Your sneakers may look good, but they need to feel good for the many miles which you’ll cover in training. We are not concerned about how clean or pretty they look. We are concerned about injury prevention, especially since we are doing long endurance training for our big race day. Sneakers break down over time. The supportive foam and other pieces in your sneaker that help prevent injuries are only good for about 300-500 miles. If you have had a pair of training shoes for a few months, it is more than likely you need to replace them. You can still wear the “worn out” training shoes for low impact things like grocery shopping or mowing the lawn or even donate them but you should not wear them when training for your race. As the shoe support elements break down less force is absorbed by the shoe and more wear & tear is applied to your body which increases the chance of an injury. Make sure you use the right shoes to absorb the impact so you can stay healthy and keep on schedule with training.
How to Pick New Training Shoes
If you pick a good looking shoe that is not designed for your body & your personal training situation, you are going to have a bad time. Your feet are going to strike the ground over 2,000 times every mile. You want the right shoe to best absorb the impact of the thousands and thousands of times your feet are going to hit the pavement. For the best shoe fitting, go to a dedicated running store. The running store employees will have you jump on a treadmill or run along the sidewalk so they can watch how your feet contact the ground and make sure you are matched with the right shoe for your body. You wouldn’t go to McDonald’s for a good steak, so don’t go to Sports Authority or Dicks Sporting Goods for good running shoes. We want a dedicated running store staffed by veteran runners who can properly evaluate your pronation level and running style. Be smart and protect with your feet.
Once you find your match and take your sneakers home, try to do your first few miles on a treadmill. Why? A treadmill will keep the sneakers looking clean/unused and thus returnable just in case you discover a problem. Your local running store understands that good running sneakers are expensive and they usually have a generous return policy but if you bring in sneakers that they can’t possibly resell they can’t accept that return or they would go broke.
When you are in the running store, ask the clerk what races they have done. You want to make sure that you are being helped by an experienced clerk who knows about running and not a brand new employee still learning. If the sales clerk says they have never raced or they are working up to their first 5k, you probably want to come back when a more experienced person is available for you. Don’t feel bad. Remember you are going to do over 300 miles in those sneakers. We want to protect our feet & legs by getting matched with the best sneakers for us – this is not something to risk.
Go to the running store after your workout or after being on your feet a long time. Your feet naturally swell when you workout and you want your new training shoes to fit your swollen feet. If the training shoe is too snug on your unswollen feet, you risk damaging and losing toenails when your feet become really swollen after pounding the pavement. But don’t overcompensate and buy shoes too big or you can end up with blisters. Speaking of avoiding blisters, grab a few pairs of non-cotton, moisture wicking running socks and of tube of body glide.
Clothes Make the Athlete
While you are shoe shopping, make sure you also have enough workout clothes (shirts, shorts, socks, etc). Avoid cotton and go for the performance fabrics which dry faster and are wick the sweat away. You will be sweating even if you are doing miles in the winter. We want to be comfortable. Worry less about how you look and worry more about how you feel. Your fellow runners are impressed by your determination and persistence and not by the designer of your clothes. You probably already have a favorite store but if you are looking for a deal check out Kohls, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls often have a good selection of affordable moisture wicking workout clothes in their clearance sections.
There are many great running socks. The most important part function of your socks is to get rid of moisture. Moisture aka sweat on your feet is a big reason for blisters. You might want to avoid no show socks. If it rains, those no show socks tend to slip down a little and that can expose the skin below your ankle which is normally covered by the sock to your shoe and say hello to your new blister.
When looking at clothes keep an eye out for clothes with pockets. Pockets are awesome. You can never have enough pockets to fit your keys, energy food, cell phone, nuclear missile launch codes and whatever else you want to put in your pockets.
Training clothes don’t need to be compression. Compression clothes tend to be more helpful for recovery after the run. Some people like the feel of compression clothes or snug clothes. It can also minimize the body jiggle which we are about to burn away during our awesome training. If you are not confident in your running clothes, that is simply your laziness trying to trick you. You look much better than you realize and the only way to look even better is to get up & move! Functional running clothes help us move longer & faster so embrace your running clothes because they will help transform your body to look amazing in any clothes you wear! Remember the only people that will see you in these workout clothes are your fellow runners who care more about finishing their own miles without passing out and are just happy to have some company with a fellow determined runner.