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.

A little yoga in your life

Yoga tips, part 3: Sleep like a baby

Here are a few yoga poses that will help you ease into a restful night and sleep like a baby. Right before you go to sleep, begin your practice with the combination of these poses and deep breathing to calm the mind, your body will begin to release physical tension. This combination activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps counteract stress.

1) Restorative child's pose:

To come into the pose: sit on your shins, knees together (however if you are putting a pillow under tummy, spread the knees to insert pillow. Lay forward in Child's Pose resting the body over the knees or pillow. Arms can rest forward or behind, the head should take equal time being turned to each side. If needed, make sure you have enough space under the belly, to not strain the back. Hold this pose between 20 seconds and 2 minutes.

2) Supine Twist:

There are many health benefits to supine twist. Here are just a few. Help release lower-back,

Opens tight shoulders, elongates the supporting spinal muscles, improves digestion, and quiets the mind, just to name a few. To start this pose lay on your back. Hug your right knee into your chest. Take your left hand to your outer right thigh and guide your right knee to the left. Reach your right arm out to the right on the ground. You can stay with a neutral neck or, if it feels good, look to the right. You can keep your left hand on the ground.

3) Supta battakansana:

This is also known as reclining bound angle pose. Lay on your back on the floor. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet together. Lie back on your bolster and support your head with a blanket, so that your head is above your heart. Allow the knees to open and relax into the props. Hold for about 30 seconds up to 2 minutes. You also want to remember to breath 20-30 breaths during this time period.

4) Savasana:

This is also known as Corpse pose. You want to end your sequence with this pose and hold for either 3-10 minutes. Lie back, letting your legs and arms relax. Bring your attention to your breath and notice which nostril is clearer. To come out of the pose, draw your knees in toward your chest. Instead of automatically rolling to your right side, roll onto whichever side feels comfortable.

Try these 4 positions to help you fall asleep faster and get a restful night of sleep. A huge thank you to Nathalie Kosman who helped me throughout the yoga series. You can catch her at The Preserve, Fit Athletic Club and Equinox for private and group classes! Also on Instagram @Nathalie_kosman

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