Choosing the Right Running Shoes

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Getting the right running shoes for you may be the most important preparation you do for endurance running. Your feet hit the ground around 800 times in every mile you run.  No matter how much speed work or hill work you do, or how many miles you run each week, or how well you have prepared physically for a marathon--the one thing that can end your day early is a pair of ill-fitting running shoes.

There are several things to consider when you buy running shoes. First of all, skip the department store and their cheaper prices--go to a sports store that specializes in running shoes.  The sales people will know the pros and cons of each of the brands and models of shoes they carry, and they can give you precisely the correct fit.  When you go to the store, take along the socks you normally wear running.  Plan ahead so that the running shoes you are going to use on the day of the marathon have at least 70 miles on them, including a long run.

Know your feet. The kind of running shoe you need is based on the type of foot you have.  If you are unsure, do the wet foot routine.  Wet your bare feet and walk across a surface that will reveal your footprints.  A foot with a significantly high arch will leave the impression of the heel, the ball of the foot, and the toes.  If the impression includes the entire surface of the ball of your foot and looks nearly rectangular, you have a low arch or flat foot. If you leave an outline of the middle part of the foot, it means you strike with the mid-foot and will need extra cushioning there. A foot with a high arch needs arch support and a lot of shock absorption from a shoe. A person with a flat foot overpronates and needs a stiff shoe that offers support throughout.

As always you should consult your doctor if you experience pain or discomfort in the lower extremity and hips region during your training. Having any sort of misalignment in your lower back or hips can increase the pressure on your lower extremity and ultimately can change your running gait.

Running shoes come in these four categories, and within each category are several brands and several models from each company.

Motion control shoes For people with low arches--flat feet that have moderate to severe overpronation. They need a lot of rear foot control and extra arch support. Runners who are heavy also need a good motion control shoe.

Stability For people who have low to normal arches with little to moderate overpronation. Basically, these people need cushioning in the mid-sole area of the shoe and support.

Neutral-Cushioned The so-called shoe for the normal foot if there is such a thing. For people who need a lot of midsole cushioning and not much arch support. These are for people with minimal pronation.

Performance training These are for the racers--a good shoe to stay away from unless you plan on winning the marathon.  They are ultra-light--have some stability-- and are designed for people who have “no biomechanical issues,” in other words--the perfect foot. That eliminates most of the people in the universe.