Seems I’ve been doing a lot of talking about shoes this week, with new and experienced runners alike.
I am a typical woman with regards to my love of shoes, however, my fetish is mostly reserved for running shoes! My closet is stocked with a multitude of brands and styles. I often justify buying them as part of my job. In all seriousness I do like to try new ones, not because I feel like I am always searching for the next great thing, but because I want to be able to talk to my clients about the shoe, how it felt, and so on. I have had the privilege of working with a lot of shoe reps in learning about the shoes, the benefits, the changes, how it differs from something else. There are as many different theories as to what makes a great running shoe as there are shoes and that is a good thing! Because there are lots of different feet out there!
I feel obligated to start with a BRIEF statement on running form and the minimalist shoe craze.
People are spending a lot of money and a lot of time trying to make wholesale changes to their running form because reading a book told them they are running wrong. Because a shoe company says they are running wrong, but wearing these shoes will make you run right, faster, injury free…if you spent as much time simply running as you spend fretting and trying to make huge changes for reasons you may not even understand, you would be a better runner.
Yes, form can be improved, a couple of very simple drills, shorten your stride, increase your turnover, your body naturally reacts to have you running with so-called proper form. No, you do not need to make huge wholesale changes to what comes naturally to you. I posted an article a few months ago with scientific proof that different tribes in Africa, whom we seem to constantly try to emulate, some forefoot land, others heel strike, guess what, both are efficient for them. So just get out there and run, relax, do what comes naturally and enjoy yourself!
Now to address the shoe dilemma.
How do you pick the right shoe for you…let me repeat that RIGHT SHOE FOR YOU!
People ask me all the time what shoes I run in. I usually don’t say, at least not initially. For one thing, what is right for me is not right everyone. I switched brands several years ago when my then-brand of choice changed my favorite shoe too much and my current brand finally made a shoe I like! I actually now run in two different brands and three different styles of shoe, and that doesn’t include races!
That is probably a bit excessive, but I encourage you to have two styles of shoe in your weekly rotation. Most simply have a long and easy run shoe and a hard run, race day shoe in the lineup.
Let’s talk brand loyalty a bit. Shoe manufacturers are always tweaking and “improving” shoe styles and it often is far from an improvement. Through your years of running you know you have come across a favorite shoe. They make you feel like you are floating, you are excited to go run every time you put them on, then the new updated version comes out and….it @$#*ing sucks! It in no way resembles your faithful running buddies. When this happens, and it will, don’t be afraid to make a brand switch.
How to shop for running shoes…
First and foremost go to a running store!! No big box sports equipment stores, no department stores. Go to a running store, make sure they watch you run and walk, understand how much you run and offer you lots and lots of shoes to try on! It might seem overwhelming at first, but it’s worth it. Try the shoes on, run in them, spend more than 15 secs in them. When you narrow it down, put them on side-by-side, one of each on each foot. Run around in them without looking at your feet and ask yourself some questions. Which shoe do I notice the LEAST? Which one feels comfy, springy, like an extension of my foot?
That is the shoe you want, even if it is hideously ugly!
The reason for the shoe you notice least is because you don’t want it to be about the shoe, even something you notice that is not unpleasant running in the store, may not feel so great 3, 6, 12-miles down the road!
There really are a lot of fantastic running shoes out there, very well made, designed with lots of different foot shape and needs in mind. I promise finding the right shoe for you can make a world of difference in running well and pain free and get you excited to get out and run…which is ultimately the best thing you can do to become a better runner!
If I can answer any of your questions about what to look for or how to incorporate a second style into your routine, please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.