Tips for New Runners – Shoes

This post is a part of my blog flash series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

Shoes.

Shoes are the foundation our running is built upon. Buying the right shoes for you is important, as is replacing them at the right time.

My Asics (right) got me through the marathon with the help of my Mizunos (left).

First, before I even got started on my running journey, a runner friend of mine encouraged me to buy shoes at the local running store and I’m really glad I did. The folks at my local running store, and probably yours too, are there to help. They understand the needs of runners better than folks at a regular shoe store. I was brand new and didn’t even know to buy my running shoes bigger than my walking shoes. Feet swell when you run so having shoes that can accommodate that is really important. Without the help I got at the store, I probably would have experienced a lot of pain and gotten very discouraged by it.

The same friend also advised me to keep track of the miles I put on my running shoes. I setup a spreadsheet in google docs where I can track each run. I can include any information I want, but the key elements are the miles on each set of shoes. (I also keep track of the total miles I’ve run, my time for each run and what run/walk split I used.) Running shoes don’t last indefinitely and their lifespans may be shortened or lengthened by how hard or easy you are on them, but a quick google of mileage recommendations on the web seems to indicate that 300 to 500 miles is the general expectation. Another thing to be mindful of is that you don’t want to go on a long run in brand new shoes, so don’t wait to buy your new pair until the old pair is worn out. The best thing to do is to buy your new pair well before your old pair needs to be retired and wear them for your shorter runs for a while before you run long in them. I bought my Mizunos in April but didn’t run more than 5 miles in them at a time until late June. That was probably a bit extreme, but I was really paranoid about hurting myself before the marathon, so I was extra careful.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while you’re training for a big race it’s probably best not to try out a whole new style of shoe. Specifically, be cautious about changes in the heel height of your shoes. One thing you can do is take your current shoes with you when you go to the shoe running store. The helpful sales folk can use them to make sure you get a similar enough shoe to keep you comfortable during your training without you having to be able to spout off all the stats about your shoes. If you are interested in trying a shoe that is much different from your current shoes, be extra cautious about not going out on a long run in them until you’ve gone on many short runs in them first.

There are so many shoes out there that I can’t even begin to point you in the direction of the right brand or style for you. There are so many things to take into consideration. Talk to the folks at your running store. Let them know what surfaces you run on and what distance you’re training for. If you have a pair of running shoes, take them in with you. Sometimes the sales folks can get an idea from your wear patterns that you might need to try a different shoe. Don’t wear your running shoes for walking. They’ll wear out faster that way, and the wear patterns will be different. And if you really want to try and figure out what shoes you want, on your own, maybe start with the Runner’s World Shoe Guide.

Saving money on your running shoes isn’t going to be the easiest thing to do, and they really are worth spending the money on. If you’re like me, and you’re running on a budget, try to hit the sales at the running store. I’ll talk more about saving money in later post.

Happy running!

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500 Miles, Time to Start Flash Blogging

I haven’t been very consistent about blogging lately, have I? I also haven’t been very good about tracking my miles, since the marathon. As I was updating my spreadsheet I was surprised to realize that I crossed the 500 mile mark a couple of weeks ago. If I had been paying attention, I might have planned a special post to commemorate the milestone. Instead, I’m going to start a plan to get back into blogging by flash blogging. Every day or two I will make a post on a specific topic. Most of them will probably be pretty short.

The theme of this Blog Flash is Tips for New Runners. I am going to focus on things that my friends and class leaders taught me and things that I have learned that I wish I had known sooner.  A few of the things I plan to focus on are, shoes, socks, water belts, saving money and safety. I won’t be making much in the way of product recommendations. Mostly I’ll be talking about aspects that I find more or less useful and tips on finding what’s right for you.

As a fairly new runner myself, there will be quite a number of things I don’t know much about. I’m just sharing my experience and my opinions in the hope that they’ll help you find the right things to help you run happy. First up will be a post all about shoes.

Providing that the smoke doesn’t interfere with the Sweathouse Half Marathon, I’ll be running it on September 8th, and I’m looking forward to it.

The Pitfalls of Commute Running

The nice thing about the morning commute runs is being able to run when it’s cool. For the last two weeks I’ve done my commute runs to work on Tuesday and Thursday, as planned. The Tuesday run is straight to work, which is a little over 3 miles. The Thursday run winds through the neighborhood near work so that I can get 5 miles in. The first three runs went off without a hitch. This morning, however, I realized that I had forgotten to leave a pair of shoes at the office yesterday that I could reasonably wear with the skirt that I’d left. So I threw a pair of sandals into a bag, hung them on my water belt and off I went. It was a little awkward to have my bag of shoes flopping at my side, but it wasn’t really that annoying and certainly better than wearing my running shoes all day.

I need to make myself a little checklist to make sure I bring a change of clothes as well as shoes to leave at work on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you ever decide to try the commute run, another thing to keep in mind is that you want to bring clothes that aren’t going to wrinkle. There’s no need to look all rumpled and unkempt.

So the other thing I did this morning was to try a little bit of speed play or interval training. I’m honestly not sure which heading it falls under. Possibly both. Here’s what I did:

I started off with a 5 minute warm-up walk. For the rest of first mile I used the usual easy 30s run/30s walk split and a comfortable pace. Then for mile 2 I changed it up and did 30s easy run/30s run faster/30s walk. I started mile 3 with a 60 second walk break and then went back to my easy 30s/30s. For mile 4 I tried the 30s easy run/30s run faster/30s walk again, before starting my last mile with another 60 second walk break and going back to the 30s/30s easy, comfortable pace. I did walk the last few minutes and then kept moving a bit to get a decent cool down. I’m also very lucky that there is a shower in a nearby building that I am able to use.

The strange thing about my run this morning is that my time was exactly the same as last week’s 5 mile run. 1 hour and 3 minutes. To be fair, I did run into Emily, an awesome pace group buddy, on the way to work and stopped to chat for a minute. But still, it seems odd that I wouldn’t have been faster, given the 2 miles where I tried the 30s run/30s run faster/30s walk. It will be interesting to experiment with this idea further.

In other news, I registered for the Sweathouse Half Marathon yesterday. It’s more than a month off, so my plan is still just to keep running 12 to 13 miles every Saturday between now an then and stay in half marathon shape. I’m not sure if I should taper the weekend before or not. I’ll need to do a bit of reading on that.

I’m also considering what types of blog posts to write between now and then. I think I have some ideas for a series of posts on things I’ve learned, things I wish I’d known at the beginning and ideas for new runners. I just have to sort it all out and start posting.

Thirty six days until my first half marathon race. This nerd girl just keeps on runnin’.