It doesn’t matter your speed nor status in the racing world; you are joining the ranks of endurance athletes everywhere. And your vehicle of choice – your feet – need to be treated like the superstars they are.
Why Your Old Shoes Should Be Retired
Your sneakers may look good, but they need to feel good for the many miles over which you’ll walk/run during your training. We are not concerned about how clean or pretty they look. We are worried about injury prevention especially since we are doing 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 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 half or full marathon.
How to Pick New Training Shoes
There are actually a bunch of different factors that are very important to finding the shoe that is right for you. If you pick a shoe that is not designed for your body & your personal training situation you are going to have a bad and potentially dangerous time.
Walking vs Running Shoes
Some shoes are designed for walking and other are designed for running. Unfortunately, some running store employees have never done an endurance walking event so they might not respect walking shoes as much as they should. If you are looking for walking shoes, stress that you are doing an endurance event that will likely have you on your feet for several hours and this isn’t for 30 minutes of walking around the mall.
Overpronating vs Underpronating vs Neutral
This is really important so please pay attention. This is all about how your feet rolls when it impacts the ground. Since 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. Some people have feet that roll inwards alot, this is overpronating and these people need shoes that are categorized as stability (little overpronation) or motion control (lot of overpronating) to help with injury prevention. Underpronating is when the foot does not roll inwards and the ankles lean outwards which concentrates the impact on the outside edge of the foot. These people are best matched with neutral or cushioning shoes. Neutral striders are the lucky ones with the most efficient flow. They should be looking for neutral shoes. How do you figure out your pronation? 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.
Barefeet or Minimalist Shoes
Unfortunately the unbiased science and research is lacking when it comes to this area. Most of the information available comes from biased sources that are trying to promote their own business or books. The safest approach in our humble opinion is to avoid newer things until they are thoroughly tested and to avoid drastic changes to your footwear. We would rather something else take the risk of being the guinea pig.
Different shoes are designed for different levels of activity. Racing flats are used for short term racing. Other shoes are designed for high mileage training. Make sure the running store knows that you are training for an endurance event and that your weekly mileage is going to be high.
Bonus Tip #1
Go to the running store after you workout. 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 for 2 or 3 hours. Don’t overcompensate and buy shoes too big or you will end up with blisters. Speaking of avoiding blisters, grab a few pairs of non-cotton performance running socks.
Bonus Tip #2
Try on several different models and do a very short run or walk in it. Just because one model feels good enough does not mean another model won’t feel amazing. You are going to be training in these shoes for hundreds of miles. You want to make sure you find the best match.