Fit it Or Quit It

I work at a running store and I love it.  I don’t love every single second of anything but I do really enjoy my job.

I cannot tell you the amount of times it baffles me the amount of people that come into the store and say one of the following lines:

  1. This shoe injured me. It’s the worst running shoe ever.
  2. I hate this shoe. I don’t understand how anyone would ever run in it without getting injured.
  3. I read the reviews to this shoe online and it’s terrible. Me: How did you feel when you ran in it?  Customer: I’ve never run in it.
  4. My feet are the worst or weirdest feet you have ever seen (they aren’t…because mine are).

The first three statements are blanketing a running shoe.  The most important factor for running shoes is the way a running shoe is designed and your foot.  If a shoe is designed for a neutral gait and you overpronate, the shoe is not a good shoe for you.  Of course you are going to get injured with it.  It isn’t a bad shoe but it’s a bad shoe for you.  For instance, The Brook’s adrenaline is a great shoe but not a great shoe for me.

If the shoe is too small, it’s not an appropriate shoe for you.

If the shoe is a minimalist shoe and you are injury prone, it’s probably not appropriate for you either.

The minimalist trend has got to stop.  Running shoes are not designed to injure you.  We all cannot be as light on our feet as Meb or any elite (other wise we would all be winning Boston).  The Nike free, The Go Meb Sketchers might work for Meb but they don’t work for the majority of the population.  Are they bad shoes?  No but they aren’t appropriate running shoes.  Minimalist shoes are great for those they work for but unfortunately that is not most of the running population.  Most need a little bit of cushion and support to run.

I think describing a running shoe as bad is a poor idea.  I think a better idea is describing a running shoe as not being appropriate for you.  Although I do work in a running store, I think all runners should go to a running store and get fitted for a pair of shoes.  That way they know they have a proper pair of shoes for them.  They know that running in the wrong shoe wasn’t  the reason they missed their first race.

Yes it is a bit more expensive then buying last year’s clearance model online but you know the shoe is working for you.  The deductible you pay insurance for a stress fracture x-ray is more expensive then a pair of running shoes anyways (believe me I know).

There is something invaluable about having personalized attention on your feet and making sure you have the correct pair of shoes.  It’s not just about a wider foot or high arches, there is a lot more including gate and knowledge of actual shoe design that goes into the process.  Do you need a shoe with a fuller toe box?  Do you need a thinner trimmed shoe as well?  Did you know you actually wore a wide with mild stability?

I’m not harassing everyone to go get fitted for the proper pair of shoes (or visit me at work), I’m just saying as a runner you should know what shoes truly work for you and what kind of gait you have.  You shouldn’t base your choice on what was on super clearance online and think it is the magic shoe to end your problems.

Question for you: What kind of shoe do you run in?


51 responses

  1. Totally agree that more people wear minimalists than should! Especially for people who are running maybe 30 miles plus, I think most of us need a more supportive shoe. That being said my husband has a really high, stable arch and loves minimalist shoes, the lighter the better. I on the other hand have flat-ish arches, a history of tendonitis in my inner ankle and need as much support as I can get without a ton of weight. I’ve been running in asics kayano 19 since my injury and they’ve definitely helped me, although seem to wear out somewhat quickly. Not even sure how much longer I can get the 19s! Changing shoe types too often is also a bad thing for me, even if the shoes themselves might be fine. I guess I’m sensitive!

  2. I still haven’t found that one shoe that works for me. When I’m running again in a few months, I’m definitely going back to the running store to get fitted again.

  3. Ahem, I liked visiting you at work and I LOVED THAT YOU FOUND MY SHOES FOR ME. I’m such a fan of the Mizunos. I’m hoping that I love the 18s when I get my next pair. 😉

  4. When I got back into running 2.5 years ago and upped my mileage I bought new shoes – Nike Free 3.0 (4mm drop, ‘ultra-lightweight’). I bought them not because of weight or drop … but because they were incredibly comfortable. I had a couple of pairs of the Frees, and then tried even MORE minimal shoes, with the New Balance Minimus wearing out too quickly for me, and the Merrell Vapor Glove (5mm total stack!) … and it was just too little for me.

    But now I am running with the Saucony Virrata and Kinvaras … and they are both low-drop and minimal-ish lightweight shoes … and they are getting me through 65+ mile weeks and what will end up as another >3000 mile year.

    But that is ME. I like the Kinvara 5s … but I have a neutral striking pattern, my body deals with the miles and shoes very well in these shoes, and I fit to the toe-boxes in most shoes as well. It is what works for me.

  5. I would get so irritated with some of the people on my high school xc team. They would just buy whatever shoe was cheapest online, and then they would brag about how cheap their shoes were.

    I run in asics gt 2000. My flats are new balance 1400.

  6. I’m currently in Brooks… and while I wanted to be a mizuno girl bc I think they are soooo cute I need a wider toe bed and these happen to work best…

    Question… do you have a suggestion for a racing marathon shoe?

  7. Truly a favorite topic among runners. It’s always easier to blame your problems on a shoe, but, more often than not, it is probably just a poor shoe choice. I am amazed that people don’t do more research before they buy a pair of running shoes. Runners’ World and other publications do a pretty thorough job of taking a hard look at the shoes that come onto the market each year. For me, I believe in rotating my shoes. Wearing the same pair of shoes for every run seems like you are inviting problems, even if you like the shoes. I currently rotate between Newton Gravities, Brooks Pure Flows and Hoka Bondi’s. The first two are more minimalist and the Hokas are maximalist and are a good recovery shoe. Getting the right shoes is critical, because the wrong pair of shoes may injure you or discourage you from running. Neither is desirable.

  8. I run in a lot of different shoes. Different shoes work well for different runs. I like doing track workouts or 5K road races in my Mizuno Wave Hitogami (most minimalist shoes I have), but I would never dream of wearing them when running the Cooper River Bridge, running 10+ miles, or running on a trail! Just because that shoe works for me doesn’t mean it would work for everyone and every distance/terrain, etc.

    Thanks for trying to get the message out about getting fitted for shoes and that different shoes work for different people. The other day on Facebook, one of the ladies in a run group I’m in posted a picture of a shoe and the price and said “Is this a good price for these? It’s Mizuno and I normally wear Brooks”. I responded and said that a good shoe is the shoe that’s right for you and if a shoe is wrong for you it does not matter what the price is, it is not a good deal. Too many people are just looking to save a few bucks (and I am too, but not at the risk of injury).

    Buying online is fine if you want a second pair of shoes, know what you want/need, etc, but if you are changing it up, I definitely go to a running store and get fitted . You guys know what you are doing AND they usually have great return policies if the shoe does not work. I like that peace of mind that I can return if I run in the shoes 1-2 times and find out they are absolutely not for me.

  9. preach it. I hear the same things all day long at BRC. Also it kind of boggles my mind when people don’t realize that brands carry different models, for example people coming in and telling me they’ve worn Asics all their life and love them. I ask which one and they’re like “uhh the Asics one?” #shakemyhead

    You know I’m a Newton fangirl 🙂

  10. I couldn’t agree more. When people ask me what shoes I run in I always start with a disclaimer of they work for me. And then I try to send them to a local running store. I also think it’s important to go in and get fitted every few years. Shoes change and some years they change a lot. I learned that the hard way.

  11. SO TRUE! I used to buy whatever was cheap at DSW and then one pair started hurting my feet so I went to a running store to get fitted and discovered that I had bought a “support” (I think?) shoe when I didn’t need one… so I literally spent money to injure myself. DUMB. I’ve stuck with the ghost since that running store put me in them and looooove them!

  12. I have always hated that statement: ‘the shoe injured me.” No. It did not–you injured you! Now on minimalist shoes–again, I think user error has a lot to do with it. Too many people throw them on and then run far too much. It should be a really long process to transition, especially if you are not someone who spends much time in your bare feet. Along the same lines, I don’t think people need to “correct” pronation. There is a lot of evidence that we shouldn’t fool with our natural pronation.

    I’ll bet it is highly entertaining to work in a running shoe store!

  13. A-freaking-men. We won’t sell shoes to someone who is coming into the store for the first time (or even the second or third if we don’t know them well enough to trust their judgment) without first doing a gait analysis on the floor to make sure we’re putting them in the correct shoe type, and we make sure to explain what we’re doing and why. In the few weeks that I’ve been at the store, I’ve noticed that people seem much happier/willing to listen to us if we explain why we do/work like we do, and thankfully I haven’t seen too many shoe complaints thus far. I’m sure that will come, though. I’ve definitely heard more than one thing that’s caused me to say, “Um, really?” and I know things will only get crazier the longer I work there haha

  14. People always ask what I run in, and I send them straight to the local store for a fitting and gait analysis. I still go a couple times of year – especially when the new models come out. Over my few years of distance running my preferences for shoes have changed and evolved as my running has.

  15. Hollie, as you know, I am not a very physically fit person. However, I began walking a couple of years ago and bought the Sketcher GoRun shoes because they are super light. I didn’t want to add weight to my feet since they’re already struggling with carrying my weight. 😀 So, the walking went by the wayside as most exercise does for me, but I still like the shoes. Fast forward, I started doing Jazzercise a few months ago and I love it. The group is fun and supportive and I feel like I get a great workout in minimal time. Now, I find myself suffering from plantar fasciitis. I had this condition several years ago and was able to clear it up by using a “boot” for about six months. I wasn’t active during that time so it’s anyone’s guess why I had the problem. Now, I have to assume it’s a result of the Jazzercise and either something I’m doing wrong or THE SHOES! haha I’m considering going to a running store and getting fit. I’m worried about spending a lot of money on shoes and then losing interest in Jazzercise. Maybe the investment in shoes would keep me motivated a little longer? I guess we’ll see….

    • I think getting fitted could a good option. Most running shoes start around 120 and you can find a really good supportive shoe. PF can be caused by too small or worn down shoes!

  16. Ugh, I hate the process of shoe shopping. I always go to get fit, but I haven’t had great experiences lately. I’ve ended with people saying “these could all work for you, but pick what feels best!” I can’t tell what feels best; that’s why I’m in the store! I think my instincts are broken.

    I also use custom orthotics (at the moment), and I’ve had shoe fitters tell me that makes me a tougher case because the shoes aren’t made to work with orthotics so it’s harder to predict what will happen when I try to run in them. If you’ve fit people with orthotics, how do you do it?

    • I’ve actually always found orthotics to be easier. You need a half size larger (generally) neutral shoe. Just in personal experience brooks ghost, saucony ride and Asics cumulus have been pretty good choices

      • Ooh, interesting. I’ve been fitted into stability shoes almost always. I’d be curious to see if more neutral shoes would work for me, when I’m running again…

      • A custom orthotic and a stability shoe is a lot of stability. That being said I’m obviously not perfect nor do I have your feet in front of me.

  17. YES TO THIS ENTIRE POST. Another “favorite” of mine is when folks only run in Nikes, specifically the Free. But that goes hand-in-hand with the minimalist stuff. Oh, I just started running in the Brooks Launch and love it. The Launch won’t replace my beloved Rides and Triumphs, but it’s another solid, solid option.

  18. I have a young runner friend (high school) who has gotten injured quite a number of times, and is often asking me for advice. I have repeatedly told her to get her shoes fitted. She hasn’t done it. I give up.

    I love my Saucony Mirage’s, which I found after being poorly fitted for a pair of brooks. Live and learn.

  19. I usually go to one of the local running stores where I live and go with whatever they tell me will work for me after they put me through all their running evaluations in the store. Two shoes ago they *allowed* me to run in Nike Frees, which I actually liked a lot. Last pair the newer Frees didn’t fit the same, so they put me in the Saucony Kinvara 4. I ran all my best times in those shoes to date (probably has more to do w/ my training than the shoes, though), but never felt like they fit right until right when they were starting to bust open at the pinky toes. Just a couple months ago they put me in the Asics Gel Lyte 33 after they didn’t have acceptable colors for their in-stock Kinvaras, or some other shoe I can’t remember, too. The Gel Lytes feel great, but I sustained a foot injury while running in them (which I’m not sure are really the shoes’ fault) and switched back to my Kinvaras as my foot healed. I’ll probably give the Gel Lytes another go after my next race is over, but I’m a bit wary of them, and wondering if I made a mistake going with them.

  20. I completely agree with you. No shoe is inherently good or bad – I absolutely do not understand how people run in Mizunos, for instance, because the base/sole makes the bottom of my feet feel bruised and bloody after a couple of miles. They kill my feet in general actually, as do Brooks, yet those two brands seem to be the most popular in the blog world. I think I can’t get away with them because I heel-strike so badly and so I’m pounding my feet a lot to start with.

    I run in Asics Kayanos, but recently I’ve started interspersing them with Hokas in order to try to save my knees. I love the cushioning of the Hokas, but it’s really difficult to build up any speed in them. I really need to wear orthotics, but I can’t because they always push my ankle too high up in the shoe and so my ankle is basically half hanging out of the shoe when I run. I have hypermobile joints anyway, so my ankles need a lot of support, and in the end I had to stop wearing orthotics because I was getting so many achilles and peroneal tendon problems. I do wonder if this hasn’t partially caused my dead leg issues now, but I just can’t find a wide shoe with a very narrow ankle that will fit my orthotics properly.


  21. I still haven’t found ‘the shoe’. I feel like I’m going to have to go through a lot of brands to find it! Who said running wasn’t expensive?!

  22. I still super hardcore LOVE my Newton’s, but I won’t recommend them to most people. I don’t think they’re the best shoe to start running in, even if they are cushioned.
    I ALWAYS tell everyone to get fitted for shoes. It should feel like “home” to your foot. Don’t pick because of colour, brand, etc, buy the one that feels best for YOUR foot and be done with it 🙂

  23. I know I’m running in the wrong shoes for me (currently all my shoes run in the more neutral category). Note, I go to the running store to get fitted, they bring me options that should be the right shoe for me (stability/stability plus – i overpronate and have medium-high arches). Some of these pairs I’ll reject after slipping my foot into it (way too heavy), others I’ll like, run around the store, and be nope, doesn’t work for me for one reason or other. I think I just need to find a physical shoe store that has more than 4-6 models of stability shoes in stock at a given time. Maybe a store that specializes in stability.

  24. I always tell people who are starting to run to go to a running or specialty store to get fitted! You can’t just pick the prettiest shoes if they don’t work with your feet! I’ve always run in Brooks since I first got fitted and ran in the Ghost 5s before moving onto their Pure Project line and marathon training in the Ravennas. This year I’m training in the Adidas Energy Boost 2 but still use my pure projects (I have 4 different styles!) for shorter races.

  25. I hate that! People say, “What shoes do you run in? I like Nikes.” Ummm, that really doesn’t mean anything to me, because if the shoe doesn’t have enough support, it could be covered in real gold and I couldn’t wear it (though I’d try to sell the gold on it…). I just hate it when a shoe model changes and then doesn’t work for me anymore, because then I have to find something different.

    However, I’ve also gone down a level in support, which people often don’t think of trying. I was once an Asics Kayanos (13 model) and then New Balance 1225 girl, then went to Brooks Trance, and then moved to Mizuno Inspire and Brooks Ravenna. And yet, shoe stores always tried to put me in those Brooks super-controlling monster shoes that I forget the name of — I even let them talk me into taking them home even when I said “Nope, I’ve tried those and they didn’t work.” Back to the store I went with those monster shoes. (I finally figured out that “motion control” shoes are really bad for me, but a lot of salespeople didn’t know the difference.) Of course, none of those shoes fix a dead IT band…

  26. Shoes, like everything else in life are not one size fits all and not everything will work for everyone. Although I do have a bad habit of knocking Nike- majority of my running issues in early days did stem from things that happened at the same time as wearing some diff. Nike models. But- that’s me and I know they work well for others.

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