Many athletes count on basic equipment, and what’s more basic for a runner than a great pair of running shoes? What’s not-so-basic are the steps, so to speak, involved in finding the right ones. Properly fitting running shoes are key to preventing painful blisters, which can be anything from a minor annoyance to the reason you stop running, even temporarily.
When you run, your feet hit the ground pretty much the same way with each step, causing your skin to rub against your shoes or socks repeatedly. Shoes that are too tight or too big increase the rubbing, which creates the friction that causes blisters. Running shoes are designed to prevent blisters and other injuries by offering specific cushioning to aid in shock absorption.
That said, finding the RIGHT pair of running shoes is, well, no walk in the park. The many brands, features and technologies can make it confusing. Using our tips can help you cut through the clutter and find your winning pair. And once you find that pair, only use them for running.
It Starts With You
You are the most important consideration when purchasing running shoes. Forget about your favorite athlete or the celebrity who hawks really cool kicks. The ideal running shoes should suit the type of runner you are and the type of running you do. It also must accommodate your foot shape and any foot problems you may have.
To get started, answer some questions:
- Do you run every day or just on weekends?
- Do you enjoy microbursts or is long distance running more your thing?
- Do you keep a slow and steady pace, or do you step on it as if the zombie apocalypse is in full swing?
- Do your feet hit the ground evenly, spreading the impact across the entire foot surface, or do they turn in or out? (Check the wear on your existing shoes if you’re not sure.)
- Do you run mostly on synthetic rubber tracks, hard pavement, dirt paths or way off-road where you encounter rocks, mud or other obstacles?
Your answers will help your salesperson steer you to the best shoes. For example, some running shoes are light, flexible and cushioned for repetitive strides on pavement or other hard, even surfaces. Other shoes provide more ankle stability and support for off-road routes that could include uneven surfaces.
Don’t skip this part, even if you have worn the same size since you were in high school. A professional is trained to notice little things that could make a big difference. Maybe your feet spread in a way that indicates a wider shoe would be optimal, or that arch of yours would benefit from a different style.
Timing Is Everything
Well, maybe not everything. But if possible, do your shoe fitting later in the day. Feet tend to swell a bit by then, similar to how they spread when you run, so this will lead to a more accurate fit than if you are fit first thing in the morning. And don’t be shy! Wiggle your toes, making sure there’s enough room – roughly one thumb-width between the end of your foot and the end of the shoe. Your foot should be centered on the shoe platform with the shoe wrapped comfortably around your foot. The fit should not be tight or sloppy.
Try ‘Em Out
Once you have found a pair you like, get moving. If the store has a treadmill, hop on and run a bit, or do a few laps around the displays. Make sure there’s no irritation or slipping – prime causes of blisters.
Don’t Forget the Socks
Cotton socks can trap moisture against your skin, leaving it ripe for friction blisters. Specialized synthetic socks often wick away moisture for a better outcome. Ask for recommendations. Foot powder can help absorb moisture, but it also can clump and create friction, so you’ll need to investigate that on your own.
Regardless of which running shoes and socks you choose or whether you are Team Powder or not, it’s always smart to have a Compeed Advanced Blister Care cushion or two on hand. A Compeed cushion adheres securely to your skin, protecting it from the friction that causes blisters. It has hydrocolloid gel to absorb excess moisture if a blister does develop, and it helps blisters heal 20% faster than a typical bandage. It’s also waterproof and sweat resistant, hypoallergenic and breathable. And it will stay on until it’s time to come off.
Compeed cushions and properly fitting shoes are a winning combination. Adding your old shoes to your gear is wise too, so you can change if the new ones start to hurt, or if you feel a blister coming on. Keep Compeed Advanced Blister Care on hand. Visit Amazon.com and use code 3TRIATHLON at checkout to save $3.00. Expires 7/1/21.