How to shop for running shoes
By the Mizuno Shoe Guy
Buying a good pair of running shoes should be a simple, fun experience,
but for a beginning runner it can be an intimidating experience.
Sorting through all the neat, new shoes models with accompanying
high-tech wizardry can be as confusing as a foreign language. Actually,
running shoes do have a language all its own, but we have tried
to simplify the shoe-buying process by taking a beginning runner
step-by-step through the procedure.
Before we even get started, an absolutely critical step is to get
yourself to a running specialty store in your area. Not a chain
athletic store or a mall-based sporting goods store. Go to a store
which specializes in running shoes and only running. Ask around
and you should be able to find a good one nearby.
Once there, tell the salesperson you’re a beginner and you’ll
get fitted for the best possible shoe for your individual needs
Here are some tips once you’re there:
1. Buy running shoes. That may seem obvious, but
many beginners end up with “sneaks” or “tennies”
and complain about foot pain. When running, you need to wear a running
shoe and not a cross-trainer, walking shoe, basketball sneakers
or tennis shoes. This is where a specialty running helps. If you
go to one, you’ll end up with a quality pair of running shoes.
2. Make a commitment to spend at least a half hour at the
store. Buying the right pair of running shoes is important
and you shouldn’t rush through the process or settle for a
shoe which doesn’t fit well or feel comfortable. Take your
time. Check out the shoe wall. Browse through the clothing racks.
Look at the race entry forms and see if there are any training classes
you might be interested in joining. After getting comfortable in
the store, seek out a salesperson. If you are a beginner who knows
next-to-nothing about what shoes you need, tell the salesperson.
Don’t feel embarrassed. A good running shoe person loves working
3. Bring your running (or athletic socks) with you to the
store. You’re going to have to try on several pairs
of running shoes and if you’re wearing the wrong type of dress
socks (either too thin or too thick), it will effect how the shoes
fit. If you don’t have running socks, buy a pair at the store
before you try shoes on.
4. Have both feet measured for width and length.
Have this done even if you think you know your shoe size. As we
age, feet tend to spread and lengthen so chances are your shoe size
might be a half to a full size larger than you think. Women who
have recently given birth are likely to find their shoes have increased
as much as a full size. Regardless of your dress shoe size, you’ll
probably have to go up at least a half size in running shoes to
give your feet adequate room.
5. If you have been running, bring your old running shoes
with you. A good salesperson can tell a lot from your worn-out,
old shoes. Seeing those old shoes, will help the salesperson determine
which new pair of shoes is best suited for you. Also, if you wear
orthotics, bring them with you to the store and place them in any
new pair of shoes you try on.
6. Be honest. The salesperson will ask you detailed
questions about your running history (miles per week, speed, level
of runner, etc.) to help determine which is the best shoe for you.
Be frank and open. It can be confusing (and just a tad intimidating)
talking with a highly knowledgeable salesperson, but a good one
won’t try to snow you with techno-lingo. If you don’t
understand something or are confused about the value of a shoe technology,
don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation.
7. Buy quality. Getting the best running shoe
isn’t cheap. Expect to pay between $90 and $150 for a great
pair of shoes. You can pay a lot less, but the less expensive shoes
are less durable, supportive and protective. In other words, you
get what you pay for. You want all the comfort, cushioning and safety
features that will protect your feet and help you enjoy your running.
And if you are a beginner, don’t assume the cheaper shoes
are the way to go. Beginning runners need just as good a shoe as
a veteran. Maybe even better.
8. Fit, fit, fit. What’s the most important
aspect to buying real estate? Location, location, location. Well
with running shoes, fit is everything. Even if you buy the very
best pair of running shoes imaginable, they will be worthless if
they don’t fit your feet well. So try on a variety of styles
and models from several different brands. (Different brands fit
differently.) You want running shoes that fit snugly (without being
too tight) and allow for some room between the longest toe and the
end of the shoe. Generally, there should be one-third of an inch
of room. Your feet and toes shouldn’t feel crammed and you
shouldn’t notice any tightness. The heel fit is also very
important. The heel shouldn’t slip at all or come out of the
shoe when you run or walk. If a shoe isn’t wide enough, ask
whether that model comes in a wider width. Many models are now available
in more than one width. Try on every pair you are considering. Lace
them up. Walk around the store. Jog around. Jump up and down. If
any one particular area of the shoe doesn’t seem to fit right,
don’t buy it.
9. Pick two pairs. Try to narrow your selection
to two different, but comparable models. Do a side-by-side comparison.
Wear one on each foot to notice the differences in fit, cushioning,
stability and comfort. Ask the salesperson’s opinion. Ask
what technical differences there are between the two shoes. Don’t
necessarily go with the more expensive or well-known brand. Go with
the pair that you feel will work for you the best.
10. Return policy. Ask about the store’s
return policy. Sometimes shoes that feel great in the store feel
differently when you get them home. Most good running stores have
a return policy which allows you to exchange shoes that are still
clean and haven’t been worn on the streets or trails. But
make sure you check with the salesperson and retain the sales receipt
for your records.
The Mizuno Shoe Guy will be glad to answer all your shoe-related
questions. Email him at email@example.com
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