Happy Feet

I had one of the most enjoyable shoe shopping experiences last week! Currently, I’m training to run the Big Sur Marathon as part of a 5-person relay team. My leg is 7 miles with a challenging 2-mile climb. With all of the training runs I have planned, I figured it was time to invest in a new pair of running shoes. My last three have been Nike’s Air Pegasus. They fit my narrow feet like a glove, breathe well, and offer ample cushioning and absolutely no “support” in terms of pronation. This is ideal for me since I’ve had my gait and foot strike examined and I’m not prone to under- or over-pronating when my feet strike the ground. Early in my running (15 or so years ago) when they first started coming out with shoes specific to certain types of foot strikes and surfaces, I learned the painful way that running in the wrong shoes will do more damage than good. For me it was unwittingly wearing shoes that corrected over-pronation. Fortunately around this same time, the stores that specialize in running and shoes started putting people on the floor knowledgeable in this arena to help fit you in the best shoe based on your specific needs. Now, I always bring my current running shoes that I’m replacing into the store with me along with a pair of athletic socks. The socks are because the ones I run in are usually a little thicker than my everyday socks and often, living in California, I don’t wear them at all with the flats or sandals I wear into the store. The wrong socks or no socks at all will affect fit and shoe size! I bring my shoes because if the folks know what they’re doing, they’ll be able to tell by examining the heels how your feet strike the ground and thus, which shoes you should be running in. If you’re new to exercise, they can also examine an everyday shoe that you wear regularly. This coupled with what kind of exercise you want to do can get you in the right shoes!

Okay, back to my shopping experience.

My go-to running shoe store did not have my shoes in stock, so after a little lunchtime research on Yelp, I headed over to another locally-run athletic store. From what I read, this is where the local high school track & fielders go along with the more serious runners. Bingo! Right when I walked into the store, I felt “at home.” Although no one greeted me at first — they were busy fitting other customers — I could see they had a great supply of shoes, gear, and garb. Not too much time passed before an older gentleman helping another couple saw me studying the shoes and asked if I’d been helped. From overhearing snippets of his conversations with others, I concluded he must be a former track coach. Cool. Soon enough, he had me in the next generation Pegasus. He invited me to take a run around the block in them which I would recommend to help make a definitive decision. I, on the other hand, was already old friends with the shoe and knew they were the ones for me, so I declined. As I was paying, he generously matched the discount I usually receive from my other running shoe place “just for being a great customer.” The best part, though? I inquired about group runs. I’ve found more often than not, neighborhood running stores have organized weekly runs that start and finish at the business. Not only did I get the scoop on several groups and weekly meet-ups, but I also got a personal invitation along with a cell number from one of the women working at the store to join her on a weekend run. Turns out we run the same pace… only she runs for twice as long. This weekend I’m looking to run 14 miles, 7 miles each day. She wants to do that in one run. One of these days I will get there. Especially with the stellar products, customer service, and support in the form of running groups I just discovered!

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