At its root, running is a simple sport: all you need are shoes and an open road.
Sure, you can throw on any old pair of athletic-ish shoes to go for a jog. But if you really want to be a runner, you gotta get fitted for a proper pair of kicks.
Why? A properly-fitted shoe will help you avoid injuries of all kinds — knee pain, ankle pain, hip pain, blisters, bruised toenails, you name it — and, in turn, help you run faster and farther.
I’ll admit, I did not do this for a long time. When I began training for my first 10K, I bought a pair of adidas at a Lady Foot Locker. (Rookie mistake!) I’d been an adidas loyalist my whole life, they looked cool as hell, and the price was right. Sold! After a couple months, my hips and ankles were begging for a change.
Your first trip to a real-live running store can be incredibly intimidating. What are all these gels and gooey things on the walls? I’ve never even heard of this brand. Why is everyone in here so damn happy? Relax. It’s going to be OK.
Remember, these people are here to help, and they genuinely want to put you in the best pair of shoes for you. So, what does getting fitted for running shoes entail, anyway? While every running store is a little different, here’s the basic info they’ll need to know:
Your goals. Are you doing a couch-to-5K program or training for your first marathon? It’s important info. And please give honest answers. Lying about your goals and abilities will only be a detriment to yourself.
Your gait. Most stores actually have treadmills so the workers can watch you run in order to analyze your stride. Do you overpronate or underpronate? Are you a heel-striker or toe-striker? A couple minutes on a treadmill will reveal a lot about your running style.
Your size. If you wear a 9, don’t be surprised to see the worker bring you boxes of 9 1/2′s. Typically your running shoes size is a half-size bigger than you normally wear because when you run — and are on your feet for a long period of time — your feet swell. Many places (such as my beloved Running Away Multisport in Chicago) even have state-of-the-art equipment that measures your exact foot size, shape and weight distribution.
Your personal preferences. Do you have a moral obligation against wearing anything pink? Are you limited in your budget? If so, speak up.
A couple other tips for your first running store trip:
* If you can, wear workout clothes. It will be hard to accurately analyze your stride if you’re running in a pencil skirt.
* Give yourself plenty of time. You might try on 10 different pairs of shoes before you find the right ones.
* Be open-minded. Maybe you’ve never even heard of Brooks or Saucony; don’t let that scare you away from what could be your potential made-in-shoe-heaven match.
* Running shoes aren’t particularly cheap, but I like to look at them as an investment in my life. When I run, I’m happier and healthier. Besides, I spend more hours and miles in my running shoes than I do my fanciest pair of heels, so it actually makes sense to spend more money on them, right?
Don’t be shy. Get yourself to the nearest running store. Just tell ‘em the Bad Angels sent ya. — Mags