Before you hit the races, check those shoes

Libby Brooks, 22, of Sutton tries on a pair of shoes at Runner’s Alley last week. It’s one of a few places in town where you can get some great advice for new running shoes.
Libby Brooks, 22, of Sutton tries on a pair of shoes at Runner’s Alley last week. It’s one of a few places in town where you can get some great advice for new running shoes.

Maybe it was the mass of runners crossing the finish line during last month’s Boston Marathon.

Or maybe it’s the warm weather that has you dusting off those old sneakers, considering a short jog for the first time in months.

Whatever your motivation, you may want to give those shoes a quick inspection before lacing them up and heading outdoors for that long-awaited run.

Are the soles under your heel crushed? Are the outer soles warn so badly that the midsole is exposed? Is there any tread remaining whatsoever?

According to Runner’s World magazine, people who run about 25 miles per week – a little more than a 5K every day – should replace their shoes at least three times a year. In other words, if you’ve got more than 400 miles on those sneakers, it’s probably time for an upgrade.

Luckily for us runners, Concord has plenty of retailers – both small and large – to help you through the process of finding the perfect shoe.

Located just a few strides from the State House in the heart of downtown is the newest of three Runner’s Alley locations. The Concord store opened in the spring of 2014 – complementing the business’s Manchester and Portsmouth locations – and has built a loyal following of customers since through strong customer service and its various running groups and training programs.

Runner’s Alley carries all the classic brands like Nike, Adidas, New Balance and Saucony, as well as some more abstract makes like Hoka One One, On and Topo Athletic. But what really separates Runner’s Alley from the pack is its trademark “gait analysis” of shoe fitting.

In order to point you in the direction of the best shoe for you, Runner’s Alley staff will likely have you jog barefoot through the store to get a look at your form, and the shape of your arches. With this information, their staff can better recommend a width and support structure best suited for you.

“We really take the time to find the right fit for you,” said David Speidel, during a break between helping customers. “As runners, we can make recommendations based on what works for us, as well as feed back from other runners.”

A quick jog down North Main Street is Joe King’s Shoe Shop. And while not specifically geared toward runners, the store has plenty of options – as well as a supportive group of staffers – to get you back outside pounding the pavement or trails.

Like Runner’s Alley, Joe King’s also has a good balance of conventional running shoe brands like Adidas, Asics, New Balance and Saucony, and lesser-known makes like Aetrex, Brooks, Five Fingers and Hoka One One.

“We have customers come in each and every year to purchase running shoes,” said Branden McCoo, an employee at Joe King’s. “The best part about Concord is how active a running community it is.”

But wait, there’s more. There’s also Dicks Sporting Goods on Loudon Road. If you’re the kind of person who knows what you want and doesn’t need the guidance of someone as passionate about the sport as you are, a big-chain retailer may be the perfect option.

Dick’s is a licensed retailer of household brand names like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Under Armour and Skechers, and also carries more runner-specific makes like Asics, New Balance and Saucony. A store that size will likely always have the perfect fit for you in stock, but if not – unlike the aforementioned retailers – Dicks Sporting Goods offers online shopping.

So if you finished cleaning those shoes and realize you failed that inspection, rather than risk injury and head out in worn sneakers, give a visit to the local retailer that best fits your needs.

Heck, maybe consider buying two, or even three pairs – it could save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Author: Michael Pezone / Monitor staff

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