So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So Many Nice-Looking Shoes

You want to fall in love with a shoe, go ahead. A shoe can't love you back, but, on the other hand, a shoe can't hurt you too deeply either. And there are so many nice-looking shoes. - Allan Sherman
Half of the fun of coaching new runners is the reminder of how simple the sport of running can be. If you have a good pair of running shoes & a good path on which to run, there's not much else you need to start. Once the new runner gets to transiting the pathway over time is where the troubles begin. As youngsters, we knew we weren't going to get a new pair of shoes until we wore the previous pair out, to the point we had toes sticking out, run down heels, & so on. Runners start having issues with soreness in the feet, small & large weight-bearing joints, & in most extreme cases, low back pain or even the risk of a stress-related injury.
A good case in point is one of my newest runners, Marie. She's young & a relatively new runner, who's been out for a handful of my track workouts. I noticed her shoes on her first Saturday morning workout didn't look all that new, but didn't ask her the 'how old are those shoes?' question until the track workout three days later. What got my attention was her flamingo-like stance in between a few easy-paced repeats, followed by a dead stop in her tracks. At that moment I could tell something was very, very wrong.
I called to Marie across the track to stop and walk across the infield. I then walked through the infield to speak to her. 'What hurts?' Marie told me it was her right knee. 'Okay, what have you done differently over the past few days?' She said she hadn't run any since the workout on Saturday. Now the litmus test: 'How long have you had those shoes?' Marie told me she had owned the New Balance shoes she was running in for approximately a year. 'Okay, most running shoes have a life span of six-to-nine months or 400-to-500 miles, so it looks like you are very overdue for another pair of running shoes.'

'Coach, I bought a pair of Asics running shoes the other day, & tried to run in them, but they hurt my feet,' was the next statement from Marie. She then told me the store from where the shoes were purchased. I then asked her a rhetorical question, 'so, you purchased a pair of running shoes without knowing what type of shoe is best for you, & they hurt your feet. Do you think they are the right shoe for you?' She answered that she didn't think they were.

This, especially with new runners, is where the prescriptive side of coaching begins: 'Okay, Marie. Your workout is over for the day. No running for you, of any type, until you go see the local running proprietor, have them do a gait analysis to see what kind of shoe you need, & get you into a pair of proper shoes...' I then told her, '...I've made the same mistakes in the past. I've purchased discount shoes from an on-line sporting goods seller, without knowing the shoe...I've trained for & raced a marathon in shoes I bought on sale, which didn't provide enough support, & injured me for three months. The right shoes are a pain to get, but the wrong shoes can injure you, & in the case of longer-distance races, will.'

When it comes to running shoes, you definitely get what you pay for. A good running store with knowledgeable staff can make certain you only pay once from your wallet. Good shoes are less expensive than cheap shoes when you look at physical therapist, physician or orthopedic specialist fees, time off from running, & come-back after an extended injury lay-off.

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