TL;DR: Flat footed, heel underpronating and toe pronating, mildly bow-legged runner purchased a pair of ASICS Men's Gel Lyte33 3. Will let you know about the performance.
My faithful Reebok Verona Supreme 2 tore yesterday, and it was about time too. It didn't trouble me for the most part, but I did have some issues with it, for instance, every reasonably long run caused pain in the arch. And thus began my quest for the perfect running shoe (for me, obviously).
I am posting this because I have spent the last 4 hours on this quest, and perhaps this will help someone.
The first thing I did was to search for shoes that suited runners with a flat foot. Most websites blindly suggested "Motion control stability shoes", whatever the hell that was. I checked out a bunch of them, and I liked what I saw. Mainly because the shoes predominantly had a wide midsole, and the most common problem I've had with shoes in the past was a narrow mid sole causing my foot to pull the canvas under my shoe. This often caused my foot to slip sideways if I tied my laces for a snug fit, and forced me to tie them too tight for my comfort. So all was well, and I was about to order when I realized I kept coming across this term called "pronation". The shoe was supposed to be extremely good for flat footed people and was supposed to help them with overpronation. On further research, I realized overpronation was when the runner rolled the foot along the inside of the foot.
I had my first and only DNF earlier this year caused by an injury. Since then, I have carefully analyzed my running and have tried to find the perfect stride that keeps my feet happy. And I remember that I felt most comfortable when ran in a mid foot stride and rolled my foot along the outside. I have been running that way ever since, and haven't faced any injuries. Most sites said the simplest way to check pronation was to just take a look at the sole of the shoe but that was difficult since the Verona Supreme(VS2) has an extremely awesome sole that didn't wear out even after 1.5 years of running. I initially assumed since the VS2 has a high arch support, it probably forces me to roll my foot on the outside. I was proved wrong when I checked my almost brand new formal shoes (which have no arch support), and the midsole and heel showed a slight wear, predominantly along the outside. So I was an underpronator. A flat footed underpronator.
The next half hour of search didn't lead me anywhere, and mostly left me feeling like this.
A friend suggested Runners World search, which asked me a set of elaborate questions. One good thing was they asked me separately if I was flat footed and about my pronation. But it is a shoe finder after all and most of the results was either for flat footed overpronators, or for high arched underpronators. The one shoe that seemed to achieve a decent middle ground was the Scott eRide Trainer 2, but that was apparently cramped in the toebox and that was a strict no-no for my broad feet.
During the search on RW, I found something else that was interesting. RW defined pronation not in terms of how the foot rolls, but in terms of how one pushes off the ground at the start of the stride. Overpronators were supposed to push off mainly from the large toes, and underpronators from the smaller toes. I went back to my brand new black shoes and realized that the sole, near the toes, was worn more towards the inside-center and not outside. So my stride landed midfoot, rolled back and forward along the outside, but pushed off closer to the larger toes.
I spent the next five minutes wondering what I had done to offend the running gods so, and planned to give up, when I chanced upon a post by one Ms. Lenni on RW forums. She had a similar problem, only she was a complete underpronator. And she mentioned that she had it checked and it was unusual, but occasionally happens to runners who are bow-legged and flat footed. The long comment thread subsequently helped me find so many people with such unfortunate combinations, a high arched overpronator, a knock kneed underpronator, someone who was an overpronator at the heel but pushed off his little toes, and finally, someone with exactly my condition. The cause of my troubles is that I am ever so slightly bow-legged! He recommended a select few, and after careful thought, I ended up with Saucony Men's Echelon 4 and ASICS Men's Gel Lyte33 3. Since barefoot running is prescribed by a lot of experienced runners, and since I don't really have the patience to do this all over again in a year when my new shoes wear out and the shoes in the thread have newer models that suck, I am purchasing a pair of ASICS Men's Gel Lyte33 3, because it is a minimalist shoe. If it doesn't work out, hello barefoot running!