The Casual Runner

Getting Started: Get the Right Shoes

This is the latest installment in our Getting Started series of features.  The Casual Runner Team is committed to helping anyone who wants to get up off the couch and live a more active lifestyle, whether they used to run and are looking to start again, or if they have never considered themselves to be runners – Casual or otherwise – and are looking to run their first mile. If we can be of any help or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Casual Runner Team using the links below.

The hardest part about becoming a Casual Runner is making the decision to take that first step on your way to completing your first mile.  Recently, the Casual Runner Team compiled a list of the top 10 things to help you get started. As a quick reminder (but you can still go ahead and click on the link to read the full list), the second item on that list was buying the right pair of running shoes:

“The only thing that you have to do is to buy yourself a good pair of running shoes. Skip the big box and discount stores, go to your closest running store. They have the requisite expertise to get you the right pair of shoes for you.  A good pair of the right running shoes will help you avoid injury.” 

In case you aren’t getting the idea that a good pair of running shoes is important, Jennifer also shared the excitement she has when she gets a new pair of running shoes, and introduced us to the idea that a good pair of running shoes are indeed a Casual Runner’s best friend. So yeah, go out and buy yourself a good pair of running shoes!

Jen New Shoes Pic 1

A good pair of running shoes are a Casual Runner’s best friend…just don’t tell your puppies that!

I speak from experience.  For years I tried – and failed – to get back into running.  Part of the reason I was not successful was because I was dogged by shin splints that were so uncomfortable I had difficulty even walking. One day, at the suggestion of my good friend (and now running buddy) Ryan, I tried running in a pair of Fila Skeletoes.  I took his advice and was glad that I did.  It was amazing the difference that running in minimalist shoes made for me – no more shin splints! I cannot tell you the physiology or science behind it, but Ryan’s suggestion allowed me to become a Casual Runner. Once I went minimalist, shin splints became a thing of the past and they really improved my running posture.  I got lucky that the Skeletoes worked for me.  I am not going to promise that minimalist shoes will work for you, but the point is that you need to fine what will work for you.

That autumn, knowing I was going to be training on pavement and in snow, I decided to go to my local running store – Second Sole in Boardman, Ohio – to get fitted with a good pair of shoes for the winter training months.  I was fortunate to meet a gentleman who knew his trade well, and he was wonderful.  He patiently listed to me as I told him my history of training: the shin splints, the shoes that didn’t work for me, and the surprise benefits of the Skeletoes.  He took the time to educate me about minimalist shoes, and then, well, I don’t think that I am being overly-dramatic when I describe what comes next…


You might say that I’ve gone through a few pairs of shoes.

It was much like the scene where Harry Potter visits Olivander’s to buy his first wand.  I had no idea what would or would not work for me, so the great salesman proceeded to bring boxes and boxes of different shoes out for me to try on.  We later counted that I went through 17 different pairs, and then, on the 18th pair, I have no idea what it was, but the pair of New Balance shoes just felt, right.  I knew instantly that they were the right pair for me.  We took the time to find the right pair, and those shoes would get me through my first 3 half marathons, injury-free.

Not long ago I was approached by someone who wanted to get back into running. He told me that he was so committed that he went ahead and signed up for a half marathon to serve as motivation for him. I told him to go to a local running store and get himself fitted for a good pair of running shoes. He told me he would do so, eventually, but did not want to wait to start training, and would start in an old pair of running shoes he had in the back of his closet. Well, you can imagine how this ended. In a few weeks he developed a pain in his foot that was later diagnosed as a stress fracture, which he was told most likely resulted from running in the wrong shoes.

Long story short, do yourself a favor, and take the time and spend the money to buy the right shoes for you.  It will be an investment you will be glad that you made.

Here in the Midwest, the weather is actually phenomenal…er, well, for December.  I am still rehabbing my foot injury, and yesterday was a rest day, so I went for a walk in the woods because it was just too nice to be inside.  Needless to say, there is no better time to get up and get started on your Casual Running adventure, but your first stop should be at your local running store.

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind and to share with anyone else considering beginning their own Casual Running adventure:

  1. Make sure you find a salesperson who will take the time to work with you to make sure you have the proper shoe style for your foot and body type.
  2. Share as much information about your workout history and what your fitness goals are to make sure you get the appropriate shoe for you training program.
  3. Don’t be a fashionista. Do not pick the shoes that look the most stylish or come in your favorite color. Your only concerns should be fit and appropriateness for you, regardless of whether the right shoe only comes in the ugliest color you can imagine.
  4. Be patient and be prepared to try on a lot of different shoes, even if it means re-enacting the wand selection ceremony from Harry Potter.
  5. Try them out. Many running stores have treadmills where you can run for a minute in the shoes to see how they feel. Also, don’t be afraid to ask what the return policy is. Running stores tend to be more willing to work with you than big box stores, so try them out, there may be a need to adjust your shoes.

When should you get started? Well, when we launched Casual Runner, we did so by quoting one of my favorite Walt Disney quotes: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” So, quit talking about it, get to your local running store, and get doing.  Good luck!


The Casual Runner Team wants to hear from you. If you have any questions about anything we cover here on Casual Runner, if you have any questions regarding running gear or training for your own Casual Running needs, or if there is anything that you would like us to cover on Casual Runner, please leave a comment or email us using the links below.  To ensure that you do not miss all of the great content from Casual Runner, please be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.  See you out on the running trails!







3 thoughts on “Getting Started: Get the Right Shoes

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