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April 25, 2009 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Help choosing a good women's walking/running shoe?

After way too long recovering from injuries and losing all my conditioning, I am ready to get my show back on the road. But I need a shoe to help get me there. I don't think the $100+ running shoes I used to wear are necessary at this point since for the next 6 months or so I'll be doing more walking than running (I'd say a 70/30 split).

I used to adore New Balance 856 (now out of production) and switched up to 857 (also out of production) so suggestions are welcome. I need to accommodate custom orthotics as well, so I will have to remove whatever inner liner the shoes come with.

I have access to all the major stores as well as a fantastic specialty running store so no worries there. Thanks!!
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Most running stores now have a walking section with shoes for walkers, if you want to consider yourself a walker for now as you build up your strength again. But honestly, I think going to the running store and finding a shoe that works for your foot is the best thing you can do, especially if you've had injuries. There's no point in buying a crappy shoe that could hurt you, particularly if you pronate (which I'm assuming you do because of your NB model) or if your feet are bad enough that you need orthotics.

Also, I think the New Balances replace each other numerically. I think I have 858s, which are from last year, so if you want the NBs, look for those or possibly 859s.
posted by pised at 8:20 AM on April 25, 2009

Not exactly an endorsement for any specific shoe, but keep in mind the following article when you shop around:

The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money?

You might want to look at Nike's Free line of shoes (formerly)
posted by mathiu at 9:01 AM on April 25, 2009

Best answer: Go to a custom running store and have them fit you for it. Whether you're running or walking makes little difference. And I would be comfortable with spending $100 on a shoe--they're your feet, and they get you where you want to go, and life with bad feet (as you know) is painful and not much fun. But 6 months on a shoe is too long. They need to be changed every 300 miles or so. You'll know--it's just like when you know contacts need changing, or your fingernails need cutting.

Also bear in mind that shoes come in different "classes" based on how your arch pronates. (The running store should mention this.) Therefore, they have their own custom built-in system. Is the orthodic rigid (and how rigid-- 3/4 rigid? or all rigid?)? Or soft? If I were fitting you, I would probably recommend that you try the shoe without the orthodic first, because I'd probably put you in a Stability or Motion Control shoe, depending on your weight and how extensive your injuries were, as well as your arch pronation. So these two classes of shoe will already have built in support, which kinda negates the orthodic.

Some good Stability shoes:
Nike Triax --has a nice cushion on the ball of the foot
Asics Kayano
Asics 2140
Mizuno Nirvana
Adidas Supernova
Adidas AdiStar
Brooks Adrenaline
Brooks Trance

Motion Control:
Asics Evolution
Mizuno Alchemy
Adidas AdiStar
Brooks Addiction (also comes in a walker / leather version)

But get thee to a running store and try them on. Running stores have seen it all, and with past injuries, you need to see somewhat at least familiar with the biomechanics of the foot.
posted by Dukat at 9:09 AM on April 25, 2009

I always find Dr. Pribut's running shoe list helpful. He also has useful tips and techniques about fitness walking, how to avoid injuries, and long run training. Best of luck with your shoe choice.
posted by netbros at 9:44 AM on April 25, 2009

> The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money?

I've just skimmed the article a bit, but I can say that getting some proper running shoes did help me. I ran on sneaker-y shoes, kind of the closest thing to being barefoot without actually being barefoot: thin sole, thin everything. I seriously overstressed some leg muscle in my right calf. Then I got some shoes which support my feet a bit and I've never had a problem with that muscle since.

I probably run in some non-optimal form, and I could most likely train myself to run barefoot without hurting my legs, but it would probably take quite a lot of time and effort, and the shoes just work.
posted by bjrn at 9:55 AM on April 25, 2009

I just want to comment that the "Painful Truth About Trainers" article is from the Daily Mail, which is sort of a cross between USA Today and The National Enquirer. I would take anything you read there with a generous handful of salt.
posted by apricot at 6:34 PM on April 25, 2009

Running and Walking shoes are built differently for a series of reasons (mind, none of these will kill you or your feet, but since you are spending money anyway, what's wrong in knowing the details and picking what has been engineered for you):

1) when you walk, you apply your bodyweight on your feet - when you run you apply as much as 3-4 times your body weight, thus you need more cushioning for running or a lower heel for walking

2) when you walk you land on your heel much further behind that you would when running - and at a different angle. Good walking shoes have a beveled heel to encourage the natural movement

3) the toes lift off at different angles in running and walking. That's why for walking you need deeper flex grooves: a walking shoe needs to flex more in the toe rather than a running shoe - so that you can comfortably finish the roll of your foot off the ground.

This said - if you are going to do more walking than running you might consider speedwalking (or powerwalking) shoes - look into asics and new balance.

We haven't touched walking shoes yet (but they're coming) but our website Running Shoes Guru has loads of running shoes reviews as well as general buying tips.

Last, about the barefoot vs running shoes dispute: we do recommend running barefoot once in a while and we agree on all the benefits of it. But at the same time whoever tells you that "men weren't built to run with running shoes" maybe forgets that "men didn't run so much on concrete before". And people sometimes tend to forget that the very first man who run a marathon (from Marathon to Athens) died upon arrival. We thrive to achieve more than what men were designed for - we need some help.
posted by madeinitaly at 4:58 AM on April 26, 2009

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