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The "Right" Shoe for You

Whether you're a new runner or an experienced runner, buying the correct shoe is probably the most important decision you will make. What's more, it's a decision that you have to make over and over. A shoe that works for the first six months of your running life may not work as you improve, get faster, or start running longer distances.

The correct shoe will enhance your natural stride and will help prevent injuries. It will allow your foot to strike the ground, move through its running motion, and push off with ease and in perfect harmony with your hips and knees.

The wrong shoe can turn running into a torturous routine of pain and recovery. The wrong shoe will force your foot out while your knee goes in, which is almost exactly the point at which your hip goes out. The wrong shoe sets up a battleground in your body between your muscles and tendons and bones and joints and can end your running program in a matter of days.

The problem becomes even more complex because there is no single shoe that is right for every runner. The activity of running, or at least getting started as a runner, would be much easier if you could just drop by the shoe store and buy a generic pair of beginner's running shoes. But our feet, our bodies, and our budgets are all different.

There are, however, some general guidelines. These descriptions are not intended to be the definitive word on foot motion and shoe construction. They are intended to help you avoid that moment of embarrassment and the feeling of abject ignorance that I had with the young shoe salesman. They are intended to allow you to ask the right questions.

This is the foot's natural tendency to roll inward as you run. The perfect foot begins the running or walking motion somewhat on the outside of the heel and rolls inward toward the ball of the foot.


This is what happens when the foot rolls inward too far. The beginning of the running motion often is fine, but the foot continues to roll inward too far, beyond the ball of the foot.


This refers to what happens when the foot does not roll inward enough. As you walk or run, the striding motion occurs entirely along the outside of the foot.


This is what happens when the foot rolls outward too much as it moves through the running motion.

What does all of this mean? What good is it to know these words if you don't know why you need to know them? How can you tell which labels apply to your feet and your running stride?

next...Your Foot >>

Penguin Thought of the Day

Running has proven to be about more than times and splits. Running can be a metaphor and a teacher. Running can be a mirror, and reflect more than we might ever want to see.