My ten mile training walk this weekend was fantastic, and owed in no small part to the wonderful shoe fitting I had this week, and the recommendations that led me to choose a brand I'd never tried before.
Since I wanted these shoes for both running and walking--and long distance use--I had to look a little harder than just the cute ones in the color I liked at the local TJ Maxx. I've been running more often (one of my New Years Resolutions was to run a 5k), but I'm also training for the Charlotte NC Avon Walk For Breast Cancer. Not many shoes are good for both.
A running shoe should be lightweight, but not TOO minimalistic, or you can end up with stress injuries. Depending on what running style you subscribe to, you may try to avoid a heel strike, which is easier to do when the heel portion of the shoe's sole isn't huge and built-up for stability. The ultimate shoe for midfoot striking is probably the Newton shoe, which has a very thin sole under the heel, but is fairly thick, with specific shock absorbers through the midfoot. You can't help but have a midfoot strike in those shoes. (Be aware, though, when you change running shoes that drastically, you adjust your running style, and it'll make different muscles work harder. You'll feel it the next day, so don't jump into it casually--do some research before you do this.)
A walking shoe is going to be substantially heavier, with more stability, and a more built-up heel. When we walk, we have a pronounced heel strike. This is very different from the evolutionary way we were meant to run: with no heel strike. Now, the finer points of that statement could be debated for hours, and this blog post is not the place for it! The end result is that no matter what, when we walk, we need some support under our heels for shock absorption, especially if you're going to be walking FORTY MILES like I plan to.
Thankfully, with some help from a shoe expert at SWIM BIKE RUN in Statesboro, I was introduced to a pair of Pearl Izumi shoes, and I have a feeling this is the start of a beautiful friendship. The technology behind these shoes is very cool, with different durometers (hardnesses) throughout the sole, cushion where you need it, seamless inside, and a very slight rocker bottom to aid in your forward momentum. And I even liked the color. :)
Now, don't take this as a blanket recommendation for everyone to run out and buy a pair of these. My feet tend to be very balanced, with no over-pronation or under-pronation (otherwise known as supination), and I have decent arches. These particular shoes are neutral, which is why they work nicely for me. If you have any deviation from a "neutral" foot type (which is quite common), you'll want a shoe that accommodates that deviation. Find a shoe store and get a proper fitting, or see your podiatrist for a gait analysis exam.
And lastly, if you're so inclined, we're still accepting donations that benefit the fight against breast cancer! My 40-mile event is the last weekend in October, and all proceeds help provide free mammograms, fund educational programs, and accelerate research into new treatments and potential cures. Every little bit helps, and no donation is too small! Thank you for your support!