Monday, June 21, 2010

A word about stuff

I've heard it said that all a person needs to start running is a pair of shoes. (I'll argue that whoever said this was a man, because any woman will tell you that a good sports bra is just as important as a pair of shoes.)* While shoes (and the bra) may be all you need, there is SO much cool STUFF out there!

I've never been much of an athlete, but I do love to shop. This means that typically the most exciting thing about a new sport, for me, is getting the accessories. When I started skiing I bought a second-hand jacket in case I hated skiing. As soon as I discovered that I loved it (and for reasons I still can't figured out I seem to be naturally good at it) I bought a good jacket, ski gloves, and a really cute hat with ear flaps. The day I walked into the dive shop for my first day of scuba lessons, I rubbed my hands together with glee when I saw all of the cool dive accessories. Since I know I love the stuff, I'm using it as a motivator. I will allow myself to buy running stuff as I reach goals. The ultimate? A new pair of running shoes when I finally hit 5k. I know that fit is 100% the most important thing in choosing running shoes, but I really hope that these turn out to work for me.I may have to get them for myself anyway as casual shoes, even if they don't turn out to be the perfect runner. I mean, they're pink!** And part of the proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen foundation.

This brings me to the real topic of the day, running shoes. Obviously, properly fitting running shoes are really important to running in comfort and preventing injury. I want to be sure that when I fork out the $100+ that I get the right shoes for me (even if they aren't pink). I've been told by many runners that I should be fitted for running shoes at a running or athletic shoe store, where the people really know their stuff. Well, I wear a size 12 N in a running shoe. I've called every store in the area, and they all say the same thing. "I think we might have a pair of women's 12s in the back - I'd have to check. Isn't the point of going to a specialty store to have a lot of selection in exactly what you're looking for? What are the chances that if I went to one of these stores, I would be told that the one pair of 12s in stock is the right pair for me?

I've had luck at New Balance stores in the past - they actually carry 12N in stock in quite a few different styles. But of course if I go there, I will leave with a pair of NB shoes. Don't get me wrong, I love my NB shoes and have worn them for years, but what if Brooks or Asics would be a better choice for me? I'll never know if I go to a store that only carries one brand.

I usually buy shoes from, a huge online shoe store that offers free shipping and free return shipping. I'll order a ton of shoes, try them on, and return what I don't like/doesn't fit at no cost. It's a great system, and they have a huge selection of running shoes in my size. But then I lose out on the advantage of the expert fitter.

My final option is to wait until I make my next trip home, and to go to Reyer's, the world's largest brick and mortar shoe store. They have great sales people who really know shoes, and I'm pretty sure they would have my size, as they specialize in hard-to-find sizes. But that's nearly a two hour drive from my parents' house, which is a five hour drive from my house. Hmmm.

Runners, what do you think? Should I order shoes online or wait and go to the real store? Any recommendations for running shoes that you love?

*More on that later - sports bras deserve their own entry.

**I'm not really that into pink. But I used to have to wear men's athletic shoes because my size was not available. It makes me happy to buy women's shoes in pretty, girly colors. Don't get me started on how excited I was to find socks to fit that were actually intended for women.

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