Have you ever felt overwhelmed searching for that “perfect” running sneaker? I have! Four and a half years ago, I began my running journey. Through much trial and error, I can confidently say that although there is no all-encompassing running shoe, there are incredible options for every runner.
When I committed to my first half-marathon, I didn’t grasp the importance of having the proper gear, but my commitment superseded my fear. My sole priority was to do my best and finish in as close to two hours as possible. As a novice, I laced up the first pair of running shoes that resembled those worn by an experienced type of runner. They were made by a recognizable brand and had extreme support, cushion, and a comfortable toe box.
Luckily, my first road race went off without a hitch, but I felt my sneakers were holding me back. They were heavy and awkward—clunky, even. I was confident I could run faster in a lighter style of shoe and became determined to find it. In retrospect, the smartest first step would have been to visit the nearest Jack Rabbit or Fleet Feet sports retailer to be properly fitted.
Finding the right set of running shoes is a personal journey, since no feet are alike.
When I decided it was time to conquer running a full marathon, the first up was New York City, through all five boroughs. The training required was long and grueling. The set of sneakers I’d lace up for this marathon had to be right, yielding the question: What was I looking for? Being comfortable, light, and supportive were non-negotiable, and I didn’t want to sacrifice style.
There is an overwhelming amount of running shoe options, with several variables to consider: upper, ankle collar, midsole, toespring, toe box, etc. It was time to get educated. I turned to the experts at Adidas for support. We talked about form, fit and function and they suggested the Adidas Ultra Boost. I would go on to run three marathons in the Boosts. This style was everything I needed—until I became a stronger runner and more experienced marathoner. It was time to move on and up.
My fourth full 26.2 took place in Chicago in October of 2018. I was resolute on PR and knew that required a lighter sneaker. My first thought was Nike. After all, I kept seeing the elite runners gliding over the finish line in bright orange shoes adorned with a big white swoosh. I laced up into Zoom Pegasus Turbo (1&2) for training and the 4% Vapor Fly to race. I proudly PR’d that marathon. I attribute this accomplishment to my dedication and preparation, but cannot discount the impact of the 4% Vapor Fly. It was light, fast, and comfortable. My tired-but-happy feet had finally met their match.
Finding the right set of running shoes was (and is) a personal journey, since no feet are alike. As a seasoned runner, I recommend relying on professional recommendations, research, and a bit of trial and error. Having logged thousands of miles on several types of terrain, I strongly recommend visiting your local run store to be fitted by an expert. My feet have grown tired from the thousands of miles they have carried me. Their ever-changing state (think flattening out and some aches and pains) mean that I’ll have to adjust what I wear to fit the need as time goes on. The road ahead is sure to be filled with shoe changes along the way—and each will have their own routes to navigate.