Running with the Shoe Dog
Some facets of your everyday life seem relatively straight forward and commonplace. You know what your favorite foods are and which shoes you like to wear. You know what size clothing you need (for the most part) when you go shopping. Up until this point, I thought that my shoe size was another one of these universal truths. I have worn a size 12 shoe for about as long as I can remember, and they’ve always suited me quite well. However, it would seem that perhaps I assumed too much in taking this fact for granted, as I found out otherwise (potentially) during a trip to Roadrunner Sports in Phoenix, AZ.
On our most recent trip, following a tour of the University of Phoenix Stadium (which was very impressive!), we stopped in at Roadrunner Sports. Although this is a chain of stores, they don’t have any locations in Minnesota or Iowa, so I had never visited. They have an impressive selection of running shoes, apparel, and gear, and their staff members were extremely helpful. One of the most unique services they offer is a shoe fit service they call Shoe Dog. As a part of the process, your feet are measured, thermal images of your foot strike are taken, and your gate is video-taped while you run on a treadmill. Once they have completed this process, they offer custom insoles, which are heated up and then formed to your feet while you step on a pressure-sensitive pad. The result is an insole molded specifically to your feet, and I was very excited!
During this process, I learned several new things about my feet. I’ve had my gate analyzed before while running on a treadmill, so I already knew that I over-pronated. However, several other things surprised me.
1. My left foot is a half size bigger than my right foot. I had always intuitively known this, but had never had it confirmed.
2. I have rather high arches. This is not something I had ever given much thought to before, but after seeing the thermal images, it was quite clear. The extra effort I need to exert in order to even out my foot falls most likely contributes to some of my tendentious issues in my left leg as well.
3. I should probably be wearing a size 12.5 shoe. What?! I’ve been buying and running in a size 12 shoe from the beginning. How could this be? As it turns out, the fact that my left foot is bigger means I’m probably not giving myself enough room, and there is a good chance this is contributing to the issues I’ve had with my left leg.
After trying on a few pairs of shoes, including the Mizuno Wave Inspire 8, the Asics GT-2000, and the Nike Zoom Structure+ 16, I was convinced of my new size (I still like the fit of my Wave Elixir 7’s more though). The custom insoles provided a completely different feel to my feet, and the added arch support felt quite strange after so many years without. I was sold on the analysis, and I purchased the insoles with a great deal of excitement. The $80 pricetag was perhaps a bit steep, but if they last the 1.5-2 years they are supposed to, then they are going to be well-worth the investment.
Unfortunately, prior to my trip, I had ordered two new pairs of shoes that I had found at a significant discount, in a size 12, of course. I’ve run in the Salomon Crossmax Guidance CS already, so there is no turning back there. However, the fresh pair of size 12 Mizuno Wave Elixir 7’s I have can still be returned for a larger size. I am constantly amazed by how much I’ve learned about my body and my running throughout this journey, and how much I still have to learn. I truly won’t take anything for granted- even my shoe size!