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Running Shoes 101

Your 2012 New Year’s Resolution might be to start working out and go running more frequently, and if so it’s important to know what you’re looking for when shopping for the perfect pair of running shoes. Things like understanding running shoe terminology, not being afraid of price, and getting your shoes fitted are just a few of the many things to do when shopping for your new pair of running shoes.

Understand the Jargon
Terms like "Cambrelle," "Randing," and "Vamp" are just a few of the terms that can be overwhelming or confusing when rookie runners go out to buy their new running shoes, but don’t stress! There can be lots of terms, but confusion can be avoided by doing some online research before heading to the story. Googling phrases like "running shoe terms" can provide you with helpful glossaries like this one that can give you an idea of what you’ll be looking for based on your needs.

Shoes Labeled as "Running Shoes" Might Not Necessarily Running Shoes
As you know, shoes are usually organized in stores based on categories like basketball, running, outdoors, etc. It might seem strange, but just because a shoe is in the running category does not necessarily make it a running shoe. Not all shoes are equal and sometimes shoes that are labeled as running shoes might not be designed to run in every day. Often these kinds of shoes are universal athletic shoes for people participating in a variety of sports, which would not be good for a runner. These shoes usually do everything frequent runners don’t want, such as weighing more, lower quality in construction, aren’t custom fitted and don’t absorb as much impact.

Comfort is Key
Your running shoes should be as comfortable as your most worn in pair of old shoes, or even your slippers. When you try them on, it is incredibly important that you make sure they don’t rub, fold or anything else uncomfortable. Remember this: if you feel something uncomfortable when you’re trying your shoes on in the store, you will feel it while running because running shoes don’t break in.

Importance of Fitting
It is crucial to have your gait, your manner of walking or moving on your feet, analyzed before you buy your running shoes. Each runner is different and has a specific gait that a shoe fitter will be able to help you with by determining which shoe is right for you and your gait.

That being said, it is not always a good idea to buy your running shoes from large chain stores because their sales people aren’t trained to custom fit shoes. Fitting specialists will be helpful and tell you how your shoes should fit. For example, they might ask you to bend over and push on the end of your shoe to make sure there is enough space that you don’t touch your toe, since running shoes should have a little extra room. In addition, your running shoes should fit snug in the heel and arch (possibly requiring some arch support) and roomy in the forefoot.

What NOT To Do
As tempting as it might be, make sure to not but your shoes based on color or appearance. The ugliest running shoes might be the most comfortable, so it’s important not to rule out any color selections. Running is not a situation where you can compromise comfort for fashion, because a running shoe that doesn’t fit correctly and isn’t comfortable can lead to a serious injury.

When you’re buying your new pair of running shoes, don’t skimp on price. Good running shoes might cost a pretty penny, but compromising saving a few bucks for short term or long term damage isn’t worth it. Prices can often be up in the $100 range, but your feet and health will thank you for this splurge.

Finally, never buy the shoe your friend wears just because they like them. Though your friend might be an avid runner and know what they’re talking about, every runner and foot is different. Your friend’s shoes might be perfect for them and their needs, but they don’t know how the shoe will perform for you. Never buy a shoe solely based on a friend’s recommendation. Check out this list for further running shoe do’s and don’ts.

These are just some of the basic tips that new runners should keep in mind when buying a new pair of running shoes. Getting your shoe fitted and making sure it’s comfortable the first time you try it on are very important to understand when shopping for running shoes. If these tips are followed, you will be running your way to happy feet and better health.

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