Smutty Fitness: buying running shoes
Few things are as exciting to me as buying a brand new pair of running shoes and I can hardly wait to put them on and take them out for a run. I have a pair of shoes for each of my running outfits (yes, while most women are more concerned with finding the hottest shoes to match a new dress, I want to find the right shoe to go with my bright green running jacket).
On Wednesday I posted an intermediate running program (click here to read it) for those of you looking for more of a challenge from the beginner program I posted a while back. But, before you start, you MUST make sure that you are in the right pair of running shoes. I am sure most of you find running shoe displays at sporting good stores extremely overwhelming - all the different brands, colours, styles and types (I find the shoe section at Holt Renfrew overwhelming myself) - so I am going to guide you through how to buy the right pair of shoes for you.
First thing - shoes are not a one type fits all. Just because your running buddy has a cute pair of pink runners on does not mean that you should go out and buy them too. It is very important that you go see a fit specialist, someone who has been specifically trained to fit people in running shoes. Stay away from big box sporting good stores and stick with a local running shop in your neighbourhood.
When you venture out to buy shoes, do not be in a rush. Allow yourself a minimum of 30 minutes (if it is your first time making a running shoe purchase) to complete the entire shoe buying process. Also, if you have a pair of old runners bring them with you as the associate will be able to look at how your old shoes wore and that will help with figuring out where to start.
The next important step is to forget about the style and the colour of the shoe (for now) because what is most important is finding one that fits you. Once you know what shoe is right for you then you can be choosy with the colour but do not let the colour prevent you from buying the shoe. In a few weeks your shoes will be worn and dirty and the color will not even matter.
The fit specialist is probably going to have you try on at least 3, maybe 4, different styles of running shoes and in a variety of sizes and widths. Try each shoe on, walk around in them and get a good sense of how each shoe feels. You will know right away what feels right and what does not and the fit specialist who is helping you will also be able to guide you in the right direction. There are many different types of shoes in the market: stability, motion control, neutral and minimalist. Allow the fit specialist to help you pick the right shoe for you.
Here is the shoe that I am absolutely loving right now, the New Balance 890V2 and I will run the Boston Marathon in them on April 16th. I used to (up until two years ago) only run in a stability shoe but as my running technique improved I have switched to a neutral runner with a little less cushion and a lowered heel. I have run my last 3 marathons in the neutral model as it really allows me to feel the pavement when I'm out for my long runs and in my races. Before this shoe though, I learned to run in the New Balance 860 and it kept me injury free through all of my 10kms, half marathons, half Ironmans and two Ironmans.
I also just bought this shoe, the New Balance 730 for my core work in the gym - cute right?! This is what is called a minimalist shoe, pretty much like being in bare feet (but way prettier then those toe running shoes - I'm sorry, but just not a fan of them). Training in minimalist shoes has actually been proven to prevent ankle injuries and promote and speed up recovery from an ankle injury. Now do not run in these shoes unless you are an elite runner, but they are ok to use when you are doing your balance and stability training as well as all the strength workouts I post.
Once you have tried on all of the shoes you will probably have 2 or 3 that felt right so try them all on again and see if one may feel better than the other. If so eliminate a few more. If not, this is where you can start to be picky on colour, style and price. Running shoes are an investment in your health and if you are about to begin a 10 week training program you are going to want to make sure your feet are in the best shoes possible.
You also want to check the store's return policy. Ask if you can take the shoes to the gym and try them out on the treadmill for 10 minutes to see how they feel and if they do not feel right will you be able to exchange them. Running shoes for the average runner should last about 6 months (I change mine every 3 but I'm running 60-80km a week in them). You do not need to throw them away after 6 months as they are still good for walking and gardening, etc, but make sure you buy a new pair if you plan on continuing to run.
My main point here is when you are buying a new pair of running shoes go to a fit specialist in a store that is specific to running. It may cost you a little bit more and take a bit longer to accomplish but it is worth it when you cross the finish line injury free.
Attached - Sandra Bullock on the school run before the gym.