Monday, May 24, 2010

Running... with shoes

Buried at the end of this blog post, I made a goal to do a triathlon. I also mentioned two major obstacles I have in my way. The fact that I neither swim nor run, both rather essential skills for triathlons.

I have a good pair of cross training shoes, but I've heard and read over and over again that if you're going to run, you should do so in proper running shoes. Apparently more injuries are caused by poor footwear then over training. I was all set to go out and buy some when my husband suggested that I read a bit about barefoot running...

So, I looked into it. It seems pretty cool. The basic claim is that humans are naturally designed to run barefoot. There's also a recent study that indicates that barefoot runners tend to strike their foot down in a different place - midfoot rather then heel. Most "barefoot" runners aren't actually running without any foot protection. They are usually running with minimal running gear along the lines of this:

Image taken from

Now, there's no denying those shoes are pretty cool. The idea seems intriguing. The more I read on it though, the less convinced I became that it was for me. It seems to be something that people become very passionate about - on both sides of the debate. There's plenty of websites devoted to barefoot running. There's also some devoted to anti-barefoot running. The most balanced piece of advice I came across advocated it, under certain conditions. Basically, if you are an experienced runner, with healthy strong feet and arches, the author suggested trying it.

That doesn't describe me. I am a beginning runner with crappy feet and somewhat fallen arches. I'm also still carrying a lot of excess weight, which means extra strain on my joints as it is. So, off to the local running store I went...

I walked in and told the two people working that I needed running shoes and had no idea what to look for. The guy looked a little frightened and the girl saw a training opportunity for her new coworker. She had me take off my shoes and roll my pant legs up, so they could watch me walk away from them and come back. And again, while she pointed out to him how one of my feet turned inwards, meaning I was overpronating. And again, since he was new at this and having trouble seeing it.

Finally she declared that I should try shoes with medium stability. She acknowledged that it could be tricky since I only pronated on one side, but I definitely needed the support on that side. After trying on a few choices (which thankfully they had to fit my size 10 feet), I settled on these shoes:

They aren't nearly as cool looking as the barefoot running shoes, but they felt great on my feet. I could immediately feel the difference between running shoes and the cross trainers I've been wearing for years. The running shoes roll forward more naturally.

The next step is to try them out running. As much as I'd like to cross the street and test them out on the riverside trails, I'm going to head to the local fitness centre and go on the track. I can return the shoes for 30 days if they don't feel right - as long as I haven't used them outside.

Maybe I will reconsider barefoot running someday. But for now, I'll be running in my shiny new running shoes. And soon, it will be by the river.


  1. My hubby runs in those (the mens..obviously :) and LOVES them. I tried them on too, they are super comfy

  2. I'm curious Deb, is the store where you bought the shoes a running shop? There is a place in my city like that that every serious runner I know swears by. It sounds like the person working there really knew their stuff. Good luck with the running!

    BTW, I don't know if they do this everywhere, but a friend of mine found a triathlon training program through the local YMCA. She trained with a big group and they all did the event together.

  3. I really like your goal and maybe by summers end I will put it on my list of "to do's". I'm glad to hear you went to a running store. I learned the hard way that getting professional opinion for shoes is essential (huge blisters and achey feet after my first 1/2 marathon.

    And I've heard that the barefoot running shoe thingie is for the competitive runners only...which I totally am not nor do I think I will ever be!! :O) I like the idea of doing it for fun!!

  4. A friend of mine recently did her first 5K, and her toes were bruised afterward from the wrong shoes. Glad that you sensibly went out and got good shoes!

    That barefoot running sounds like stitches waiting to happen.

  5. Karen,

    Yes, I went to a specialty running shop. I wanted to go somewhere where the staff actually know something rather then somewhere that they just try to sell as much as they can.

    I might look into a triathlon group down the road. Right now, my short term plan is just to get started with the running and swimming while I keep up biking.