Brooks – Ravenna 4 – Size 10

I purchased a new pair of shoes today. I am not a gambling man, so this is as close to the lottery as I come. Buying shoes is my big bet on hope and regret, joy and disappointment.

Eventually, I chose the Brooks Ravenna 4s, which were noted in March’s Runners World as a best value shoe. At $110, they are in my budget. The Ravennas are stability shoes, and they felt more comfortable then the Brooks Adrenalines, which I have been wearing with a great deal of success. I now have a set of 5 running shoes that I am rotating through, and three of them are Brooks. The oldest are Ghosts, a pair of Adrenalines, and now the Ravennas. The extensive rotation is an experiment with healing my Achilles. The hypothesis is that it’s not necessarily a specific pair of shoes that is causing the problem, but wearing the same shoe over and over again on the same run. So I’m mixing it up, and my Achilles is feeling better all the time.

I initially tried on a pair of Ravenna in size 9.5, and they felt a little strange. There seemed to be a lot of “anti-pronation” slope in the forefoot. (That is, the forefoot sloped to the outside.) They were still in the running. Next I tried on a pair of Nikes in 9.5 and they felt really small, and being a long time Nike devotee, I decided to try them in a size 10. For a while now, I have wondered if I should move up a size, since my pinky toes are getting rubbed and I’m banging up my second toes on some runs. I look for shoes with a big toe box, but can’t seem to find any.

Anyway, the Nikes in a 10 felt great! So I tried on a pair of 10s in the Brooks Ravennas and Adrenalines. Those felt even better! After a couple of trips up and down the aisle at Dick’s I was sold on the Ravennas.

All of this is autobiography. And it is not intended to be a recipe for how to buy shoes. I just hope I encourage you to try on lots of shoes and not be satisfied until you find a pair that is comfortable. And if you get an injury in a pair of shoes, get out of them and try something else.

Runners World says buying shoes is a subjective process. And they mean that their flowchart won’t necessarily put you in the right pair of shoes. But I take that even further. I want my shoes to feel comfortable to me. And after being a Nike devotee for some time, I’ve become willing to try some other brands. I also read recently that if a pair of shoes doesn’t feel comfortable in the store, it’s not going to get any better on the road. (So true.) And if it doesn’t feel comfortable, it is probably stressing something that shouldn’t be stressed. These are things that I suspected, but it’s nice to be validated. (Noakes in Lore of Running talks a lot about shoes being one of the main variables you can alter in your quest toward injury free running. Shoes are your primary interface between your body and the ground. So choose wisely and pay attention!) My mind was also open to stability shoes, since I’ve had success with them in the past and recently figured out that I overpronate – especially on my left. So I tried on a lot of shoes and ran them around the store for a while.

I went to Dick’s this time to save a few bucks. The shopping experience is not nearly as chatty as Gribbles, which I really like. It’s nice to buy shoes from people who actually run and are willing to talk about the minutia of shoes. I’ve also been to Sports Medicine & Metro Running (at 95th & Metcalf), where they filmed me and helped me figure out I’m an overpronator. (Much to my surprise!)

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