Time For New Running Shoes or Do I Go Bare?

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Thanks to two holes directly over my big toes, it's time to retire my Nikes.

Thanks to two holes directly over my big toes, it’s time to retire my Nikes.

For the last 8 months, I’ve watched two tears in my shoes grow into rather large holes. On my run yesterday both of my big toes protruded out from each hole. Not a very comfortable feeling. Alas, it is time to replace my beloved Nikes.

After reading Born To Run, my husband encouraged me to pick up a pair of minimalist running shoes. Basically minimalist running shoes simulate barefoot running – there is little padding compared to traditional running shoes. The idea being that barefoot running is the natural way to run. Barefoot running is supposed to correct your form and changes how your foot strikes the ground, resulting in fewer injuries.

I admit, after reading that book, I did think about going down the barefoot rabbit hole. But I’m not a competitive runner. I’m trying to lose weight and have started training to run a whole 5K. I just don’t think I’m ready for the barefoot movement just yet. I’m still 70+ pounds over my goal weight. I think it’s important for me to find shoes that actually offer more support, not less.

My problem is that my gym shoes pretty much are all-purpose. I use them for weightlifting, walking, running, and my sculpt class. I have cycling shoes that I only use for my spin class or for bike riding. And I have hiking boots for trails and backpacking. Yet for all walking, running, cardio and daily foot wear, I only have one pair of gym shoes.

Why? Because I’m cheap. Let’s face it, it’s not like gym shoes are affordable these days. I usually have to replace my gym shoes every 12-18 months. My computer and iPad have lasted longer.

Now I’m thinking I need to pick up a couple of pairs – running shoes and cross trainers. I’m much more active now and rotating between shoes based on activity should help the shoes last longer and hopefully reduce injuries. Studies show that runners who rotate shoes throughout the week cut their chance of injury by 39%. Perhaps the same is true when switching shoes based on the type of activities you do.

The Hunt Begins
Normally I’d head over to Lady Footlocker and try on a few selections before picking the least obnoxious looking shoe. Not this time.

In addition to online research, I plan to visit my local running store and talk to folks about what makes sense considering I’m training for a 5K and plan to run a handful of 5Ks this year before I start training for longer races. I need a good starter shoe but don’t need all the bells and whistles that serious runners seek.

Taking a hard look at my current shoe, I noticed that my outside heel is pretty worn down as is the outside edges of my sole. That’s pretty common with my shoes. It looks like I have underpronation. My foot isn’t rolling inward enough after the outside of my heel hits the ground. Once my heel strikes the ground, my weight transfers to the outside of my foot and it stays there. I push-off with my smaller toes rather than my big toes when beginning the next stride. I need to look for neutral shoes with extra cushioning to help absorb the force of impact.

Size & Socks Matter
I tend to wear runner socks, which are padded. My Nikes, as wonderful as they are, were purchased before I started using these types of socks. Hence my big toes busting through the fabric. The padding essentially made my foot larger and the shoe less comfortable to wear. I need to wear my padded socks when I try on running shoes. When trying on the cross trainers, I’ll bring with me both my footies and regular gym socks. My footies are a bit thinner, so I need to make sure my foot doesn’t have too much room in the shoe when wearing them.

I’ve always assumed I was a size 10-1/2. Why the 1/2?  Because I have wide feet. But I have another issue with my wonderful feet. Many times shoes don’t feel comfortable because the top of the shoe is too tight.  You see I have a very large muscle that sits on top of each foot. How big is it? My mom (a doctor) out of the blue said to me, “Damn, that muscle on your foot is huge. I’ve never seen one that big.”

Thanks mom!

It makes it difficult for me to wear dress shoes with straps running across the top of my foot due to the muscle’s size. But since the weight’s come off, I’ve noticed that the muscle is smaller. Not carrying around an extra 100+ pounds does work wonders on your body.

Now that I’m thinner and shoe size naturally changes with age, it’s time for me to get re-measured.

I also read that, like clothes, shoe size varies by brand. So a 10-½ Nike isn’t the same as a 10-½ Reebok. It really is about what fits and not the size.

Hopefully I’ll have new shoes to break in this weekend.

7 thoughts on “Time For New Running Shoes or Do I Go Bare?

  1. You’re going to hate me… you should probably be replacing your running shoes more like every 6 months. And running shoes offer different support than cross-trainers or walking shoes. Investing in good shoes makes a load of difference, especially if you’re concerned about knee pain and gait correction.

    Check out different insoles to help correct your gait, too. The ones I got (from Lady Foot Locker of all places) have a 6-month replacement policy — the moment they don’t feel as supportive, you can trade them in!

    • I do love the look of minimalist shoes, but I don’t think I’m ready for this myself. I’m down 100+ pounds but have 75 to go. Just too much weight on my knees. Shoes that support are for me. Hopefully this weekend I’ll find the right pair.

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