Beginner Runner Tip #1
Before getting fit, get fitted for running shoes
Shoes are probably the most significant investment you’ll make in running, and to find your first pair/s of shoes it is worth the extra investment of paying a visit to your local independent running store. Unlike larger retail stores, these smaller stores usually have more knowledgeable staff, many of whom are runners themselves. Often these specialist shops can also provide gait analysis which reveals your foot strike pattern, assisting them to help select the best shoe for your foot type.
Try before you buy
Try on several pairs of shoes, and get a feel for them. Ask questions of your assistant so you understand the reasons why they are suggesting them for you. There is lots of technology in shoes these days, and for marketing purposes every manufacturer has a different name for similar things. If you don’t understand the jargon, ask your assistant to explain it to you so you can compare shoes with an understanding of the pros and cons of each.
No, really. Try before you buy
Many of these independent shops also have treadmills – take your running gear with you so you can change clothing and do a few minutes on the treadmill in each shoe you are trying. Just walking in them won’t give a good idea of how they feel when you’re running. Getting the right shoe is partly science and partly art. The assistant will help you with the science part (pronation type, support, technology) but you need to do the art part. How do they feel underfoot, when flexed, when running? Do they work with you and make you feel like your next step will be effortless, or are you having to drag them with you? Your brain, your physique and your natural running motion will let you know if they feel ‘right’.
If you went to an independent store and they helped you find your new shoes, buy them from the store. Don’t walk out the door and go to a ‘big box’ retailer or the internet and get them on the cheap. It isn’t fair and it makes it harder for independent stores to keep operating and to provide all runners with really valuable help and support. Also, many good independent running stores know that if they serve you well you will be a repeat customer, and often offer a guarantee on your shoes if after a few days or a week they don’t suit you, even if you’ve run in them. For UK based people, my favourite running store Sweatshop gives a whopping 30 day guarantee that if they fit you with shoes that you don’t like, you can exchange them for another pair, even if you’ve been running in them.
Lastly, don’t skimp on your shoes. They are the only thing between you and the road and properly fitted shoes will help you with your running and can help minimise injury risk. Be prepared to pay £75/$125 for a ‘good’ pair of shoes. Don’t forget though – fit is king. A running shoe that is twice as expensive but doesn’t fit properly or is not suited to your gait is going to be worse than a properly fitted shoe without all the special ‘techie’ additives.
Happy running everyone!
Get Going, Get Running!