm drop.

    I have also needed the heel and midfoot to be snug with a roomy forefoot as a forefoot striker.

    I have always gone barefoot inside my house and wear Birkenstocks or Camper Peus at work since they are flat.

    Have you tried stretching your hamstrings and calves using the yoga pose, Downward Facing Dog? I have incredibly tight calves despite my flexibility and it creates a cascade effect with the feet showing the symptoms.

  • Thanks tintallie.  Interesting thought, go for less shoe, not more.  I might have to try that.  Run in my A5's for a while, see if it clears up.

    This is a great forum!
  • Definitely roll your calves, quads and IT bands.  I would also try to trigger point any sore spots you find. 
  • Where exacty is the pain localized? Is it at the calcaneus insertion (heel bone) or higher up? Could it be pain in the lower calf (soleus muscle) and not the Achilles?

    I'd suggest foam rolling the heck out of your calves, and maybe seeing a doc who can diagnose and maybe do some ART massage. 2 years is a long time to fight through pain. Using the one leg crossed over the other while rolling the calves is key.

    If you want to try a flat with a bit more heel, the New Balance RC1600 is pretty solid, and the Mizuno Ronin might be worth a look. Both 8mm drop and not as bulky as the Saucony Guide.
  • I've had the same issue for 6 months but have started to have some succes with the technique described in this clinical study - 
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