(Disclaimer – I went shopping for a new running shoe all on my own. I was so impressed with the experience that I wanted to share it here. All opinions are my own.) (This post may contain affiliate links.)
When I started running seven years ago, I knew nothing about the gear and importance of a good running shoe. My only thought was that I needed athletic shoes. Due to my recent CrossFit injury, I started seeing a chiropractor and it’s become clear that because everything is connected, good shoes are a must.
Running Shoe Fitting at Fleet Feet Sports Pittsburgh
Why it took me seven years and 3 weeks into training for my third half marathon is a mystery to me; however, I am so thankful that Fleet Feet Sports (in Pittsburgh’s South Hills) offers running shoe fittings. As far as I know, these are a free service from their store – as you’ll soon see, I was immediately hooked on a pair and bought them (so maybe it is rolled into the price?).
After the Half Marathon Kickoff Training Run, I went to Fleet Feet and met Brad. He took me to a bench and starting taking a listen to my concerns in finding a good running shoe. We talked about my history with running, my goals for this year’s half, my chiropractic care, and what I’d done shoe-wise to this point. I was wearing basic athletic shoes from Under Armour, and while they weren’t bad, they weren’t great for what I was putting my body through.
Your feet take on 3-5 times your body weight with each running step, Brad told me. Insane to think about – making it clear that it is so important to have a good running shoe.
After we chatted, he went through the next steps of Fleet Feet’s Fit Process and watched me walk barefoot. Pittsburgh’s Fleet Feet store has the Fit Id, so I stood on the machine which took images of my foot and confirmed things that Brad noticed while doing his initial analysis. We found out my feet are two different sizes (like most people) and that I’d been wearing the right shoe size (a 10, which gives me some space for running motion). My arches are high enough that he recommended an insert and my heels are just a wee bit wide, but for the most part, my feet are pretty normal (or “neutral” in shoe terms).
Picking my Running Shoe
That doesn’t mean Brad was able to pull just any pair of shoes off the shelf. Because I had no brand preference (hey, newbie), he took control and went to the back. The one thing he did ask was whether I had any color preference. When Brad returned, he had three pairs of running shoes for me to try on as well as a running sock.
Did you know that running socks are fit for your left and right feet? My mind was blown.
First, I tried the New Balance 880v7. It felt supportive but cushiony and really cradled my feet. Next up were Saucony’s from the ISO series – I want to say the Freedom ISO. These were SO cushiony I felt like I was on a cloud and could propel myself right across that finish line with no issues. Heavenly. Last I tried Hoka One One and was also pleasantly surprised with the comfort. It came down to the Saucony’s and New Balance and after the fall in week 3, I decided I needed the stability of the New Balance (although I loved all three).
The Final Details
Before I could check out, Brad measured my foot for an insert. This will last me through two running shoes, so probably next summer I’ll go for another. He cut it down to size right there in the store so I was sure it fit my shoe. Such a win!
I picked a pretty pair of Balega running socks and headed to meet Brad at checkout. I was seriously wowed by the service at Fleet Feet and with my purchase. Honestly, I wanted to switch out of my “old” shoes (only worn for three runs at that point) and go for another run, but with almost 16,000 steps in the day already, I knew better. My shoes would need to wait to make their debut until Monday (and that they did).
Was there some sticker shock? Nope. I knew coming into this I’d be spending a good amount of money. The price is totally worth it – these are going to last me through the Half (about 200 miles of training and race) and this fall’s 10-miler (about another 200) plus random training in the summer. In the past, I’ve spent $50-75 a few times a year on shoes that “just worked”!
If you are in Pittsburgh and part of our running scene, I highly suggest you check out Fleet Feet. If you just love running, do yourself the favor I should have seven years ago and get yourself a good pair of running shoes now.
Note – as we started our conversation, I also chatted with Brad about compression socks that I received as a 10-miler participant, more to come on that in another post!