Choosing The Best Running Shoes
In the past, Roadrunner Stores, in particular, intimidated me to visit when I first started running. It seemed so hard-core, and although I was motivated to begin, I was not sure if the truly experienced runners would think my questions were worth their time. Nevertheless, in the end, going to my local Roadrunner store with my old kicks and questions at hand was the best decision. I was able to find the right fit and pass along my shoe-buying experience to others.
Here are helpful tips when you are in the need of a pair of fresh, new running shoes:
It is very important to choose the right type of shoe specific to the sport–for instance running shoes made solely for running. Special running shoes are developed for sprinters, distance, cross training, or triathlon. Beyond that, certain models are designed for differences in foot characteristics, such as low or high arches. Running shoes can also be specialized by your stride. You should search for shoes based on whether or not you are an overpronator (meaning that when your foot hits the ground the side of your foot hits first and your foot rolls inward). The fastest way to find out if you overpronate is to study your most-used pair of shoes. Line them side-by-side, and look at the heel. If the shoes are straight and tall, you do not overpronate. However, if the shoes are leaning inward or outward, you are an overpronator. If you overpronate, you need to look for shoes that have side-arch support.
Although those big box sporting goods chain stores seem to have walls filled with the latest running shoes, often the sales staff is not sufficiently knowledgeable to help you. Your local specialty store carries shoe brands and models best suited for your needs.
Spend time at your local store. Check out the shoe wall for the newest shoes and latest trends and prices. You could spend at least 30 minutes trying out and picking out the right pair of running shoes. I was in the Roadrunner store almost an hour choosing the right pair, which turned out to be Asics. (I barely knew the brand until I visited the store.) Most stores have a small track for you run on and test out the comfort and productivity of the shoes. Be sure to bring in/wear your current shoes and running socks. There may be cases where the wrong socks will alter your shoe size and comfort level. If you think you will be using inserts for extra cushion, bring those, too. It is a good idea to purchase new socks to compliment your new shoes.
Share your running history with your sales associate. Such variables as how long you’ve been running, miles per week running, preferred surface, racing background or future races and other characteristics of your running are informative to the sales associate who’ll be in the back pulling out the right shoe for you.
If you have not been running, be honest. Specialty roadrunner stores intimidate many people and shoe-savvy sales associates are essentially there to help you and show their expertise to keep you and your feet on the right path. Since they know they are competing with the big chains, they will provide the expertise and service you need (unless you walk in 3 minutes before closing!).
Your primary need is for a pair of shoes that fit well and feel comfortable, even if the color or style does not appeal. Fit and comfort level are factors in the decision, but remember that you will be hammering those feet on the ground or pavement and the front of your foot will expand. Look for running shoes that fit snug with about a half-inch (or slightly less) room between the longest toe and the end of the shoe. The toes should not feel cramped or tight. Your heel should not slip in the rear foot when walking or running. If any one aspect of the fit is not right, do not buy the shoe.
Have your sales associate measure both feet width and length-even if you think you know your size. You would be surprised many people do not know their correct shoe sizes. Running and aging contribute to your feet tending to lengthen and spread.
Try on different styles and brands. One brand is not necessarily better than any other is, it is what is right for you that matters. Take your time. Put your running socks on and walk around the store in the shoes. Again, most stores have a mini track and area for you to run in the shoes (if not run outside). Some shoes may be wrong for you that you might not see yourself, if it does not feel or fit right in the store, it won’t feel better when you run. Make sure you have the sales associate watch you, too, for feedback.
Do not assume you would need the least expensive shoe when you are first running. Plan to spend between $75 and $125 for a high- quality, specialized model running shoe with sustainability. More experienced and elite runners will likely invest more in their shoes.
Compare shoes. Decide on two pairs and compare the two on fit and comfort. Ask the sales associate what the technical differences are. Put one shoe from each pair on and jog/run around to see which shoe feels best. Buy the shoe that fits. Ask for the sales associate’s recommendation if you cannot come to a decision.
Before checking out, be sure to understand your local roadrunner store’s return policy. Be sure to keep your box, receipt (in case something happens, such as a sudden tear), and then break in the shoe. Do not run five miles in a brand new pair, no matter how good they feel in the store. Happy Trails.
Jason Yu is Partner and Director of Marketing for The Hardwicke Group in Richmond, VA. His company specializes in new media, PR and influence with an emphasis on digital marketing strategy and reputation management. Jason enjoys keeping active by biking, running and working out on a daily basis. Jason has ran in over twenty running races including the Marine Corps Marathon, Tough Mudder, Richmond Marathon, and Xterra races. Interesting facts about Jason is that he is a music fanatic, in search fro the best macaroni and cheese, and aspiring “mixologist.”
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