Choosing the Right Shoes

Running Shoes:

Picking out the right running shoes is as important as picking out the right tires for your car. Sure, you can get some generic tires for pretty cheap, but is that frugality worth the risk? I buy quality tires for my car and quality shoes for my feet because I get a lot of use out of them and I don't want to get hurt. To me, especially when I'm training for a race, it's worth spending $150 to get a great pair of shoes -- no blisters, no chafe, no stress fractures, no injuries.

I've found out that I'm a Nike girl myself. I almost exclusively stick with the updated version of the shoes I wore for my first full marathon -- Nike Pegasus. When I bought them the first time, they were part of the Nike Bowerman distance running series (not sure if they're still doing that). They have treated me well.

But Nike isn't for everyone, I know a lot of girls who love Asics (K&K from Tone It Up) and I know plenty of others who support Mizuno. You have to find what's right for your foot -- and not just pick a shoe because it comes in cute colors and it's cheap. Not for long distance, at least. When you wear anything for 26.2 miles, you want it to feel perfect because you'll notice any imperfection --in the form of pain and discomfort.

Here are a couple of tips for choosing the right shoe:

  • Don't try to get a shoe that will work for everything - Running shoes are more flexible and offer more support than walking shoes.  Your distance running shoe should not be the same shoe you use for sprints or for the gym. It's its own breed.
  • Bring your own socks with you - You want to know the fit and feel with the socks you will actually be wearing, not those panty hose socklettes they keep in stock for trying on shoes. Don't own running socks? Find the right ones here.
  • Size up for long distance - Always buy a half or full size up from what you would normally buy in a shoe. Your feet swell when you run, so you want to allow room for that.
  • Keep breathability in mind - When you run, your feet sweat, creating moisture (quelle surprise!). You want that moisture to be able to evaporate so that you don't get blisters.
  • Know your feet - my feet are most likely not the same as your feet (arches, pronation, width, length, etc.). All of these factors make a difference in which shoe you should choose.
  • Know when to replace them - Replace at least once a year -- for good measure, every 400-500 miles-- or whenever there is significant damage to the body (the sole starts to peel off, theres a hole in the toe, etc.).

Ultimately, the best advice I can give you for running shoes is to head on over to Luke's Locker (or any other running specialty store) and ask for assistance. At Luke's Locker, they will ask you a bunch of questions:

  • What's your running experience?
  • Are you training for something?
  • How many miles do you run a week?
  • What is your average pace?
  • Do you run on trails or concrete mostly?
  • What kind of arch do your feet have?

After you answer their questions, they will probably ask to watch you walk or run on a treadmill. Sounds weird, but there is a science to finding the right shoe! They're watching which way, if any, your foot rotates. If it rotates inwards, you overpronate. If it rotates outwards, you underpronate (know what you are by looking at your old shoes). Don't stress too much about it if you do, they will point you towards a shoe that will help compensate for your natural rotation.

They will also watch to see which point of your foot hits the ground first when you run: front, mid, or heel.

If you want to do some of your own research, you can use the Shoe Finder tool on Runner's World.

Gym Shoes

I stick with Nike for my gym shoes too, but I'm a LOT less picky about my gym shoes. I want my gym shoes to be bright, cute, and clean. I don't wear them for my outdoor runs, but I'll wear them for HIIT intervals on the treadmill.

I pick a cross-trainer (as opposed to a running shoe) because I use these babies for aerobics, weight training, and HIIT workouts. Cross-trainers are great for quick movements from side to side and for traction when you are lifting weights. They're the go-to for gym training because they perform well in a variety of circumstances. Just like with my running shoes, I want breathability in these shoes too.

Things to consider:

  • Support
  • Comfort
  • Fit
  • Traction
  • Flexibility
  • Cushion

What shoes do you wear? How do you pick them out?