All About Shoes

Many of you have been training for more than two months now. How do you feel about your shoes? Are they comfortable? Do they give you enough support? I walked a 5K a few months ago with someone who was wearing a pair of Hokas that she had had for several months and she told me that after the first mile, her feet always hurt. Walking 5K (3.1 miles) shouldn’t hurt your feet. It turned out it was her shoes. Hokas are a great brand, but she was wearing the wrong size and  her toes did not have enough room. If you have never been inside a running store to get your feet fitted properly, I highly recommend it. Yes, I buy most of my shoes online (and preferably last year’s model so they are on sale!). But I can’t overstate the importance of consulting with a trained professional. Once you figure out your size and preferred brand, by all means, go stock up on them at an online sale. But don’t pick your shoes based on a picture on a website or even based on a recommendation from a friend. We are all different and our feet are different too. For example, I need to wear zero-drop shoes (absolutely no cushioned heel) because of an injury to my ankle more than 10 years ago that affects my ankle flexibility. Many people find those uncomfortable, but I actually find the cushion uncomfortable. Have a professional help you figure out which styles, brands and sizes work for you. And note that sizes can vary widely by brand.  In dress shoes, I wear a 6 or 6.5. In New Balance Minimus (my preferred road shoe), I wear a 7 or 7.5. And in Altra King MT (my preferred trail shoe), I wear a size 8! I never would have known that if I hadn’t spent some time talking with the team at Healdsburg Running Company (HRC) and trying different options. Who would have thought I need to buy a size 8???? But now that I know that, I am SO much happier with my shoes!

Some of you have mentioned that you feel intimidated to walk into a running store. Yes, many of the people who shop at HRC are hard-core ultra marathoners. But you know what? Many of their customers are just casual folk looking for a comfortable shoe. Just try it. I can almost guarantee that no running store will look down on you for not being “hard core enough” or “not fit enough” or not-being-anything-else-enough. On the contrary, they will be thrilled that you are getting started, and they will be happy to help. If they aren’t knowledgeable and happy to help, find a different store.  So take advantage of their expertise and give them the chance to welcome you. And if you live in Sonoma County, HRC is AWESOME! They have all the best gear and super knowledgeable staff. 

Once you have a pair of shoes that work for you…buy another pair. If 2 different types work for you, buy one of each. If there is one you love, buy a second pair of those (preferably in a different color so you can tell them apart). When you are training, alternate pairs each run. If on Tuesday you wore pair 1, wear pair 2 on Thursday. Why? Each shoe fits the foot in a unique way (even if they are the same style of the same brand) and this will help your feet not develop sore spots in one particular area. Also, shoes wear out approximately every 300-500 miles (depending on a variety of factors). Alternating between two pair will keep you from wearing out your shoes just in time to need new ones before that big race you’ve been training for (when you won’t have time to break them in). With 2 pairs, you will have 2 sets of “broken in/but not worn out” shoes come race day. 

If you have any questions about shoes or anything else, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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