New shoes

I know I told you awhile back about how I’m so thankful that my two greatest hobbies – cooking/eating & working out – go together so nicely.  I really hate the feeling when I realize those two hobbies have become unbalanced.  Recently my left knee has been giving me enough pain that I very consciously have had to say no to working out (or at least to the level of activity that I would hope to be doing.)  It’s meant no running and on days like last Thursday, no gym.  😦

The most frustrating part is that I have no idea what went wrong or how I became injured in the first place.  I can pinpoint a run I went on in Michigan over Christmas break as being a time when I noticed a lot of pain, but unfortunately kept pushing myself and probably made things much worse than they needed to be.  When I really stop to think, though, it goes back to a time at the gym a year or so ago when I was on a stationary bicycle and had to stop mid-workout because I was in such pain.

Kyle did some online research for me and decided that I need to be stretching my IT band muscles to begin to make amends in my body.  So, we researched a little further to find some stretches that would do just that and I’ve done them on 2 or 3 occasions.  I honestly can’t tell if it’s the right type of stretching or not.  I’m thinking if it doesn’t help (or it makes things feel even worse) I’ll probably be calling up a physical therapist in the near future.

In the meantime, one of the other things we realized I have quite a bit of control over is making sure I’m wearing the right shoes when I work out.  Kyle and I usually shop at your average sports store to get our athletic shoes and mainly choose our shoes without the help of a salesperson based on our personal brand preferences, how cool the shoe looks, the price, and then of course, that “little” factor of how they feel when you put them on.  Needless to say, I think I go through shoes about once every six months, but could really be replacing them much sooner than that because they’re not the best  quality.

So, as one of my birthday presents, Kyle got me a gift certification to Super Jock n’ Jill, one of our local athletic stores devoted mostly to running and walking.  They are well known for helping you select appropriate athletic shoes for your needs.  Think personal shopper and gives you a glimpse into what it feels like to be a customer there.  Your “salesperson” is acting like a personal shopper to get you the best shoe for your needs.

We went in this afternoon and I walked out smiling from ear to ear and being super chatty about what a positive and worthwhile experience it was (and thanking Kyle profusely for my gift certificate because it’s not something I ever would have done on my own accord.)

When I walked in, one of the sales people greeted me and immediately got me into a pair of “diagnostic shoes”.  Then he had me walk and jog down the short length of  the store so he could watch my pronation.  Based on his observation, he thought I would be a person who would benefit from a medium level of support from my shoes so he brought out a handful of options for me to try.

One of my favorite things about the whole experience is that the salesperson did all the choosing.  He was using his knowledge of how the shoes are made and the kind of support they provide in order to try to fit me with the best option for my needs.  He would have me put different shoes on each foot and then go outside and try walking/running in them so I could figure out which one I liked better.  Based on my preference, I would keep my preferred shoe on and tried another one on the other foot.  Eventually, we got down to the point of having the matched pair of my preferred shoes on to make sure it was a good fit.

I had this thought afterwards about how opposite this experience is to your typical shoe shopping experience.  Typically, we walk into a shoe store and go for the shoes that look the coolest to us.  Then, based on appearance, we decide to try them on and if they feel good, we buy them.  Shopping for shoes today was exactly the opposite.  We shopped solely by the way they felt.  There was absolutely no thought about what the shoes looked like.  They’re blue and your favorite color is red – who cares?  They’re mesh and you prefer something more solid – oh well!  The ONLY thing that mattered was what they felt like when they were on your feet and you were walking or running in them.  (And to be honest – it wouldn’t have really mattered which shoe I ended up with because they all looked cool in that sporty way.)  🙂

It was really obvious that the salesperson isn’t there to sell you the most expensive or most trendy shoes.  Like I described earlier, his job is to be more like a personal shopper find the best match for each of his customers.  They also have an awesome guarantee that if you get your shoes home and start wearing them and you discover that they’re just not working out, you can bring them back – no matter how dirty they are – and they’ll work to get you fitted with something better.

I guess all I’m saying is that I walked away feeling really satisfied with my purchase.  It felt like a really well thought-out purchase that had my best interests in mind.

While I know that my shoes can’t be the sole cause of my knee pain when exercising, I feel pretty good knowing that what I have now is far more superior than my last pair of shoes.  I think I instantaneously become a strong supporter of shopping in stores like Jock n’ Jill where your shoes are custom fitted to your needs.

Thanks again, Kyle, for gifting me in such a unique way.  I loved picking out my new shoes today!

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