A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

The most important piece of my running arsenal: shoes!

on January 4, 2014

I just ordered a new pair of my favorite running shoes and thought it might be a good time to talk about shoes, since many people will be picking up running as part of their New Year’s resolutions. I will honestly say that I was really intimidated at the thought of actually going to be fitted for running shoes, but it is so important to do that! I decided to set “get fitted for shoes at the running store” as a reward for reaching one of my weight loss milestones, about a month after I’d started running. That helped me to see it in a positive mindset. I was so worried about walking into a running store at 250 pounds and asking to be fitted for running shoes. I looked nothing like the typical runner and was terrified that they would ask questions that would reveal how little I actually knew about running. Thankfully, for me it ended up being a good experience (Red Dirt Running, if you’re in Omaha and looking for a good place to check out). They asked about my running goals and how much I ran each week and if I’d had any pain or injury issues. They measured my feet and looked at my arches. They then had me run on the treadmill for a little while so they could film my stride. One thing I was very nervous about, that ended being a non-issue, was that they would set the treadmill faster than I could really run. Thankfully, he told me to set it where I wanted it and just run comfortably. I don’t think he even looked to see that it was set at 4 mph.

After running, we reviewed the video together and he pointed out things about my stride and how my feet were moving and then we talked about the shoes they had that would meet my needs. I have a fairly neutral stride (or did at that point), but because I was new to running and still very overweight, we wanted to be sure I had plenty of cushion and support. I didn’t feel like they pushed in any way to get me to choose a particular shoe or spend more money, which was nice. I tried on lots and lots of shoes and hopped back on the treadmill with them. I also went out to run on the sidewalk to see which pair felt the best and ultimately ended up with shoes I love (Asics Gel Cumulus 14).

This is at least my 3rd pair of these since I started running.

This is at least my 3rd pair of these since I started running.

I’ve linked several articles below that I’ve found really helpful for more information. I used these to help get ready for the terminology I’d hear at my fitting in the running store. If you’re new to running, I would avoid trying to use this advice to fit yourself and just go let an expert help you out. Some general tips to keep in mind:

  • The shoe should feel good while you’re running it on day one in the store. Running shoes don’t need to be “broken in” like you might with a pair of street shoes. If something pinches or rubs in the store, that is only going to get worse.
  • If you get them home and find that you’re having pain or they aren’t working for you, go back! This is one of the reasons to go to a running specialty store as opposed to a general sporting goods store as most running stores really want your repeat business and to help you run comfortably, so they have fairly liberal return policies.
  • Know that you’ll be wearing a bigger size in your running shoes than you do in street shoes, just because of the spread and flattening of your feet that happens when you run. I wear a 8.5 or 9 in street shoes, but my Asics running shoes are size 9.5. Also know that just because you’re a 9.5 in one style of running shoe, you aren’t necessarily the same size in other styles or brands as all shoes are a little different.
  • Ideally, try on running shoes at the end of the day when your feet are the biggest they are going be (flattening & swelling). Also be sure to bring any orthotics you need to run and wear your favorite running socks so that you’re testing the new shoes the same way you’ll be wearing them everyday.
  • If you’re an experienced runner, bring  your old running shoes so that you can evaluate wear patterns to help find the best possible new fit.

One thing I have wondered is if I should go get re-fitted since my running form has changed (improved) since I started running and I’ve lost so much weight. As long as my current shoes feel good, I think I’ll stick with them but I’m keeping this in the back of my mind and will go get refitted if I start having issues. I do know that these shoes are specifically good for me after trying to run in a pair of New Balance shoes that I received for free in a contest. My feet felt horrible after just a couple of miles in those shoes! The right shoes really do make a difference.

Most experts recommend replacing your shoes every 250-500 miles, which is a really wide range. I’d suggest keeping track of the miles on your shoes. I note in my training log when I started rotating in new shoes, so I have an idea how many miles they have on them. Pay attention to how your feet feel. I have noticed that I start having more trouble with my plantar fasciitis when I get to 250 miles on a single pair of shoes and that things get better as soon as I switch to new shoes, so I just plan to start working new shoes into rotation at around 250 miles in the training plan.

Looking ahead at the Princess Half Marathon training plan, I’m going to hit 250 miles on my current shoes the week of the half marathon. Naturally. I’m going to pre-emptively start running in a new pair of my Asics a few weeks before the race and definitely run my last long run in the new shoes, so that I have relatively fresh but not completely new shoes to run in for my first half marathon. Reading about this issue (once I realized I’d hit my usual turnover mark right at PHM), I found several sources that recommended 40-50 miles on your shoes before race day but no more than 300 miles, ideally.

I never thought I’d spent this much time thinking about shoes (or at least not athletic shoes), much less taking a picture of my beloved Asics, but they really are the most important piece of my running arsenal.

How many pairs of shoes did you have to try before you found the perfect fit? How do you keep track of the miles on your shoes?

Articles for more reading:

Runners World How to Buy the Right Running Shoes

Running.About.Com How to Buy the Right Running Shoes

Running for Dummies Finding the Right Running Shoes

WebMD How to Buy Running Shoes

Running Times Proper Shoe Fit

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10 responses to “The most important piece of my running arsenal: shoes!

  1. Lauren says:

    I must have gotten lucky on my first pair – I bought Asics Gel Nimbus from Academy. I had no idea I needed to get fitted at that point, but they never gave me any pain. When I wised up and went to get fitted about a year later, they put me in the same as you, Asics Gel Cumulus, and I haven’t looked back! I’ve had to replace them once, and I didn’t even try any other shoes – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? lol But I haven’t had any injuries or feet/toe issues at all since I started running, so I guess I found the right sock/shoe combo!

    • I wasn’t sure if I’d just gotten lucky getting fitted in the right shoe the first time or if people just over-stated the importance of shoes until I tried to run in those New Balance shoes. I’ll definitely be sticking with my Asics!

  2. You are spot on; my running shoes are my most important piece of equipment, too! Great articles with super helpful info! I also highly recommend going to a local running store to get fitted. I was very intimidated the first time I went in (and even the last time I went in a few months ago) because I feel like I don’t fit the mold of a normal runner, but both experiences were top notch. I started off in a pair of Asics that I love and now I run in the Saucony Omni 12’s, which I love, also! I know I wear my running shoes too long, but it’s hard to wrap my head around changing them so frequently (well, frequently in my mind anyway). It’s also hard on the pocketbook, but I definitely noticed a difference when I switched shoes this last time. It made a world of difference in my form and comfort level.

  3. Wonderful tips there! I’m about to go get my gait looked at and some new recommendations by the pros but gonna start off reading these!

  4. […] shoes! Don’t be afraid of the running store! Going to the running store at 200+ pounds to get fitted for good shoes was terrifying and yet so important, particularly because I was heavy. Added weight is a risk […]

  5. […] I stopped at the running store to look at some new shoes and for some reason, felt that same first time awkwardness all over again, like I didn’t belong in a store for real runners. I shook that […]

  6. […] store that I put it off to start with and was SO NERVOUS when I did go. They were so helpful (check my first experience here) and the running store is definitely a happy place of mine […]

  7. […] yet figured out what style or brand of something you need. I’ve gone to my local store for shoe fittings, to talk about warmer socks in the winter and to try to on hats and gloves to figure out what works […]

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