If The Shoe Fits: Buying Running Shoes


Today I was cleaning my apartment and I realised how everything just fits in around my shoe collection. More stilettos, wedges, and flip flops than anyone ever actually needs. But when it comes to shoes, how can we really put a number on what need really means?

Then there are the running shoes.

Yesterday I had to make a few embarrassed apologies to strangers at the gym after taking off a pair of shoes and having their odor take down everyone within a ten foot radius. Explaining your best runs and fastest times in the shoes doesn’t count as an apology. Apparently. So what is with this inability to let go of my shoes once they have been run into the ground (literally and figuratively)?

Some days I swear all my power comes from my shoes. Walking into a room wearing sky high stilettos is empowering and I hold myself back from pushing people out of my way to do my best runway walk. Just like certain garments, all of my running shoes have memories. Maybe I ran a personal best in them or maybe they were the pair I was wearing when I made up my mind on some big life decisions. They could be the shoes from the last run from my last house, or the first run 8 weeks after surgery. I’m not sure everyone has this type of relationship with their footwear but I would like to offer some tips if this is at all appealing. Be warned that break ups are hard.

I have too many clients that come to me with terrible footwear. Old models, lacking enough support, or even casual shoes are presented to me with the reassurance that “the guy in the store said these are the best”. I don’t know who “the guy” is, but he better hope we don’t meet. So let me help out with buying proper running shoes.

When a running magazine or a running buddy says that some new shoe is THE BEST, don’t run out to stock up on them. If one shoe was the best for everyone, they would probably have to stop manufacturing all the other thousands of styles. A writer behind a desk somewhere else in the world can’t see your feet and the article they wrote is not dedicated to you. Someone who is educated on shoes, can see your feet and listen to your goals and previous injuries is probably a better option to determine your ideal shoe. If I had a nickel for everyone who had been incorrectly convinced about their own feet I would be blogging from my retirement home in a tropical location. In a pool of nickels.

Go to a running specialty store. This is not a department store or a sports store; you can’t run other errands here. Have someone look at your feet and your gait and if they don’t- take your tootsies elsewhere.

Listen to the advice you are given. Maybe the shoes that are recommended to you aren’t the brightest or they aren’t on sale but trust me when I say that your feet are colour blind and don’t appreciate a deal like you do. I always used to say that the ugliest shoes seem to work the best and my customer satisfaction was extremely high. It isn’t science but it is pretty darn close.

Here is a quick guideline: after your next shower, walk your wet feet across a floor that shows your footprints. Hold yourself back from the model strut, just your regular walk is great. Taking a look at your trail will give you some great information; besides the fact you need to clean your floor now.

If there is no contact between the heel and ball of your foot then specify you need a neutral shoe. This means you have a high rigid arch and your foot lacks pronation (your body’s built in shock absorption) so your feet need more cushioning.

If your footprint is cavemen-esque in appearance, and there is a lot of contact under the arch of your foot then you are the opposite end of the spectrum. This means you have a lot of pronation but biomechanically, we can improve efficiency by supporting the arch. Why waste energy on internal rotation of your leg when we want to move forwards and not inwards?! Ask for a shoe with a high level of medial support.

For those of you who fit in between, congratulations on being 90% of the population. You can ask for mild to moderate support and someone else will take it from there!

These tips are all very general because your feet are all different and I can’t see any of them. So don’t think anyone else who can’t see your feet can advise you any better. Take your old shoes with you so they can see the wear patterns and tell them what you liked and didn’t like. I do not take any responsibility for any future problems regarding refusal to part with your shoes.

My next topic will be how to most efficiently organize a closet around shelves and shelves of running shoes…

tracks-wet-cement-cartoon

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