It’s okay to admit that a runner hasn’t taken you aside and had “the talk” with you about basic running equipment. It happens, and not knowing how to buy the right equipment for this sport is nothing to be embarrassed about. In this age of instant and ample information about “how-to”do everything, I am befuddled by how often I talk to runners wearing shoes that do not fit them properly. So you don’t have to read thousands of articles about how to keep your feet feeling great: I’ll give you “the talk” about socks and more.
First, go to a specialty running shoe store!
This seems obvious and I am guessing you are thinking to yourself, “well duh!” As obvious as this is, a majority of runners -and let me define runners as anyone who runs a little or a lot, and fast, or slow- just go to their local sporting goods store and get a shoe that seems to feel good after trying it on and running 3 feet in it. Don’t do that! Seriously!
Would you really go to your handyman uncle to have your tooth pulled? When you go to these type of stores, odds are you are usually being helped (if you manage to summon help) by someone who is not a runner.
Though you might guess they are for only fast, seasoned runners, specialty running stores welcome everyone from those just getting off the couch to elite athletes. They have great customer service. (If you don’t remember what great customer service feels like, you should go just to be reminded). Be sure to go later in the day when your feet have swelled a bit.
You can expect the staff to measure your feet, evaluate your gait on a treadmill, check to see if you over pronate or under-pronate, etc. Then they will bring you out several options. The best part? You get actually take the shoes outside or back on that treadmill and run in them to test them out in real running conditions.
Another great thing about specialty running stores is that you usually have 30 days to use and abuse your new shoes. If they don’t work out for any reason, you can bring them back and try something else or get a refund. You can bring them back in terrible shape and they will still take them back. Oh ,and that nice lady that helped you with your shoes? Chances are she is an elite runner. Get her autograph because you could see her in the next Olympics!
Protect yourself: safe socks
Just having the right shoes isn’t enough. You have to think a lot about socks. Ever have great shoes that you run in all the time, but then one day wear socks you normally don’t run in? Blisters, hot spots, and couple days of a funny walk now that your feet hurt can ruin your week. Talk to your new friend at your running store and make sure they get you a good quality sock. Some of us like them thicker, some thinner. Try out a couple different styles and find what works for you. And once you’ve got great socks, remember you’ll need to have a lot of great socks. You need to replace them as often as you replace your shoes: about every 300 to 500 miles. One thing I do is buy several pairs and keep a couple of them in their new packs. Once I throw out a pair, I only have to go to my sock stock and pull out a new fresh unused pair.
How does your shoe make you feel?
I promise I am not sniffing the shoe glue. There is a psychological part of shoes, too. That is if you feel fast in them, you will be faster. I don’t like dark shoes. They make me feel like my feet are heavy, and my times suffer. Give me a bright, fun, fast-looking shoe and I do run faster. It’s like wearing that trendy 70’s tuxedo. It might be a tuxedo and gets the job done, but no one feels suave. Therefore I declare, don’t negate the feeling a shoe gives you. If it doesn’t feel fast to you, you won’t be fast in it. As the great runner Forest Gump said, “Fast is as fast does”. (He didn’t say that, but tell me you didn’t just say that in your head in the voice of Forest Gump?)
I think we all feel better now that we’ve had the talk. Remmber, you don’t have to have “The Talk” with your friends: just send them my post.
And because you’ll be feeling fast in your new shoes and socks, we put together a Colorado race calendar. Come be part of the fun!