Perfect Fit—Finding the running shoe that’s right for you

November 2014 View more

Single runner running in rainAs the Naperville Marathon steps off this month, every runner knows that a good pair of running shoes is the key to having a healthy and injury-free race. Whether you’re running a marathon, or running in the gym, investing in a good pair of shoes is worth the effort.

Timing is Everything

Most running injuries are the result of worn-out shoes, or shoes that don’t fit properly. When it comes to buying shoes, timing is everything. “Most experts recommend replacing shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Once you get into that 300 mile range, keep an eye out for odd aches and pains that you usually don’t get, they are likely signs that it’s time for a new pair,” said Kris Hartner, owner and founder Naperville Running Company.

If The Shoe Fits

The biggest mistake runners make is buying shoes that are too small. “Between 70 and 80 percent of people wear their shoes too small,” said Hartner. According to Hartner, there are several factors to consider when purchasing new shoes including the mechanics of the foot (arch height, ankle mobility, arch length, foot length and width), the perceived comfort of the shoe, body type, which shoes have worked or not worked for you in the past, what activity you will be using them for, and how your foot interacts with each different type of shoe.

Another important aspect to your shoes is a good insole. Shoes come with something called a sock liner. “These are cheap foam inserts that the manufacturer designs to be replaced with a real insole,” said Colin Kubick, Road Runner Sports manager in Naperville. “The final piece would be a good, cotton-free, sock. Socks are probably the most overlooked item in the fit but one of the most important. We call it a SIStem, the perfect Shoe, Insole, and Sock is your best way to run longer and remain pain free,” said Kubick.

Expert Advice

It’s best to get advice from the experts at a specialty running store and not rely on the recommendations of your friends or fall victim to the latest fashion trends. “Shoes are like prescription glasses, you could luck out and have the same prescription as your friend, but more often than not, it’s not going to be the best option for you,” said Hartner.

“Running shoes have a lot of technology in them, and being in the wrong category of shoe can be very damaging,” said Kubick. Most running shoes are designed for a specific type of runner. “For instance, if buying a shoe for long distance, it would be beneficial to have more cushioning and support.”

Test Run

Most of the time, if a shoe doesn’t work, runners will know within the first 10 runs in the shoe. “If you’ve been properly fit and picked the shoe that feels best for you, it may not feel great the first few times you run in it. You really have to give it about 10 runs. There can be an adaptation period where your foot has to get used to running in a new shoe. It’s not a break in period – generally speaking shoes don’t need to be “broken in” any more. At that point, if the shoe is still uncomfortable, you need to try a different shoe,” said Hartner.

Experts also recommend wearing your new shoes around the house for a day or two, then wear them on a shorter run to test them out before you start using them on a regular basis.

Buying New Shoes:

  • Your feet change over time, measure them each time you buy new shoes.
  • Measure your feet later in the day when they’re at their biggest size.
  • Consider a shoe that’s a half-size larger than your street shoes.
  • Try as many styles and pairs as possible.
  • Don’t shop by price or fashion.