Shoe Guy: Fit Specialist Philosophy

Shoe Guy rambles on…

It takes more than a Google search to find the running shoes that are best for you. That’s right. There’s actually something that Google can’t do.

Digital sacrilege, I know, but go ahead and give it a shot. Enter “running shoes” into the search field and watch Dr. Google rock.

So, what did you get, maybe 70 or 80 million hits in less than 1.1 seconds? Okay, now try “best running shoes” and see what happens. More like 180 million hits in .67 seconds, right? So much for narrowing the search.

But confirmation that there’s a lot of B.S. on the web, yes. Either way, that’s a lot of raw data to sort through if all you want to do is find a good pair of shoes to slap on your feet and get in a few miles of healthy sweat.

It’s much easier, not to mention much less confusing, to walk into Fleet Feet and ask a simple question: I need a new pair of running shoes. What do you recommend? One of our Fleet Feet Fit Specialist will take it from there.

We start with your feet. Radical, I know, but they take the brunt of the punishment when you run, so it makes sense to show them a little respect up front. We measure their width, arch length, toe length, and then assess their structure and shape. We also look for trouble spots like calluses, redness, bunions, damaged toenails, or any of other sign of wear and tear that can be addressed with better fitting shoes.

Then we watch your feet at work, maybe just walking a few yards barefoot to see how well they adapt to the ground as they land and then transform into a rigid lever to propel you forward into the next step. That little gait pattern drama happens with every step, whether walking or running, from initial touchdown to final push-off.

Maybe we could plug all this data into Madam Google and get another billion or so hits, but instead we simply mentally process it while heading to the backroom to search our inventory for shoes that will fit well and perform well. It takes us a bit more than 1.1 seconds, but how nice to end up with three strong contenders to try on rather than 70 billion websites to visit (69.999 billion of which are full of worthless gobbledygook that doesn’t relate at all to your individual running shoe needs).

Then we assist you with trying on each pair and giving them a go out on the sidewalk. While you think about how the shoes fit and feel, we observe how well they work with your feet. Do the shoes and the feet move together in a reasonably efficient manner, or do they appear to be arguing with each foot strike? Chances are after a few try-ons and several trips up and down the sidewalk with some conversation between each trip, you and the Fit Specialist will settle on the near perfect pair.

Near perfect, you ask? Why not totally perfect? Well, just as your feet aren’t perfect, the shoes that will serve them the best will not be perfect on mile one either. Shoes and feet will spend a brief honeymoon getting to know each other well enough to have a long happy life together. Yep, kind of like a good marriage, some matches will be more perfect than others, but all should be good enough to work things out.

What about all that pronation, supination, midfoot-heel-forefoot strike stuff that popped up in millions of those internet hits? Yes, we used to include some of that stuff in our assessment protocol, but we’ve learned there’s more to finding good shoes than trying to slap a label and maybe a footwear technology on each stage of the running gait.

And yes, some folks still embrace an assortment of urban myths to promote their particular view of what feet and shoes should or should not do, such as everybody needs big time stability to support their feet, or no, everybody needs super flexible, razor thin outsoles in order to run “naturally” and “and make their feet stronger.” While these self-described experts scurry about deep in the darkest corners of the internet, with no real name, no physical address, and no accountability for what they promote or condemn, not one of them is standing in front of you.

Your Fleet Feet Fit Specialist, on the other hand, is always available in-person to fit your new shoes, just as he or she will be there for you a few miles down the road if something unforeseen emerges. We don’t just sell shoes --- we fit your life and your lifestyle. We are passionate about your fitness success and we won’t rest until we fit your needs. We don’t cross our finish line until you cross yours.

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