Change Your Shoes, Change Your Life

This is what my awesome cousin Chi-Chi says to me. I love her. And I think this applies to ALL the shoes in your life, especially your running shoes.

I spent the vast majority of my youth wearing the wrong size running shoes. They kept telling me I needed to leave room because my feet were going to grow some more. Little did they know that at age 14, I was fully grown at 5’9″ with size 8 1/2 feet. Well, my left foot is an 8 1/2 and my right is an 8 but, hey, nobody’s perfect.

Oh, little right foot you are small but I love you still

Your running shoes can make or *literally* break you. I found that out the hard way freshman year of high school when I tried to substitute cooler looking cross trainers for my usual hideous running shoes. I got shin splints. Lesson learned.

Thankfully, running has become a lot cooler since then (who knew my sport of choice would ever be cool?) and there are some awesome stores that share my geekyness and specialize in outfitting runners with the best shoe for them. JackRabbit Sports is my shop of choice.

I love you, JackRabbit

The staff is knowledgable, experienced and just as nerdy as me as knowing the latest specs of the newest editions of popular running shoes. I’ve never been disappointed with their service and decided that since I haven’t had my feet checked in a while that I should probably make sure I’m still in the right shoe for my gait. Did you know that your stride and foot strike can change? True story.

Look Mom! I'm flying!

The best part about JackRabbit is they have treadmills with cameras on the back of them that record your foot strike as you run (fly) on the treadmills. This is key in analyzing your foot strike and making sure you get the right shoe. Me? My left foot has perfect strike and my right only pronates slightly, which is fixed easily with arch supporting inserts.

Let's hear it for my perfect left foot!

I don’t have seriously high arches, but most of us have a whole lot more than shoe companies allot for in their inserts.

Top: mine. Bottom: theirs. Ummm...who has arches this flat?

If you stand in your sneakers and cannot feel the shoe on every single part of the bottom of your feet, most importantly every part of your arch, then you need an insert. Try Spenko or Superfeet. Both are good. This is a very cheap way to avoid nagging injuries like Plantar Faciitis and Shin Splints and can help prevent knee problems. Take good care of your arches!

My arches aren't crazy, but they definitely need a little extra love.

Now you’re looking for fit. Try every single shoe that fits your foot strike style. I like a little less shoe than what Saucony makes and Asics’ toe box is too wide for my foot. Brooks Ghost is too wide in the mid-foot but the Defyance fits me like a glove. Be Goldilocks when choosing a running shoe. There are way too many out there to be in a shoe that doesn’t fit you perfectly. Be picky. Try them all on.

Once you’ve found your shoe and got the arch situation handled, you can slap them into your new kicks and take them for a ride on the treadmill one last time to ensure your foot strike is straight up and down. Then, my friends, you have found your new shoe. Ta-da!

Brooks Defyance 5, never leave me!

So here’s your check list:

  1. Bring your old shoes so they can take a look at how your tread wears
  2. Come ready to jog a little (like, not in a skirt)
  3. Get your foot strike analyzed
  4. Try on lots and lots of different brands, styles and sizes
  5. Check your arch support
  6. Run one more time with the arch support and your new kicks and re-check your foot strike

Voila! Change your shoes, change your life.

Now go out and run!