I laughed as the store sales representative showed, and asked me to try on four pairs of shoes of different brands as I went shoe shopping before my first marathon. “I don’t know what to look for; so far I’ve bought shoes based on attractive colours and low prices. These are basically white and expensive," was my response. I would sum that up as how most of us buy running shoes. “Yes, I’ve got a great pair of shoes, they’re Reebok’s latest ones,"— is the first thing one hears; and not—“they feel great while running".
Many people ask if it’s all right to run given their age or weight, or if their knees ache… none of these should hold you back unless you have a specific medical condition where the doctor has specifically advised you not to walk/run.
The first thing you must check out before you renew your date with the outdoors is getting some basics on your feet and what shoes suit you. This will do you more good than anything else, even if you do not end up running. Your feet need well-matched shoes for walking or running, else you could initially get problems around the foot and heel, which could travel to the ankles, shins, knees and even the hip, if left unchecked. Start with getting to know your feet.
What kind of feet do you have?
Wet your feet and step on a newspaper and check out the imprint. If it’s basically showing most of your foot,you are flat footed and you ‘overpronate’ or your feet roll inwards. The more of your foot imprint on the paper, the flatter your feet are. You will then need a shoe with support and motion control. If you see only your forefoot and your heel then you are high arched and you ‘supinate’ or your feet roll outwards as you walk or run. You would do good to find a shoe that has a softer midsole and is cushioned. If you see the side of your foot connecting the imprint of your heels and your toes, then you have a ‘neutral’ arch/feet. You then need to get a stability shoe, which has a balance of cushioning and support.
Now you’re dangerously armed to shop.
Tips to buy your running shoe
1. Understand your foot type with the water/newspaper test outlined above .
2.Feet swell over the course of the day or while running for a while, so it’s better to shop in the evenings, wearing the socks in which you would run. Shoe sizes and widths vary by brands, so definitely check out a few, more by fit than by size number alone.
3. In the stores, try on, and walk in, several pairs. Insert your thumb between your heel and the shoe—there should be wiggle space. The shoe fit should not be snug. Do not listen to sales talk that the shoe will loosen up with wear.
4.Learn from the first store and then check out the next.
5.Do not assume that the most expensive shoe is the best for you—many in the Rs2,500-4,000 range could be just right for you.
You have only one pair of feet which is taxed every single day of your life. Buy shoes that are designed for them and will protect them, keeping you comfortable. You will be amazed at how many pains and aches suddenly disappear, your feet no longer ache in the evening, or you no longer have aching shins during light exercise.
I would go further to state something that may sound excessive, but believe me, I learnt the hard way. A week or so after buying your first pair, go through the exercise again and buy yourself another pair. Alternate your running shoes so that they get time to breathe and regain their spring!
Keep your running shoes for approximately 600-800km of running and walking
Next time we’ll cover some basics on running gear to get you to enjoy your runs a bit more and suddenly you will wonder why it was so tough to start.
Rahul S. Verghese is director, Global Consumer Insights, Motorola