Author Topic: Can someone school me on running shoes?  (Read 12923 times)

Offline vicious

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Can someone school me on running shoes?
« on: August 17, 2010, 01:43:28 PM »
I am hoping someone has some insight into the selection of a good pair of running shoes. I have decided that its time to get back into running after a few years of lethargy, and I realized that I have NO idea what advancements have been made. The last time I bought a pair of shoes strictly for running was roughly 14 years ago, and at that time New Balance had a very durable and supportive pair of shoes. I was once told that I wear my running shoes much past the point where they have worn out, so the more durable the better. I am not brand loyal at this time, but I am cost conscious. I am currently wearing some Adidas sambas, but they aren't exactly good running shoes in my opinion. I will be running on a combination of gravel and paved roads if that matters.

Thanks in advance!

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2010, 02:22:26 PM »
Ideally, you want to visit a running shoe store - not the local footlocker. They can make sure you have a proper fit and determine if you need any correction (pronation / supination). The internet has a zillion running sites and forums that are much more specific.

Aside from that, New Balance and Adidas have always treated me well. I have a wide foot and find Nike too narrow. I have had good luck with Asics also. You may want to look at a trail running shoe if you will be off pavement much.

Offline vicious

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2010, 02:27:42 PM »
I am unfortunately in an area that doesn't have much in the way of shoe stores, so when I go to buy I'll have to head to the city. My plan is to find a couple of pairs that I'm interested in and let the fit finalize the decision.

What is the difference between a trail running shoe and a regular running shoe? I'll check around online as well.

Thanks again...

Offline Gif

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 02:28:49 PM »
+1 to what Joe said.  NB, Adidas, Asics, Saucony (sp?), and Brooks you should take a look at.  Get to a good running store.  You'll pay retail but the treatment should be worth it the first time.  I have a somewhat narrow foot and NB fit me well.  

Stay away from fashion crap like Nike Shox...those are not running shoes.  It's recommended you replace a shoe after 300 or so miles.  Looking at the tread wear is not an indication because the internal cushion of the shoe breaks down before the tread is shot.  You can extend the life of the shoe by throwing in some good insoles after they get beat down a little (I like Superfeet or Spanco).

A trail running shoe will be slightly stiffer and have a more aggressive tread pattern. 

Offline Nadir_E

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2010, 03:32:20 PM »
Vicious - first off - good on you for making the decision to get fit!!

If you're going all the way into the city, then +1 to what the others have said.  Find a specialty running store and let their experts help fit you.  In my case, it made a HUGE difference (from shin splints to pain-free running in day after changing shoes under the direction of a track-coach who worked at the store).  The advantage of the good running store is the skill the salesman have - if they only ask you what color you want, you're in the wrong place.  They should make you walk towards and away from them at the very least.  They'll then pick a shoe with support in the right places for your foot/gait combination.  When I went, out of a wall of dozens of shoes, they said, "This one or this one" - two choices, but two RIGHT choices.

Sorry to belabor the point, but improper equipment combined with a gung-ho attitude can lead to injury and even less time getting fit.  Ask me how I know. ;D

all the best,
-N

Offline AtADeadRun

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2010, 03:41:37 PM »
Jesus, yes, find someone who knows what they're doing to fit you.  If there's not a running store within a reasonable distance, get an experienced runner, who knows what s/he is doing, to go with you (I've done that for friends who lived in the boonies when visiting and for a friend who felt intimidated by the running store).  Some stores have even gone to treadmills with video cameras pointed at your feet so you can watch what they're watching and understand why they're recommending what they are.  I'm a big fan of athletes understanding their own biomechanics, so if you don't understand exactly why someone is recommending a given shoe, keep asking questions 'til you do.  It'll mean that, 300-400 miles down the line, when you go to replace your shoes, you can walk into the store and say, "I'm looking for foo kind of shoe, for reasons bar and baz" and the clerk will take you seriously.

For that matter, I recommend understanding the biomechanics of running in general to anyone who runs more than, say, 20 or so miles a week.  It's enormously helpful in shoe/sock decisions, injury prevention, recovery from the inevitable injuries, and figuring out a proper training program.  Knowing how it all fits together has, without question, made me a better runner.

Wow.  I went a little biomechanics crazy there, but the point stands:  knowing your legs will help you pick shoes.

Offline drinkin

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2010, 04:36:51 PM »
I used to wear New Balance but switched to Brooks two years ago, very comfortable.  Asics would be my second choice.  Nike is getting better with their narrow shoes.  I work for a footwear retailer that has a 15 day test run on some running shoes.  I don't want this to seem like a sales pitch so I am not naming them.

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2010, 05:13:56 PM »
Everyone else has covered the important stuff (get an expert fit, ideally one with an instore treadmill with video), but to answer your question regarding trail running shoes vs. regular running shoes, generally, go with the running shoe.  Trail running shoes are designed with durability and stability at the expense of impact absorption and motion control.  They're fine if 100% of your running is on trails that are gobbling up your fancy running shoes at a rate faster than you're wearing them out (good running shoes should be replaced every 250-400 miles because the impact absorption and motion control features break down).  However, if you run even once a week on pavement, you will hurt yourself in trail running shoes unless you really have a toughened up body (running for a while now).

I've owned just about every brand out there.  Fit is everything.  It all depends on how your foot moves in the shoe and on the ground.  You should have no brand loyalty unless buying an absolutely identical model (not just same model name, but same year; they change models constantly).  Otherwise, everytime you buy a new pair of shoes, you should be trying them out on a treadmill and comparing them to two or three similar models.

Also, given the choice between buying two pairs of $60 shoes or one pair of $120 shoes that both work the same for you, ALWAYS go with the cheaper shoe.  You'll replace them more often which is better for your feet anyway.  You will never get twice the life out of a pair of shoes for twice the money unless you are physically tearing apart the shoes in rocky terrain (in which case, it may be time to buy a pair of trail running shoes). 

I own two pairs of regular running shoes and one pair of trail running shoes.  I alternate which running shoes I wear when I run so they have time to get washed, thoroughly dry, and the material can recover from a run (probably unnecessary, but it doesn't hurt and always leaves me with a newer pair and an older pair for muddy days).  I wear the trail running shoes for hiking when I'm traveling light and just might want to break into a run for the fun of it.  Otherwise, even if I'm going out for a trail run, I'm in my regular running shoes. 

Offline marauder

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2010, 05:16:31 PM »
Great advice above.  I would add that the *really* good running stores will help you narrow your choices down to 2 or 3 and actually let you run a lap around the block in the shoe to get an even better idea of fit or it something in the shoe doesn't sit well on a part of your foot.  

I have a wide and pretty flat foot.  New Balance and semi-custom insoles (they are off the shelf, but you heat them in the oven until pliable and then step in them...like a mouthguard for sparring...to get a semi-custom fit) do the trick for me.  Semi-custom insoles $49.99...custom insoles from podiatrist?  last I checked, close to $300.00  :o

I have also had success with Brooks, Asics and Saucony.  Nike are crap.  Addidas are generally too narrow for me, but many people do well with them.  

As mentioned, keep a mileage log.  The shoe's life is over well before the tread is worn.  I usually keep those for kicking around town and get a new pair to run in.  

A last piece of "real runners" advice...when you find a pair that really fit you, but as many pairs as you can afford and put them in the closet.  Models change from year to year and what fits like a glove this year, can either be changed or dropped completely next year...think of it as a prep. lol

Offline vicious

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2010, 06:45:06 PM »
Wow! That is some great information. When I stopped running on a regular basis, I was running 3 miles a day 5 days a week, but in the service we ran upwards of 10 miles a day 3 days a week. Now I know why I got shin splints. We just grabbed some shoes at the clothing and sales store or px and went on our way. I didn't know there was so much to it.

As I am just getting back into it, I am not sure I can run 1/10th of a mile, let alone any real distance, but I will maintain the tortoise attitude. Slow and steady as I regain my fitness.

Now for another question. Are their any chain stores I should look into rather than start bumbling around trying to find some place that knows what they are doing? Taking a runner with me won't be easy, all my running partners are long since gone.

Thanks again, all. It is truly appreciated.

Offline AtADeadRun

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2010, 07:24:16 PM »
*Very occasionally,* a big-box sporting good store, like Dick's, will have someone who has a clue about running shoes on staff.  I wouldn't count on it, though.  Sure as hell no Athlete's Foot or other shoe-store-in-the-mall-that-mostly-sells-basketball-shoes will.  Best bet?  Call ahead and ask about whether or not the store you'll be going to has someone who knows about the issues raised here (biomechanics, pronation/supination, appropriate running shoe based on weight, weekly mileage, and intended training program).  If they do have someone, the manager is likely to know about it.  If not, they may know of a specialty store nearby.

Another option is to beg help from the local running club in whatever town you're closest to.  Even relatively small towns these days tend to have a running or track club.  See if you can track them down and ask if they have someone who deals with beginning runners (my dad has done that in several different clubs now) and see if s/he can help you find someone to assist with shoe fitting.

Offline Nadir_E

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2010, 09:56:11 PM »
Vicious - as long as you're starting afresh, may as well try to develop some new habits / techniques.

One of the sources of injury experienced by runners is knee pain.  Often this happens because they're landing on their heel first when they run.  It's actually FAR better for you to land on the ball of your foot first, then the heel.  If you look up POSE running, you'll find more on this subject.  Speaking from experience, it makes a WORLD of difference in the wear and tear on your joints (and back) and increases your endurance as you aren't "hitting the brakes" with every stride as you do when you land heel-first.  

One aspect of this technique that is important is that you get the best result when you lean forward as you run, but - and this is critical - you need to lean from your *ankles* not your waist.  The idea is basically that you are falling forward and catching yourself with every stride (this is why it's more efficient - you're using gravity).  It will feel odd at first, but it's a proven winner - give it a try.

Also, a physical therapist once shared this with a class I attended - if you're having knee pain, look up stream and down stream (i.e. hip or ankle) - odds are you'll find a problem that's causing you to compensate and it's manifesting itself in the knee (or whatever joint is giving you problems).  Pay attention to the joint aches and pains after you run and determine if there flaws in your form that are contributing to that joint getting over-worked or worked out of its normal range.  Sometimes watching other runners will clue you into possible faults you may have, too.

Good luck!

-N

Offline vicious

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2010, 07:07:28 AM »
Thanks again! My mission today is to find someone local that can help me find the appropriate shoes so I can begin. I'll also see if they can walk me through some good practices as well, and I'll be looking into POSE running.

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2010, 11:34:11 AM »
I agree with Nadir.  After reading Born to Run, I'm a completely different animal.  Fewer injuries, more enjoyment, and much of it is about shorter strides and running more on my mid-to-fore foot rather than heal striking.  It's ironic that the better, more cushioned shoes actually encouraged us to run in a way that is more prone to injury, but armed with that information, hopefully you can innoculate yourself from a common mistake (one that took me out of running at least three times with stress fractures between 1997-2008).

Offline ladieu

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2010, 12:52:23 PM »
vibram five fingers :D

Offline AtADeadRun

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2010, 01:57:29 PM »
vibram five fingers :D

I have some friends who *swear* by those things.  Most of them are heavier runners; I know relatively few high-speed low-drag types who are big fans.  Several have mentioned relief from shin splints, which may be a result of the things promoting forefoot strike and thereby reducing impact on the tibia and associated connective tissue by introducing the toes and ankles as shock absorbers.  I'd like to try a pair, but I have really long monkey toes, so I have doubts I could find a pair that'd fit well.

Offline Nadir_E

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2010, 02:06:00 PM »
They're gaining popularity among some of the CrossFit folks with whom I'm friends.  They like they for the reason stated (you will NOT land on your heel wearing these - it will hurt!) but they also like them for Olympic-style weight lifting (clean & jerk, snatch, etc.).  I know a few runners who've tried them (including in 5k's) and so far everyone seems to like them.  I don't know of anyone running trails in them, but that may not be far off.

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2010, 02:10:08 PM »
My GF has a pair of five fingers, I have two friends that bought the Nike Free after reading Born to Run, but I went old school and I'm working on building a pair of Huarache sandals.  I only plan on using them maybe once or twice a week as a training tool to strengthen my feet, but I know I'd never be able to pull them off as my only running footwear.  I'm just not that tough. :D

Offline daveinmichigan

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2010, 02:54:45 PM »
I have the Five Fingers (KSO model for the record) and I LOVE trail running with them. I actually ran up on a deer last fall and scared both of us. He didn't hear me coming and I was running thru a technical section of the trail so I was looking down and paying attention to my footing. I am 6'0" and 179lbs and I started using them because I would get IT Band Syndrome and Patellar Tendentious every time I would go above about 35 miles a week. I thought the barefoot running folks were nuts but I figured if nothing else I could wear them while playing in the water if I didn't like them for running. Start show and build up.

Offline Nadir_E

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2010, 03:06:56 PM »
.... I'm working on building a pair of Huarache sandals.  I only plan on using them maybe once or twice a week as a training tool to strengthen my feet, but I know I'd never be able to pull them off as my only running footwear.  I'm just not that tough. :D

We sooo need pictures of the sandals on your doggies out on the trail! 

FWIW, if I were going to go that route, I'd make mine a tad longer than my toes (his look like they stop at the edge of the toe) - nice to have some 'bumper' on there when you encounter rocks and the like. :)

Offline vicious

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2010, 04:01:52 PM »
I am not sure I'm ready for the 5 fingers. They do seem neat though. Maybe someday. And I want to see pics of those homemade sandals too. That's neat too.

I plan on hitting the city tomorrow with the Admiral, and there are a couple of good locations for the fitting. After talking to one shop for a little bit and answering a slew of questions, it is believe that I will likely be just a tad overpronated (I am still not entirely comfortable with the definition of pronation) but will likely require a neutral / stability shoe. They seem very knowledgeable so I'm very excited.

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2010, 04:14:44 PM »
We sooo need pictures of the sandals on your doggies out on the trail! 

FWIW, if I were going to go that route, I'd make mine a tad longer than my toes (his look like they stop at the edge of the toe) - nice to have some 'bumper' on there when you encounter rocks and the like. :)
Actually, that's exactly what I've done.  I had the same concerns.  I also built the left one about 8-10mm thicker than the right one because of a leg length discrepency.  They're cut to shape and glued, I just need to get them on the sander to get all the layers nice and even, round off the edges, and punch my holes for the laces.

Not sure you'd see my doggies out on the trails.  They're more tree dogs.



 :D

Offline AtADeadRun

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2010, 04:26:45 PM »
This thread reminded me that I'd wanted to try a pair of Vibrams for a while now, so I went down to a local place that specializes in trail running/climbing/hiking and tried out a pair for fit.  I was right, the monkey toes made it irritating to get 'em on -- my toes spread out wide in addition to being long -- but they're comfortable once they're on.  So, what the hell, right?  Picked up a pair designed for running and tacked a couple extra minutes on the end of today's run wearing those instead of the Mizunos.  It's definitely a different feel, and I'll have to give it a couple weeks before I'm fully transitioned into 'em, but we'll see how they work out.  I'm hoping it helps with some chronic hamstring issues I've had for years.

Side note:  if you're prone to ingrown toenails, like I am, these things will require more attention to keeping the toenails in check, 'cause they fit the toes pretty tightly.

Offline ladieu

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2010, 07:52:43 PM »
The five fingers take some building up. I recommend walking in them first.  Also trail selection is huge, your not going to want to run on super rocky stuff with these in my opinion.  I only use them off-road, but then again I don't ever run on roads.

I have a friend who had very bad plantar fasciitis and using these shoes cured him of that, he was to the point of almost being crippled by it.

There is an excellent book by a known barefoot runner, but with advice applicable to all runners. It is called chi-running and I highly recommend it... however be prepared, he goes off on meta-physical tangents. If you ignore that (or don't) and focus on the practical I found it a worthwhile read.

here is the amazon link... looks like you can pick it up used for like $4 http://amzn.to/b1Obqr

-Nick

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2010, 09:47:31 AM »
Just saw this on Barefoot Ted's FB page.  Kinda fun that his sandals got some coverage.

Offline Nadir_E

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2010, 04:05:47 PM »
What's your news, Vicious?  How's the running coming along?  I got my all-clear 6-month check-up (back surgery) last week and will be starting my own running program again on Monday. 

Offline vicious

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2010, 07:46:06 PM »
Hey All, I'm sorry I didn't update the post. I went through the treadmill review and found I am just slightly under-pronated, but so close to neutral that it is what I will be getting. I actually pick my shoes up next Friday. I wanted the Mizuno waves as they felt the most comfortable, but they didn't have my size in stock.

One thing that they pointed out was my stride. I've always taken a more choppy step, and apparently this is better than stretching it out. My old 1st sgt used to get on me all the time because I didn't, but apparently it's harder on the joints if you do. Go figure.

I'll be a week behind you Nadir_E, but I'll be out there very soon.

Again, thanks for all the insight. It was VERY helpful, and gave me just the push I needed to not buy some lame pair of shoes that could hurt more than help.

Offline Nadir_E

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2010, 09:21:06 PM »
Excellent news!  I look forward to your progress reports!

One last bit of advice - be sure to mix it up - try some stuff on a track (sprints with short duration rests - you'll hate me later) and trail runs where you're actually off-road, along with the run-through-town kinds of runs.  I can't stand treadmills, but if that's your thing, add some of that in, too.  The more you mix it up, the more you'll work on other things like foot-eye coordination (trail running) and keep it interesting enough that you're not constantly running the same route and making each time a time-trial (which can be depressing if you don't see improvement each time, or worse, back-slide a little on time).  If you can, try to go at least a week before you re-run the same route.  You may surprise yourself with the improvement.

Enjoy the journey, Vicious!

-N

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2010, 09:25:22 AM »
One thing that they pointed out was my stride. I've always taken a more choppy step, and apparently this is better than stretching it out. My old 1st sgt used to get on me all the time because I didn't, but apparently it's harder on the joints if you do. Go figure.
I had the same advice in high school and unfortunately, everytime I listened, I got hurt.  It took until Born to Run until I learned my body was doing it right all along; I was just too dumb to listen. ::)

Offline vicious

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Re: Can someone school me on running shoes?
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2010, 12:47:28 PM »
I guess your body will do what's right for the most part, but then again I make stuff up all the time. I'm excited to get to running again. I used to LOVE it.