Finding the Right Running Sneakers

asiscs-cumulus-runningDisclaimer: I am not a professional. I don’t run races and I’m not trained in podietry or physical therapy or athletic training or anything of that nature. I just like to run when I work out, and I was tired of it hurting and I wanted to share my findings with anyone who has a similar struggle.

Everyone and their brother wears Nike Frees. They’re cute and you can customize them and they aren’t big, clunky old lady shoes that amke you look weird and like an old lady. I have a pair of Nike Free 2.0’s I insisted on getting a few years ago because everyone had them and they were hot pink! But they hurt. Bad. They’re built to allow full flexion of the foot in order to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles in runners, not for running regularly, especially not on the tradmill like I did.

This summer, I decided that while my Frees might not be optimal for running, I should still be able to wear them while running errands or working at Athleta, right? WRONG. After a day of shopping or even a measly four hour shift at the store, my feet would throb. It would start in my arches and radiate all the way through my ankles, knees and hips. I was so confused about why my Rainbow flip-flops gave me more support than these pricey sneakers, so I did what I do best: excessive Google research.

It turns out that Nike Frees are training shoes. Not meant to be run in, really, at all, aside from training. What many runners suggest is easing into them, first by wearing them to run short distances on grass in order to strengthen the foot while still running in regular shoes for long distances on pavement. They’re equated with Vibram’s Five Fingers, if that’s any indication of how little support they are intended to give. What’s more, Nike has different models of the Free, starting at the 5.0, with the intention of starting there, and working your way down the number scale; each model decreases in support and cushioning, which progessivley strengthens running muscles. That solved the mystery of why these shoes were so painful for me: they were essentially nothing and my muscles were NOT ready for such little support for long periods of time.

So I set them aside and picked up a pair of $35 Saucony’s from Marshall’s that did the trick. They were supportive and cushioned me when I ran and didn’t make my whole body ache after wearing them for long periods of time. But man, were they ugly. What they give in comfort and support they lack in any kind of style. And now, after a year of running, sprinting and lifting in them, they’re worn and I needed a new pair. So I embarked on a search for a pair of running sneakers that give me the support I need without making me look like a 1990’s soccer mom. Kind of a stupid quest, I know, since fitness should preside over fashion, but why should I have to choose?

asics-gel-cumulusWith the help of my dad, I did more research. He has had excellent luck with Asics ovr the years, so I focused on that brand. I noticed the other day that when I run, the outsides of my feet hit the pavement first and then roll inward, which was backed up by the fact that the outsides of the heels on my shoes were worn down. This means that I over-pronate. Rolling inner-foot to outer-foot is considered under-pronating and ideally, a runner runs completely balanced in the center of their foot, rolling heel-to-toe. If you’re not sure what your pronation is, I suggest going to a place like Fleet Feet, which has locations all over, where they can evaluate all of your needs and recommend the best type of shoe for you.

Since I over-pronate, I need something with stability. Asics has a great chart on their website that has the different pronations at the top, and different needs down the side, and then the corrosponding shoes in the center, which helps start the shopping process. This chart can be found here.

From there I looked at different styles recommended for me online, and also tried different ones on in a store. Ultimately, I decided on the Gel Cumulus, which I ordered from Amazon (Prime). Not only are they suited for my running needs, but they’re not huge clomping shoes and they’re cute enough to wear to work at Athleta, as well as to run and work out in. This whole process was pretty extensive and required a lot of time and research, but I think it’s important because good shoes lead to a good workout and a healthy body, and bad shoes just make me miserable.

ETA: I’ve had my shoes for about a week now and I’ve run in them, lifted in them and worn them to work and they are amazing. The heel is cushy and the front of the foot is more sturdy, and most importantly, they feel good when I run and when I’m on my feet for hours. Hallelujah to these Asics!

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