I am blessed to have a part-time gig at a great local running store. This place was a lifesaver to me when I started running, and it’s awesome to be able to help others who are on a quest to find the right shoe for them.
I’ve lost count of the number of times customers have come in and immediately announced “I’m not a runner!” It doesn’t matter a hill of beans whether you run or not; we all need good supportive shoes. You don’t have to be a runner to need a great athletic shoe!
Honestly, I live in my running shoes pretty much 99.99% of the time. RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) has done a number on my feet, and they are truly the only comfortable shoes I can find.
I want to share a few tips with you to take the mystery out of running shoes.
- First and foremost, I cannot encourage you enough to find a store that has a great reputation for fitting shoes specific to YOUR foot. There are so many styles of shoes with various support levels, and it’s almost impossible to know what you need without the help of an expert. At my store, we educate ourselves with extensive training and testing before we embark on the fit process with customers. We also have monthly training sessions on new shoes and shoes that have been updated.
- The internet is great for research, but please don’t take all the information literally. One person can have a great experience with a shoe, and you could have a complete opposite reaction. We all wear shoes differently, hence the reason it is so important to actually try on the shoes. At the store where I work, we have a treadmill in-house and encourage folks to walk or run on it as long as they want to get a true feel for the shoe. (In case you are interested, here’s a link to the store where I work – www.upandrunningindayton.com. Perhaps this will give you a better idea of what to look for in a running store in your area.)
- There are several levels of support in running/walking shoes. Yes, they are the same; they both provide support for the forward/backward motions of walking and running. Don’t try to use a cross trainer for walking or running though, as they offer lateral support for activities such as racquetball, tennis, etc. Wearing a shoe with the right level of support for you is critical. The neutral category is for someone who has a nice high arch that doesn’t change much when weight is put upon the foot. Then we can go into light to moderate support levels, all the way up to motion control. Again, this is why it’s so important to know under which category you fall, if you are in a shoe that has not enough OR too much support, or chances are your ankles, knees, and hips will be out of alignment. This condition can wreak havoc on your body!
- Another important thing to know about running shoes is the drop; in layman’s terms this refers to the elevation in the heel of the shoe. A standard drop in a running shoe is 12mm, and this helps to take some of the pressure off of the Achilles tendon. A lower drop simply means that your heel is lower to the ground, which can be beneficial for someone who wants to engage more of their calf and foot muscles. However, a lower drop shoe is not for everyone, and can cause extreme soreness in the calf and foot and even injuries if you migrate to a lower drop shoe too quickly. These are all items that you can ask about when you visit a running store.
- A running/walking shoe typically has a lifespan of 4-6 months, or 300-500 miles. Yes, I know that is a shocker! Just because your shoes still “look good” on the outside does not mean they still have life left in them. Bubbles in EVA foam and cushioning systems break down over time and don’t provide the cushion and support that they once did. Keep track of your mileage and the date of your purchase, and commit to yourself that you will replace them in a timely fashion. Your feet will thank you!
- Last, while I know it’s tempting to purchase replacement shoes online, please remember your local running store. At my store, which is locally owned, we give much back to the community through various sponsorship programs. It really does benefit the community when you can patronize the “little guys” vs. the big box stores.
Happy shoe shopping and here’s to happy feet!
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