In search of the perfect sneaker

What should you look for in a running shoe, and does it really matter? Pacers in Alexandria would say yes.

Photo courtesy of Yuliachupina/Adobe Stock

I typically select my running shoes on based on two factors only: price and trendiness. But recently, I popped into Pacers to see just how helpful a personalized foot analysis might be. Here’s what I learned.

• They let you borrow clean socks when you have none of your own.
• Once you have your socks on, they have you walk around the room to examine your gait. This is a little awkward because you’re usually not thinking about how you walk when you’re walking.
• They then measure your feet, using that tried-and-true metal contraption. I was surprised to learn my feet are a half-size larger than I’d thought, and that in itself made the trip worthwhile.
• At this point, you get to pick out some shoes. Disregard price and pick out the most attractive pair. Put them on, and you’ll arrive at the most exciting part of the consultation.
• The run: Using either the in-store treadmill or the nearby sidewalk, you run for about 30 seconds while the Pacers clerk stares at your feet. Again, this is a tad awkward, but anything for the cause.
• As you head back to the try-on bench, the clerk issues your report, having observed your stride, arches, speed and whatever other runner-y stuff he or she is looking for. (I learned that you don’t want your arches to roll in or out too much but to stay fairly straight.) You’re advised on what pair would be best for your feet.

In the final analysis, I now know my shoe size, arch tendencies, comfort preferences and the exact pair of shoes I want when I have the cash.

(July 2017 Outdoor Fun Guide)