Running and Walking Shoes, Pt. 2: Choosing Shoes

The Process of Evolving into the Correct Shoe

Posted by Katherine Dreyer on Thu Aug 16th, 2007, No comments (be the first!)

See Running and Walking Shoes, Pt. 1: Intelligent Feet

The Process of Evolving into the Correct Shoe
Whether you’re a walker or a runner, there are several factors in choosing a shoe:

Your BMI (Body Mass Index):
Your Body Mass Index is a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. If you have a high BMI, the additional weight you are carrying may require that you get more support for your feet, until you lower your BMI. Use our BMI Calculator to check yours.

Your Chi Running or Chi Walking skill level:
As you improve your Chi Walking or Chi Running technique, you will need more flexibility and less support and structure in your shoe.

Distance you are running or walking:
For longer distance running and walking such as a half-marathon or marathon, you want to make sure your shoe will remain supportive for the entire distance.

The running shoe I wear is the New Balance 790. It’s being sold as a trail racing flat. It’s flexible and lightweight, and the mid-sole is filled in, making it the ideal shoe for midfoot contact with the ground. The shoe is built low to the ground with little more cushioning in the heel than in the forefoot. If you’re still in the beginning stages of learning your Chi Running or Chi Walking technique, it might not be enough of a shoe for daily training, but it's a good, neutral, low-profile shoe to work towards. This is a good example of the shoe you will end up with if you follow Gradual Progress and continue to increase the lightness of your footstep.

Here are some of the general categories of running and walking shoes: Motion Control, Stability, Lightweight, Cushioning and Trail shoes would all fall under "training shoes". A motion control shoe is always a stability shoe, but a shoe can be a stability shoe without being motion-control shoe, meaning that it’s made to stabilize your foot, but not necessarily correct for any structural abnormalities. Basically, motion-control shoes are the most extreme version of a "stability” shoe and work to correct for pronation. Those shoes which are lighter-weight and more minimal in structure are “racing shoes” or “flats” because they have very little thickness in the heel.

Start with the shoe you currently feel best in, and if you’re practicing Chi Walking or Chi Running, plan on reducing the amount of structure in your shoe to the next, lesser level of structure, at your next purchase.

If you don’t have a favorite shoe, here are some things to look for in a good pair of shoes (or go to page 165-169 in the Chi Running book or page 69 in the Chi Walking book).

Comfort and Width – First and foremost, your shoes need to feel comfortable. If they don’t feel like a great pair of bedroom slippers, like you could sleep in them, look for another pair. Don’t be afraid to buy a half size larger if your feet feel cramped in any way. Plenty of width and room allow your feet to feel the ground and helps the blood circulation in your feet. As a side note, you should never wear your shoes with tightened laces, as this will restrict the blood flow and flexibility of your feet.

Lightweight and Flexible – In Chi Walking and Chi Running you’ll also be looking for a lighter-weight, very flexible shoe. Again, you don’t want to reduce the structure and support of your shoes too quickly, but you will be progressing toward a more minimal shoe as your technique improves.

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A Chi Running Love Letter

Frank and I attended the week long Chi Running program in June. We have been diligently practicing our Chi Running form and are loving it. 

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