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I started jogging a few years ago, it's mostly been a hobby till now, I'm running the silverstone half marathon at the beginning of march.

I've only ever spent around £30 on trainers for running, and they've never been amazing, but they've never completely debilitated me either. I've had a few problems here and there with blisters, and the outside of my foot aching, balls of my feet hurting as I've upped the distance in the last year or so. Which seems normal.

Is it going to be worth it to me to go and get measured properly and spend £90+ on running shoes? I'm not sure how useful the measurement service is, it sounds very much like a gimmick to take my money to give me "tailored" shoes. But then lots of people reccomend them.

Tl;Dr;

Is a running shoe measuring service, and therefore a more expensive shoe, a good investment to get more suitable shoes to go on my precious feet. Or is it a way to make people with more disposable income than they know what to do with buy some trainers that are a different colour depending on the smell of their feet.

I'm looking for something a little more than "I bought some, didn't like them" or "Yes because my feet smell lovely now".

Note: This isn't a paid for service, but by using it you're opening yourself up to buy much more expensive shoes based on their advice. I'm worried their advice is tosh :)


Update

I went to a store last night (won't recommend individual store here as I've only ever been to one, unless that would help?) and they were brilliant, got me in a neutral pair of shoes on the treadmill to start, analysed my running, and showed my in slow motion what their conclusions were and why. (I was pronating, bending my feet inwards as I put weight on them)

Then brought me out 3 different pairs all with the correct support for me to try out for "feel". They were really informative throughout and I now know what to look for in my next pair.

I bought one of their recommended ones for £100. I was weary at first, but the offer a 30 day guarantee so even after 29 days of hard use, I can take them back and exchange them, get another analysis or just return them. Doesn't seem like I can loose. Now to try them out tonight.


Later Update

Nearly a year on I'm still wearing these same shoes and they're still brilliant. Admittedly I don't jog quite as often as I did when I bought them but still between 1 - 3 times a week.

Highly recommend getting an analysis for anyone reading this.

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Better fitting shoes are always good. I don't understand though. This is a paid service? I've had people measure my feet as a free service when I buy shoes at a store. Have you tried to look for a store that specialises in running shoes? –  Megasaur Feb 7 '13 at 10:31
    
Sorry, no this isn't a paid for service, but by using it you're opening yourself up to buy much more expensive shoes based on their advice. I'm worried their advice is tosh :) I'll update the Q to make this clear. –  Paystey Feb 7 '13 at 10:59
    
Im not a runner myself, but i asked a runner friend of mine a similar question. I recall him saying something along the lines: If youre running only from time to time, most footware will be ok. But if youre a regular, an athlete, running daily or anything along these lines, it will be better for your joints, feet and back to get good shoes. Same applies to the surfaces youre running on. Once in a while wont kill you, but if you run frequently, you dont want to be running on concrete. –  K.L. Feb 7 '13 at 13:00
    
Those terms look really reasonable. Glad you found an honest business :-) Also, be sure to come back if you have any other running related questions! –  Ivo Flipse Feb 8 '13 at 13:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Disclaimer: I specialize in gait analysis, so obviously I'm heavily biased.

What are your options for footwear?

  • No shoes, so barefoot running
  • Minimal shoes, like Vibrams
  • Run-of-the-mill running shoe (sub 100$)
  • High end neutral shoe
  • High end correcting shoe

If you've decided the first two options aren't for you, you're going to have to pick a shoe. That leaves three major options: do you need some correction or not? Without doing a gait analysis the only way to answer this is by looking at your history: do you have a history of running-related injuries, do you use orthotics in your regular shoes or do you need orthopedic footwear? If any of those is yes, get yourself checked up before buying a pair of shoes, because you're at an elevated risk of getting injured. Given that there are no cheap correcting shoes, you're pretty much out of luck.

But what if you only just started running and don't have any prior injuries? Well, that doesn't mean you're not at risk. If you're planning to pick up running as a regular part of your workouts, than you have a stake in preventing that from happening. Because most overuse injuries take a long time to heal, they'll ruin any progress you've made so far, limit your options for alternative workouts and mean you'll have to pick up another workout until you're healed. So if not for your wallet, do it for your health. If buying the right shoes helps you not get injured than that trade-off alone should be a no-brainer.

So say you get yourself checked, does this mean you have to buy expensive shoes? Well shoes, regardless of quality, wear down over time and much faster than most people like to admit. People who start running tend to pick their old tennis shoes or some worn-out pair of sneakers they have lying around. Big no-no, because wrong shoes and worn-out shoes are a major cause of injuries. They can alter your roll-off pattern the wrong way, because some parts of the shoe are more worn out than others and cause an asymmetrical load. Good shoes tend to be made of more durable material. This means they will be able to support your feet for a longer period of time, which may not safe you money, but hopefully will prevent you from getting injured.

Again, you're making a trade-off between paying 100$ more or not being able to run for ~6 weeks. If you're favoring money over your own health, than you're not doing yourself a favor. Overall, running is a fairly inexpensive exercise, you don't need to pay for a gym or swimming pool. Apart from some functional clothing and shoes, you don't need much else. Investing in these things while not knowing whether you'll stick to it is always a gamble. However, they can also make the difference between having a pleasant experience and a dreadful one. For example, running in a cotton shirt will start to soak and stick to your body over time. Whereas with functional clothing, they will drain the sweat away and feel more pleasant (and warm!).

As John mentioned, you don't have a guarantee that you'll get a quality analysis, so unless they are very reputable and friends recommended the place, I'd take his advice and first get some (preferably) free advice. If you do get a check up, make sure to ask questions, don't be afraid to ask 'dumb' questions, if he knows what he's doing, he should be able to tell you why. Remember, you don't have to buy shoes from that person, you can always take his advice and buy the shoes somewhere more affordable. Be sure to try on different pairs of shoes, not just those with a fancy color or those that are on sale, there are major differences between the lasts and builds between different shoe brands. If the shoe doesn't feel right, don't let them talk you into buying it.

If you do decide to not get a check up, be sure to buy a decent shoe. Some pointers on how to recognize one:

  • When pressing against the buttress, from the rear of the shoe, it shouldn't bulge in, but give you the feeling that its tough and able to resist some stress.
  • If you hold the shoe between two hands and try to bend it, look at where it bends. If you see if bend right through the middle, best avoid the shoe (unless you're looking for Nike Free's). Your foot has its joints near the ball of the foot and that's where the shoe should bend too.
  • If you try to wring the shoe like a towel, it should resist that movement. If not, it probably has no support whatsoever.

But seriously, do yourself a favor, get a proper gait analysis, most reputable places will over it as a free service if you buy the shoes from them. Shoe at least you won't be paying twice!

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Also, you might be interested in this other answer I wrote about what to look for in a running shoe –  Ivo Flipse Feb 7 '13 at 21:51
    
Fantastic answer. I'm fairly confident in their analysis, I've updated the Q with some info from my visit. –  Paystey Feb 8 '13 at 8:38

Good shoes can make the difference between enjoying running, and dreading going out the door. Especially if you are going to be running a half marathon, then you are going to be putting in a lot of miles in preparation and then the race itself.

If you have never had a gait analysis done, I would highly suggest that you have it done.

And yes, while it is possible that their advice is rubbish, there is nothing that says you have to buy the shoes there. You can always tell them "Thank you, but I will need to save for these" or some other line, and then go to a different store and see what they say. Comparison shopping.

Also yes, it will open you up to more expensive shoes, but I can tell you from long years of experience, it's worth it. Finding the right shoe is like running on a cloud. You would be amazed at the difference between a shoe for 30 quid and a shoe for 60 quid.

One warning, the cushioning in higher end shoes may not last as long, so if you start noticing odd little aches when starting your run, you may need to replace your running shoes. Also, use your running shoes only for running. The more you wear them, the quicker they break down. Wear your low end stuff for everything else, and the running shoes for running.

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2  
Thanks, that helps. I'm actually going for a gait analysis tonight and probably will get some shoes. I've got 3 weeks to train in them and make sure I'm ok them. I've done a 12 mile on my current shoes and was feeling a little sore so hopefully it will help. –  Paystey Feb 7 '13 at 14:24
    
FWIW, I periodically will have a gait analysis done at a local running store. I will buy that pair of shoes from them (I feel they have put the time in and deserve the sale), after that I tend to order the same shoe online and save $20-$25 a pair, until I feel I need another analysis. –  BillN Feb 8 '13 at 1:09
    
Good thought, will bare that in mind. –  Paystey Feb 8 '13 at 8:36

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