By Jarrett Weisberg
First off, let me say that this is not about being a larger runner (although I know a little bit about that, too). This is about the wide feet predicament- otherwise known as the journey of trying to find those sweet, sweet 2E running shoes.
Many years ago, I could only run a few miles in my running shoes before I would get blisters. If I ever pushed past that, it felt like the lateral (outsides) of my feet were breaking. I had no clue why this would happen, but of course, I didn’t do anything about it because I was stubborn and ignorant.
When I finally needed a new pair of running shoes, for some reason I went to a specialty running store where people actually knew what they were talking about. The employee measured my feet and said I had wide feet. I didn’t know what that meant, nor did I really care.
The employee went to the back of the store and brought over a pair of Asics Gel-Kayanos and pointed out the giant 2E writing on the side of the box. Again, I didn’t care. I slipped them on, laced them up, and… HOLY SHIT. What are these magical slippers?!
It was then and there that I had a revelation. I can only wear wide shoes.
What’s that? You’ve never heard of a 2E running shoe? Bless your heart! Let me break it down for you. You are most likely buying a shoe that is D (standard running width) because you are normal. I fall under the 2E umbrella which means that I have wide feet. Little do you know that there is a whole (albeit small) world of shoes that are classified as more narrow or wider.
Within that world, every wide-footed runner shares a common feeling. A feeling of confusion. Why are there nine billion options for shoes and like five of them come in wide?
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest running brands.
Nike. If you go to the men’s shoe section of their website, there are 574 options. Filter to show only 2E wide and your options drop to 15. Filter a bit more for running shoes and you are left with three. The company that is the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel only has three options of running shoes that come in 2E wide.
On Adidas’ website, there isn’t even an option to filter shoes for width. You have to search the term “wide” and the results are a complete waste of time. In addition to seeing some shoes so ugly you are going to want to claw your eyes out, the last result is a wide-brim sports visor. If I had a wide head, this is where I would be celebrating.
Even brands that were created solely for running are just as bad. You’ve heard of On. That fancy Swiss shoe where the sole is super weird but also super cool at the same time. It has holes in it and kind of looks like moon shoes. They call it CloudTec. Well, I can’t call it anything because On doesn’t have a single shoe available in wide.
Thankfully there are some companies out there that care about us.
My recent go-to brand is New Balance. They make some dope shoes. Not just Velcro ones, but very real and very stylish running shoes that come in different widths, including 2E. You want racing flats? Check. Recovery long runs? Check. Trail shoes? Still, check!
I’ve also used Brooks, Asics, and Under Armour. Someday when I’m a dad I may even spring for Hokas. All to my precious feet’s delight. No more crippling short runs. I’m talking about finishing a marathon without losing a single toenail. My legs may be dying and I may be dehydrated, but my feet feel fantastic!
Since I have been increasing my race distance and putting in 40+ mile training weeks, I have literally been running through shoes every couple months. I spend hours doing research and sifting through reviews online for just one review about the width because that’s the only way to find out what may work for me. Even so, I still just had to return two different pairs of shoes because the “wide” wasn’t wide at all.
I know there are a handful of other brands that I didn’t mention that come in different widths. It’s because they bore me. I’m just like everyone else who wants the latest and greatest shoe technology to provide more plush rides or scientifically cause me to use less energy to run.
I want to run in shoes with those cool soles everyone posts on Instagram. Adidas with the Ultra Boost. Nike with the React. On with their CloudTec. My fingers are crossed that they are coming in due time.
Companies are starting to provide more options, but I still can’t go online or even to a store, select my size, and know they are going to provide me a couple hundred miles of enjoyment.
I’m not asking for your pity, nor am I asking for every shoe to come in wide. Maybe just more options. For now, though, I’ll keep using that free return shipping until they cut me off…
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