|Only some of the shoes that I own. All of the above are mentioned down below.|
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a woman who reached out to me and told me about her experience going into a running store with the intention of getting a good pair of running shoes so that she could START her love affair with the sport. She hadn't even really begun her running journey yet.
She musters up the confidence to enter the store where she is then ignored. When she finally speaks with an employee and asks for help with finding an appropriate shoe, she is spoken to in a condescending tone and ultimately leaves the store with no shoes and a waning desire to even start her running journey.
Has this ever happened to you?
I have a few of my own stories that are similar--like the time I walked into a general shoe store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and asked to try on some running shoes. This was back in the mid nineties, before zero drop, minimal, Vibram Five Finger, and motion control shoes were even a thing.You either got a pair of ugly cross trainers with jet propulsion things on the bottom or whatever pair of running shoes that happened to be on sale.
I was feeling good after having picked up my first paycheck from my summer apprenticeship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had seen those folks running in the park, around the reservoir and on the bridle paths. I left work excited to buy my first pair of non-hand-me-down Nikes or (shoes that weren't some iteration of LA Gear.)
I walked into the store and went straight to the wall that housed the athletic shoes. An associate came over and asked if I needed help. I nodded and asked if I could try on some running shoes. How many miles are you running? I don't know...like one or two a day?
I wish I could say that I turned around and stomped out of the store, or that I had some witty and excoriating retort to his obvious disdain of my (to him) non-existent mileage. But I didn't. I really needed some running shoes and despite this guy's condescending attitude I was going to by some. I got some blue and white Reeboks that I would use for the next two years, through my sophomore year in college. I was seventeen, just about to start college and at that point I didn't realize that it would be just one of many daily indignities that I would experience as a runner because I didn't fit into that young man's perception of runner.
ANYWAY, I didn't realize this post was going to go there, but it got me thinking about the shit I absolutely will not tolerate these days.
You need some running shoes? Go into a running store and tell the associates you would like to get fitted for an appropriate running shoe for someone who--
- would like to start a running habit
- is 10 years into running and would like to try a new style
- on her fourth marathon
- training for a triathlon
- is getting back into running after having a baby
- wants to get back to health and wellness
- whatever your reason is--it's valid
You'll tell them you would also like to get your gait analyzed so that you don't inadvertently injure myself.
Hopefully, by YOU framing your store visit specifically, you'll get the service you need and want.
This is not to condone any sales associate's poor behavior as they are in the business of customer service. I DO condone letting them know you mean business, and that you have come to acquire the items you need for your health and wellness.
Here's what should happen when you get fitted:
- They'll ask you a couple of questions about how many miles you do per week----if it's none yet, let them know.
- They also might ask if you run on trails, on the road, or on the treadmill mostly.
- You'll have to take off your current shoes --(this is where the fun begins.)
- The associate might get an imprint or print of your foot to determine whether or not you have a low arch, medium arch, or high arch. This will help them figure out what type of shoes to bring out.
- They'll bring out a few pairs of shoes in a variety of styles--maximal cushion (the ones that look like clown shoes--Hokas, Altras, some Nikes etc), minimal cushion (Merrells, New Balance, etc), ones that have a medium thick sole, or ones that looked like some alien dropped off their latest shoe experiment (Newtons and Skoras)
- You'll then be asked if you want to also try on a pair of socks (there will either be a variety or whatever the store is trying to upsell.) Then you'll try on a bunch of shoes and then either run on the store treadmill (and get a video of it!), outside the shopping center, or around a small track drawn onto the floor (that's always fun.)
Here's where you have to be completely honest with yourself, asking the following
- Are the shoes comfortable?
- Is there any place on your foot that is rubbing against anywhere in the shoe?
- Are your feet moving around too much? Is there enough space to wiggle your toes?
- How do the bottoms of your feet feel? Anything getting sore, like your arches?
- Does the insole they're trying to sell you make you feel like you're running a marathon on a Serta Perfect mattress or that old mattress at your grandaunts' house that has one too coils sticking out?
- Do the shoes make you feel good?
- If you're into looks and fashion--do they match or enhance your own personal style? (I have to say that at the ripe old age of 40, I have finally developed a personal style--but only in running clothes. Other clothes, like work clothes I don't really care about...)
- Am I willing to spend upwards of 150 for a good pair of shoes that will last? (Note: If you shop around, you may be able to find an earlier, cheaper version of the shoe that you have just tried on. Good shoes may cost a lot of money. But there is hope on Amazon, Zappos, Running Warehouse, Backcountry, and Sierra Trading Post...)
I would suggest that after you establish what shoe is the right type for you, buy two different pairs so that you can swap them every other day. I get that they are expensive. You are making an investment in yourself by purchasing the right kind of shoe. Trust me.
I hope the short reviews below are helpful to you as you either chose running shoes for the first time, or need a change in your current shoes. Let me know what you think!
Here are some of MY past and current favorites:
Asics Gel Kayano
Personally, I've only worn the men's version of the Gel Kayanos and I have never been disappointed. There is something about them that seem more sturdy--perhaps the construction of the shoe is just, um sturdier. The Kayano will give lots of support and stability for the most flat-footed amongst us. Heavy but cushioned. Great for a first half or full--or a year of 5Ks and 10Ks.
|Pearl Izumi M2|
Mizuno Wave Inspire
I haven't worn Mizunos since my last Marine Corps Marathon, but I remember them being very comfortable, and quite well suited for a heavier runner like myself. There is support, breathability, and ample cushioning in shoes that don't look and feel like Doc Martens on steroids. I also think they're quite stylish.
Pearl Izumi M2, and Trail M2
These may be by current favorites. I've only been running in these for two weeks, but man oh man do they light my fire. They are light, do not have bells and whistles, are sleek, and supremely comfortable for this big-footed gal. I also love the PI Trail M2s. I wore them for the third 15.5 mile loop of my latest ultra, the Javelina Hundred 100K. My feet were swollen and hurting from having done the first 31 miles in a more minimalist pair of shoes and they were exactly what I needed.
Hoka Stinson, Stinson Trail
|Hoka Stinson 3, Skirt Sports skirt, tights, |
Khaleesi jacket, Nathan handheld, Swiftwick
socks Merrell buff.
So many shoes, so little time...I also am in love with the Altra Olympus. These are shoes that take a period of maybe a couple of weeks to get used to. They are zero drop, meaning that they force you to land on your forefoot/midfoot thereby placing a little more stress on the calf muscles than you are probably used to. These may not be the shoes to start out with, unless
you already land on your mid- or fore-foot.
|Altra Olympus 2.0, TNF Capris, Nathan Pack, Swiftwick Socks|
I bought these on a whim after I realized that I didn't have any road shoes in NYC while visiting my family. I was surprised by the light weight, comfort, and sock-like fit of the shoe. The toe box is simultaneously snug and roomy. The sole offers cushioning but not so much that it hampers your stride. The ride on the concrete sidewalks of Brooklyn felt easy and effortless. I would not use these on a gravel road or trail (unless it is a well groomed one with no branches or rocks) but they are perfect for your urban runs.
|Adidas Energy Boost, Under Armour tights,|
Adidas tank, Swiftwick Socks, Nathan Vapor Cloud pack
Merrell All Out Charge Trail
|Merrell All Out Charge, Skirt Sports GTD Tights|