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Perfect Running Shoes
by Kate Pophal

Channel 5 news recently called to find out if they could interview a couple of runners from the Striders Running Club, a club I help run that meets at the Second Sole running store in Lyndhurst.

The reporter wanted to ask runners if there was a certain shoe that was best and if runners were willing to pay the highest price for the 'perfect' shoe. The film crew arrived just before the start of our Wednesday night group run.

Since I have an extremely developed fear of public speaking I tried to get someone else to step in front of the camera. When I turned to grab a volunteer I discovered that all the other runners had suddenly become preoccupied by something in the far corner of the store, as far away from the camera crew as you could get without tunneling through the wall.

This left me alone in front of the camera wondering if the network would possibly air footage of someone vomiting on a reporter and knowing I was about to give answers that were completely opposite to what the interviewer was looking for.

The news crew was hoping to get a little story about the what the hot, must have, running shoe is, so they could pass this important tip along to their viewers and perhaps they were hoping to portray runners as shoe obsessed, fanatics who spend any amount the best shoe.

The truth is the best shoe is the shoe that fits the best. Cost, color, style, nothing else matters when it comes to running shoes.

Working part time at Second Sole I have come across many runners, new and veteran, that get caught up in the hype over some new brand or got a recommendation from another runner or worst of all want to pick a shoe because they like the way it looks. To get your self a good pair of shoes you have to clear your mind of all these preconceived ideas and just start trying on shoes.

When ever possible I urge runners to do the following:

  1. Go to a specialty running store, where the employees are not on commission, and be sure that the store carries multiple brands and models of shoes.
  2. Tell the salesperson (hopefully a runner) to measure your foot and give you an assessment to see if you are in a neutral, stability or motion control category. These categories are a description of how your foot tends to move when you run. Does your foot roll toward the instep or to the outside? Once you know what your foot is doing you can buy shoes that will help stabilize your feet and protect you from injury.
  3. Be color blind! You will end up out on the road with neon green shoes and a bright red shirt. It is going to happen, just accept it and remember that painful injuries are never fashionable.
  4. Tell the salesperson how much you can spend.
  5. Let the salesperson bring out 3-5 pairs of shoes that are meant for your foot structure. Take each shoe for a test drive.
  6. Pick the shoe that you do not feel. There should be no pinching, rubbing or pressure points.
There have been times in my life when the least expensive shoe on the shelf fit my foot the best. Fortunately that was during my college years when Ramon noodles counted as gourmet dining.

I currently pay more than I would like for a shoe but only because that more expensive shoe fits the best. The way I see it; if my individually fit shoes will allow me to run pain free until my 90's, then the cost is worth it.

Maybe I'll get lucky and my next shoe will be a lot less expensive. As serious runner I don't believe that I'm in total control of the brand of shoe I end up wearing.

I don't choose the shoe. The shoe will find me.


Ask Kate a Question by e-mail at run@ClevelandWomen.Com




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