Saturday, November 15, 2014

Finding Your Running Shoe Solemate

Guess what this past Saturday was?! You guessed it, another long run! I know, I'm pretty predictable :)

But this was an extra special long run because I finally got to break in my new running kicks. I absolutely love getting new running shoes, I'm a weirdo like that. You can also tell I'm a runner because my running shoes are my most expensive shoes and actually cost me more than $30. Tell me to spend $120 on boots and I'll laugh at you but I won't give it a second thought to get my hands on a pair of new Asics! 

You might be laughing at me right now for spending $120 on running shoes but trust me when I say I won't be laughing when the shin and knee pain kick in if I skimp on quality and go for a cheaper shoe. Talk to any running expert and they will tell you that shoes are key! Price does not matter if you want to spare your joints the pain and actually preserve your body.

And since my goal is to be a runner for life, no joke I'm gonna be one of those little old ladies you see kicking butt in marathons, I happily invest the money in my shoes.  

First, a quick disclaimer: just because these shoes work for me, DOES NOT mean they will also work for you! If you're looking for good quality running shoes, I highly recommend going to a specialty running store where the people there know what they're talking about. I personally have gone to general sporting goods stores to look at shoes and have not found it to be the best experience. 

With that in mind, I go to Elite Runners and Walkers which is about a half hour drive from my house. The staff there are extremely knowledgeable and runners themselves. I always get great quality service and they keep my shoe type and size on file so I can just go in and pick up a new pair whenever I need one.

So shiny and new :)

I absolutely love, love Asics and will always recommend them as the first brand for people to try. I'm a bit biased because I've been sticking with this brand since my high school cross country days. For the past three years, I've worn the GT 2000 series and have nothing but love for them! 

Of course, I'll admit that they're not the ONLY great brand of running shoes. They're just the best brand for me! Everyone is different though, and it can take some time to figure out which shoes are best for you. 

With that being said, here are some general things to keep in mind while looking around for running shoes: 

1. Does the store specialize in running? (obvious, but still)

2. What kind of brands of shoes does the store offer?
Yes, they are going to be expensive but you want to make sure they have the high quality brands. We're talking Asics, Brooks, Saucony, etc. 

3. Will the store do an evaluation? 
This is key and will let you know the quality of the store. When I first went to Elite, the guy helping me out had me first run on a treadmill to establish my natural gait. He then brought out several, and I mean several, pairs of shoes to figure out which ones worked best for me. I then had to run a few laps in each one so that again he could assess how I was running in them and how they felt on. 

4. If you're a newbie at running, take someone with you who is more experienced.
They'll be able to help you out with their opinion and guide you through the process. 

5. Creep on some conversations! 
I know, I have no shame. This past weekend while I was waiting to pick up my shoes, I listened to what some of the staff were saying. This one girl on staff was explaining to a customer about shin pain and increasing mileage too quickly. I already knew what they were talking about but still you never know what you might pick up!

6. If you don't want to take the creepy route then just ask! 
We all start somewhere so who cares if you have a lot of beginner's questions. I can guarantee that we all had them when we started out, too!

7. Make sure it fits right
This kinda goes along with the evaluation part because whoever is helping you should tell you what to look for in the fit of the shoe. Ideally, you want to make sure that when you have the shoe on that it doesn't feel like anything is on your foot. What I mean by that is you don't want it to feel lumpy or hard in certain places. When I first went, the guy helping me really wanted me to try out Sauconys because of my gait and how I needed extra inside support. I was adamant, though, on not getting them because it felt like I had a rock underneath the arch of my foot. He was surprised because based off the structure of my foot and the way I run, it should've been a great match for me. But it wasn't and I was much, much happier with my Asics. It just goes to show that what may work in theory is entirely different in practice!

8. Don't assume that a single brand will always work for you. 
I made this stupid mistake the last time I got shoes, even though I've been doing this for about four years now. I usually get the Asics GT 2000 series but when I needed new ones, they were out! Amanda had gone to get her shoes so I wasn't there, she was just going to pick up my regular ones. She ended up bringing me back the 3000 series since we figured they had to be close enough, right? They were still Asics and still the GT series. WRONG. Within one week, my feet ached, my toes were killing me, and I had major blisters in new places that my shoe didn't typically rub. Luckily, I was able to exchange them for my usual 2000s once they stocked up. I learned my lesson! I always call to see that they have my shoes before I make the drive out.

9. With number 8 in mind, don't be afraid to branch out if a shoe no longer works for you. 
It happens. Our bodies can change and eventually you might require different shoes. There are also different styles and brands that might adapt or change, and if you don't give them a shot you might never know if they work better for you than the shoes you have now. You never know unless you try! 

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