Although I'm able to give people advice about finding the best fit for a running or workout shoe, I have to be honest. When it came to workout shoes, I always chose style over support. In the store, I'd ignore things like cushioning, stability, and fit. I'd stand back, look at the wall of shoes, and pick whichever ones I thought were prettiest. After all, I'm about to fork over $100 for these suckers. I want to like them! I want to be motivated when I wear them! Ugly shoes didn't have a place in my closet and they certainly didn't make me want to put them out and head to the gym. I was very brand loyal and I wanted a sweet looking pair of shoes to go with my cute workout clothes. I was a shoe snob.
I really should have known better. I was a runner in high school and I'm a fitness professional. I know how important shoes are when you're working out—they are your foundation, after all. But I didn't heed my own advice about getting fitted for shoes or wearing sport-specific ones either. I figured it didn't matter because I wasn't a "runner." Finally, being a slave to style caught up with me. I started experiencing debilitating knee pain on a regular basis— while I worked out, after I worked out, and even when I was sitting still. I could barely bend my knee to squat or lunge.
Talking to Coach Jen (an experienced runner) one day, she asked me what kind of shoes I was wearing. We both knew that I wore "the cute kind" and that it had been a while since I replaced them. We also agreed that I should have known better.
Maybe it was because I was desperate to rid myself of knee pain that I finally listened, but she convinced me to go to a local running store to get fitted. It wasn't easy. After all, I didn't like how any of the shoes looked style-wise. But I forced myself to look past their color and design and listen to my other senses—how the shoe felt. The staff was so helpful. I was probably there for two hours trying on every shoe that had "motion control" to help fix what was a killer overpronation problem (which was likely causing my knee pain). I tried those shoes in all sizes, too. I finally ended up with the shoe that felt the best to me. $130 and several months later, I have not experienced any knee pain.
Do I like how they look? Well, they're not stylish, in my opinion, but they're not exactly ugly either. They're kind of average, I guess, but they've grown on me. Are they my favorite brand? Nope, but maybe I'll become loyal to a NEW brand since these shoes make me feel so great. Am I glad I did it? You bet. I thought that shoes without style wouldn't motivate me to exercise. But as it turns out, I am MORE motivated to go for a run now because I feel so great when I do. And I realize how silly it was to care about what my shoes looked like. It's not a fashion show.
Happy feet make for a happy exerciser. If you're ready to treat your tootsies better, the following resources will help you get on your way:
The right shoe for you doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, a recent Consumer Reports test showed that some inexpensive sneakers, such as Champion brand sold at Target stood up well with high-priced ones.
Could you be one of the 85% of people who wears the wrong kind of shoe? Are (or were) you vain about your workout shoes (or shoe size) like I was?
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