If The Shoe Fits

Going running or walking? Picking the right shoe is critical

The right shoes are a big deal for runners. Courtesy photo

I bought my first pair of running shoes in 2007. I decided that I was running the Houston Marathon. I had no idea what I was doing, so I found a running group to train with (Kenyan Way, because I wanted to be as fast as the Kenyans). The next thing I needed was shoes. So, I went to Lady Foot Locker.

Until then, I bought my shoes at Payless or Wal-Mart, so I was really excited to buy real running shoes. I looked at all the shoes lined on the walls. The smell of leather, rubber, cloth, and whatever else shoes are made of filled my nose. A gentleman came by and asked if I needed help.

At this, I proudly announce:

“I need a pair of running shoes because I am running the Houston Marathon this year!"

He immediately recommends the $200 pair of shoes on the top shelf. I was thinking more like $70. After bargaining and pleading, I walked out of Lady Foot Locker with a brand new pair of Nike Shocks and $160 less in my bank account.

.The next morning, I meet the group for hill running at Allen Parkway. I was so excited. My first time in the runner community and.....

Everyone I met kept looking down at my shoes. Turns out Nike Shocks were the worst shoes to run in because of their heavy soles. That's what I get for going to Lady Foot Locker.

The problem is there are too many shoes and way too many opinions. Who is right and who wants a fat commission on their check? After twelve years and many pairs of running shoes later, I've gotten the whole thing down. So, I made a guide for you first-timers.

1. Buy your shoes at a specialty running store.

(I recommend Fleet Feet). The staff is usually made up of marathon runners who make it their personal business to keep up with running technology. You can also find out about running events.

2. Find the Right Salesperson.

This person should be friendly and patient. They would start by asking about your goals and they should find out about prior running experience that you may have. They would then start the gait assessment.

3. Gait Assessment.

This procedure separates Fleet Feet from Academy and Lady Foot Locker. This assessment is done in two ways:

Manually. The salesperson records you running on a treadmill to see exactly how you run. They are looking at how your foot strikes the ground and how much your ankles move while you run.

FitID. This is new, cutting edge technology. You stand on what looks like a scale. Sensors literally take the topography of your foot. You can tell how high your arches are and which way your foot tends to pronate.(that's the inward or outward roll of your foot when you run or walk. This dictates the type of shoe you need).

4. Choosing your shoe.

There are two things to consider: your shoe type, and shoe style.

Type. There are three types of shoes based on the support you need. Neutral. Stability. Motion Control. This is the whole point of the assessment. Neutral shoes are for people who don't pronate. Stability shoes are for people who do. Motion controlled shoes are for people whose feet are all over the place and need stability.

Style. There should be a vast variety of the lastest shoes. Choose from brands like Nike, ASICS, Saucony, Brooks, Mizuno, Adidas, On, and more. Back in 2007, running seemed like a sport that only middle-aged men in those crazy shorts (you know the ones) participated in. Now younger people have taken up the sport, so running shoe brands have really stepped up their shoe game. Instead of crazy neon orange and greens, you can find knit shoes in the sexy colors like grey, black, navy blue, and pinks. So take your pick. I use a nuetral shoe with good cushioning. Currently, I'm giving the Brooks Ghost a try.

5. Size.

What is your shoe size? If you are a 7 1/2, you would answer 7 1/2, right? Wrong. Your running shoe size needs to be an entire size larger than your regular shoe size. So, if you wear a 7 1/2, then your running shoe size is an 8 1/2. While you run, your foot repeatedly jabs the toe box of the shoe. This extra space reduces unnecessary injuries like your toenails turning black and falling off.

6. Price.

A good running shoe should cost between $120 and $150. If you are squeamish about the price, I assure you, it is totally worth it. Just ask Fred Faour. He bets on his Brooks every single time because his injuries decreased and his times improved once he started wearing them. It's that serious.

7. Final Test.

Try them on and run around. This will let you know if the shoe is right for you. If not, choose another. This is where the salesperson exercises patience.

8. Accessories.

Good accessories will make your running experience go from good to exceptional. Good socks ( about $13) that are dry-wicking, padded, have a high thread count and stay in place are a must. Lock Laces ($8) that never come undone are well worth it.

9. Walkers.

Where are my walkers? Don't feel left out. Running shoes are walking shoes! So, this article applies to you too.

So, what's the whole point to this article?

Don't go to Wal-Mart. Don't go cheap. Do go to a place like Fleet Feet or another specialty store and get treated like a professional runner. Or don't cross the finish line.

H-Town Run Tourist

Are you an H-Town Run Tourist?

pixabay.com

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

You may have noticed that I have begun calling my column: H-Town Run Tourist. H-Town Run Tourist describes my relationship with the city I live in, the sport of running, and myself. Below is a list of the characteristics of an H Town Run Tourist. Read and decide if you if you are a run tourist too.

pixabay.com

You are super curious.

If you are anything like me, you love to discover new running or walking routes. What is this? What is that? Who painted that? When did that open? What does that taste like? Sometimes I feel like I am a dog that has her nose in the grass ready to smell just about anything.

pixabay.com

You started running to find yourself.

A lot of people spend a lot of time running away from themselves. But, if you are like me, you starting running to run into yourself. (Clever, huh) If you missed it, what I mean is that maybe you started running for your health, a mid life crisis, a divorce, or for your mental health.

When I was in Africa, I asked many of the other runners why they were running in Victoria Falls. I got many answers, all of them were amazing. However, one gentleman answered that he and his wife always wanted to run a marathon. She had died the year before and he was running for her. (I know, I need a tissue too.)

You are just not that competitive.

When I thought about it, I found that I am not competitive with other runners as to be the best. I am more interested in how well I can beat my best self. I am always competing with myself. I feel that once you make it to the start line, you have already won. (many things can happen before the start line.) Many times, I "compete" with how much I can enjoy the experience of the race and still stick to a timetable. I love reading signs, taking pics with new friends, and chatting with people at the before and after party.

pixabay.com

You love to think and dream. BIG.

If you are like me, you love to dream and think BIG. If you are running a long distance, you have time to dream. I quickly found that I could let my mind go. When you are on the open road for hours training, you find that it is the best place to solve problems. Then, I began to dream big. I quickly decided that I wanted to run around the world. I set the intention and I was able to achieve that goal. I also use it to meditate. I love studying flowers and trees for their fractal patterns. It helps get the best endorphin high.

pixabay.com

You have wanderlust.

Let me get this straight. If I strap on my running shoes, walk out of my door, and just keep going, I'll end up in this cool place. If I can do that here, where else can I go? This rabbit hole is worth going down. Where is the next race? In Houston? In Austin? In a national park? In a jungle? Overseas? It never ends.

pixabay.com

You can totally put yourself first.

This sounds crappy. Co-dependent people confuse this with being selfish. Healthy minded individuals know that true self care means to take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. Others will try to get in your way by guilt tripping you to spend more time with them, but know that you have to be in a good place to help others or it just will not work.

pixabay.com

You are truly grateful for......everything.

Chances are, you don't even know that you practice gratitude. It just comes naturally. If you are anything like me, you starting running out of hardship, almost necessity. But, along the way, you could not help but notice the trees, the flowers, and the birds. You just had to stop and smell the roses. Gratitude comes naturally to you!

pixabay.com

You are Houston Proud and Houston Strong.

If you are like me, you love you some Houston, Texas. Whether you are running in Memorial Park to Buffalo Bayou Park or in the Chevron Houston Marathon. You could be running downtown Houston passing by originals by Gonzo 247, David Adickes, or Daniel Anguilu. You know one thing…..You would not live in another city in this country. In fact, you can't wait until this weekend to do your weekend long run and enjoy all the Houston craft beer that goes with it.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome