Big Shoe Dance
If you weigh more than than a duck then it’s very likely that shoes are going to be really important for you in reducing the suck factor of running.
What’s this? My knees don’t hurt? My hips don’t hurt? Witchcraft!”
When I decided to get off the couch I bought a pair of ‘running shoes’ based on Amazon reviews. They were cheap, 1200+ people had rated an average of over 4 stars, they must be fine right?
Not so much. That first month was a lot of knee and hip pains, lower back pains and general suck. Not being the size of a duck I assumed it was due to a combination of lack of exercise, weight and in general feeling like I was learning to run all over again.
So a real runner, a co-worker/friend, told me I should go to the FLSS so I did. A very friendly and knowledgeable girl (I’m 50, she was maybe 22 which makes her a girl from my perspective) watched me walk, measured my feet and then recommended a few options. I tried them on and in the end walked out with a pair of Brooks Ghost 8’s.
Very next time I ran, “What’s this? My knees don’t hurt? My hips don’t hurt? Witchcraft!”
In full disclosure those Brooks while they felt good in the store and they worked for the distances I was doing at that time (not very) turned out to be not as great for much more than 3 to 4 miles as I found out over time. But they’re good 5K shoes.
The moral of this story is you need to find out how you walk, do you pronate, do you supinate, do you need control shoes? Are you a heel striker or a toe striker? Do you like a lot of drop or minimal drop? These are real, valid, technical questions that deal with your actual running form, gait and general physiology. And it takes luck or some real guidance to find the pair of shoes that works with you because folks shoes are not made equal.
When you’re starting out the first thing you should do is visit one or more local shoe stores that are at least operated if not owned by runners. You might get lucky with a national chain and find sales people who are actual runners but a local store is much more likely to be staffed by #RUNNERS who have gone through many models of shoes, have helped other people select even more shoes and have run with a lot of people who’ve talked about their experiences with even more shoes. And typically, because they’re real runners, they’re super enthusiastic to talk to you about running and shoes.
Be aware that if you’re on the far end of the bell curve like me (size 13 4E typically) that they may not have very many (or any) shoes in your size in stock. But they can certainly recommend some options. And statistically it’s unlikely you’ll have the same issues I do in shoe selection.
Additionally, at the time of this writing, Running Warehouse offers a free video analysis of your running form. Just send them a short film of you running on a treadmill and they’ll come back with some recommendations. FWIW the folks at RW have been super awesome to work with in my short stint of running. Just recently I asked them a fairly involved question one evening. I’d done my due diligence but I wanted to reach out to people who had the ability to be hands on with the type of item I was asking about, probably had personal experience with it.
I got back a response in a few hours that basically said “Give us time to research this”. In a couple of days they came back with a long technical email outlining various options, features, pros and cons of items that fit my fairly demanding question. For someone to do that kind of research for a customer? You don’t see it much in most industries in this day and age.
if you want a little less suck in your career of being #NOTARUNNER then shoes are important. If you’re on the end of the bell curve in weight? Then they’re even more important.