Revenge of the Foot

This is what my new pair of Brooks PureConnect’s did to my heel in a 5K:


I know it looks odd, but you try taking a picture of your own heel!

Granted, I wasn’t wearing socks. But most of the time I don’t wear socks when I race. Since I started doing triathlons just over three years ago, I prefer to race without socks. Of course if it’s really cold or a trail race I do wear socks, but then I wear different shoes.

I noticed when I put the PureConnects on for the first time without socks that the heel collar kinda dug into my heel. On closer inspection I noticed that it was stiff, as if there were cardboard inside, and very thick. I applied some vaseline, which is what I do to my shoes in a triathlon, and assumed that would do the trick. In the second half of the 5K I could feel the shoe rubbing my heel. I’ve taught myself to ignore this kind of pain, as I did when my chip band cut into my ankle at Charlottesville Triathlon, but I was glad when I got to the end of the race and could remove my shoe. I was kinda surprised to see blood on the shoe because it didn’t feel that bad, but the heel of the shoe had made a neat little hole in the skin on my heel.

So I got some scissors and took my revenge:

OK, crappy picture but, as you can see, I cut off the bulbous part of the heel. This wasn’t really revenge, but an attempt to make the shoe more comfortable. It’s notable that it only bothered my left foot, which is slightly bigger than my right. I probably should have sized up.

Cutting a shoe, by the way, is nothing new. Many athletes do it when part of a shoe irritates or annoys them. Ultrarunner Anton Krupicka trimmed the platform of his New Balance 100 shoes to get a flatter heel-to-forefoot drop, paving the way for the creation of the Minimus Trail. And ultrarunner Dan Rose confessed in his Saucony Peregrine review that “I usually need to grab a knife and cut out some portion of a shoe’s ankle-collar to fit me just right.” Other runners have cut away the front side of a shoe to accommodate swelling in the latter stages of ultras.

Still, I hope Brooks takes another look at the  heel of the PureConnect, as I’m not the only one who’s had problems with the heels. It’s a great racing shoe in all other regards, but, since my high school track and cross-country days are over, these days I prefer to finish a race unbloodied.


  1. Ouch! I love my Brooks Pure Flow…but completely different design I think you have a new calling as a Cobbler.

  2. ahh … there’s no pain quite like the heel blister.

  3. So funny–I have the same shoes and had the same issue. But rather than be smart like you, I just suffered through it until I earned a callous. The other thing I don’t like about that heel is that it kind of collapses when you put your fut in it, unless you really pay attention and use your hand to keep it up. But I do like the ride!

  4. Glad you were able to effectively operate! Blisters are such small things that cause such a huge amount of pain!

  5. I’m actually quite happy I ran into this post! I tried on the PureConnect at REI today and loved them… except the heel. I’m comforted knowing I’m not the only one who has a problem with the heel design. I have had problems getting blisters in the past so I’m especially careful about the heel rubbing area. I really hope Brooks will fix the heel in the next model, I think they’d be the perfect shoe! 🙂
    Erin recently posted..Day 3: Week 1 – and ShoesMy Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      Hey Erin

      Since this post I’ve gone back to the Racer ST5 and am much happier. I can wear them without socks all day long and no heel rubbing! Good luck!

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