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Trials of Miles: Coach Nick

On Running Shoes

One of the first 5 questions I ask people is: “How old are your shoes”? Inevitably, 60% of the answers are something like: “These are 5+ years old” OR “I last wore these 9 years ago”, etc.

It is very important that you have a grasp on your running shoes. I estimate that 60% of ailments that beginner runners get are caused by faulty running shoes. The shoes are too old age-wise, they are not the right ones, they have too many miles on them, etc.

Running shoes have a life – both in “shelf” and in miles. If they sit around for years in a dark closet, unused, they start getting brittle. They may look new, but will not react positively. Secondly, for average training shoes, you need to change them between the 350-400 mile mark. For track/light shoes, it is about half of that. If you wait much longer, you risk injury. One “cheat” is to simply write the date you started using the shoes on them so you could track how long you had them. Keep a running log so that you know how about how many miles are on them.

When it is time to replace, please go to a specialty running store. Do you go to a general practitioner to treat your ears? No – you go to a throat, nose and ears specialist. The same goes for your running shoes. Sorry , Foot Locker and Modell’s; this is where I am particular about things.

The specialty running store will give you a gait analysis and evaluate whether you over or under pronate; whether you are a foot or heel striker, whether you need a stability or neutral shoe – this is their specialty. Yes – you may pay a couple of dollars more – but if you can get personalized service, it is well worth it. Then, once you know what shoe fits you, then you can order replacements online.

Locally, in northern New Jersey, I recommend the Runner’s House as my favorite store. There are many others: RoadRunner Sports, New Balance, Sneaker Factory, Fleet Feet and the various Running Companies. Either way, please find one near you and have them help you – treat your feet. Many will also let you wear them and return them if they don’t work well for you within a certain amount of time.

Remember – your feet are IT when you are a runner, so take care of them!

Coach Nick has been running for over 35 years, having done practically every possible racing event or distance from the 100 meters through the marathon. He competed in varsity high school cross country and track at Saddle Brook High School in the mid-1980's, varsity cross country and track at Division II Pace University and finished well over 200 road races since then, including 20 marathons with a lifetime best of 3:14:50. He was the president of the Hoffmann LaRoche corporate running team for 7 years, growing the team from 25 to over 90 during his tenure. He coached many of these runners to achieve their goals, whether they were beginners or advanced. In 2011, he was an assistant coach for the Fair Lawn Recreation track team, helping the 10 to 14 year old group. He is currently coaching dozens of runners, from beginner levels to advanced levels and getting them to be prepared to meet their goals.

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