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

5 mystery pains explained

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

I remember when I first started running how excited I was. I ran every single day to get that runner's high. I felt like a gazelle with the wind in my hair. But, sometimes, I'd wake up with the most mysterious pains. Some were serious enough to make me stop running for a couple of months and some were just enough to make me run slower. Little did I know that these mysterious pains were common to all runners, especially the new ones. To help you with your running experience, I've made a list of the 5 most common injuries of a runner.

Mystery Pain #1

Shallow muscle pain in random parts of the body.

If you are feeling pain just below your skin or right above your muscle, you probably have sticky fascia. What is fascia? If you have ever prepared chicken, it is that slimy, transparent film just under the skin and over the muscle. We have the same thing in our bodies. It's job is to hold our organs in place and help our muscles to move correctly. Without it, our organs would not stay in place. Healthy fascia is slippery. Whenever it is dry, it gets sticky. This causes the random pain because your muscles are restricted.

Remedy: Stay hydrated with plenty of water.

Pixabay.com

Mystery Pain #2

Throbbing pain in your shins.

This is more than likely shin splints. This is caused by stress on the shin bone and stress on the connective tissue. This causes that whole area to become inflamed thus causing pain. Causes could be having flat feet, shoes that offer no support and having a weak core.

Remedy: Buy your running shoes at a specialty running store and get fitted so that your shoes properly fit the needs of your foot. (Read more about the right running shoes here.) Make sure you warm up and cool down properly. As always and I do mean always, do core strengthening exercises. You can add some for the hips and ankles too.

Pixabay.com

Mystery Pain #3

Mild, sharp, or burning pain in the lower back that you radiates through your lower back, hips, glutes, and down your leg.

You are experiencing Sciatica. This condition happens when you have a pinched nerve, a slipped disk, or herniated disk. Your sciatic nerve extends from your lower back, deep in down your leg. This is caused by prolonged sitting for those couch potatoes, people who work in an office or UBER drivers. Other causes are running without rest days or running to hard and fast too soon after a long break from running.

Remedy: It's time to incorporate strength training in your training schedule. Do not forsake recovery like hot baths with epsom salt and foam rolling. And as always, build up that core. A great exercise to do is superman's which build your core, but offer a great lower back stretch. Make sure you have proper posture focusing on distributing even weight on both sides of the body.

Mystery Pain #4

Swollen or stiff ankles that hurt when you run.

You have achilles tendonitis. This has happened to me many times. When you cross train just as hard as you train this tends to happen.

Remedy: There are many ways to work with this one. Foam roll especially your calves. Wear an ankle brace to stabilize your ankle to limit movement. Do ankle strengthening exercises. Choose one activity to go hard at and minimize the other. Use the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate). The last option is just plain old time, not the most popular choice.

Pixabay.com

Mystery Pain #5

Pain and tenderness just under knee joint and/or the thigh.

You have an overworked IT Band. This happens when you over use the connective tissue that starts on the outer thigh and connects to the knee.

Remedy: Again RICE is best for this injury. It would be good to do some strength training for your lower back, hips, knees, and leg muscles. Training with a band is key for this.

I feel like I am beating a dead horse, but I'm sure you noticed a trend with these remedies. Stay hydrated. Foam rolling and stretching are a must. Consider these a part of your training or you will have to take time from your training schedule to heal.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome