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Finding the Right Running Shoes

Among all the various running apparel including pants, shorts, shirts, fuel belts, hats, etc, nothing is more important than what you are wearing on your feet. It’s a pretty easy deduction but it still amazes me how most people aren’t wearing what they need but instead what was on sale at the store or what looks good at the time. Especially since what starts at your feet effects the rest of your body including your knees, hips and back. Having the right shoe prevents injuries, potential increases performance and overall makes exercise more enjoyable.

First things first. Where did you go when you bought your last pair of shoes? If you named Foot Locker, Sport Chek or any department store, you’ve likely not received the type of service, nor the shoe that is ideal for you. I’m not saying all these stores are bad but more often than not the sale person isn’t trained as well as those at more specific specialty running stores. At most if not all specialty stores, such as the Running Room, or your locally owned running store, their staff will spend the time to figure out your unique running style. This typically involves looking at the wear pattern on your old pair of shoes and asking you to perform a number of exercises including a quick run or walk around the show floor, lunges, etc. From there, the staff will be able to direct you to a number of different models from a number of different brands.

There are definitely differences between shoes. Some are made to correct and stabilize running deficiencies (such as over-pronation), some are made for more cushioning, some are made for pure speed while sacrificing something else. Between the different brands, they all attempt to do the same sort of things while using their own patented technologies, Mizuno with their Wave Cushioning, Asic Gel, Saucony Grid, etc. Once presented with these different shoes (again, which have been selected for your running style) it’s all about comfort. All shoes fit a little differently and everyone will find a different favorite. Take a quick jog around the shoe and see what feels best. Above all, if it doesn’t feel good right there and then, it’s not going to get better later on, so make sure they’re the ones for you.

So now that you have quality shoes, how long do they last? If you run a lot, say, 4 to 7 times a week, they will last about 6 months. While the outside might still look good, the cushioning would have taken a significant beating. You can see it as the foam on the bottom gets more dense and deeper “crush lines” have developed. If you can afford it, buy 2 pair of shoes and alternate them. You’ll get more life out of your shoes as the “rest day” will give the foam in your shoes more time to rebound, and they will last a month or 2 longer.

You’ll probably be surprised at the cost of quality running shoes as they are typically $100 or more, especially at every 6 months. However, it is well worth it considering it would be much less expensive and painful then an injury down the road. I definitely would not go cheap on shoes.

Here’s what I’m currently running in:

Main Running Shoe – Mizuno Wave Rider (top)

This is my normal running shoe. It’s built for a runner with a normal stride and foot impact. At 290g (9.5 US) per shoe, it’s fairly light and I like the fit and feel. I’ve been running with successive pairs of Wave Riders since I believe 2006. I alternate this shoe with another pair to try to extend the life of these beyond the 6 month point. It’s a good solid shoe that I like and have no qualms about.

Racing Shoe – Mizuno Idaten (left)

I use this shoe exclusively when I race. It’s very similar to my Mizuno Wave Rider but it weighs just 233 grams (9.5 US). It sacrifices cushioning in the sole to cut the weight so I very rarely train with them. Although it’s only a 57g difference between these and my main shoes, they definitely feel lighter on my feet and over the course of say a 21.1k race it probably shaves seconds (who knows how many really) off my time. While seconds doesn’t seem like much, it’s worth it when thinking about meeting goals and personal bests. Heck, why not try for a slightly better time when all it takes is shoe?

Trail Running Shoe – Brooks Cascadia (right)

Trail shoes are made for rougher terrain where normal shoes just wouldn’t have the grip (due to light smaller treads) nor the durability to tough it out (think running on sandpaper with soft rubber). I love this shoe! Unlike other trail runners I’ve tried, this one actually feels as light and nimble as my normal running shoes even though it’s made for rough terrain. I used this shoe both on forest trails and in the desert in Afghanistan. It’s a great shoe and its sole proved to be very durable and long lasting. After my experience with this shoe I’m likely going to check Brooks out for my next main running shoe.

So, I hope this enlightened you a bit on running shoes. Feel free to ask any questions if you have them and don’t forget to “like” the facebook page to support me and keep up to date what’s going on around here.

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