Today, instead of studying managerial accounting, I bought my third pair of Mizuno sneakers, the Wave Alchemy 9, I’ve been wearing the same style since I got my first pair. Spring is coming, which means running outside, and it was time for some new ones. You’re supposed to replace your sneakers every 300 to 400 miles, and I’ve had mine for about a year and a half. Even if you’re not a huge runner, every year is a good rule of thumb. The treads on the bottom wear out, and the midsole (the part which provides the actual cushioning) wears out before the treads, so the wear and tear of the treads is not actually the best way to judge. By the time the treads are dead, the midsole has decomposed (if we’re talking in death terms).

Mizuno you say? Who wears those? Well, I was introduced to the brand when I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC three years ago. I had been training in some Nike’s that were voted the “most popular running shoe” that year, which is why I’d bought them, but boy they were not right for my feet. If you are just running a few miles a week, it doesn’t matter too much what sneakers you are wearing in terms of feeling it in your feet, but when you are pounding the pavement in distance training mode, things start to get hurty. Oddly, my arches were hurting, which made my Achilles hurt, which made my calves hurt. NOT GOOD.

So, at the urging of a good friend (well more like she yelled at me for 5 minutes about how much I was killing my body) who’d done a marathon before, I went to a running specialty store in DC, told them my issue, that I was running a big race, and that I needed some sneakers to take me 26.2 miles (and train in until the race). They watched me run, talked about my arches with me, and gave me a bunch to try on. I finally settled on a pair of Mizuno’s, the Wave Alchemy 7, a stability running shoe. Yeah, who knew, but different feet need different shoes. Stability is for people with a normal arch, and overpronation, about 85% of the population.

Now, what the heck does that mean? Well, overpornation  is the excessive inward rolling motion of the foot. When an overpronator’s foot hits the ground, the foot rolls inward (pronates) to absorb shock, but continues to pronate past a point that is considered healthy.  Then, when the foot goes into the push-off phase and the foot is still in a overpronated position, it places a great deal of strain on the ankle, lower leg, knee, and lower back. For more info, check out this site.

So, you may ask, how in the world can you figure out what kind of runner you are? By going to a specialty store, not Foot Locker please, at a good store they can figure out what kind of runner you are and what shoes you need! Plus, it’s always good to shop local. In DC I went to Pacers, and now in Boston I go to Marathon Sports. Runner’s World has a great directory of stores no matter where you live! You don’t need to be running a big race to get a good pair of shoes, everyone should have the right ones for their gait, don’t wait (ohh poet).

Now back to Mizuno’s. It’s a Japanese brand, started in 1906 in Osaka. At first they sold baseball equipment, then got into skis, and golf clubs. It wasn’t until 1980 that they even started selling their sneakers in the US, but they sure know what they are doing. They make a full line, for all types of runners, and they look pretty spiffy too! The styles also don’t drastically change each year, for me, the style name has been the same since I got my first pair, but each year is slightly improved. Everyone’s foot is different, Mizuno’s might not be right for you, but give them a try, you’ll be pleased!

Also, I wear superfeet insoles (the green ones) in my shoes, if you are going to be doing a lot of mileage I recommend them. They help with shock absorbtion (in laymen’s terms, when you hit the pavement your foot vibrates, hence shock, you don’t want that), and they make your shoes less cushy. Most people think the cushier the better, but it’s actually the cushier the worse when you are running, you need support, cushion is good, but you don’t want to be squeegeing don’t the street, bad for your body, especially your back! Just go to the superfeet site, they’ll tell you all about it!

Happy jogging/walking/sprinting/running!