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Marathon Training Program:
Choosing the Right Shoes

I'm often asked to recommend the "best" brand of shoes (e.g., Nike, Brooks, New Balance, etc.) for runners I coach. However, there is no one best brand. Rather, there are three selection considerations when purchasing a running shoe to meet one's biomechanical needs. The first consideration involves what foot type the runner has (high arch, flat foot, or normal arch). Next, it's important to analyze the runner's foot strike (heel striker, forefoot striker or mid-foot striker) and stride pattern (pronater, supinater, or neutral). It is beyond the scope of this web site to discuss in depth information regarding running biomechanics and the features of specific running shoes. The information presented below is general in nature. For more information, consult the numerous texts or magazine articles related to shoe selection or visit your local specialty running store. For those runners residing in Charleston, S.C., Patt and Mike Loggins of "The Extra Mile" have lots of experience matching the correct shoes to your foot type and running needs.

The staff of a specialty running store can assist you in selecting the appropriate shoe model that meets your biomechanical needs.Considerations for Selecting Running Shoes
  • Purchase running shoes from a specialty store or from someone knowledgeable about matching the correct type of running shoes based on your foot type and stride pattern.
  • Try on shoes later in the day when your feet have swelled to their maximum size.
  • In selecting the correct size of shoe you need, be sure that there is approximately a half-inch of space between the front of the shoe and your longest toe.
  • Bring to the store where you plan to purchase your new running shoes the type of socks you normally run in.
  • Analyze the need to purchase running shoes based on the number of miles your old pair has on them. Do not base your need for new shoes by observing how much tread remains on the outer sole. The mid-sole of many running shoes break down at 400 miles (or earlier depending on a number of factors) and offers little or no protection after that period of time. It is important to keep in mind that running shoes provide the first line of defense against the potential of injury.
  • Consider purchasing two pairs of running shoes. Flip-flopping their use every other day increases the life expectancy of each pair.
  • Purchase a new pair of shoes that you will use during the actual event approximately four to six weeks prior to the marathon. These shoes should be the same model that you've found works well for you during your long runs. The key point here is to have sufficient time to break the new pair in (by logging 60-70 miles including one long run) prior to your race.
Care of Running Shoes
  • Wear your running shoes only for running. They will last much longer if you follow this important guideline.
  • Do not machine wash or dry your running shoes. If your shoes become dirty, hand wash them with commercial shoe care products.
  • When your running shoes become wet, stick bundled up newspaper inside to accelerate the drying time.

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