Raise your hand if you started your running career by heading to your local big box store and grabbing the coolest looking pair of shoes you could find. Slyly nod if you were too overwhelmed by the choices available to head to an actual physical building and just bought the cheapest pair of a respectable sounding brand that you could find online. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. I bought and returned six – yes, six – pairs of running shoes from various big box and online retailers before I finally listened to an article just like this one and headed to my local running store for a proper gait analysis and fitting.
If you have already done that, pat yourself on the back – you’re ahead of many poorly outfitted runners everywhere. With that said, many of us get into the rut of buying the same running shoes over and over again without even thinking about it. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, maybe, but it isn’t always that simple. The reality is that we should be heading in to a local running store (yes, an actual running specialty store) to be analyzed and refit every year or so. Here’s why:
- Running shoes change: We’ve all experienced the agony of having major changes made to your favorite model of running shoes. This happens all the time! Companies tweak their shoes every year, and while some updates may be relatively minor, others may be significant in terms of cushioning, structure, and stability. Your local running store will know what these changes are and be able to explain why this year’s model may or may not work for you and your feet.
- Your body changes: We often think about the effects running has on our bodies, whether we are running more miles or fewer. Perhaps our muscles are larger or smaller and we weigh a little less or a little more. In places like your legs or your midsection, these changes may be obvious, but your feet are changing, too! The tiny stabilizing muscles in your feet weaken and strengthen just like every other muscle in your body, and relative strength in your legs and core will also change your stride. Since it’s unlikely that your running has stayed exactly the same for years and years on end, it’s worth having your gait analyzed to see how things have changed over the past year.
- There’s always new technology: If you’ve been running for a while, you no doubt remember the minimalist trends of the early 2010s and the slide towards maximum cushioning that has happened in recent years. On the one hand, the constantly changing technology can make it feel like we’re never really getting it right, and it’s best to just stick with what we know. On the other, all of our bodies, feet, strides, needs, and histories are different. The latest craze just might produce the shoe or style that is perfect for your body, but you’ll never know it unless you try. Still, it’s important to visit a running store so they can tell you which of the latest gear may or may not be appropriate for your body and goals.
- Running stores are the backbone of our community: In the internet age, shopping in a brick and mortar store can sometimes seem inconvenient, but there is no substitute for the knowledge, experience, and energy that your local running store has to offer. From organizing group runs to putting on our local races and so much more, running stores are the backbone of the running community. How about you show them (and your feet) a little love this year?