Get Fit (Into Good Running Shoes)

Let me tell you a little personal story.

I’ve always known that a good, solid running shoe is really important. I know that the right kind for you foot is important. Right size, same deal. I also know that skimping on money isn’t really what you should be doing with a running shoe.

When I first started running I bought a twenty dollar pair of running shoes. They worked great, except they lasted like three months. But hey, at 20 bucks? I bought another pair. And then, my knees hurt. My shins hurt. My hip got all wonky and weird.

That’s when I learned that buying a more expensive shoe is better.

From then on, I ran in all sorts of shoes. Asics, Nike, Saucony, and last but not least, Brooks. And you know what? It helped. For awhile at least.

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Then, I started really running. Last year I ran a half-marathon. And you don’t run that without putting in a lot time and miles. Right about when I ran that 13.1, the night before actually, I started getting pain again. My leg was hurting so bad I was sitting on the floor almost crying. So I went and bought my Saucony shoes.

They helped!

I realized that my Brooks were a little small. So I was happy that my feet felt better but it didn’t last.

In another month, the pain was back. I thought it was the snow and ice. In another three months, I had plantar fasciitis. Followed by nagging knee, hip, and some back pain. Followed by increased shoulder tension. Then achilles tendonitis. Then shin splints.

I was hurting. And I tried about five different pairs of shoes over the course of year. That’s….way too many.

I knew that. And I was really, really tired of being in pain and fighting injury after injury. My whole body was screaming. I tried everything. Good recovery habits, good running form, good warm-up and cool down. I was doing great.

Except that I had excruciating pain after every single run.

It was when it interfered with my other workouts, cycling, swimming, Aikido, weightlifting, that I finally took notice.

All right! I thought, I’ll go to Road Runner Sports and figure something out. They do free fittings, so why not (no sponsored by the way). A little nervous about being judged, I went.

Boy, am I glad I did.

Photo by Snapwire on

For starters, both of my feet are different and they’re nearly flat. Now, I kinda knew that so I wasn’t too shocked. But other people were. We’ll get to that later.

Second, my feet tend to run a little on the narrow side. Well one does at least. But the biggest issue was the flat-ish feet. Because my feet were flatter and because I have a flexible Achilles tendon, I was ruining my legs. Every time Iran, I hurt myself a little bit more. I believed it because it hurt. But also, I got to see really cool 3D images of my feet that measured everything and let me know what’s up.

Awesome right? I even got some custom insoles from the store.

So why am I telling you all this?

Because I needed a different brand and a different kind of shoe.

I run in Asics now because the brand as a whole runs a little narrower and feels good on my foot. I also run in a stability shoe to give me proper support. I don’t like cushioning, so medium-light cushioning it is.

There are so many variables to running and it’s more than just getting the right kind of shoe. Insoles have made a tremendous difference to me. I can use my body and work my body.

If you’re a runner who wants to run safely for the rest of your life, safe up some money for a good pair of shoes. From there, go to a place like Road Runner Sports where they do free evaluations and gait analysis and have the ability to make custom insoles. If you go to a doctor, it’ll be three times as expensive if you’re lucky.

Where we spend our money matters. As much as I adore Brooks, they just aren’t for my foot right now. My foot happens to be in love with my Asics. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of becoming a brand-oriented runner.

But what is our stubbornness worth in 20 years? A knee replacement?

I don’t think that’s worth it.

I’ve experienced a lot of different kinds of pains in my life because I’ve been so active. I know that I can’t really mess around with them. But I also knew that I had close to flat feet. Why was I so reluctant?

Because I’ve been told since as long as I can remember that flat feet are bad. They mean you aren’t working out enough. Just do these three exercises and it’ll be fixed. It’s infuriating.

I do a lot of exercise barefoot. Hell, I’ve even run barefoot on a regular basis before though not for too long. My feet are strong. Yet, the moment I even hint at having flat feet, everyone and their mother has to tell me that I need to do calf raises, or yoga, or feet exercises. You know what happens? Nothing.

My feet are just this way. And I don’t feel like being in excruciating pain all the time because someone with a normal arch thinks orthotics are bad for you and your muscles. I’m 24, I’m a runner. I do yoga. I swim. I do a martial arts (barefoot). I lift weights. My feet are strong. My arches are low. I’ve worked very hard and this is all the arch I’m getting.

If you have flat feet, don’t shy away from yoga. It’s good for you anyway so you might as well give it a shot.

But please don’t be resistant to orthotics and custom inserts.

There’s this weird stigma about flat feet. Don’t buy into it. Instead, buy into some custom orthotics and good running shoes. Or else you’re going to ruin your legs in ten years.


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