You know what I’m talking about.
The exciting but overwhelming process of choosing a running shoe.
There are countless brands, models, and oh by the way: they come in EVERY freaking favorite color you never thought you had. It’s like choosing a boyfriend: you need something that will be compatible for the foreseeable future (or 300 miles), and if it’s a match made in heaven, you can keep ’em around forever (buy multiples of that model).
So… How? There is actually a way to getting what you really need without losing your mind, and/or getting it wrong all together.
I like to introduce my friends and clients to four simple guidelines when it comes to selecting a new shoe for running, cross training, and anything in between:
Measure your feet.
Yes. Like, actually measure them. It is really common for women (and men) to have one foot size up to a half shoe size bigger than the other. When you buy shoes, always base your chosen size off the larger foot. You always want room in the toe box for athletic shoes, enough space to press your thumb down and not have it landing on top of your toe. As you run, and your feet shift forward and backward, you will need that extra space. This will help alleviate bruised toenails, and also cut down on the amount of blisters you get from your toes being jammed in the front of the toe box with every stride. Additionally, keep in mind that your feet swell when you workout, so always err on the larger side. TRUST ME.
Invest in actual running shoes.
If you run more than 2 miles at at time, it goes without saying that you should have a pair dedicated to just running. Running longer distances in cross trainers or low support shoes can damage your feet and cause injury. Replace them every 300 miles, or after 6 to 9 months, depending on your mileage.
Go for a cross-trainer.
If you like to mix up your workouts, and aren’t a heavy runner, cross trainers are a great option to be able to participate in group fitness classes and outdoor boot camps. Go for higher support for boot camps and classes that involve light running, and opt for a lower support shoe for weight lifting and Crossfit style workouts.
Tennis players need tennis shoes.
If you are playing sports on the court, like tennis or a round of basketball, you need more lateral stability than you would if you were just running in a straight line. Be sure to select shoes that are heavier and more rigid around the ankle. All tennis and court shoes usually have light soles to keep from marking the court.
Buy two pairs. Two different ones.
If goes without saying that once you find something that works, stick with it. However, that’s not always the best idea. New fact though: rotate the two different pairs every few workouts. Why you ask? Think about running shoes like golf clubs. Who plays the entire course with a putter? I’ll let you answer that. That said, running in the same shoe hammers your body in the same repetitive way, and causes muscle stress in the same spots. By shifting your shoes out, you keep your body guessing, you’ll reduce your risk of getting injured.