Monday, June 20, 2011


This is going to be a blog about everything related to running. Everything includes workouts, tips and strategies, product reviews, product comparisons, race reviews and recaps, styles of running (minimalism, proper technique, etc..), types of shoes, common injuries and problems runners face, how to beat the heat in the summer, proper hydration and nutrition intakes for running, places to run, and anything else I can think of along the way.
But first, what gives me enough credibility for you to believe everything I say? That's a good question. I have been an employee at Run On! (a local running store based in the DFW area) for the past 2 years. Through my constant contact with new runners, elite runners, veteran runners, sports medicine doctors and chiropractors, and reps from companies like New Balance, Brooks, and Asics, I have taken in almost every angle imaginable on almost every subject imaginable pertaining to running. I love to listen to people telling me their stories about how their races went, or how they overcame an injury like Plantars Fasciitis, and take in exactly what went right and what went wrong for them. In addition, I am an active runner myself, I try to race between 12-20 times a year, ranging in distance from 5k all the way to marathon, so I have a few stories and experiences myself.
I figured I would start this blog off with running rule number 1: Get the right shoes!
Perhaps the part I enjoy most in my job is getting to fit people of all shapes, sizes, and skill levels for shoes. I have seen THOUSANDS of feet and gaits and bunions and fallen arches and let me tell you, your feet are not as messed up as you think. But I will tell you this, no matter the case, you have to get fit for the right pair of shoes, it makes the world of difference!
Before I dive right in and explain about the different kind of shoes, I want to go ahead and explain a few terms:
Gait- the motion your foot goes through when it is in contact with the ground
Pronate- (aka over-pronate) the inward rolling of your ankles/feet toward each other
Supinate- (aka under-pronate) the outward rolling of your ankles/feet away from each other
Neutral- the ability of your ankles/feet to stay straight without pronating throughout your gait cycle
Alright, now that we know some key terms, let me tell you what you need to know to get the right pair of shoes. If you don't have access to a running specialty store like Run On!, here are some tips you can use to diagnose your gait.
Grab your current running shoe, we are going to analyze the wear pattern on the bottom. The picture on the right shows where we are going to be looking on our shoes to determine if we pronate, supinate, or have neutral gait. The reason I point out to not look at your outside heel is because EVERYBODY has wear right there. In general, most people are heel strikers and when you strike on your heel, you land on the outside, not centered like most would believe. Time and time again I have had people tell me they supinate because they saw wear on the outside heel. When I break it to them that everybody wears right there and the real spot to look is on the forefoot, they tend to not believe me at first, but then I show them what I mean.
When looking at the forefoot of a used running shoe, you want to pay attention to where the outsole looks particularly lower than the rest. If most of the wear is on the medial (inside) side of the shoe, then you need to get a shoe with more support. If most of your wear is in the center, congratulations! You are already in a great shoe! You don't need to change anything! Lastly, if you see most of the outsole worn on the lateral (outside) side of the shoe, you have too much support and you need to change shoes ASAP. Too much support in a shoe pushes you to the outside of your foot which causes increased strain on the lateral side of your leg and knee. As a note, it is worse to have too much support than to have too little, so when in doubt, go with less support.
Now you might be asking yourself, "this information is useful and all, but how do I know what shoes have more support and which ones have less?" That is a very good question, and I'm glad you asked. Below is a table to help you know what to do next with your new found information.
After looking at this chart, a few questions might pop into your head. "So if I need less support and I'm already in a neutral shoe am I just out of luck?" Yes, honestly. You have almost too efficient of a gait. Now that's not a bad thing, but for the most part, if you supinate a neutral shoe will do just fine. "If I need more support and I'm in a motion control already do I just stay with what I have?" There are a couple  of motion control shoes that have more support than others, so if you find you are in this scenario, try the Brooks Beast, it has that name for a reason. "If I'm in a neutral shoe and I need more support, how do I know if I need to go all the way to motion control or vice versa?" If you have been in the exact opposite category that you need, you don't want to take that jump all at once, that kind of new correction will make you sore in places you didn't know could even be sore. So you need a middle ground to let you get adjusted to the new kind of support before you make the switch.  
"How do I know what shoe to get if I need a stability (or neutral, or motion control)?"
A good way to tell if a shoe is stability or not is if it has a gray posting on the medial side of the shoe. In almost all running brands, this posting is a dual-density foam to keep you from pronating. It is denser than the rest of the shoe, making it impossible for your foot to roll across it. Generally the amount of gray determines how much correction the shoe offers. So if a shoe has no gray at all on the medial side, then it is neutral. If it has some, but not an overwhelming amount, that is a stability shoe. If the medial side of a shoe looks really built up or runs almost the length of the shoe, that is a motion control shoe.
So what is the next step after we know what kind of shoe we need and what the shoe looks like? Now we just have to go to the store and try some on! Once you know what kind of shoe you need, you're golden. At this point everything in that category is pretty much the same shoe structurally, so the fun part is going to the store and deciding which one is most comfortable. I have consolidated the performance running shoes from several brands so you can have a place to start and know what to look for.
One thing people often forget is to size their feet. This is especially important with running shoes. When you run, your feet swell, so you need to have a little bit of room for your feet to grow. With that being said, you want to go up about a full size from what you measure in the store. So if you measure a size 9, go with a size 10. If you already ran that day, only go up about a half size because chances are your feet are still swollen from your workout. That is why it is good to go get shoes at the beginning of the day, so your feet aren't already swollen from the day's activities. When it comes to size, one thing people generally just look over is width. Every shoe brand makes running shoes in wide and narrow, so if your foot measures 10 EE don't be afraid to walk out if they only have 10 D. Ask if they can either order it, or have one transferred from another location.
I think I have told you enough to get you started. Now I want everyone who reads this to go grab your running shoes and look at the bottom, analyze the wear, check the size, and see if you are in the proper shoe for your foot. If you are, that's great! If you aren't, don't worry, you're not alone.
Well, that's it for me, I hope you had a good time learning about The Life of a Runner.


  1. Hi

    Sorry to contact you by comment but i couldn't find an email!

    I have just been reading your article on GPS watch accuracy and was wondering if you would think about writing a guest post on my Blog about your findings? I have written reviews on some GPS watches but have never been able to directly compare them side by side as you have.

    Let me know your thoughts

    Kind Regards


  2. thank you so much for this post!! after reading so many other sites on how to figure out whether i pronate or supinate and being confused about where to look, you've finally cleared it up :)