I went on a 14 mile ride today for the first time with my new road bike shoes and 2 bolt cleats. It wasn't good. I didn't bother to get my seat in proper position; I had a nose full of snot because of the cold; but most importantly, the outside of my feet hurt like a b*tch afterwards. The shoes fit very well, not narrow whatsoever. the cleats were positioned such that the sole was right over the pedal axle. So when I got back from the ride, I read about cleat positioning, and how the foot should be positioned slightly forward, because as your pedal reaches 3 o'clock (or 9 for your left pedal), you're dragging the pedal, and your foot is angled upwards. This would position your sole slightly backward. I also read about mid-sole cleat positioning, which seems to be catching on with some tri athletes because it allows them more foot stability and less effort.
Right now, I got my cleat positioned as far back as it would go. I'll try to squeeze some time tomorrow to go on another ride, and perhaps bring me some napkins. But in the mean time, what are people's opinions on cleat positioning?
The cleat should be positioned around the back of the ball of the foot ... pretty much as far back as it will go.
For side of the foot pain, try loosening your shoes slightly. You may also experiment with angle ... angling your feet outward or inward ... whatever your natural foot position is.
Very few people get their cleats in the correct spot right out of the box. Sometimes the necessary adjustments are measured in millimeters.
I prefer my cleats to be more forward on the shoe. I find getting the angle right to be most important and use cleats with float.