By Gilbert B. Elwyn
As we were admiring an uncharacteristically balmy January day and admiring equally an attractive runner who was taking advantage of it, we were surprised to notice that she was wearing what appeared to be dress flats. The shoes did feature some straps across the tops, which probably served to hold them securely during her run.
We’ve always said that runners should find whatever works for them and stick with it. Nevertheless, this episode served to remind us that it is time to address an important aspect of running: shoes. (There are a few barefoot runners out there, our advice is to not join their number.)
Running shoes come in an increasingly dazzling display of styles, colors, and high-tech names. They will probably be your most expensive equipment purchase and, undoubtedly, will be your most important.
A man with a waffle iron invented the original running shoe. Since those shoes took their first tentative steps, gels, air, and many more innovations have been added, making shoe purchases as mind boggling as filling out tax forms. This means it is time to put it in the hands of a professional.
Seek out a store, or department, which specializes in running equipment. These are usually run or staffed by runners. The store personnel should check not only your size, but also your stride – you should hear the word “pronation,” which refers to how your feet hit the ground. They might watch or, possibly, film you as you run, before making suggestions re selection. By the way: the best running shoes for you are not necessarily the newest or highest priced.
Some tips: wear running socks; remember that the shoes should not slip but should not be constrictive; and make sure there is adequate toe room.
Also remember that your feet will swell as you run, so it is best to try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet will closer approximate that situation.
Ask questions: let the salesperson know how the shoes feel. If, after you purchase them, they hurt during a trial period on your carpeting, take them back.
Sometimes ill-fitting shoes will affect more than just your feet. Back, leg, and Achilles pain can also be results of wearing the wrong shoes.
Second hardest bit to swallow: the best shoes for you might not be the most stylish.
Hardest bit to swallow: shoe companies tend to change shoe models and styles with the same frequency as automobile manufacturers, so, even if you find a shoe that you love, you’ll still have to go through this whole process many more times throughout your running life. The good news is that good running stores can help you pick out new shoes based upon your discontinued models.