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Finding The Best Shoe For You

Reflect for a moment that running all boils down to those few inches and fractions of a second when your running shoe is in contact with the ground! All your speed and power is rooted right there. All your balance. All your posture, style, and most important, injury prevention. You do a lot to stay healthy and strong, and when you're wearing the right running shoes, it all works together and everything clicks.

That's why we bring you two running shoe reviews each year. Spring and fall -- the times when our readers traditionally review their training and what shoes they're wearing to help them run better as a new season comes along.

With more good shoes than ever being offered, it is easier to find the perfect shoe for you, and harder to narrow the field down. New technology is exciting, new cosmetics can be appealing, even just a hot new model name can lure the unwary. With mall stores offering great-looking shoes for as little as $25, and running shoe companies offering shoes with springs, it can get a little confusing.

But, it is so important. The difference in the right shoe and the wrong shoe can be reflected in factors as major as an injury, as minor (but still important to you) as frustratingly slower times.

This year, we want to help you make your best shoe selection yet. To this end, our shoe guru, Cregg Weinmann, running product reviewer for The Running Network, has put hours of research and thought into the pages that follow. And not just for this issue, reviewing shoes is Cregg's year-round occupation and avocation. Make no mistake. For serious, no-holds-barred, expert advice, there is no one writing better stuff than Cregg, and no place better to bring it to you than the magazine you are now reading. Especially when you couple our advice with the recommendations from your own local running shoe store.

Take this section with you--don't be shy. A good running shoe store will welcome it. A couple of shops have even volunteered to share some of their own thoughts with us. "The right support should be the most important thing in shoe selection--I know it is for us. Unfortunately, fashion can dictate, and terms like 'cushioning' sound good, so people can be led by advertising and whims to make the wrong shoe selection," observes Curt Munson of the Playmakers stores of Okemos, Mich. "We continue to see problems with over-engineered shoes, especially too much cushioning." But he's optimistic: "the true running companies are presenting their best lines in years, especially in the areas of better support (pronation control) and more width selections."

Ty Whitten of Super Jock 'n Jill in Seattle agrees. "A lot of companies have brought forward new technologies in the last few years, but now they seem to be realizing that simpler shoes can be better. I find this to be especially true in new midsole designs; they are engineered less for external appearance and more for function. The result is midsoles which are less stiff, especially in the lateral motions. This is a big, big help in pronation control."

Ty also likes the fact that, "companies now are evolving shoes instead of replacing and reinventing now may have a 12-18 month cycle, with small changes along the way. This may not be as exciting as a flashy new name and new styles, but runners will really appreciate it." And, we add, writers like Cregg Weinmann will know about it and share the news with you.

A couple of last-minute fitting tips, gleaned from the Fall Shoe Review, are well worth repeating. After you've selected the best models for you, get your final fitting for size at the end of the day or after a run, when your feet are at their biggest. And, be sure that they fit equally well on both feet--what's just a little too tight on the right foot, for instance, may be significantly too small on the left!

So, armed with this running shoe review, head on out there! Have fun. Running shops are a great place to hang out. Take your time, chat it up with the clerks, get your best shoe yet.

Written by: Martin Rudow