Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s…running time! Cool runnings!
Alright, alright, I know I grabbed that from a movie about bobsledding, but bobsledding is a sport, and so is running, so I think it works.
Now, you may be disposed to think to yourself, “But running is punishment!!” And maybe you’re a little bit right, but perhaps the problem is that your shoe isn’t fitting correctly!
But then you might respond, “But I have the Turbo Run 3000 shoes that come with enhanced memory foam and speed sparkles! The ad said they’re a perfect fit every time!”
Well first off there’s no such thing as speed sparkles, and second, every pair of feet is different, and there is no one shoe that’s a perfect fit for everyone. Getting a shoe fit to your foot can help alleviate some of the discomfort that comes with running.
What’s most important in a running shoe is that it helps you run well while protecting you from potential injuries. In this case, function is more important than fashion. Luckily, most shoes come in lots of colors, so don’t lose hope.
So, how do you get a shoe that fits you properly? The best place to go is your local specialty running shop like Striders in Ogden. Their fit specialists are trained to analyze your feet and gait and locate the best shoe for you.
When you go to have your first shoe fitting, plan on about 1-2 hours. Subsequent visits should be quicker. It is best to go later in the day, because your feet will be a more swollen. This will ensure you don’t get shoes that are too small. Also, remember to bring socks that you would actually wear running, as the thickness of the sock can affect the fit and comfort of your shoe.
Your shoe fitting starts with a foot analysis. Make sure you let your fitter know if you’ve had any recent injuries, as these may affect your gait. Your fitter will want to look at your arch. This usually involves you walking over a pressure sensor barefoot to determine if your arch is high, low, or normal. This will affect the type of arch support your shoe should have. He or she will also look at the width and length of your foot, as well as balance.
Another thing to look for in a running shoe is the overall flexibility of the shoe. A good running shoe will have good flexibility in the toe, but have more rigidity in the midfoot. You shouldn’t be able to bend the shoe in half or twist it side to side. This is important for foot support no matter what type of foot you have.
As you fatigue, your feet will tend to either roll in or out. Your running shoes can help prevent this, or at least help you safely compensate. This is done by lateral or medial “posting.” That means that there is more support on either the inside or outside of the shoe. The amount of support will ultimately depend on your foot and your mechanics.
SELECTING YOUR SHOE
Once you’ve found several pairs you like, you may need to run with a different shoe on each foot to determine which one feels better. This can help you narrow your choice down to what feels best and most natural for you. Your shoe should not feel like it’s making you do something you don’t want to.
It is important to consider sizing when selecting your running shoes. Striders recommends going up a half size to a full size from initial measurement. Make sure both feet get measured, and go with the larger foot for sizing. This is to allow room for your feet to naturally splay out during gait, as well as room to swell. If your feet don’t have room to swell, you’ll likely get blisters, bruising, or you may lose toenails.
When wearing your shoes, you’ll want them snug around the midfoot, hindfoot, and around your ankle. This is where the greatest support is needed to prevent your foot from sliding around in the shoe, while still allowing your toes plenty of wiggle room. Make sure it is not so tight that it irritates the side of your feet or ankle.
AFTER THE FIT
Once you have your fit, your fitter will put your shoe into their system. This allows for a quicker fitting/refitting the next time you come in. It is important to get fit every time you buy new running shoes because your feet change! Gaining or losing weight can affect your shoe fit, as can muscle strength in the small muscles of your foot (this can change your arch, which can change the length of your foot).
In general, you should change your shoes every 200-300 miles. At this point, you should bring in a new pair and phase out the old ones over the next 100 miles or so. This is important because the components of the shoe start to wear out, potentially transferring more pressure to your knees and hips.
If you have the means, it’s good to have several pairs of running shoes fit to your foot that you can cycle on a regular basis. Each running shoe is different, even if only in small ways, and may allow your foot to get stronger by using different muscles another shoe would not allow it to use.
FUN FACT: SOME APPS LIKE STRAVA ALLOW YOU TO TRACK THE MILEAGE ON EACH PAIR OF SHOES BY ENTERING THE SHOE IN AND CHOOSING THAT SHOE EACH TIME YOU TRACK YOUR RUN!
If your shoes fit properly, you shouldn’t have to break them in. If it’s uncomfortable during the fit, it will likely stay uncomfortable. However, if you are switching types of shoes, like switching from a regular drop shoe (where the heel is higher than the forefoot) to a zero-drop shoe (where the heel and forefoot are at the same level), you’ll want to start with only a few miles at a time.
New running shoes are not the only answer, and will not always fix every problem you may face as a runner. Some of the most common injuries in runners are plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, and patellofemoral pain (overload of the kneecap). When you’re not experiencing relief from these problems even with a new shoe fitting, it’s a good idea to visit your physical therapist.
HITTING THE ROAD
Once you’ve found your perfect fit and tuned up your body, the key is to put on those miles. Check out episodes two and three of our podcast to learn more about how to best improve training to get the most out of every run.
Now it’s time to get out and run! Happy trails!