You will purchase nothing more important to your running than the shoes that will accompany you as you log mile after mile on your way to a successful triathlon. The right choice will enhance your running and help you improve as you train. The wrong choice could put you on the sidelines with an injury.
Nonrunners tend to think of all athletic footwear as “tennis shoes” or “sneakers.” Don't even think about anything for your run training except actual running shoes. You can find them in many places, but your best bet for getting what you need is a store that specializes in running gear. You can buy running shoes from a mall retailer, but it is less likely that the person who sells you the shoes will have the kind of knowledge you need to assure a good fit.
Expect to spend $80 to $100 or more for a good pair of running shoes, but don't make your decision based on price. You should not skimp in this area. The type of shoe you need will depend on your size, gait, and what you intend to do with the shoes. Most running shoes are designed for training, but there are lighter shoes available for racing.
Pronation is the inward motion of the leg during running that provides a natural cushioning function. Some runners, especially those with flat feet, pronate too much, which usually results in knee problems. These runners need shoes that provide stability. Severe overpronators need motion-control shoes or specially made orthotics.
Most shoes generally fit into one of three categories: neutral, stability, and motion control. Runners with naturally good biomechanics go for neutral shoes. Others need varying degrees of correction in their gaits. There are even models made just for heavier runners, who tend to wear out shoes more quickly.
Many experts believe that two pairs of shoes alternated in training will last as long as three pairs used consecutively. If you buy two pairs, pick different brands of the same style. The subtle differences will give your leg muscles some needed variety.
If you visit a store that specializes in running, the staff will take the time to evaluate your running style and will offer choices among shoes that meet your needs. If you run off-road more than just occasionally, you probably should invest in a pair of trail shoes. The soles are usually equipped with lugs for better traction on trails.
Shoe manufacturers often change their models with updates and redesigns. If you find a running shoe that really works well for you, consider buying more than one pair at a time. That will save some time if the next incarnation of your favorite running shoe no longer works for you. In any case, finding the right shoe might take some experimentation.
Dress for Success
You need more than good running shoes for your regular workouts, and you should look for apparel specifically designed for the sport. A key issue is the fabric, and your choice should never be cotton. Look for material that wicks perspiration away from your body, which is the standard now.
When you dress for your run, especially if the weather is warm, use light-colored, loose-fitting T-shirts and singlets (which look like tank tops). Shorts made for running almost always have key pockets, and some come with mesh pockets in the back for storing energy bars or gels.
Look for socks designed for running. Again, avoid cotton, which holds perspiration. Good running socks, some with double layers, can help prevent blisters.
If you will be training during cold weather, be sure you have a good pair of gloves, and wear a hat. You lose a lot of heat through your head, so covering it will help keep you comfortable.
Good running shoes come with reflective material to help keep you visible as you run in the dark. You can also find vests with reflective strips, or you could consider wearing a belt with a flashing light. Whatever you do, make it easy for drivers to spot you when the sun isn't shining.
For your long training runs in warm weather, you will need plenty of fluids, so you should invest in a belt with a pouch to carry your water bottle. Many have pockets to hold your car keys and gels.