I love online shopping. I love Amazon. I love shopping in my underwear. I love when I buy something online, forget about it and then it shows up on my doorstep like a surprise Christmas present to myself. I even make money through online shopping. I am an Amazon affiliate, so that means if I recommend something on this blog and you purchase it on Amazon, I make a small percentage of the sale. Online shopping is awesome in so many ways.
With that being said, there is one product that I think everyone should buy from a local specialty store, running shoes. I see it all the time in online posts "Looking for recommendations: I'm in the market for a new pair of running shoes, what are your favorite shoes?"
The problem with that is that one person's favorite shoe could be another person's detriment. People have different running mechanics and therefore different needs in a running shoe. It's best to visit your local store and work with a knowledgeable store associate or coach to determine the best shoe for your unique running needs.
WHAT'S THE BEST RUNNING SHOE?
There is no one best running shoe. The best running shoe is one that is comfortable, fits well, provides the appropriate amount of support and pronation control for the individual runner. An associate at a running store can watch the way you run and help determine the best shoe for the way your foot pronates (rolls inward) when you run.
Neutral shoes allow your foot to pronate naturally when you run. Neutral shoes are best for runners with normal to high arches who don't overpronate. Some examples of neutral running shoes are Brooks Ghost, New Balance 880, Asics Gel Cumulus and Mizuno Wave Rider.
Stability shoes are best for runners who have normal to low arches with mild to moderate overpronation. This means their foot rolls inward more than normal and requires some support on the (inside) arch of the shoes to control overpronation. Some examples of stability shoes are Brooks Adrenaline, Asics Gel Kayano, New Balance 860 and Mizuno Wave Inspire.
MOTION CONTROL SHOES
Motion control shoes are best for runners with flat feet and severe overpronation. These shoes do what they say, they control the motion of the foot to avoid severe overpronation. Examples include the Brooks Ariel and the Brooks Beast.
TIPS FOR BUYING RUNNING SHOES
Visit your local running store to get a shoe fitting by an expert. You will have to the chance to try them out in store, find the right shoe for your running mechanics and support the local businesses in your community. It may be tempting to buy last year's model on an online discount store, but without the opportunity to try them out and receive guidance from an expert, you could end up in the wrong shoe. I shop at Lone Star Walking & Running Company in Fort Worth. Try Runner's World store finder to locate a running store near you.
Generally speaking you should buy your running shoes 1/2 size to one full size bigger than your street shoes (that is, if you want to keep all your toenails). I wear a size eight in my dress shoes and a size nine in my running shoes. The rule of thumb (pun intended) is there should be about a thumb width of space between where your toes end and your shoe ends. Your toes should not be restricted or rub against the shoe. Your feet can swell a little when you run, so you want to make sure your shoe has the space to accommodate to avoid blisters and black toenails.
REPLICATE RUNNING CONDITIONS
Buy your shoes later in the day after you've been walking around for awhile or after a run. Wear the same types of socks you will wear when running. Your feet can swell a little when running, so it's best to try to replicate running conditions as closely as possible when trying on shoes. Run in them at the store if possible.
REPLACE RUNNING SHOES EVERY 500 MILES (OR SO)
A general rule is to replace your running shoes about every 500 miles. After you've been pounding the pavement for awhile your shoes start to lose their shock absorbing qualities and can lead to injuries. Your body will usually let you know when it's time to replace by introducing you to new aches and pains. If you run 20 miles a week, it's probably a good idea to replace them every six months. Some runners will claim they can run in the same shoes for years without problem, but those cases are outliers. I wouldn't recommend it.
If you run every day, it can be a good idea to alternate between two pairs of running shoes. Different shoes with different wear patterns can change the way you strike the ground, even in subtle ways. Simply changing shoes every other day can help decrease the chance of repetitive use injuries.
DON'T WEAR YOUR RUNNING SHOES WHEN NOT RUNNING
In case you haven't noticed, running shoes can be expensive, so don't needlessly wear them out by wearing them for work or errands. Athletic shoes that are not specific to running are usually less expensive. Buy less expensive pair of gym shoes for everyday wear and save your running shoes for running. Once you've run in your shoes for 500 miles, you could stop wearing them for runs and start wearing them as your daily shoe in order to get the most out of them.
As a side note, it's generally not a good idea to wear your running shoes for other fitness activities outside of running, like classes at the gym, boot camps or CrossFit. Running shoes are built to protect your foot when running in a forward motion and do not provide adequate support for lateral moves. Buy a pair of cross trainers for your exercise classes.
Once you find the right fit, you may try a few different brands and choose your favorite. While a lot of runners have brand preferences, the colors and fashion statement of the shoe should be the last consideration when purchasing running shoes. Make sure it fits properly and supports your running mechanics, then choose the brand if you have a preference and lastly the color. Your can choose to express your funky style in your compression socks.
If you've never been fitted for running shoes, pinky swear to me that you'll hit your local running store for your next pair of shoes. It is an investment in your sport, your health and your community. Are you in?
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