I needed new shoes. That wasn't in question. My old shoes were purchased to train for my first triathlon last year, and while they were not top of the line, they served me quite well. After all, when I started I ran from one telephone pole to the next and nearly passed out. So footwear built for mileage was not all that important.
Fast forward to this year. I'm running farther and faster than I have in over a decade, and my old "go fasters" as they called them in boot camp, are just not cutting the mustard. They are stretched out a bit, which has led to some growing concerns about foot and shin problems. And worst of all, they stink to high heaven! There are at least three full locker rooms of smell in each shoe, which makes peeling them off my feet at the end of a run rather noxious. So yes, they must be retired.
I've done lots of reading on buying running shoes, talked to some runners for suggestions, and today went out to take the plunge. I stopped at a couple of places to try on shoes by myself, but after a dozen different shoes in two stores, I was befuddled about what to get.
I decided to bite the bullet and go to our local running/walking store. I knew they would analyze my stride and be able to tell me what shoes I should get, but I was gun shy about the prices they would no doubt charge. From the moment I walked in I saw the guy watching my feet. Sure enough he instructed me to take my shoes of and walk across the floor a few times. After he gave me the diagnosis, he took the time to explain it to me, and he asked a dozen questions about my running, stretching, any pain in my legs or back. He really did an amazing job of getting to know me before he even went to the back for a pair of shoes!
He brought out a half dozen pairs of shoes for me to try, and we compared one to another until we had it narrowed down to just the right pair. Perfectly comfortable, and built not only for mileage, but for my foot problems (they are a little flat). Then I asked about the price and was more than pleasantly surprised to find they were really not that much more than the other places I had been looking! And for the service I received, it was well worth the extra $20!
I also asked him what could be done for the pain in my shins, which I am sure are the beginnings of shin splints. He ran me through a few stretches and recommended a foam roller for my calves. I am anxious to try it all out so that I can actually feel good while I run! I am certain that my old skids are the cause of my current leg problems. So I am hopeful, hopeful, hopeful that my experience in shoe shopping today will alleviate those problems and help me train.
Mostly I wanted to post about what a wonderful experience it was going to a locally owned store for my shoes. Their friendly attitude and professional knowledge made me feel very comfortable with my purchase, and I feel like they have earned my patronage in the future! I'd also recommend it to my friends.
For those of you out there toying with the idea of a triathlon (or some other sport) I'd encourage you to go to a locally owned store and get their expert help. It was well worth it for me!