About four months ago, I decided I was going to become a runner. You know, one of those runners I had always envied. The ones who wake up early, run for hours at a time and do it all with a smile on their face. I needed a goal, something to motivate me and allow me to accomplish something that felt big. I decided that running a half marathon was that perfect goal. I called my mom on a Tuesday and together we signed up to run a half marathon this coming September. I ventured into the back of my closet and pulled out some old sneakers that vaguely resembled running shoes. I was ready to attempt my first mile. Or so I thought.
Needless to say, there are many things that I did not take into consideration before embarking on this glorious journey. The biggest issue I faced, aside from motivating myself to wake up and hit the pavement every morning, was realizing that those beat up sneakers were not doing me any favors. After several weeks of shin splints and knee pains, I was advised by my fellow StyleBlueprint coworkers that I really needed better shoes and that I should go to Fleet Feet. I walked in a novice runner, unsure of my abilities, and I walked out feeling confident, comfortable and eager to run. I know, I know, it is hard to believe that a pair of running shoes can evoke all those positive feelings. But trust me on this one.
Fit Comes First
The top priority when buying running shoes is fit. Christi Beth, owner of Fleet Feet Nashville, and Jared, expert fitter, helped me to realize the importance of a proper fit. Fleet Feet, a locally owned and operated store with branches in 35 states across the country (including all of our sister SB cities), is a shoe store that specializes in just that: fit. Jared sat me down, asked me to take off my socks and placed my foot in a brannock (a foot measuring device). He asked, “When is the last time you had your foot measured?” He was quick to inform me that, “Feet change all the time and most of us are walking around in the wrong size shoes.” At Fleet Feet, they get you down to bare feet so they can tell the exact type of footwear you need and make sure it is the correct size. They examine your feet to see if they are flat, wide, narrow, have a high arch, etc. Christi Beth stresses the importance of measuring the bare foot. It is the first step in testing how you run, how the shoe will fit and the level of support you need. All of these needs are determined on site by a well-trained staff. They will watch you run in each pair of shoes you try on to examine how your foot hits the ground, how the shoe fits and how your foot feels. This hands-on approach ensures that the Fleet Feet team will work with you until they get it right.
Christi Beth explained, “When you walk into a family footwear store, they are carrying lifestyle shoes. There are familiar brands, such as Asics and Nike, but these are not activity specific. You will not find shoes that focus on biomechanics unless you go to a store that carries shoes better suited for walkers and runners.” At Fleet Feet, each shoe is researched. The latest technology and a trained staff can lead you to the right shoe more effectively than an online review. Translation: Don’t buy any old athletic shoe. Everyone’s foot is different. What works for one person does not work for everyone else. You need a shoe that mimics the shape of your foot.
Comfort is Key, Style is Secondary
Christi Beth brought something to my attention: I, and many other women, often choose style over comfort. If the most stylish shoe is also comfortable, that is an added bonus, but in running shoes fit and comfort are more important. Jared put it perfectly, “Until you find the right shoe, you will have no idea how comfortable you can be.” When you find the shoes that fit like Cinderella’s glass slipper, do not let them get away. If you happen to find these shoes in your favorite color, which is pink, thanks to Tina Adams, that is a plus. If not, go ahead and purchase them in orange, or blue or green.
The Sneaky Little Price Tag
Now that we have covered fit, comfort and style, it is time to mention the elephant in the room: the price tag of the perfect pair of running shoes. You can expect the price of the shoes to start around $110. I can tell you from personal experience, the right shoe is worth every penny. You get what you pay for — shoes that are meant to take a pounding on the pavement and will help prevent injuries (which I hear can be a lot more painful on the wallet than the right shoes). Go see for yourself. Once you are in the store, the feel and fit of the shoes will convince you to make the investment. Christi Beth has helped countless people with back and neck problems and the first thing the doctor orders is a new pair of shoes.
So how long will this investment last you? You need new shoes every 300-500 miles or about every six months. I think it is safe to assume that most of us do not keep exact track of our mileage, so get on a schedule. Remind yourself that you need to buy new shoes every spring and every fall or every winter and every summer. After you buy your replacements, you can still get life out of your old shoes. Use them for bopping around town and running errands.
One day at a time, I am slowly transforming myself into that smiling runner. With only 45 days until my race, I am happy to say that I am injury free, which I owe 100% to my Asic kicks from Fleet Feet. If you’re like me and new to the sport, here’s a recap of tips from the experts for getting started:
- Get fitted
- Spend the extra dollars for the extra comfort
- Splurge on non-cotton socks (your blister-free feet with thank you later)
- Change your shoes every 6 months
- Get out there and live active!
Many thanks to Christi Beth and Jared for not only placing me in the right shoes, but for guiding me through the process to share with all of you. I am inspired to keep running! Find a Fleet Feet location near you and be sure to check: www.fleetfeetsports.com/locations. While you’re on their site, be sure to check out their running group schedules and race calendar, too.