I love new running shoes. I’m like a kid in a candy (running) store – almost literally with all of the awesomely crazy colors, patterns and styles available out there these days! I put a decent amount of miles on my present shoes, plus wanted another pair to alternate between, so I decided to get a new pair.
This is the 3rd pair I’ve gotten since I began running about 3 years ago. This recent pair actually looks very similar to my first ones, though, so I was a little apprehensive about that – with how I love color and patterns so much. But when you get them for about 30% off, I’m willing to live with that! Oh yeah – and because they fit and support my feet well too, of course!
How do I know what type of running/walking shoes I need, you ask? Well, I highly recommend going to an actual running store with experienced people that work there who also actually run themselves.
My running store of choice is the Naperville Running Company (I will call them “NRC” from here out). We have a good history with them because they were good to many members in my department at work a few years ago, when many of them were training for the Chicago Marathon.
Interestingly enough, that is when I began this blog – to help motivate and support them and myself as I went along part of their training process (although, I kept my training to 5Ks).
Along the way, NRC not only gave us discounts and have running (training) groups, but they sometimes have seminars, such as one several of us went to, on how to properly stretch and they even gave us some exercises for staying injury-free while running.
On top of that, the knowledgeable staff really knows what they are talking about. They don’t just ask you which shoe you like that is hanging on the wall. They greet you warmly, measure each foot (Did you know that it’s not uncommon for one of your feet to be a half-size larger than the other? Me neither!) and ask you what you are looking for in a shoe, along with any running issues you may have.
I had the pleasure of Marisa being the one helping me. So, she listened as I mentioned how my knees often hurt after running and how I run on the outside of my feet a little bit – also called “overpronation”. According to Runner’s World, normal pronation is when “The outside part of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. The foot “rolls” inward about fifteen percent, comes in complete contact with the ground, and can support your body weight without any problem. The rolling in of the foot optimally distributes the forces of impact. This movement is called “pronation,” and it’s critical to proper shock absorption. At the end of the gait cycle, you push off evenly from the front of the foot.”
I had also brought my previous pair of Nike Pegasus 28’s, which I really love, and was just planning on getting the next model in that same line. Marisa checked the treads on them and they didn’t look too warn on the outsides, so the shoes were still fine to run in, so I would still be able to use them as an alternate pair. However, she mentioned that there was pretty much no support in them (which is probably why they were so comfortable to me. With other shoes I have tried on, they felt very uncomfortable, due to what I referred to as “a weird bump hitting the bottom of my foot.”
The best part of the experience was when she suggested a shoe with just a little support. Uh-Oh! Now Mike has to get out of his comfort-zone! She explained that it’s also possible that my hips may be a little weak because I had said I do some exercises (leg-lifts…) to strengthen the muscles around my knees. I guess I didn’t realize that it’s not always just the place you have an injury that matters, sometimes its the things that attach to it – and it is possible that if I did something to strengthen my hips, I might be able to correct my overpronation and even prevent my post-run knee pain.
I did try on about 5 pairs of shoes before I found some with just a bit of support, which didn’t feel uncomfortable on my precious feeties, but I was happy to take home the pair of “Brooks Ghosts” you see pictured in this post.
As I checked out, it turns out the shoes were discounted (by… I’m thinking 30%) from what I had planned on paying. This was due to them being one of the last pairs of the Ghosts left that was a previous model of the ones they recently got in. Bonus!!!
They have me on file from the previous two times I have bought shoes there and as I checked out, she saw my email on there and asked if I wanted her to email me a pdf of exercises that might help strengthen my hips. Later that afternoon, I received those exercises and did them before my run.
Another great thing about NRC is that if you give your new shoes several tries and that brand or model just don’t work well for you, they will exchange them for a different pair.
Trucking along 2 miles later, and my shoes felt good and my knee pain seemed to improve. So, thank you Naperville Running Company (and Marisa specifically) for another “A+” experience in buying running shoes!
Now, that’s what knowledgeable associates and good customer service get you – repeat customers like me!
Here are a few helpful tips when considering buying new running shoes:
- About.com says, “A good rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles, depending on your running style, body weight, and the surface on which you run.” Are you due?
- Are you prone to any types of running injuries that may improve with the right pair of shoes (support)? Tell the associate, so they may find you something that might help.
- Ask the associate if there are any models being outdated that you may be able to get at a discount?
- Test many pairs before you choose one and walk around the store awhile, once you think you like one.
By the way, I have been totally living the “Some beats none” philosophy from my last blog post. I think about that phrase all the time and it has really gotten me doing what I may not have done before. So, if you haven’t read that one, I’d check it out here.