By Cathy Bartlett, Owner Runaround Running and Lifestyle Co.
Choosing the correct pair of running shoes is like picking a new mattress. You don’t just go out and get the cheapest one you can find, in hopes that the fit is miraculously right. Instead, you visit different stores and willingly pretend to sleep in front of complete strangers. The average person spends approximately 9,000 days in a lifetime sleeping, so you need to choose wisely. The same goes for runners. While training for a marathon, individuals will spend more than 100 hours preparing. Selecting something that you spend this amount time in shouldn’t be taken lightly. That is why we asked Cathy Bartlett, Owner of Runaround Running and Lifestyle Co., to answer a few common questions to assist you through this process. As you begin, remember, happy feet make for happy runners.
Q: What are the most important things to think about when buying a running shoe?
A: Not the color! Most people were brought up to think color and looks are more important than the fit and function of a shoe. Running specialty stores are here to change a runner’s way of thinking and the shoe shopping experience. At The Run Around we take a more scientific approach when fitting for a running shoe to ensure each person is in the properly fitting footwear for any activity.
Q: When should you buy new shoes and retire the old ones?
A: The typical recommendation is 300-500 miles depending on time of year, running surface, type of shoe, and type of runner. One way to keep track is a running log app that tells how many miles are on each pair of shoes then you can replace them before they are too worn out and keep injury free. I personally like to buy a new pair of shoes around 250 miles, using the new pair for long runs and the older pair for mid-week runs until they reach about 350 miles.
Q: Should I stay loyal to a brand every time I get new shoes?
A: When buying a new pair of shoes it is always a good idea to run through the fitting process again to make sure nothing has changed with your gait. If there is no change and you enjoyed your previous shoe then there is no reason to switch brands. Always make sure you ask the sales associate at your local running store if your shoe has had any significant changes or updates since you last bought your shoes. Each model makes yearly subtle changes that may or may not be good for your foot type and professional guidance can be very helpful.
Q: What are some of the latest advances in the world of running shoes?
A: Minimal heel drop with maximal cushion from brands like Hoka and Altra are proving to be beneficial for many runners wishing to try the minimal shoe but don’t want to sacrifice cushion. Seamless bonding and technical fabrics on the shoes upper as well as high-tech shoelaces are also showing up more and more across the various brands.
Q: What kind of shoes would I need for a marathon?
A: There isn’t one specific shoe that is best for a marathon or half-marathon distance. It all depends on each individuals gait, body type, and desired goals. Going to a local running store and getting a gait analysis done is the best way to find out which shoe is right for your marathon. Have you ever gone to the big box shoe store to play the guessing game or tried your best friends favorite running shoe because he/she LOVES it? This can prove to be a costly mistake, improperly fitting shoes can lead to injuries, blisters, and can spoil your whole outlook on running. The best thing to do is to find out which shoe is your shoe and which shoe will take you to the finish line, not the shoe that got your best friend to the finish line.
Q: What Gear can a runner not do without?
A: Proper fitting shoes, nutrition, and a good pair of socks are the top three most important things. For women runners, a properly fitting sports bra is just as important as shoes, visit your local running store for a fitting. A few other items I consider very important would be a good quality technical shirt and shorts, hand held water bottle, and safety devices.
Footwear is a huge part of effective training. Don’t stop there. Get more out of your training routine by adding tempo runs. Here is a Tempo Run Quick Reference Guide to get you started.