December 21, 2011

Notes on Shoes and Humility

Notes on Shoes and Humility

When I first decided to run, I thought I would run on a treadmill (you can read about that here). When I ditched that idea and opted instead to start simply with a pair of shoes, I thought it would be really easy. After all, I am a woman, right? How hard can it be to buy a pair of shoes?

I bought my first pair of running shoes at an athletic shoes store in Boulder, Colorado. There were so many choices it was overwhelming. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have really small feet, so that limited the options right away. Most of the people shopping for shoes in this place seemed to know exactly what they wanted and the busy sales people really didn’t have time to answer any questions. When I did finally get someone to assist, he measured my feet, brought me about a half-dozen boxes of shoes and told me to try them and walk or jog around in them.

I tried them all. My first thoughts were: wow, are most running shoes ugly.

Half of them were uncomfortable – too narrow in the front or too big in the heels. The other half seemed fine – though I really had no idea what would make one better than another. I finally settled on a major brand name in a color that I thought was cute. Yep, I basically decided to buy the cute designer pair – it was the only way I knew how to buy shoes at the end of the day.

When I was first running, I was really not doing anything a runner would call running. I was, at best,  jogging – and I was maybe doing that for half a mile, then walking, then maybe jogging a bit more. The shoes were fine for this. But as I built up both speed and distance, something happened – my feet started to hurt.

This was not just like aching in my feet – it was sharp stabbing feet sometimes during or after my run and it really made me want to stop. I stretched my feet. I took ibuprofen. I soaked them in Epsom salts. Nothing really helped and they hurt a bit more with each run.

So I asked all the runners I knew. I put an inquiry out on Facebook and Twitter and I got one common response from most people – You probably need new shoes.

Having only recently dropped $100 on the shoes I had, that seemed a bit unreasonable, but the pain was going to keep me from running and I intended to run. So at the suggestion of several friends, I went to Roadrunner Sports and let them “diagnose” my feet. Actually, it was fun, and I did learn a few things. It was particularly cool to see how and where I put stress on my feet – and to literally see that it was right where they hurt. The very attentive sales person told me with no uncertainty, that while I did have good shoes, with the way I was striking my feet they were not going to work for me. He brought me exactly three pairs of shoes to try on and said, “one of these will be your shoe.”

I tried them all. My first thoughts were: wow, are most running shoes ugly.

But he was right. These shoes felt really different from the others – and when I ran around in them – no foot pain. The ones that ultimately felt the best were a pair from Brooks Running (who I had not heard of but now understand they are a “real” runners shoe company). I still think they are ugly (sorry Brooks), but I am completely willing to forgive and forget since my foot pain is gone.

Moral of the story – I have had to give up vanity all the way to my toes to take up running. It’s a repeat lesson in humility every time I tie my shoes.



Leave a comment
  1. JamesZ
    December 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    I really like Brooks. I had a pair for a couple years (I was running off and on). Last April, I started running more often 4-5 times a week. I just got a new pair of Brooks this week cause I started having foot pain when I ran. They make a good shoe in my opinion.

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      December 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

      Hi James – the shoe I bought totally changed the way I run. The only challenge I had was – initially – it changed my posture enough that my other joints (hips, knees – even my back) sort of had to adjust. I sort of ached after running for a couple of weeks – had to stretch a lot more. Then that resolved and it’s all been great.

  2. Gillian
    December 22, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    Cool reading about your running. I don’t know if it will get me moving, but it might.

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      December 22, 2011 at 5:41 am #

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Gillian. Hope you come back!

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    August 11, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

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