Sunday, October 28, 2007

time for new running shoes

As I was attaching my Nike +iPod Sport Kit to my running shoes this week, I couldn't help but notice how beat up my shoes are. And now that I think about it, my shoes (Saucony Grid Stabil) are at least three years old and they've seen better days.

All the advice I've read about getting started training for triathlons has emphasized getting the right shoes is one of the most, if not the most, important things you can do to prevent injury while training. Given the running segment is the most punishing segment of the triathlon, this does make sense.

So it's time to get new shoes, but the question is, what brand? what kind? (what color?)

Luckily, I remembered driving by a Roadrunner Sports store here in San Carlos, so I'll be going in today to get fitted for shoes. Given my low arch and over-pronation, I already know I need a motion control model. I was warned by the Roadrunner staff to expect to take 30 minutes to get fitted properly, so I'll go when the store opens.

Look for a follow up post detailing my experience there. From the Yelp reviews, it looks like it's going to be a great experience.

UPDATE: I'm so glad I went to Roadrunner Sports today. I was helped by Kim who guided me through their free fitting process, and it's quite the process.

I wore my old Saucony shoes to the store, as I'd been asked to, and the fitting process started out with my taking off shoes and socks and rolling up my pant legs to expose my ankles and lower calves. Kim took a look at my old shoes' tread wear, and I was glad to see the wear was normal, so I don't have really bad habits that are causing odd wear on my shoes.

First up: The "Perfect Fit Scan" which began with my walking across their pressure mat to get a reading on my foot strike. On the resulting digital footprint image, Kim pointed out what I already knew: I have flat arches. But she also was able to show me where the hardest pressure
hit the bottom of my foot (just behind my big toe on either foot) and showed where my toe-off position was (the last part of my foot to leave the ground when walking forward).

Next up: "The Treadmill Analysis" wherein I ran on a treadmill in bare feet and they videotaped my footstrike from behind. Once she'd captured about 30 seconds of my run on video, Kim was able to play back, in slo mo, what happens to my feet and ankles when I run. WOW, no wonder I can't run barefooted for too long. It was easy to see my arch collapse with each strike and my ankle bend inward as a result. Then, when my foot lifted off the treadmill, it'd swing out. Quite fascinating to watch the mechanics of the run, and informative as to what to do next.

Last check: "Sizing and Visual Check" where Kim measured my feet in the regular sizing tool and, again, I was shown that my left foot is half a size bigger than my right (10.5 v 10). What surprised me was Kim's telling me I should buy a shoe a half size bigger than my biggest foot to allow for swelling during exercise (in hindsight: duh?), but that meant my "True Foot Size & Width" is an 11 D.

All the fitting inputs confirmed what I knew coming in: I needed a motion control shoe. And Kim brought out three models for me to try: Saucony Grid Stabil (my go-to brand for the last seven years), Brooks Addition 7 and Asics Gel Evolution 3.

I got a chance to try all three shoes on the tread mill, and Kim filmed me while I was running in each so I got a chance to visibly see how the shoes rectified my over-pronating and supported my ankles.

Even though there was no pressure to buy (I felt like I could've walked out of the store at that point and bought the shoes elsewhere), I wound up walking out of the store with a size 11.5 pair of the Asics (a full size bigger than the Sauconys I walked in with).

And I ran in my Asics this afternoon as the second leg of my brick. Wow, what a difference a great shoe makes. And as a bonus: I can take up to 60 days to return this pair of shoes for a replacement pair should they suddenly become less comfortable.

Thanks to Kim and Roadrunner Sports for getting me in such a great pair of shoes. I highly recommend you visit Roadrunner Sports to get your free fitting.

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