Manic Monday ~ A True Fit (Running Shoe)

I always wore a size 9.5 athletic shoe in high school. I suppose my still-developing brain thought I was "officially" done growing. So for four years of high school and four years of college I squeezed into that size. Did you notice I said "squeezed?" Yep, I was like Cinderella's step-sister who was determined to get my foot into that certain size shoe! Why? Because I didn't have much money and all the shoes I bought in the last several years were a size 9.5. To me, it would be like dumping 8 (ok maybe more) pairs of very cute shoes into the garbage with no shoes left to wear. In fact, as a young adult, it took me many hours of waitressing to buy one pair of shoes. That means many years to accumulate the array of shoes for the right occasions (walking to class, "aerobic class," running, working, social events, special occasions, and leisure). I mean, I can't wear my running shoes for my exercise class... nor could I wear my loafers to work in. I know women are a little more "caring" about what shoes they wear to what function. For heaven's sake I have witnessed many men working out in their steel toed work boots at the gym as they came in straight from work. It prompted us to post signs and rules to only allow athletic (toes covered.... Yes there are some athletic open toed shoes.) shoes in the exercise and weight areas. But, as a woman, I can say shoes matter.

Fast forward 10 years to the birth of my first child. I experienced extreme swelling. I HAD to buy a pair of shoes a half size larger then what I was squeezing into. And from that point on, I knew my feet were bigger and I stuck with that size 10. However, even though that size was very comfortable when I tried it on and walked around, I ignorantly ignored the fact that in all actuality it was too small....for an exerciser! Shoes are rarely like compression clothes. At least compression clothing has Lycra that allows the fabric to stretch a little when you move. Shoes have flexibility, but have to also support the foot. The real sign that my athletic shoes were too small was the fact that my toes and toenails would bruise after a good long run. I managed to "live" with it for years thinking it was just because I ran hard. It wasn't until I ordered the wrong pair of shoes online. I must have entered 11 instead of 10 by accident (who knows)! I was super disappointed to receive them because I was eager to get into my new shoes AND I hate the hassle of shipping returns. So, I put those shoes on and tried them out..... And..... At first they seemed as if I had too much shoe for my foot, BUT as soon as I took a run in them it was pure comfort. The next week I wore those shoes for a long run and to my shock...NO bruising! In retrospect, my previous shoe size was fine for everything except for exercise and running. So now I wear a size 10 everyday and a size 11 for running. Who knew?

If you are unsure of your correct exercise shoe size, try two sizes when looking for shoes. Also an awesome store to check out is Running Wild in Davenport, Iowa. Their staff has expertise in measuring your correct athletic shoes. They can even assess your stride and recognize the way your foot lands to find the correct foot support for each type of foot stride.

Have happy feet (and a great week)!

~Rachel Zimmerman

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