One of the most important things (okay maybe THE most important thing) for running is shoes. You have to have them and you need to make sure you have the right kind of shoe. When I first started running, I went to any store and bought the first shoes I found that felt comfortable and looked cool. Comfort is definitely a must with running shoes. (Though you do need to be willing to sacrifice looks for comfort.) BUT I did several things wrong when I bought shoes on my own:
1. I bought my shoes a half size too small.
2. I didn’t know what pronating was, if I did it, or how to find the right pair of shoes if I did or did not pronate.
After giving myself tendonitis and all sorts of knee pain from the small shoes and taking 2 months off running, I decided I should go to the experts. Where I lived at the time (Nashville, TN), the experts were Fleet Feet. With stores in over 30 states, there may be one near you. If not a Fleet Feet, there’s someone else. I currently work at a running store and more than ever, I am convinced that the right shoes make all the difference.
How can a running store help?
At a running store, associates will watch you run and determine if you pronate and how much. Pronating means when you run, your ankles move inwards. People who do not pronate, or neutral runners, strike with their heel and move straight through.
Depending on if you pronate or not, you’ll be fitted into a shoe that is either neutral or that offers some level of stability. Though there is much more to it, at the basic level, a neutral shoe won’t have much plastic on the bottom or dark material (called posting) on the outside medial part of the shoe. Light stability, stability, and extra stability shoes will have varying amounts of plastic and posting; your amount of pronation will determine how great the need for stability. Being in the proper shoe protects you from injury, offers the right cushion, and helps you become a more efficient runner.
The Nike Pegasus is a neutral or non-stability shoe.
The Brooks Adrenaline is a stability shoe.
Other perks about running stores
Running stores also sell socks, apparel, energy gels, injury helps, and the employees have a great database of knowledge about shoes and running. Also, many stores let you return your shoes within a few weeks of purchase if for some reason they cause blisters, pain, or just don’t feel right. They’ll work with you to find the perfect shoe.
Whether you’re running for the first time or have never been fitted for a shoe, I highly recommend it! It’s worth paying a little extra to know that you are in a shoe designed to accomodate the way your body runs.