What to expect when getting fit for running shoes.

by Beth Anne on June 9, 2014

iStock 000018828403XSmall What to expect when getting fit for running shoes.

(disclaimer: not an expert. but just wanting to encourage anyone who swears they’re too fat to run or can’t run or are too intimidated to use “real” running gear - it’ll be okay. you can do it!)

At the beginning of April, one horrible mile on the treadmill had me limping away from the gym, sharp cramps shooting up my calves. I experienced shin splints & leg cramps before, but this hurt to climb into the car, to walk up the steps, to simply stand. I spent the evening icing my legs & I knew that if I wanted to keep running, I’d have to change the way I ran.

My running friends encouraged me to “get fitted” for the right running shoe but that felt so..official. (& expensive – my shoes up to that point had set me back $50 at the most thanks to Rack Room sales.)  I was worried they’d laugh me out of the store when they realized I’d never even run a 5K & that I prefer the treadmill. I like knowing what to expect in every situation & this time, I had no freaking clue what to wear, what to say, what to ask.

That weekend, I stopped at a local running store on a whim. I was wearing jeans but had my running clothes out in the car. Instead of asking me to change, the associate sat me down & asked questions. What was hurting? When did it start hurting? Did it ever go away? How often did I run? What were my goals?

(answers: inside lower shins, inside upper shins. about one mile in every time. yep, after 1-2 days of rest. every 2-3 days. maybe run a 5K without dying?)

He brought out a neutral Asics shoe, laced me up, & asked me to do a quick jog down the sidewalk for him. I tried to block out the cars waiting at the stop light, running in jeans, the fact that a marathon-running stranger was watching my very amateur gait & I set off at my usual pace. While he crouched on the sidewalk, I ran.

Supination! Basically, you hit mid-foot but land on the outside. Then you slowly roll on the outside of your foot,” he explained. I’m striking a part of my foot with minimal shock absorption.

Over the next 45 minutes, we tried on six different shoes. The entire process was trial & error & by the end, my shins were so irritated & painful that it became harder to tell what felt good & what didn’t. (a very discouraging feeling, I must say.) I narrowed the shoes down to the pair that felt the best on my feet (Brooks Dyad 7) & from there, we tried several inserts to see if that would help shift my weight off the edge of my foot. The inserts only irritated me so instead, he threaded the laces to help give my ankle more support to ease the tendency to roll outward. He answered all of my questions, sharing his knowledge & never treating me like a newbie, just a fellow runner that needed help.

He also suggested that I begin “rolling” my muscles after each run, so I sat & watched YouTube videos before finding a corner in the stretching room where nobody could see me & giving it a go. The first few times I rolled were so awkward – my arms shook & I couldn’t quite get the right angle but like everything, practice makes better.

Neither the shoes nor the rolling were a miracle fix & the first few runs were awkward, getting used to new shoes. It took several weeks of icing & rolling for the pain to stop but  over the past month, my shins have hurt less with each run & I’m running farther than ever. Since buying the Dyads, I’ve logged my longest, fastest, & furthest distance runs.

A few weeks ago, I ran 2.5 miles at a 12’11″ pace.

I’m not fast & I’m not great, but I think I might finish a 5K without dying.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah June 9, 2014 at 9:38 am

Okay, you convinced me. I’m a very newbie runner and I figured i would wait until I was a “real” runner to get real running shoes. Time to hit up the running store!

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Beth Anne June 9, 2014 at 10:21 am

That’s EXACTLY how I felt. & then I’d read blogs like Hungry Runner Girl & think they were going to laugh me right out of the store, but they were so helpful & kind. Maybe out of pity, but it worked nonetheless ;)

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Hannah June 12, 2014 at 11:08 pm

So, I’m pretty sure the nice shoe lady was secretly laughing inside as she asked me if what I wore into the store was what I had been running in. Turns out my cute, hot pink nike shoes aren’t even made for running. The shame! Thanks again for the tip. My legs are super happy in their new fancy running shoes.

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Beth Anne June 14, 2014 at 8:17 am

I LOVE THIS. Happy running ;)

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Andrea June 9, 2014 at 10:16 am

That’s awesome! I have the worst ankles, so thanks for the reminder that I need to hit up my store for some new shoes! Glad you’re out and running more and more. It’s great stress relief.

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Beth Anne June 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

It’s my favorite way to get rid of stress, that is for sure! I love running after work because it puts me in a great mindset to shake off work & focus on the family afterwards. Plus, endorphins!

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Meegs June 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

Getting fitted for the right shoes is so important! I remember feeling exactly like you did… its too “official,” I’m not a real runner, etc… but good shoes were such a must.

Another thing that really helps: strengthening the thighs! Doing squats a few times a week really helped eliminate a lot of the knee/calf pain I was having.

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Beth Anne June 9, 2014 at 10:42 am

Thanks for the tip!! I’ve been taking Body Pump on Thursdays to cross train :)

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Sara June 9, 2014 at 10:47 am

We are going to ROCK that 5k in a couple weeks! :-)

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Beth Anne June 9, 2014 at 10:52 am

YES MA’AM. I’m going to be ready!

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Meredith @ La Buena Vida June 9, 2014 at 11:47 am

Also just wanted to offer some encouragement that if shoes alone don’t help, as a fellow supinator, I’d say don’t give up on inserts! I know you tried them and didn’t like them–in my limited experience, inserts feel SO WEIRD, irritating, and even hurt a little for about a week. But after that, they can be a really big help!

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Carolyn June 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I was also super intimidated when my friends told me to get fitted for running shoes (really? My goal is to run for 30 minutes and I need fancy equipment for that? I can’t just buy online like I always do?) My local running store, though, had some amazing equipment that measures where the highest pressure points on your feet are (surprise! After so many years of carrying babies on my right hip, my weight is usually shifted to the right!) and then you can run on a treadmill and they have video cameras on your feet and ankles so they can show you frame by frame what your issues might be! It definitely made a difference to have someone pinpoint your problem points and then help you pick a shoe to correct it, and my husband’s heel pain slowly went away (instead of getting worse!) after they helped him pick out a better shoe. DEFINITELY a fun experience! (And PS, I just realized that you’re not actually wearing fairy wings in your bio pic on the sidebar, like I’d always thought you were. I’m disappointed now!) :)

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Lara June 9, 2014 at 1:29 pm

It doesn’t matter how fast you go. You are still a runner and off the couch. ;) I am a slower runner also. My average is a 11 minute mile. I run for therapy not to win a race. ;)

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michelleJ June 10, 2014 at 12:16 am

I am so glad to hear that you have something that’s working for you!

For anyone else headed into a running store for their first (or second, or whatever) fitting, please remember that a good salesperson like BA had is really going to take their time with you — so choose a time when YOU can also really spend time trying on shoes (and preferably not with little kids in tow.) (And not when, like, the high school track team is in there looking for shoes, because that can be intimidating too!)

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Megan B June 10, 2014 at 8:10 am

That’s great! You can totally do it. :)

My husband runs very sporadically. Like he’ll go on a kick and run every other day for a few months, then nothing for a few months. But the reason he quits, usually, is something starts hurting. He has mentioned getting fitted, but we’re miles from the closest Fleet Feet and driving several hours to get fitted for running shoes makes it seem WAY official. (Plus the money thing. We just can’t drop $400 on a pair of shoes right now.) But this is good to know! Thanks!

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Lauren T. June 10, 2014 at 8:31 am

I have been running in Dyad’s since January (which were my first “real” running shoes from being fitted). I like them and they definitely feel like nothing I have ever ran in before. I admit though that I was really sad when the cute Ghost were knocked out of the running. Good luck with them and thank you for your encouragement. I started in late January with a 15 minute half mile and ran a 5K last month at a 12 min. pace. 5K’s are very doable!

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Suzanne June 10, 2014 at 11:29 am

So proud of you!! To me, running is one of the most difficult exercises we can put our body through. Keep it up, warrior woman!

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The Mommy June 21, 2014 at 9:11 am

One other piece of advice: Keep track of the miles on your shoes and replace them (usually around 300 miles – which seems like a lot but you’d be surprised at how fast it adds up). I can always tell when they need to be replaced because something starts to hurt (usually my Achilles tendon but sometimes my back). Or, you could rotate two different pairs (same style, if you want). I’m proud of you for going and getting fitted! I’ve been running for over 3 years (I’ve done a half marathon and a bunch of 5Ks) and I still don’t feel qualified to go. I’m probably just cheap…

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