Theoretically, running should be one of the easiest sports to get started in. All you need are comfortable clothes and some shoes to run in (Even these are optional now. More and more you are seeing barefoot running and minimalist running. Although it would be awfully hard to do here in AZ in the summer!! OUCH!) Then step out your front door, put one foot in front of the other and your off!
Theories are great but often don’t necessarily reflect real life. Anytime I start something new I research it as thoroughly as I can and running was no different. The first thing that became apparent to me, and was very logical (I like logical!) was GET GOOD SHOES! Okay…lets look for shoes then. A quick search and…”Over pronation, supination, neutral, minimalist, stability, motion control, etc. etc. etc.” WOW this was not going to be easy! What my research concluded, and my brain agreed with, was that I needed help. No..not mental help! (That’s another blog) Help finding the right shoes. So off I went, as per MANY suggestions, to the Local Running Store (LRS).
Now many people will simply say “I can get shoes almost anywhere, Sports Authority, Dicks Sporting Goods, Wal-Mart, etc.” and you know what? They would be right…BUT…the advantages of an LRS, especially for your first pair of shoes are numerous. First off, the customer service is amazing. This is what these folks do, not just sell shoes but most LOVE to run. Secondly, their knowledge of the sport and equipment are usually light years ahead of the big box retailers. The third thing is “Gait Analysis”. For me this was a must. Basically they will put you in a pair of neutral running shoes and put you on a treadmill. They will video you running (don’t worry, just your feet) to help identify the type of shoe that will best suit you.
My LRS of choice is http://www.solesportsrunning.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/SoleSports (Yes a blatant plug..and no I don’t get any kick back from them for doing it!) When I went into the Sole Sports Store in Tempe, AZ I met Melissa Davis. She was awesome! She was knowledgeable, patient, thorough and truly loves running. I explained to her that I am just starting out running and needed some help. She seemed genuinely happy to help me and excited to welcome me as a new runner into the sport.
I am going to try to compress my description of the sales experience so as not to bore anyone too much.
After doing a “Gait Analysis” Melissa showed me how my ankles would roll inward on each step, this is called over pronation. It looked to me like I was about to snap my ankle each time I took a step, but she assured me that my over pronation was actually pretty mild. She goes into the back room and returns with about 8 pairs of shoes for “runners” like me that mildly over pronate. I try the shoe from one pair on my right foot and a shoe from another pair on my left, lace them up and she says “Go outside and run up and down the sidewalk to see how they feel.” REALLY? I can barely stand to watch myself “run” let alone do it in front of another human being! But I figure she was here to help me and has probably seen much worse (Or she just wanted a good laugh) so off I went. When I get back in she asks which one felt better..right or left? I liked the right one so the left one comes off and a new one goes on the left…rinse and repeat until we narrow the selections down to 3 favorite pairs of shoes. Then I try each pair on, one at a time, and run again then pick my favorite. Turns out I definitely prefer the Saucony Brand. Both my first and second choices are from Saucony. I ended up with the Saucony Progrid Omni 11’s and I LOVE THEM! The right shoes makes all the difference.
I will not lie…good shoes are expensive. A really good pair can run $120 or more. There are ways to help trim the costs a bit and I will share what I have learned here.
- Go to the LRS and be up front with them about your budget. Many times they will have a pair of “last seasons” model for a pretty big discount.
- Ask them about the shoes in their clearance section. Some of these shoes may work perfectly for you and the sales person will know which match the type of shoe you need.
- Buy your first pair from the LRS and by the time you need a new pair of shoes the ones you have will be “last seasons” models. Try ordering from an online retailer at that point to save big on the second pair.
I know, I know, I am forgetting one last way of saving money…..”Show Rooming”! As a person that has been in retail management my entire career I HATE when people do this. I personally feel it is unethical and not very nice so I won’t explain it.
Next Up: Gotta Have A Plan