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Common Mistakes Runners Make When Buying Shoes

Avoid these 6 common mistakes that runners make when buying running shoes. I have learned over the years, often the hard way, about the importance of proper footwear. When is it time to replace them? Do the shoes fit properly? Do they have adequate cushioning, traction, and stability?

My shoes feel fine.

As running shoes age, they lose their ability to absorb shock. You can get accustomed to their feel and it is sometimes difficult to know when they should be replaced. Worn shoes will eventually tell your feet and legs that it is time. For my type of running, I replace my shoes about every 15-18 months.

All running shoes are alike.

Running shoes are not all made the same. Choosing the right shoe will make your running experience more enjoyable. Your choice depends a lot on whether you do recreational or competitive running and running indoors or out. Indoor and cross-country running don't require as much cushioning, but cross-country does need good traction. Running on roads and other hard surfaces requires additional cushioning. Even sprinters need a different shoe than distance runners.

I don't need help buying shoes.

Running shoe manufacturers introduce new models and features every year. Consult with the sales staff at a good sports store (and possibly with a sports trainer or physician) to find the right type of shoe you. Sales people will know the types of shoes that provide proper support and cushioning as well as keep you up to date with new models and features. However, you may have to experiment with different brands and models to find the shoes that meet your needs.

I buy the same size as my street shoes.

Buy shoes at least a half-size larger than your regular shoes. Also make sure they are wide enough. Why? Your foot absorbs the force by expanding in both directions. If the shoe is too small, the impact is not fully absorbed by the foot and is instead transmitted up the leg to your shin, knee, or hip. Ouch!

Springy shoes will make my running easier.

Stiff soled shoes may add spring to your step but for some runners it magnifies the shock, just like running barefoot on concrete or the beach at Daytona. When you are trying shoes, flex the soles of different shoes. You will notice the difference. You may have to experiment to find shoes with the flexibility that's best for you.

Inexpensive shoes are good enough.

The price is an important indicator of shoe quality. The type of running you do is also something to consider. As a recreational runner, you may be able to get by with a less expensive shoe. Although, you do get what you pay for. On the other hand, competitive runners will use top of the line shoes. I run on roads about 10-12 miles a week and buy mid-level shoes from only a couple of manufacturers. Why? I started with these brands and have had good experience with their products.
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