Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pumped Up Kicks: Running Week Day II

Before you begin the "one step at a time" mentality for running, you need good running shoes to even take your first step. While visiting home in Orlando last month, I came back excited about getting new running shoes on sale for $99. My mom, looking at me in incredulity, couldn't believe $99 was considered a sale! 

Today, I interviewed Brooke Mills, who will fill you in on how to buy the best running shoes... and why they're worth the pricy investment.

Brooke is currently a Med student at Texas Tech, and completed her undergrad from Emory University in Atlanta. During her senior year there, she worked for a running shoe company, making her a perfect person to interview about investing in the right running shoes.  

Where did you work and for how long?
I worked at Big Peach Running Company in Decatur for 5 months. 

Why did you want to work there?

The store is the best combination of two things I love: medicine and sports. I loved learning about the different types of running shoes and the benefits of each. Big Peach has an in-depth "fit process" that measures each customer's foot size, width, pressure distribution, and actually records and digitally slows down people's strides. From these videos we could figure out what shoe works best for each customer based on whether or not people over-pronate (where the ankle rolls over the heel) when they run. There is much more of a science to selling shoes than people would think.

Why is it important to invest in a quality running shoe?

The old belief that running is pain actually should not be true. Avid runners who try to save money by running in a worn out or cheap pair of shoes often get injured, resulting in either the loss of the desire to run or, in extreme cases, expensive medical bills. Common injuries include shin splints, plantar fasciitis (arch pain), tendinitis, runners knee and many more. Quality running shoes, fit for a specific gate and foot shape, take the pressure off the ankle and knee and reduce the chance of injury. This doesn't necessarily mean that the more expensive running shoe, the better. Many of the less expensive shoes ($85-$100) are cheaper because they are lighter shoes and there is "less shoe" to buy. 

What are the benefits of purchasing running shoes at a store that specializes in them/fits them for you?
Most people are unaware that there are many different categories of running shoes: light weight trainers, structured shoes, neutral shoes, etc. How do you know which one to buy? If you are at Academy, how do you know which shoes are structured and which are neutral? There are equal amounts of each kind scattered throughout large chain stores, making it difficult to tell which ones are the best fit for you. 

Stores such as Big Peach look at your running gate to see if you need added support on the inside of your foot or maybe need less than normal. Those runners who severely over pronate may need more support on the inside of their foot. Structured shoes have a denser piece of foam under the arch of the shoe that helps reduce over-pronation. Neutral shoes have the same type of support throughout. 

Before I worked at Big Peach I was running in a very expensive, structured shoe and had no idea. I often went through month-long spells where I couldn't run due to plantar fasciitis. Turns out, I don't over pronate at all and the extra structure in my shoes resulted in severe foot pain after I ran long distances. A year ago I switched to neural shoes that are $40 cheaper and have yet to have any sort of pain. 

How often do you need new running shoes?
It depends on how much you run. Shoes usually last 600 miles and light weight trainers 400-500miles. I like to switch mine out at least every 6 months or have two pairs of shoes that I alternate.

What are the best brands of running shoes and how much can you expect to pay for them?
There are a lot of great brands of shoes, it's just a matter of what fits YOUR foot the best. Some of the top sellers at Big Peach were: Brooks, Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Asics, Adidas and New Balance. They are all similar in price with light weight shoes averaging $85 and traditional $90-$140.

What running tips do you have?
Running shouldn't be a chore. If you want to run, run. If you're not feeling it a certain day, stop after 3 miles instead of pushing it to 4. In a city such as Atlanta, there are so many beautiful places and neighborhoods to run through. Mix up where you run and which areas you run through. 

Most importantly, make sure you have your health in mind, whether it be investing in quality running shoes or refueling after a 10 mile run. If you decide you want to take on your first marathon or half marathon, do your research and train smart to prevent injury, dehydration, or malnutrition.

Thanks, Brooke, for all of your insights and tips!

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