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Good Question: What’s The Right Type Of Running Shoe?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – More than 17,000 people are expected to run Grandma’s Marathon this Saturday in Duluth.

Some will finish in just more than two hours. Others will be closer to six. But they’ve all made an important decision before taking the first step: What shoe to wear.

Does it make a difference? And, when it comes to running, will the right shoe get you off on the right foot?

John Stanton, CEO of the Running Room, said absolutely.

Stanton was in Minneapolis Thursday for the opening of the new Apple Valley store, his 111th store. He has run 60 marathons, starting when he was 34 years old, calling himself once an overweight, out-of-shape smoker who decided to be a better role model for his sons.

He now sells running shoes with the hope many follow in his footsteps.

“Shoes are prescriptive to you as an individual,” said Stanton. “There is a good percentage because so many people make their shoe selections like they make their fashion selections,” he said, which is a common mistake.

He said his stores first do what is known as a gait analysis, observing how the customer runs, walks and how their foot strikes the ground.

“We are looking at their arch, we are watching their knee, does it come towards the inside as the arch collapses?” said Stanton.

He said that’s known as pronation, how the arch bends as it hits the ground.

“That is where they have a floppy foot. As they come across, the arch collapses. They pronate or even over-pronate,” said Stanton.

In that case, Stanton recommends a shoe with more side support to direct the foot in a more neutral position. He also said customers who don’t pronate much should worry more about cushioning.

“Of course the other thing that has happened in the last couple of years is this whole barefoot running. Barefoot running is changing the dynamics of the shoe industry. The advantage of the barefoot shoe, it gets our foot going, in a natural progression and we will land a little softer on your foot,” said Stanton.

Frank Shorter, an Olympic marathon gold medalist in 1972 who attended Thursday’s store opening, said he prefers what’s also known as the minimalist movement. He said with racing, lighter shoes are the better choice.

“It’s almost like it’s full circle,” said Shorter. “We have gone back to shoes that are more like the shoes in 1970’s and 1980’s with only one layer in the sole.”

It’s a concept similar to the shoes he said helped him win the gold medal.

But Shorter warned the barefoot running trend is not for everyone.

“The first piece of advice I give anyone who wants to start a running program, go to a specialty store where they really know what they are doing,” Shorter said.

Stanton said there’s an easy way to tell if runners aren’t in the right shoe.

“Generally they are injured,” he said, saying the wrong shoe can often lead to ankle problems, sore knees and even trouble with the IT band.

Stanton said when shoe shopping, set aside time to make the right decision and bring in your worn out shoes. Experts can take a look at your wear pattern. He said a good pair of shoes can last 500 to 600 miles.

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