That's right, 22 races in the past 10 months and none of them have been in a pair of shoes I have purchased new. In fact, I hadn't personally purchased any at all!
They could be worse - but the treads are almost gone
and the soles are molded to not-my-feet!
I received a few pairs of old (but not completely burnt out) shoes from my one my first running inspirations. She gave me her tired pairs because she knew I couldn't really afford investing in a pair of running shoes at the time, and we both knew there was a possibility I'd do a race or two but then give up the hobby quickly. Fortunately, I caught that bug, and have immersed myself in racing and personal fitness. UNfortunately, I never stopped to take the time for proper equipment shopping.
Well today I decided I had earned myself an excursion to the local Road Runner Sports to finally treat myself to a proper pair of running shoes. You know - ones that actually fit MY foot, and MY stride, and have actual tread left on the soles!
Side note: if you're not watching Parks and Rec yet, you should probably start.
First thing I noticed was how OVERWHELMING the selection of shoes was! My goodness, I had no idea there were so gosh darn many options. The last pair of running shoes I purchased came from Kohl's - definitely NOT a diverse collection, even if you knew what type of shoe you needed. I had no clue, so thank goodness for the Shoe Dog: Road Runner's foot and stride analysis program that helps match runners to the ideal shoe.
I'm fully aware that most women believe there are NEVER "too many" shoe choices.
I was remarkably impressed by the Shoe Dog process. So many sources are indicating that "shoe matters" for runners, and I've heard a lot of the buzzwords associated with the parts of the gait that can benefit from particular shoe models, but I'd never had that lingo applied to my direct experience and body. The first step of the process was to analyze sole shape and foot pressure at neutral. Done by standing in neutral on a pad full of sensors, this test can uncover not only the depth (or lack) of your foot's arch, but demonstrates your distribution of weight over your stance. Lopsided running can lead to uneven wear and tear on the body and is a direct factor in things like hip or knee pain, so an imbalance would be taken into consideration for shoe correction. I, however, did not have this problem! My weight was very evenly balanced both left-right and front-back; instead of an imbalance, I have pressure points in the balls of my feet and in my central heel, which along with my high arches can be accommodated by custom molded inserts.
After analyzing steady balance, I hopped on the treadmill for a few minutes, and had my running stride videotaped. Looking through the footage, I was happy to see my footfalls were very parallel to the road, with minimal splay to either direction. My ankle flexibility, though, will require some extra stabilization to keep my knees and hips properly aligned, which will cut down on the chances of injury (and hopefully the occurrence of soreness). Finally, we measured my foot length and width, fo find the right size range for the models that would address my shape and gait.
Really cool service, thanks Shoe Dog!
After going over my results and some additional information, we made me some custom insoles right there on the spot. They were heated and formed to my feet in just minutes! Then we used those insoles in every pair of shoes I tried - and I tried a LOT of shoes. I figured, I've never had a proper pair before, I better take my time and really get a feel for what's available. Finally, after almost an hour of trying on shoes, I fell in love with a pair! They're lightweight, very stable, and I barely even feel them against my feet. The only real downside is that the wide-width shoes (which I definitely need) only come in one color - gray! A whole wall of bright, vibrant, exciting shoes, and the one I pick has almost no color at all! Oh well, I did this to have the right equipment, not more flashy fashion!
Wearing these New Balances is like
running on clouds...
When I got home, I immediately laced up my new kicks, fitted Kaalia with her running leash, and took off! With 60+ degrees outside for the first time in what feels like ages, it's almost impossible to resist at least a short run with my very excited puppy. In fact, I've been enjoying the spring weather SO much that I realized I'm actually on my very first RUN STREAK! Four day so far, with plenty of opportunity to keep things going. And puppy is on day three of her own streak! Pretty soon she'll be ready for some race distances, and she'll only keep getting bigger and stronger for a while. I love having Kaalia as my training partner!
What shoes are you wearing these days? Have you ever been fitted for running shoes? What interesting things did you learn about your feet or the way you run?