There are not many things that you need to start running. Basic athletic wear of some sort, and some comfy shoes. That’s pretty much it.
Except that it’s not. There’s much more to this whole shoe thing. There are some rules.
I got really lucky with my shoes. The week of the Capital City Quarter I bought a new pair of athletic shoes. Actually, it may have been the day before the race. The pair that I was wearing up to this was about a year old, had holes worn through the toe areas, and were generally worn for everything from work to walking/running. Mom and I had just walked about 7miles a few days before and my feet were killing me afterwards. So, I ended up at Meijer, and they had shoes on sale. I saw a pair that I liked (aka, I liked the color), bought them, and wore them the next day for a quarter marathon.
Rule #1– Don’t buy and wear brand new shoes the day of a race.
Shoes need to be broken in. I lucked out, since Mom and I mostly walked, I wasn’t doing a whole lot of damage to my feet. I didn’t have any blistering, and my feet were any more sore than normal after being on them for that long. Had I been trying to run the whole thing, I probably would have been hobbling half way through. The shoes that I purchased were Asics Gel-Enduro 6’s. They are specifically a trail running shoe, they have more grip on the sole for dealing with loose gravel/dirt/dog-poo/whatever else you might find on a trail. And (hence the name) they have a gel-based insole that is super comfortable.
You can see the current state of these shoes. I have been running in them for 5 months. And I didn’t actually use them on trails. I meant to, really, I did. I had a big master plan to go run on trails at one of the Metro Parks each week. It had promise. It’s just kinda never really saw fruition. Whoops.
Rule #2– Most shoes have a specific purpose in life. Pick the one that meets your needs.
My shoes would have enjoyed life a little more if I had followed through with that park plan. As it was, they saw a lot of time on paved walking paths, and roads. They are a bit heavier than a regular road-running shoe is, which may make a difference if you’re hard-core and speed is a big deal. Every ounce counts, right? But for me, they looked nice, and more importantly, they felt nice.
Rule #3– Make sure your shoes feel good, and fit properly.
I’m thinking that this is where most of us go wrong. We pick shoes for the wrong reasons (i.e. they’re pretty-I do it all the time, if it’s not in green, it’s not for me), and we don’t think about how those shoes are going to be used, and therefor don’t get the right size. Once again, I got real lucky. Right from the beginning these shoes were super comfortable and I never had any problems with blisters. My feet are a little bit wide, and these worked perfectly. I recently went up to Fleet Feet with Mom (she joined No Boundaries- Yay for Mom!) so that she could get her gait looked at since she had been having some foot trouble (hope you don’t mind me dishing your story out). Her doctor had ruled out major issues, and the thought was that she may be wearing too small of a shoe. Long story short, they looked at the way she landed on her feet as she ran, measured each of her feet so that she would know what size she should be looking at, and talked about about some shoes are padded differently depending on how you land on your feet. While I was there with her, they looked at my feet as well. I “toe-out” when I run. They looked at me from behind and you could see 2-3 toes peeking out around my calf as I touched down. So they talked to me a little about the kind of shoe that I should look for, something that provided more support on the outside of my foot to try and help correct that issue. Basically, if you’re not lined up right, you’re possibly going to have problems with your knees and hips. Proper alignment is kind of a big deal. As is proper shoe size. I had never specifically thought about it, but since I’ve been running, I notice how my other shoes aren’t actually very comfortable because they are probably a little too small. I have a pair of Nike’s that I usually just wear for show, and when I tried to run in them, my toes were very angry about it afterwards. I have also decided that my dress shoes should probably be another half size up as well, and then maybe we won’t hate each other so much.
Rule#4- Size does, in fact, matter
Anyway, I had gotten lucky that my impulse buy trail shoes had been working out so wonderfully for me. But they were getting worn down. Badly. I had been running a gravel trail near once or twice a week for a while, and the grip just wasn’t there. Plus I was starting to get toe-holes again (Apparently my big toe has a lot of personality and wants to be seen. Who knew?). And had gotten into the bad habit of wearing them to work everyday because they were so comfortable. Which doesn’t exactly help with their longevity. Whoops again.
Well, last week, I took a trip to DSW, which is my favorite shoe store ever. The funny part is that I was looking for a pair of dress shoes. All the ones I have now are older and have ridiculously high heels on them from back when I could actually walk on them and make them look good. Now they just punish me for my foolishness. I needed something that was a little smaller in the heel department. The trouble was, I wasn’t finding anything. I either didn’t like the look, couldn’t find my size, or they were more than I was willing to pay. It was one of the most miserable shopping trips ever. Ask the Hubby, he had to suffer through it. In a last ditch of desperation (because I couldn’t leave without buying something), I wandered over to the athletic shoes just to see what they might have, and there I found the new generation of my shoe. Yay! I was in need of a new pair anyway, the previous version had worked like magic, and they were reasonably priced. Done and done.
Rule # 5- When you find a pair that works for you, stick with them!
I really love these shoes. Is that weird? Maybe, but I don’t care. I only hope that the new generation of Gel-Enduro treats me just as well as the old ones.