The most if not only important piece of gear you’ll own as a runner are your sneakers. The right ones can make you feel like you’re flying the wrong ones can derail your career. I’ve had a wide gamut of running shoes from those that weren’t really considered running shoes to very expensive ones fitted by an expert and those worked out the opposite of what you’d expect. I’ve burned through a few pairs lately but I also helped two new runners pick out their first pair. Plus I feel like I owe you all an update on how my new relationship with Asics is evolving. So here’s what you need to do to pick out your first pair, to (eeekk) switch brands and potentially pick up a pair on sale outside a fancy running store.
A word about running stores
Running stores can be a great place to buy shoes or not. More than likely you’ll hear in a variety of places that the best if not only place to buy running shoes is in a specialty store and to be fitted by an expert. Well it’s not the only place that’s for sure, the information in this post can help you go it alone if you want. The thing is people in running stores do have some training from the store on how to fit you but they also have commissions, a line up and one hell of a markup. I got fitted once at a great running store by a great employee as a great present from my mom. While those worked out to be the worst running shoes I ever got and I lost two toenails. So I’m a bit biased, go, don’t go it matters nothing to me but read this whole post for information to take with you.
Perhaps the best time to go into the fancy running store is with a pair of running shoes you’ve worn out running. That way an expert can look at how you’ve worn them in order to recommend the best possible shoe for you. That way you’ll also get the best bang for you buck,
How to prepare to shop
Ideally you’re going to go to the sneaker store either the dedicated running store or a regular sports store during the day on a weekday when you have al least an hour to shop so you won’t be rushed. You should know about the ‘better’ running shoe brands like Asics, Saucony, New Balance and Brooks, to a certain extent Nike and if you can find Hoka. Three brands that do make some decent running shoes and might work well for some but aren’t always well regarded are Adidas, Reebok and Under Armour. But a no name brand shoe can work well as a runner too so nothing says you won’t find success with any given shoe and no shoe will work well for every runner. But… chances are whatever brand you choose you might end up loyal to so sticking with a recognized one isn’t a bad thing.
You should also wear lightweight synthetic socks not cushy tube socks and really dress socks fit the bill well. Go when you are in a good mood and feeling high on patience because I’m going to tell you to try on at least ten pairs in the next section. Also think about your foot, is it narrow or wide, what size tends to fit you best and do your feet tend to swell during the day. Also what time do you plan on running will it be before or after your feet swell. Also know that people typically go up a half or whole foot size when buying running shoes.
When you’re in store
First and foremost ask at the cash who is the best person in store to talk to about running shoes and wait for that person to have time to help you. If at all possible don’t worry about the price. The difference between a very cheap pair and a very expensive pair is about a hundred dollars and you should expect and budget for about $130. You might spend a few bucks more or less but it’s still pretty cheap compared to a gym membership plus you’ll need shoes for that too. If you can swing it go for a pair of running socks too. You should be aware that running shoes come in 2 varieties neutral and stability. Thus basically boils down to the fact that stability shoes are trying to change your gait. The safer option for a first pair is to go with a neutral shoe if your not sure if you pronate or not. If you do when you walk you might not when you run. If your sneaker helper seems especially knowledgeable and they recommends it you can go for a stability shoe. Although we won’t admit it especially for a new runner it’s not the end of the world if you end up in the wrong type.
Tell you special sneaker person all about your foot and your running plans like time of day and what surfaces you plan to run on but the tread pattern doesn’t matter much if its a nice trail or the road. Be prepared to try on several different shoes from many different brands and even different sizes. In each one jump around walk back and forth and see how they feel. You should have about a thumbs width of space between the end of your foot and the start of the end of the shoe. You should lace them a tad tighter than you regular kicks for your silly jumping routine too. Watch out for hot spots (any where that feels too tight), how supported you foot feels overall and for much heel slip there is. As you try on pairs you’ll start to notice little differences and like some more or less. You might get down to a couple of pairs or a couple of sizes after the sixth or seventh pair and when you get to this point you’re ready to start making decisions. If you really are torn between two pairs go for the prettier or cheaper pair, you choose. If you have very wide feet you might very well end up in New Balance that’s just the way it goes so you might have a bit less trying to do. It’s important to be choosy when picking running shoes as the right ones go a long way to preventing injury.
When you get home
Did you know there are different ways to lace your shoes. Neither did I for a long time and Holy S#&T I just realized why my blisters are all of a sudden acting up with my Asics Cumulus 18’s. As they wore I recently switched back to my old lacing pattern and I think that’s the mistake!!! Changing that tomorrow! I literally spent 20 minutes taping a band aid to my toe tonight. Anyway back to topic … if you find your new kicks are acting up consider a different lacing pattern. If you find your feel feeling slippy that’s what the second further back hole is for at the top. It’s called a heel lock. Happy running!
Well I’m hooked! I’m up to three pairs now, how did that happen? but I also have plans to wear out my old Adidas Boston Boost 5’s this summer too. I’ve always been a two pairs of sneakers kind of girl. As such I have exactly 2 shoe tags from RoadID so that wristlet has been getting some use before triathlon season!
Asics Gel Cumulus 18’s: 329 km: Alright so I’m ready to give a full review on these bad boys I gave a first impression + sort of review here. I realized around week 6 of training these would be dead on race day so I bought the new ones. By about 250 km I really noticed they didn’t feel as soft and cushiony as they had but around 150 km the bloated tongue had deflated. I decided to burn these out on my recovery runs, shakeouts and speed work and the milage would be perfect if I just did the long runs in the new ones. So I’ve been covering about 35-45 kms a week in these lately. I did change the lacing style from shoes feel too tight to I guess regular and I’ve been having blisters (maybe not the right socks) and hot spot issues since. I like these still but I prefer the 19’s for a couple of reasons. One is the toe box on these is very meshy and since I walk across the neighbours wet lawn and down their driveway to start my runs due to a giant, lunging barking dog that’s often tied right next to mine. And these end up pretty wet on top after that. I’m light 120 lbs and I have a light step, about 30% of the time off the asphalt on a sandy surface and there is some wear on the bottom. Long storey short I feel like these wore WAY more quickly than my old Adidas.
Asics Gel Venture 6: 106 km: I ended up shelving these trail runners for the duration of the half marathon training so I really ought to take my shoe tag off them and put them on the new ones. I usually keep a second pairs of cheaper shoes to keep miles off my race ones. The tread is not really aggressive enough for real trail running or winter but that’s okay because I’m not a real trail runner and there is no heel lock. But these shoes are more structured and I really like them, They’re pretty perfect for my purposes and I like that they are a good shoe for dry feet in we weather. However … they are a little ugly in a geriatric sort of way.
Asics Gel Cumulus 19’s: 84 km: So Far I’ve worn these on 4 long runs and one other brand new shoes run. These feel a lot like the 18’s for anyone considering a purchase. They feel faster by a bit and perhaps a hair less cushiony but I’m reaching. They also feel more supportive, sleeker and more likely to keep your feet dry. I’ll be wearing these on race day and I feel good about that as of now. I don’t feel like after my long runs my foot issues are any worse and I’ve considered switching to these full time now but then they might not be optimum on race day. Overall if you loved the 18’s you’ll probably notice some tweaks in the 18’s and be pleased overall
Adidas Boston Boost 5: 282 km: So I have a plan to wear these out triathlon training and on race day. They are sleek enough to fit well in my cages on the bike. They are one of the best shoes Adidas makes overall. But with the super soft continuous upper I’m thinking about putting them into the rotation now to ease my sore feet. It seems a shame to let these sit much longer and I actually wore them on a short run this week so they might get some use before then too.
Do you have any tips and tricks that help you pick out the perfect pair of shoes in store? Are you loyal to one brand or model or do you jump around? What are your all time favourite pair?