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The Everyday Champion’s Guide to Running Shoes

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Crossing the bridge, I kept my pace measured. The trick, I thought is to maintain constant breathing while running. If I can do this, I can run forever. On and on I ran, from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. My pace was slow, but there is no way I could have run this far a year ago.

Like Forest Gump – I kept running…

From Hollywood Studios, I ran with the crowd to and through, the Animal Kingdom theme park making our way to the finish line just outside of Epcot. This was my second half marathon in 2013 – it was a blast. 13.1 miles finished I was looking forward to a big drink of water and some rest.

I have learned a lot about myself by running. I have also learned a thing or two about shoes. Yes, good old-fashioned running shoes. If 2014 is your year to get in shape, this post is for you.

Life is short… running makes it seem longer.”– Baron Hansen

Learning to run was the easy part – you just do it. However, understanding how not to mess your body up is a little more challenging.

When you first begin running, you will be tempted to wear the cheapest version of a shoe you can find. If your like me, you will search for your worn-out ill-fitting shoes that have sat in the garage for a few lawn mowing seasons. However, if you want to stay healthy in the process of getting fit you may want to consider a quality pair of running shoes.

In my case, I found out that big guys needs great shoes. If you are planning on running over a few miles this year, you will need to make your shoes a top priority. Based on my experience of going from couch to 13.1 here is what I have learned in the process about running shoes.

The Everyday Champion’s Guide to Running Shoes

  • Don’t be cheap. You may feel like shoes cost a lot, up to $130 or more, but it is worth the investment. Think about this: Whatever your new shoes ends up costing, it is likely less than the money and time you’d spend visiting the doctor because of an injury. Also be prepared to purchase a new pair about every 500 miles worth of running. My rule is this – if my ankles and knees start hurting – it is time for new shoes.
  • Do the research.  Pick up a copy of Runner’s World Magazine or check out shoe reviews on-line. There are many experts that offer suggestions worthy of consideration. As a bigger guy, I learned quickly to ask specific questions. What are the best shoes for my running style? What kind of shoes do you recommend for guys my size? Seems obvious but at first I simply looked for what looked best on my feet. It was a “Nike” disaster. Wrong shoes led to a very slow start, lots of pain and a decrease in morale.
  • Seek an expert. I found that going to a specialty running shop (not a department store) was best. The salesperson was an actual runner who had logged some miles and took the time to watch me run. This helped give an accurate read on the best type of running shoe.
  • Measure up.  Get your feet measured each time you buy new shoes. I have found that my feet change over time, and one model’s fit can be drastically different from another’s. I have gone back and forth between Brooks Ghost and Asaics Gel-Nimbus.  Every store I have purchased shoes from have told me to run in them for a week (treadmill only) and if I don’t like them bring them back. I have not had to yet, but if necessary it is nice to have the option.
  • Bring it.  Bring what you’ve been wearing to the store. When your shoe shopping it’s helpful to see how your shoe has worn – this gives the sales associate a great idea on how your feet strike the ground and where the pressure points are. This way you can make a realistic evaluation of how well your new shoe should perform for you.
  • Get an upgrade. Finally, I recommend purchasing quality inserts for your new shoes. (I don’t care how much you spend) The worst advice I was offered came from a hardcore minimalist marathoner, he said, don’t spoil your feet, get used to running in the shoes, “as is”. While there’s no scientific evidence that proves inserts are better for decreasing injuries. My experience is that inserts make running more comfortable.

If making 2014 your best year ever includes running, it’s best to have an idea about shoes. You can’t go wrong if you buy quality, avoid the fads and seek the help of someone who knows what they are talking about. Making running a habit is much easier if you clad yourself with the proper equipment from the beginning. Hope to see you on the trail in 2014.

If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise.   – P.Z. Pearce

What shoes are you running in these days and why?  

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  1. roger
    roger01-15-2014

    I wish I had realized how important good shoes could be before I injured myself in 2012 and took 6+ months before I could do anything that resembled exercise again.

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia01-15-2014

      Isn’t it crazy how much of a difference a “quality” pair of shoes makes? I’m glad your back up and hitting the gym buddy!

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