Cycling shoes

Nine cycling shoes ranging in price from $50 to $180 are evaluated. Information is provided on the type of cycling each shoe is best suited for. The Look AP-166 is rated highest for comfort and performance.

Riding a bike is easy–you’ve done it since you were a kid. You didn’t need special shoes back then; your Keds were just fine. But today, plain old sneakers won’t do–not if you want to make the most of your mileage.

Cleats or clips?

When you buy cycling shoes, you not only have to decide on a shoe, but on a pedal system as well. The most basic system is toe clips and conventional pedals, used with touring shoes that have stiff, flat soles (not reviewed here). Touring shoes are good if you want a shoe you can ride and walk in, but they don’t have the holding power of cleated cycling shoes and may slip out of the clip during an out-of-the-saddle sprint or steep hill climb.

For fitness training or racing, where both comfort and performance are needed, your best choice is a cleated shoe–its stiff, curved sole efficiently transfers power from your leg to the pedal and crankarm, and the cleat screwed into the sole attaches the shoe securely to the pedal.

All new balance shoes for plantar fasciitis reviewed here come with a small circular or oval cleat designed to be used with toe clips. The horizontal indentation on the cleat fits over the rear of the pedal, and the toe clip strap secures the shoe to the pedal.

This system works, but toe clips can cause pain or numbness on long rides and can be hard to get out of in an emergency. For these reasons, many serious riders have opted for clipless pedal systems. Usually purchased separately from your bike, the systems cost $90 to $200 (not including shoes). Triangular plastic cleats are included with the pedals, and attach to the three-hole pattern drilled in the bottom of the shoes (each shoe reviewed here comes with drilled holes). To engage your foot in the pedal, hook the front of the pedal under the front of the pedal and step down. The rear hinge then clicks over the back of the cleat. Turning your heel to the outside lets you click out; once you get the hang of it, it’s easier than slipping out of conventional cleats with toe clips.

Touring cyclists who want a performance shoe they can both ride and walk in can try the shoes for people with bunions and recessed-cleat pedal systems from Shimano and Time. These shoes have soles that extend a half inch beyond the cleat, so when you step on the ground you contact it cleanly.

Fit first

Because the cycling shoe’s sole must be stiff, the correct fit is vital for comfort, especially in the heel, toe box and across the ball of the foot. As far as sizing and proportion go, though, it’s still a man’s world–only Nike makes cycling shoes on a woman’s last. To find the men’s size that fits you best, subtract 1 1/2 sizes from your normal size (American sizing); you’ll need to be measured to determine the right European size.

Even if the length is right, you might have trouble with fit: Men’s feet are usually wider through the heel and the ball of the foot than women’s. That means fastening hardware may be too big, the sole may curve in the wrong place or heel counters and tongues may cut into your ankles. Lots of padding may make a wide shoe feel better, but padding absorbs energy and holds in heat, so it’s not a good solution if you want a high-performance shoe or take lots of long rides.

When you try on running shoes with arch support , wear your cycling socks. Stand up and alternately put all your weight on each foot. You shouldn’t feel any tightness across the ball of the foot. Leave enough room to wiggle your toes–feet swell during rides–but not enough to freely move them up and down or curl them; this extra play makes pedal strokes inefficient and tires your feet and legs.

If your heel isn’t snugly supported by the shoe or if your foot slides from side to side because of insufficient lateral support, blisters and cramping can develop. Try shoes out by cycling for several minutes on the store’s indoor trainer or on a test bike outside. If you have a choice among several shoes that fit well, consider a shoe with Velcro straps, which let you tighten or loosen the shoes as you ride.

Avia AC60

Best for

* RECREATIONAL RIDING

* NARROW TO AVERAGE WIDTHS

* FITNESS TRAINING

At $50, the AVIA AC60 (9.2 oz.) is a good cleated shoe for the entry-level or recreational cyclist. The well-padded heel cup accommodates narrow heels; laces offer a more adjustable fit and slip under toe clips more easily than the Velcro closures found on the other test shoes. A plastic loop snaps over the loose end of the laces, keeping them safely away from the chain’s teeth. Serious cyclists will notice the heavier weight of this shoe and may find that its synthetic leather construction causes heat discomfort on long rides.

Diadora Ergo

Best for

* RECREATIONAL RIDING

* AVERAGE TO WIDE WIDTHS

* FITNESS TRAINING

The DIADORA ERGO ($120; 11.2 oz.) uses a moldable insole and Lycra-covered foam tongue to offer a custom fit. You can wear the insole as it comes, or for $25, an authorized shoe store will take an impression of your foot, heat the hard plastic insole and shape it to fit.

The Ergo offers good lateral support for average to wide widths, and its leather/nylon mesh construction keeps most feet cool. Tow Velcro strips that extend the entire length of the closure give maximum adjustability.

Look AP-166

Best for

* FITNESS TRAINING

* NARROW TO AVERAGE WIDTHS

* RACE TRAINING

The LOOK AP-166 ($89; 8.5 oz.), drew the highest marks for comfort and performance. The shoe is cut low around the ankle and instep to eliminate cutting or chafing, and its intelligently placed padding makes the AP-166 feel like a custom fit. Two Velcro straps secure narrow feet without binding.

Nice touches include a soft leather liner that covers the tongue and a reflective heel patch to catch the eyes of drivers behind you.

Nike Access

Best for

* FITNESS TRAINING

* NARROW TO WIDE WIDTHS

* RACE TRAINING

Nike’s women’s ACCESS ($75; 9.5 oz.)–the only cleated cycling shoe built on a women’s last–is lightweight and well-cushioned for the entry-level rider. The heel cup is snug enough to hold a narrow foot, but the padding compresses comfortably to accommodate a wider heel as well. A notch at the back lets the Achilles tendon flex freely. If you use toe clips, molded Phylon padding on the outer edge of the shoe prevents numbness by alleviating pressure from the cage without interfering with fit. The closure system consists of two Velcro straps.

Shimano A100

Best for

* TOURING/CENTURIES

* AVERAGE TO WIDE WIDTHS

* COMMUTING

With the A100 ($85; 11.1 oz.), Shimano has brought its popular off-road recessed cleat pedal system to the road. Because the soles of these shoes extend beyond the cleats, it’s as easy to walk in them as it is to ride. Two Velcro straps keep each shoe snugly cinched.

To use the A100, you must also buy Shimano’s pedals ($90). The pedal assembles easily, but you may need help from your retailer to insert the cleat into the shoe. Clicking into the pedal is initially tricky because the cleat is so small, but it gets easier with practice. The Shimano pedal lets you increase or decrease the tension it takes to release your cleat, handy if you’re not sure how tightly you want to be secured to the pedal.

Sidi Revolution

Best for

* FITNESS TRAINING

* NARROW TO AVERAGE WIDTHS

* RACE TRAINING

The SIDI REVOLUTION ($149; 10.1 oz.) is a lightweight, high-performance shoe for serious training and racing. Competitive cyclists will appreciate the positive contact offered by the unpadded natural leather insole, and once broken in (give it about 1,000 miles), the insole conforms to your foot. The lack of padding also improves breathability. Women with narrow to medium feet will appreciate the snug fit around the heel and under the arch. A double Velcro closure adds extra support.

Specialized Pro Dog

Best for

* FITNESS TRAINING

* AVERAGE TO WIDE WIDTHS

* RACE TRAINING

Specialized’s PRO DOG ($90, 7.9 oz.) is the lightest cycling shoe on the road market. It’s designed for serious training and racing; its stiff sole offers good support, and padding in the heels adds comfort without compromising performance. Mesh and leather construction makes the shoe breathable, and double Velcro closures secure the foot well.

Fit may be a problem for some women, however, in smaller sizes (under size 37) the shoe doesn’t come in half sizes. EVen in the correct length shoe, testers felt that the toe box was extra roomy and that the shoe’s high cut over the instep could be uncomfortable without socks. In smaller sizes, the bottom of the shoe is curved to the point that the cleat does not lie flush against the shoe. The company sells adapters ($4) that lie between the cleat and shoe to resolve this problem.

Time Century

Best for

* TOURING/CENTURIES

* NARROW TO AVERAGE WIDTHS

* COMMUTING

Like Shimano, Time offers a recessed-cleat pedal system with shoes that are easy to walk in; the price of Time’s system, however, is nearly double Shimano’s.

It may be worth it: Our testers were impressed with the TIME CENTURY’S ($165; 13.6 oz.) comfort, fit and performance. Like the Shimano, the shoe has a stiff sole for efficient pedaling, but the last is narrower than that of the Shimano, so it may fit some women’s feet better. Nice touches: The brass cleat engages and disengages from the pedal with an audible “click,” and the recessed-cleat pedal ($180) stays upright when it’s rotating, so it’s easy to step into.

Vittoria 900/TS

Best for

* FITNESS TRAINING

* WIDE WIDTHS

* RACE TRAINING

The VITTORIA 900/TS ($90; 10.5 oz.) is a lightweight mesh and leather shoe for serious cyclists. Although the sole is very stiff and the shoe is sparsely cushioned, the insole has enough give that the 900/TS is comfortable without a break-in period. A Velcro side strap is not as adjustable as other closure systems; its high-cut ankle and instep could prove uncomfortable to some women.

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Diane Lane tells us who she really is

Diane Lane‘s cheerful smile belies the painful truth: Yesterday, she spent 17 excruciating hours bound in a waist cincher of waisttraineraz for her latest movie role. Clearly, the comet wasn’t tight enough to squeeze the joy out of this veteran actress, wife, and room. “I’m learning a lot about undergarments.” she reasons. “Like, don’t try to sing in a belly cincher. You won’t be hitting a high C!”

Maybe it’s Toronto’s long-awaited spring weather–or perhaps it’s the yoga class she took this morning. But when Diane introduces herself, she looks like she actually had 17 hours of spa treatments yesterday. And from the moment she sits down to talk, she’s positively buoyant, smiling big and talking fast.

Her extroverted energy is a bit unexpected. Diane’s had many roles in her three-decade acting career, but lately she’s mostly played reserved women. There’s the restrained housewife, Connie, in Unfaithful (who gets loosened up by a charming Frenchman). There’s the hesitant divorcee, Frances, in Under the Tuscan Sun (who gets loosened up by the charming Italian countryside). And this month, she plays a tentative divorcee who’s coerced into online dating in Must Love Dogs, her new romantic comedy with John Cusack. (Look for a charming canine to do the loosening here.)

Currently, the 40-year-old is squishing herself into period costumes for Truth, Justice, and the American Way, a biopic about George Reeves, TV’s original Superman, starring Ben Affleck. It will be her 45th film in a movie career that began at age 13, when a role opposite Laurence Olivier put her in the spotlight. But only a handful of her many movies–1983’s The Outsiders, 1984’s The Cotton Club, and 2000’s The Perfect Storm–got much attention. “I always worked,” she says. “A lot of people don’t know that because they didn’t see the work. But I was glad because I could get a little better at practicing my craft, and eventually I got better opportunities in movies that people want to see.”

Another benefit to those years of quiet work: “Telephoto lenses and I haven’t had a long relationship,” she says. “That’s the difference between being an actress and being a celebrity.” Of course, all that changed in 2002, when she received a Best Actress Oscar nod for Unfaithful. There’s a reason she’s seated in the restaurant’s most private alcove today. People are interest ed in Diane Lane.

Her personal life has made a few headlines lately. In 2002, she got reacquainted with an old friend, actor Josh Brolin. She and Brolin were both divorced (she from actor Christopher Lambert; he from former actress Alice Adair). She had a daughter in third grade; he had two grade-school kids of his own.

“Josh is such a great parent,” Diane says. “And that was a very large part of his appeal to me, and what makes him a good person.” In August of 2004, they married and blended their families–her daughter, who’s now 11; his daughter, also 11, and his son, 16. Diane prefers not to mention her children by name in this interview. “They think it’s fun,” she says. “They see their names. But something else comes with it that they don’t need to deal with.”

Among other things, she’s referring to the paparazzi’s treatment of A-list celebrities. Her life now is about carpooling and homework and trips to the family ranch north of Los Angeles, she says, not night after night dressed to the nines on the red carpet. “We’re all leaky vessels,” she says, laughing. “I try not to put myself on a pedestal, because they’re just going to look for those moments when you leak!”

In fact, last December the tabloids reported on a particularly egregious “leak” in Diane’s personal life. She’d called the police after Brolin allegedly pushed her during an argument. When the cops arrived, she asked them not to arrest him. “But the police have to arrest first [for domestic battery] and ask questions later,” her publicist said in a statement after the incident. “[The couple] are embarrassed the matter went this far.”

Although Brolin was quickly released, the news of his arrest garnered national attention. Diane doesn’t speak publicly about it; according to the publicist, it was all a misunderstanding. Today Diane speaks often–and glowingly–about her husband: his “amazing” parenting skills, his sense of humor, and his emotional depth. She’s clearly in love, and isn’t about to let the tabloids have the final word on her marriage–or her life.

Your new movie is called Must Love Dogs, so we have to ask …

Yes, I have a dog! Just got one so that I’d have an answer to that question in interviews! No, I’m teasing completely. It’s a Chihuahua-Shih Tzu mix. Short hair, hallelujah!

Is it yours, or is it the family dog?

My daughter will kill me if I say it’s my dog. It’s so her dog. In the movie My Dog Skip I played the mom, but she knew the truth: I wasn’t that wonderful mother who said, “You must have a dog.” I’m that not-so-wonderful mother who always said, “I don’t think you can handle a dog, honey.” But she’s 11 now. She’s old enough.

She must be so excited.

Well, yeah, but there’s also the shock of the amount of work that goes into a puppy. Our lives are being controlled by the peristalsis of a little creature that weighs three pounds “When did he go last? Where did he go? Why is it still there? Well, pick it up.”

In Must Love Dogs, your character gets into online dating. Have you ever done that?

No, but I have friends who do. It’s nice because it gets the getting-to-know-you questions out of the way before you even meet. That’s gotta be very tiring, it’s like telling your resume. But I don’t know, I’m off and safely tucked away in married land. I’m very happy.

How does Josh make you happy?

He really cares about everything–people’s feelings doing the right thing. It’s something that I admire about him. I don’t know how to say that in a more interesting, flowery way. But when it’s in your life, it’s the hugest thing. You can’t put a value on it. And also, he’s funny, which is very handy. It’s wonderful to have somebody around who’s funny.

You have a blended family. Do you all live together in L.A.?

Our oldest [Josh’s son] goes to boarding school. But when Josh and I married last year, my stepdaughter came to live with us. And her morn–Josh’s ex-wife–moved nearby. We are our own car pool.

You drive the kids to school?

Our favorite thing to do! The day they get their licenses we’re going to be completely bereft. Josh likes to do the driving. He’s an amazing stepdad. There has never been a morning since he came into our lives in a serious way that he did not drive them to school. One time I turned to him and said, “I’m tired. Would you do it without me today?” And he looked at me like I grew another head. Because he would never say that to me. So I was like, “I take it back, I’ll never ask again.”

Do you and Josh struggle to get alone-time together?

We appreciate it when we get it. It keeps it fun because von sort of go, “Hi, I remember you.” But Josh was a dad at 20, so he barely knows himself not being a dad. Ever since we met, our girls and his son were always part of our time together. There’s not a kid-free zone. Plus, being in this field, we’re at the receiving end of a lot of factors that are out of our control. We get our schedules from our employment, and then that affects everything down to the babysitter.

Your daughter and his are the same age. How have they reacted to becoming sisters?

You know, it’s interesting. They love each other more than either of them realizes. And compared with other sisters that I’ve seen, they do great. Because sisters don’t choose each other any more than stepsisters do. I love their relationship because they are so … almost opposite.

In what way?

Country mouse, city mouse. My stepdaughter had an idyllic childhood on California’s central coast. So this one over here–my daughter–is like a lightning bolt, too fast for everyone else. And the other one over here–my stepdaughter–is into world religions and peace and meditation. They really kind of complete each other. I took my daughter out of her school so that she could begin at a new middle school at the same time as her stepsister.

Do you help with homework?

Well, right after I met Josh, my daughter’s homework was mold. We had to buy bread with some preservatives, bread with no preservatives, different grains. She had to watch mold form. Well, we had a bit of a crisis: The bread was not molding. It turned to melba toast. It takes a while to grow mold, and she didn’t start early enough. So I said, “I’ll tell you what. We’ll put it in a Ziploc bag, add a little water, and you’ll have fabulous mold when you go to school Thursday.”

So you helped her cheat on her mold homework.

Yes! But hopefully she learned that there are some things you cannot do the night before.

Who helps your daughter when you’re on location?

Actually, she’s really good at school. I’m very relieved, because she’s out of my league already. The other day on set I was chatting with her, and I handed the phone to Ben Affleck. And she starts describing her homework to him. His eyes got really big, and he looked at me like, “Why did you hand me the phone? I’m in over my head!”

She wasn’t starstruck talking to Ben Affleck?

No, she just wants to meet Jennifer Garner. My kids are always networking. If I can get the right autograph, I’m a VIP in my own house for, like, 10 minutes.

What do you and Josh do for fun with the kids?

We love to go to drive-ins. A friend has a fabulous 1950s truck. We tie in all of the sleeping bags and pillows with a bungee cord, and then we crawl in the back and lie out under the stars and watch the movie. It’s really cool.

Do you have big dinners together?

Well, anything that is more than two people is a big dinner for me. Because that’s how I grew up. I didn’t have siblings. I was always with one parent or the other. And that’s what I replicated with my daughter. And now, jeepers–to have five people. Which is the maximum you can get in the car, too. One more baby, and you gotta have a van.

Do you go on family trips?

We drive up to the ranch. It’s great in the car! I’ve got the fish at my feet, in the bowl, sloshing all over my shoes. Then there’s the cat and my stepdaughter’s dog, who’s big. So we have the fish, the cat, and the dog, and now we’ve got the new puppy. With the Christmas tree on the roof and all three kids!

Are you a strict parent?

Oh, my daughter would tell you I’m very strict. TV is not a right; it’s a privilege. I’ll say, “Listen, if you want to sit there and chew your cud and stare at the screen, you have to earn that by having accomplished all of your responsibilities.” And that’s a long checklist: Make your bed and clear the table and do your homework. And did you think about a gift for Joey’s birthday party? And did you walk your dog, and are the fish still alive?

Do you have strong opinions about their TV and music choices?

There’s a lot to be concerned about. The singers are doing pole dances, and it’s as if they’re saying, “This is what it takes to be popular!” So it’s a challenge. My hackles are definitely up, because I care very much about self-esteem.

So what do you do? Try to keep an open dialogue about it?

Open dialogue–more like an open mike, and I’m doing a monologue! “And this is what I think about that, and you know, she’s a slut.” Then I get the eye rolling. So I turn it into a standup act. I must say my piece, and if you find it a joke, then laugh all you want, but I still need to say my piece.

Is it hard to leave the kids when you travel for work?

When I was shooting Tuscan Sun, my daughter would cry on the phone and Say, “Mommy, why do you have to film this movie in Italy?” I suffered. Three months was too long. I could never handle another dose of the mother guilt that I had on that job.

How did you deal with it?

I just had to get through it. I’m glad the movie was a success, because if it weren’t, it would have really added salt to the wounds. Fortunately, I loved her fourth-grade teacher so much. Mrs. Winn–she was the bomb. I was lucky, because she could have really hated me. I mean, I would have judged me. “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m the mother who’s going away for three months.”

Do you have regrets this time around, working in Toronto?

This trip isn’t so long. Two weeks is my limit, and then I’ll fly home for a visit. My stepdaughter’s got a wonderful mom, and I kind of envy her, because she’s a full-time mom. It’s just the path not taken, and I definitely mourn it.

Ah, the age-old working-mom issue.

My earning power is peaking, and so is my desire to be home for my daughter. I feel like the flame is just getting higher and higher under me. But it’s wonderful to be able to go home often.

Do you find it ironic that your earning power is peaking three decades after you started acting?

I have no regrets. I take comfort that I’ve earned my stripes. I think they’re making actors just so much better than they were when I was 13 and starting out. If they’d asked me to do what Jena Malone did in Bastard Out of Carolina, I could never have conjured up that level of emotion on purpose!

Do you think you would have made it if you were starting out today?

It’s still about luck. There are people who are more talented than I am, who are every bit as worthy, if not more so. I’m just trying to walk humbly, and keep walking! Maybe they’ll let me work until I’m 50! Maybe they’ll let me go all the way! Who knows?

Do you and Josh have different parenting styles?

“He’s like a big kid, and they love him for it. I’m a little less fun. That’s okay with me, because everybody can’t be the one who throws the kids around. I’ll be over here trying to get them to eat their vegetables.”

Higher, farther and faster

The sportswear hype is burgeoning and sneakers have been the top item in footwear for several seasons. Brands such as Nike and Adidas are riding the wave of success-in terms of style and image. But what’s up with Puma? A certain quietness has settled around the feline predator. That is supposed to change now.

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word puma? What comes to mind for me is an image of my favorite bag-a fire-engine red handle, a big fat Puma logo in red letters on baby-blue nylon material. The only problem: That was back in 1997. Since then Adidas and Nike have set up camp in my shoe and clothing wardrobe. And if you have a look around the major fashion centers such as Copenhagen, Paris or New York, you quickly see what sneaker brands rule the streets-with Puma not among them.

What exactly is Puma’s problem? Not modern enough? Too set in its ways? Too retro? “What caused this was reinvestment in classic performance happening too late- the success of lifestyle was enjoyed for too long,” explains Matthias Baumer, general manager DACH Puma SE. Baumer is openly acknowledging that at the end of the day neither retailers nor consumers understood what the brand really stands for. “Now we would like to focus on our four categories teamsport, running, training and lifestyle and apply our resources in a targeted way to reach our target groups.

Despite this, Puma is still relevant in the fitness and training domain and has also not fallen off the radar in the lifestyle area. The Herzogenaurach-based company is working hard on making structural changes to the brand. In sportswear Puma is still one of the top three global players. By 2015 the whole collection (lifestyle and performance) is to be reduced by over 30%. “We want to be relevant and faster and ensure that sport inspiration regains traction in the Select area,” says Torsten Hochstetter, global creative director Puma SE, in charge of design and development for the sport lifestyle collection as well as for the sports performance collection since mid-2013.

The partnership with French streetwear label BWGH first started in late 2013 was very positively received at retailers internationally and will continue next season. “There were solid order levels for BWGH; we got very positive feedback, especially at Seek and Bright,” says Hochstetter. With Solange Knowles as creative inspiration, Puma designed a new edition of the cult Puma Disc Model last year. Almost every day Knowles posts pictures of herself in perfectly styled outfits from her favorite New York designer William Okpo on her Instagram profile “Saintrecords,” followed by a whopping half million viewers. The matching shoes? Pumas. The marketing value of a #Puma posts with on average more than 20,000 likes and around 500 comments? It is beyond any number for the company. And in the summer of 2015 Puma will make a splash with its forthcoming collaboration. With almost 30 pieces, the next collection has been designed in collaboration with Vashtie Kola, creative director of Icecream Girl, designer, video director and downtown sweetheart of the New York party scene. In addition to varsity and track jackets, mesh tank tops and t-shirts with 1990s styling, the versatile Brooklyn native has also given design impetus to the Puma Trinomic, Suede and Sky Sneaker models.

Further collaborations with McQ, House of Hackney, Mihara Yasuhiro and Alife will be presented for the 2015 summer season. Puma is convincing when it comes to the quality and authentic selection of the artists and designers it works with and its cleaner look with Puma Select distances itself from its loud lifestyle image. Hochstetter says, “We have a much clearer focus when it comes to the lifestyle segment. We have a strategic ‘pillar’ based on Trinomic-running – plus one based on basketball, and one on tennis. The collaborations are the salt in the soup and give the Select line-up that certain something.” Hochstetter adds that these three strategic design pillars are somewhat variable. Even a World Cup tournament can provide inspiration, for example in connection with tooling. Hochstetter sees the trends in the sneaker segment centering more on bulky, wider sneaker silhouettes: “The bulky silhouette shown by the Trinomic will be a trend. What is important is to get more depth into the material. However, if we streamline, we have to make sure the material is interesting. In lifestyle, for example, we use very high quality leather, resulting in a compelling shoe right from the basic construction.

Expressed in specialized fashion language that means: At the latest when John and Jane Doe discover their love for Stan Smith and Nike Roshe Run, it is time for Harry Hipster to look around for a new kind of sneaker, and that certainly won’t be all too long from now.

Running shoes advice

Heel of Fortune

Q: About 3 years ago I felt severe pain in my right heel and had to take some time off from running. Now the pain is back, and sometimes I can’t even walk normally. Why is this happening and what should I do about it?

A: When you first experienced severe heel pain, you probably had acute plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a membrane that connects the big toe and forefoot with the heel, forming the lining of the arch.

During a normal running gait, you push off from your big toes with most of your weight. This creates a strong pull against the attachment of the plantar fascia to the inside of the heel. Sometimes this area may become inflamed or tear. In most cases, those who suffer from plantar fasciitis will experience their worst pain during the first few steps of a run or when they step out of bed in the morning.

Normally the first episode occurs when you train too hard. Repeat injuries can occur with minor changes, such as when you wear different shoes, run on different surfaces, try new workouts, suffer more job fatigue, etc.

What can you do to ease the pain? First, try icing. Use an ice bucket and submerge the heel area for 10 minutes several times a day. The cold may ache, but it helps relieve pain better than any medication. Use ice after every run, whenever you feel severe pain, and in the evening. Use anti-inflammatory or pain-relief medication only if ice isn’t enough.

Next, do exercises to strengthen the muscles of your feet and lower legs. Walk barefoot on a carpet on your toes, then your heels, and then backward for a total of 10 minutes each day. Strengthen your Achilles and calves by doing three sets of 15 heel raises on a step. Allow your heel to drop below the level of the step.

When running, wear best shoes for plantar fasciitis and stay on soft surfaces. Sometimes a heel cup, heel lift, or arch insert makes running more comfortable. I prefer that my patients continue to run regularly, but only if they don’t limp after the first few steps. Usually runners with plantar fasciitis have to reduce their mileage by 50 percent. When you begin increasing your mileage, increase by only 10 percent a week. Recovery typically takes 3 to 4 months.

If these general treatment techniques don’t help, see a sports-medicine doctor. Other treatments range from medications and injections to night splints and orthotics.

–Bert Fields, M.D., the family practice and sports medicine fellowship director at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, N.C., and a former collegiate runner now in his 38th year of racing.

Asking for Support

Q: I’m a high-mileage runner with a medium arch. I currently wear a stability shoe, but I want to move toward ashoe with more cushioning. Do I have to worry about my arches falling if I buy a shoe with less arch support?

A: Arch support comes from a shoe that fits well and has a supportive insole. The midsole of a dual-density stabilityshoe can add support to your arch, but so can a cushioned shoe if you find one that has a similar midsole construction.

There are cushioned shoes on the market today that are built like stability shoes, but with softer single-density foam. If you do choose a cushioned shoe, you may need to add an insole support such as Superfeet or Powerstep. Another option: You may not need to change shoe styles if you simply add a cushioned insole to your current stability shoe. This will maintain the stability you need but also provide you with the cushioning you want. A knowledgeable salesperson at a specialty running store will be able to help you decide.

If you do switch to the new type of shoe, remember to rotate it with your current stability shoe for several weeks before going over to the new one entirely.

–Paul Carrozza, RUNNER’S WORLD’S footwear editor and owner of the RunTex specially running stores in Austin, Tex.

Buying the Best Softball Bats Online – How to Do It?

Just like a knife or a gun can be an advantage in a fight, the best softball bat can be a benefit while you are playing softball. When your team is equipped with the most appropriate softball bats, there is the chance for you to make it in the tournament. Do not be contented with simply playing on the outfield if using the right bats can help your team to win. With the rise of online stores, purchasing of slowpitch softball bats has become easier. You will be able to buy softball bats at a cheaper rate than at land-based retail stores. The following tips will help you to buy the best varieties of bats for softball playing for your team or for your own individual playing.

Buy from a reputed online store

It is important to go with an online store that is reputed, so that you can get the assurance of a competent service. Generally, going for a reputed store means proper terms and conditions, shipping and return policies. Reputed stores tend to stock more number of products as compared to inferior ones. You can be assured of the credibility. By going for the right store or portal, you can check the proper category and find the most suitable softball bats and gloves while checking the fine print associated to your needs.

Check the right category

When you visit a web store of good repute, you will be able to find many categories. You only need to choose the right category from the list, so that you can get the best softball bats that you are looking for. Just begin by clicking on the relevant category and find a number of bats that are available. This way, you will be able to select the most appropriate bat according to your needs.

Get the right keyword search

With the keyword search option, you will exactly be able to find any item on the web store that stocks softball bats. For example, when you type in the words “Easton composite bat” onto the search box of your chosen shopping store without any quotation mark, you will be able to get the most suitable bats on the web store. You can select the relevant one and be able to complete your search for the bat that you are looking for.

Know the return and replacement policies

When on a web store, you can end up with a wrong type of softball bat when you choose the wrong bat category at the time of placing your order. Naturally, it is extremely essential for you to go through the return and replacement policies of your chosen web store before making an actual purchase. Generally, any reputed store offers return and replacement of its gears completely free of cost. In case you do not find the return and replacement policies in the store to be customer friendly, you can simply move on to another online store that assures you of the same. This way, you can easily get a wrong or damaged bat replaced or returned.

What’s Your Athletic Shoe IQ?

You’re cruising through the mall prepared to plunk down your hard-earned money for a pair of sneakers. You step into the sports superstore and stop dead in your tracks, dazzled by the sheer number of shoes lining the walls. After listening to the salesperson rattle off a list of features, you try on a few pairs. Thirty minutes later, you still can’t decide between the coolest cross-trainers and the hippest high-tops. Sound familiar?

Feet First

Running the mile and shooting hoops are hard enough on your knees and ankles. But doing them without the proper shoes can be a real health hazard.

Your feet work hard during sports. The movements you make put a lot of stress on your muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Shoes that don’t fit properly or that don’t provide enough support can lead to injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures. That’s especially true for runners. When you run, your body absorbs up to four times your body weight with every step. The right shoes protect not only your feet but your ankles, shins, knees, and back from injury by absorbing impact and controlling unwanted movement. When shopping for shoes, consider your feet, your activity, and the surface you’re doing it on. Your shoes should match all three.

Generally, people with flat feet need shoes with less cushioning than people with average feet. Those with high arches need shoes with more shock absorption. The shape of the shoe should also match your foot type. To determine what type of feet you have, look at your wet footprint after a shower. If you can see the whole bottom of your foot, you have flat feet and should look for shoes with a straight shape. If you see only parts of your forefoot and heel with a thin line between them, you have high-arched feet and should look for shoes with a curved shape. Other feet are in-between.

The most important factor to keep in mind when choosing athletic shoes is what you’ll be using them for. No one brand fits all feet or is best for all types of activities. If you play basketball or do aerobics, for example, you need shoes that keep your ankles stable during side-to-side movements. On the other hand, if you run or hike, you need shoes that. are lightweight and have plenty of cushioning. Multipurpose shoes are fine for things such as lifting weights or working out in the gym. But if you participate in a sport three or more times a week, you need a sport-specific shoe. “The biggest mistake young people make when they start a new sport or exercise program is using shoes that are not designed for that activity,” says Greg Catalano, D.P.M., of the North Bridge Podiatry Group in Concord, Massachusetts. “Running shoes are not designed for motion other than straight ahead. If you’re doing a sport that’s outdoors and that requires a lot of cutting and change of direction, you need a cleated shoe.”

If the Shoe Fits …

Whatever your sport, fit and comfort are key. Even the best shoes are useless if they give you blisters after the first day. Look for a shoe that’s roomy at the toe and snug at the heel to keep your foot from slipping, especially during sports that involve a lot of quick turns, such as soccer or lacrosse. Shoes should also be flexible. To ensure a good fit, wear the socks you normally wear when exercising, and shop at the end of the day or after a workout, when your feet are their largest. Athletic shoes that are too tight in the store won’t stretch.

Female athletes should keep in mind that girls’ feet are different from guys’. “Women tend to have a narrower heel and a wider forefoot,” says Dr. Catalano. “Don’t buy a shoe that’s designed for boys. Be sure they are sized for women.” He also recommends going to a specialty store staffed by people who know your sport. “The people in shoe megastores aren’t necessarily experts,” he says.

Replace your old shoes regularly. Most shoes lose their cushioning after three to six months of regular use. If the tread is gone or your shoes start leaning to one side, you know it’s time for a new pair. “Whatever you do, be sport-specific and, if possible, specific to your foot structure,” says Dr. Catalano. “If you’re running on trails instead of the track, look for running shoes that are geared especially to trail running. They are sturdier and more supportive than road running shoes. They’re also heavier. Generally, the lighter the shoe, the less supportive.

Think function, not fashion. Shoes with open heels, zippers instead of laces, or no arch support are accidents waiting to happen, says Dr. Catalano. “They’re not designed for athletic performance.”

Buying the right shoes and replacing them regularly will help you avoid injuries.

What’s Your Athletic shoes should have different weights, widths, soles, and cushioning, depending on what sport you use them for. Here’s a brief rundown of shoe requirements for some different activities:

  • Running: heel and forefoot cushioning, lightweight, flexible front selection section, breathable upper mesh, rough
    tread
  • Walking: cushioning under ball of the foot, lightweight, rounded sole, flexible front section
  • Basketball: high-tops for stability during jumps and landings, flat soles for quick stops and snap moves
  • Tennis: firm heel, roomy toe area, herringbone sole design, flexibility
  • Aerobics: lightweight, shock absorption for ball of the foot, side-to-side support, flexibility, smooth tread
  • Cross-training: less flexible than running shoes, stable enough for multi-directional movements

Globus, Sheila

I love sneakers

Harold Arandia, footwear designer for Onitsuka Tiger, talks about sneaker trends and how he seeks inspiration from cured fish and fried gluten bread for sneaker designs.

How did you come to design for Onitsuka Tiger?

I had a colleague that I used to work with at Adidas in Portland, who was now working at Asics for Onitsuka Tiger. I had been taking a break from footwear for three years but I always kept in touch with her and we reconnected at a good time. I love sneakers and it was just the right time for me to come back after exercising my brain on other creative ventures. Onitsuka Tiger reset the brand in 2011 and they were looking for a footwear designer specifically in their European office in the Netherlands. It was one of those times where the right things came together at the right time. I am the only non-Japanese designer at Onitsuka Tiger. So it’s an honor to me that they have accepted me into the family.

Where do you get the inspiration for your footwear designs?

Our inspiration always comes from our history and what we have done in our past as a starting point. From a silhouette standpoint running is the key style for our brand. We have history with the Tiger Corsair, an iconic runningshoe for us. The Corsair would later emerge in another brand as the start of the Nike Cortez. For summer 2014 we have several concepts like concrete jungle with unique camo influences, where we see a return to nature and materials inspired by our surroundings. I personally think inspiration comes from doing work not sitting around waiting for a lightning bolt to hit you. I travel and do a lot of research on what is modern Japan and what it means to me. But I am only a small part of a bigger, smarter team.

What does this kind of research you are doing look like?

My last trip to Japan took me to a muse- um in midtown Tokyo where they had an amazing exhibit focusing on Japanese handcrafted items. The exhibition dealt with artisan made products from one specific town. It was everything from traditional weaving processes and hand forged products to the process of making traditional Japanese foods like special pickled and cured fishes, fried gluten breads and uniquely packaged sweets.

So this gives you the inspiration for shoe design?

Yes, I love these types of exhibits because they reflect on a certain kind of Japanese artistic care and craft. It is this attention to details that is used in their items around the garden, home, food and even follows through to how it is packaged. This creates a texture of what Japan really is at its core. You have the dichotomy of modern Japan as technology, slicked up computers and then you have this very traditional side, this handcraft, methodical and rooted in history. Japan can be simple and clean vs. highly technological and detailed. All of this goes directly in the shoedesign whether it is the shapes, colors, laces, patterns or materials.

Who is really driving the trends at the moment when it comes to lifestyle sneakers?

As far as trends I think you have brands that are really strong right now like Nike, Adidas even New Balance. Our advantage is we are opening up at the right time. People want an alternative to the established brands and I think we offer something different regarding our product with its unique history. People are always looking for alternatives in everything now; we can see it in everyday items such as food. Everybody knows in America what a hamburger is but now you’re having these new expressions of fusion foods that have created new food items and culture to go along with it. This is happening across different industries and products; this is why I think this is a really good time for us. We are not an unknown brand but in some ways we are new and fresh but still have a very real history. I think this gives us an advantage to bring out our new products and introduce them to people that may not know us yet so they can have a chance to fall in love with our brand.

What kind of target groups do you aim at?

We aim at consumers 15 to 24 years old. But we already have a loyal following and group of customers. With the newer models we are trying to bring in some freshness whether in shapes or colors and expand upon what we have offered before. With some of the new models like the Shaw Runner or the Harandia we are offering something that is going to appeal to younger customers but also appeal to our current loyal consumer by giving them a more running-based lifestyle feel.

There is a really big sneaker hype still going on. Do you have an explanation for that?

I think this kind of interest in sneakers has always been around but definitely right now people want to be more comfortable. Times are different now; we are not dressing the same way that we used to. I don’t have to wear a suit and tie to work; you don’t have to wear a dress all the time. We are able to express lifestyle and ourselves and that trend goes from everything from phones to cars. I think sneakers are just a way of doing that too. People want to be comfortable and fashionable at the same time. Today people wear sneakers and are mixing it up with more formalwear and are having fun blurring the line between formal and casual looks.

So you think the lines between formalwear and streetwear will become increasingly clouded?

Yes, this is already happening and I don’t think this is a trend that is necessarily going to stop. If I look at blogs everywhere people are mixing sportswear with high fashion brands. And I see it when I go to Japan to places like Comme des Garcons. You have fashion labels that are playing around with athletic materials. I think we are in this place where things are not so defined anymore, kind of intermingling or inspired by each other era. Runway is inspired by the street and vise versa and you see that everywhere. In music you have artists like A$AP Rocky that become high fashion icons but in another side he is still an urban street performer. The market is not as defined as it was before.

Is there a sneaker trend to much more simplicity?

There is a trend of going simpler visually but it is also a contrasting technique or trend, because the way you go simpler is by getting more advanced in technology.

How important are function and techniques for Onitsuka Tiger?

We have the advantage that we have a sports heritage, so sports is always something that we are inspired from. That means we are able to use some of the technologies in a more lifestyle interpretation whether from a comfort level or to being able to execute and create a shoe in a different way. A good example of this is when we talk about technologies is the SUV, an off-road vehicle. Coming from LA I know that there are a lot of people that drive SUVs but their car has never seen mud at all, it has rims, leather seats, movie screens, etc. and this is a lifestyle interpretation of what originated as a technical performance off-road vehicle. I think in terms of shoes, people also want these functions but they are adjusted to their lifestyle. People want to have these technical functions but at the same time the lifestyle aspect is very important too.

What other trends will become important for sneakers in 2014?

I think court models are starting to emerge more in the market as well as basketball silhouettes. Right now we see all the heat on running silhouettes. From a technical standpoint it will be bigger silhouettes in general as well as bootinspired sneakers.

Do you also see a certain decade that is coming back?

At the moment everyone is trying to create a history for their brand. You have fashion brands creating fashion-sneaker styles with no real history or heritage behind them. They take inspiration from us or other sneaker brands, so when it comes to decades I think we have an advantage that some models that we have are known for a certain time period but I think it varies as to what is in the “moment” now. I think there is always a certain underlying heritage trend that you will see out in the world.

How many sneakers do you have?

Really I have too many and I am constantly getting rid of shoes.

Are we talking about a couple of hundreds?

I stopped counting. I am a shoe designer I keep the shoes that I have worked on in the past, different versions and prototypes. I like to keep products that inspire me and I can possibly use down the road to express an idea or concept. When I moved to Germany I lived on the fifth floor of the building and had no lift. One of the last things the mover brought up was this old heavy chest I had and after he lugged it up to my new flat he asked if he could see what was inside. I said sure, so he opened it and it filled with shoes. He looked at me and said: “You know we have shoes in Germany?” And I said: “But I am a footwear designer, that’s my nature.”

The care and feeding of your running shoes

To get the best from your running shoes, you have to treat them right

Everyone has a favorite runningshoe story, and this is Mike Roche’s. Roche, a 1976 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser who’s worked for several shoe companies, was living home from work one day when he noticed that the poor guy in the car next to him had mistakenly left his shoes on the car’s roof Roche didn’t want the guy to lose his $80 investment, so he honked, caught the driver’s attention and pointed to the shoes.

Did the fellow slam on the brakes and rescue his shoes? Nah. He made a face, pinched his nostrils with his hand and sped off. Roche quickly got the picture: the shoes stank so bad the driver didn’t want them inside his car.

What makes running shoes smell so bad? In a recent informal poll of our running friends, this question came up over and over again as the most perplexing. You’ll find the answer below, along with other answers that can help you keep your running shoes in prime condition after you bring them home from the store.

Q: Okay, so what makes running shoes get smelly, and how can I prevent it?

A: Sometimes odor develops from the glues and other materials used in runningshoe construction. To counteract the problem, you can buy over-the counter deodorants to put in your shoes between workouts. Or you can use a familiar home remedy dust the inside of your shoes occasionally with baking soda.

Some runners develop problems with shoe odor because they run without socks. Their feet sweat directly into their shoes, and the perspiration builds up and festers. Wearing socks or dusting or deodorizing your shoes can lessen or eliminate this probIem. Some runners do suffer from excessive foot perspiration, which can be treated by a podiatrist.

The shoe’s sockliners (also called the insoles) can be a problem area for odors. If yours get smelly, you can pull them out and wash them, or simply buy a new pair of sockliners.

But the best thing you can do to prevent your shoes from getting smelly in the first place is to keep them dry.

Q: What am I supposed to do after a run in the rain or after a hot race when my shoes get wet from all the water rve poured over my head? Can I put my shoes in the clothes dryer?

A: No. Running shoes aren’t intended to survive fast, hot drying. The midsoles and outsoles are held together with cements that lose their effectiveness above 120 degrees, and the midsoles themselves will age prematurely in highheat conditions. Heat may also cause the uppers to crack and weaken.

Drying shoes in direct sunlight isn’t a good idea, either. Direct sunlight can cause midsole foams to shrink and deteriorate. What’s left? Putting your shoes on shoe trees (to help maintain the shape of the shoes) and letting them dry at room temperature for several days. You can also try drying them in front of a fan.

Q: My shoes are often in bad shape when I get them home from a race–wet, smelly, crunched up from being stuffed in a bag that’s stuffed into a corner of the car trunk Any suggestions?

A: Buy a serious athletic bag that’s vented at one end, and always keep a pair of shoe trees in the vented compartment After the race, immediately put your shoes on the trees and in the vented compartment. As soon as you get home, take your shoes out of the bag and put them in a good place for drying. If necessary, pull out the shoelaces lift back the tongue and let your shoes get really dry.

Q: How can I clean my running shoes when they get dirty? Can I wash them in the washing machine?

A: No. The detergents used in washing machines can create chemical reactions with shoe cements and certain colored pieces of the shoes that could actually cause your shoes to break down at a faster-than-expected rate. Running shoes are lightweight because they are made predominantly from synthetic materials the best way to clean these materials is with a soft-bristled brush (even a toothbrush), mild soap and cold water. After cleaning, allow the shoes to dry thoroughly before running in them again.

Q: Is it worth it to own and u6e two pairs of running shoes at the same time? Should they be the exact same model or different models?

A: Yes, it’s definitely worth it. Your shoes need “rest” days during a hard training week, just as you do. While buying tvo pairs of shoes at once may seem like doubling the expense, it isn’t. Owning two pairs of shoes that you can rotate will actually add to the longevity and functioning of your shoes.

If you’ve found a pair of shoes that seem to work well for you (definition: you don’t get injured), it makes sense to buy two pairs of those shoes and rotate them. But there’s another strategy that also makes sense: Buy two pairs of similar but not identical shoes. Because your biomechanics will be slightly different in the two pairs of shoes, this strategy may help you avoid the kind of overuse injuries that result from constant repetition of the exact same movement

Q: How many miles can I expect from my new pair of shoes?

A: We were waiting for that one. It’s the question runners ask most often about their shoes, so we wish we could give a simple answer. Unfortunately, we can’t. That’s because the biggest part of the answer doesn’t come from the shoes, it comes from you and your unique running characteristics. In general, lighter, more efficient runners will get more miles from their shocks than heavier, less efficient runners. Running on soft surfaces such as grass or wood chips also increases shoe life.

We’re always hearing from runners who daim that they’ve logged more than 1,000 miles on a favorite pair of shoes and haven’t had any problems, but we’re skeptical or at least thinking, great, but why push your luck? The smartest runner isn’t the one who logs the most miles before getting sidelined by a knee injury. It’s the one who switches to a new pair of shoes and never gets the knee injury.

The best rule of thumb is to expect no more than 500 to 700 miles from your shoes before it’s time for a new pair. At this point, the foams in the midsoles may be broken down to such a degree that they’re no longer giving you the protection you need. Some of the breakdown occurs much earlier. Don’t risk running beyond the point of protection.

When are you right on the edge? When you begin to notice an ache or pain despite no change in your training program. This could be your body’s way of telling you that it’s time for new shoes. Listen to your body.

Q: Midsole protection sounds important. Is there any way I can check the health of my midsoles?

A: Good question. Midsole protection is one of the most important functions, if not the most important function, of a technical running shoe. To pick up where we left off above, the simplest and best system is to chart the actual number of miles you run in each pair of shoes. Keep track of the total in your training log, right along with the descriptions of your workouts.

You can also put your shoes on a flat tabletop once a week and eyeball them closely from an sides, especially from behind. If the midsoles have become excessively compressed (which means they’ll give you less cushioning protection), the shoes may lean one way or another. This is a warning sign running shoes should always be as straight as possible.

Excessive midsole compression is something you can feel with your whole body if you have a ready comparison. Wear your old running shoes to your local running store and try on a new pair of the same shoes. Walk around in the new pair for a minute or two. Feel the difference? Are the new shoes providing more cushioning between your feet and the floor? If so, it’s probably time to buy that new pair. If not, your old shoes still have some life in them.

Q: Can I extend the life of my shoes by having them resoled or by applying a liquid outsole product?

A: You can extend the life of the outsole this way, but that’s not the same as extending the safe, functional life of the shoes. Remember, the midsole is where the action (and the protection) is. A spanking new outsole can’t change the reality of a worn midsole. Play it safe: don’t extend the life of your outsoles unless you’re sure the midsoles are still in good condition.

Q: Is there anything I can do that will extend the functional life of my running shoes?

A: Sure. Everything we’ve mentioned above, plus one other wear your running shoes only for running. They weren’t meant for tennis, basketball moving the lawn, wading through trout streams or casual everyday wear. If you take reasonable care of your running shoes and don’t use them for nonrunning activities, they’ll give you hundreds of miles of comfortable, pain-free running.

Here are the five worst things you can do to your running shoes. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll get the most from your shoes.

  1. Wash them in the washing machine.
  2. Dry them in the clothes dryer.
  3. Let them get wet and stay wet.
  4. Wear them for nonrunning activities, especially tennis and basketball.
  5. Kick them off by dragging one foot over the other. This will destroy the heel counter and other stability devices.

Pick a shoe and run with it

Only one out of four runners has a normal gait. The rest of us have ankles that wobble either in or out with every step. Add this biomechanical flaw to a pounding force equal to two to four times your body weight, then multiply it by the four thousand strides in an average three-mile jaunt. For anyone who hasn’t divined the exact right choice of space-age shoe, this equation eventually spits out an injury.

The problem,” says Mark Reeves, a podiatrist at Virginia Mason Medical Center, “may well be that we underuse our feet so much that they aren’t ready when we actually ask them to do some work.” The next thing you know, your bones and tendons are taking the blows that would otherwise have been softened by the foot’s natural shock-absorbing mechanism. The good news is that, thanks to the geeks with Ph.D.’s in biomechanics, up to half of all running injuries can be avoided if you choose an appropriately designed shoe.

After the outside of your heel strikes the ground, your foot rolls forward into its weight-bearing position. At the same time, your heel rocks inward and your arch elongates, safely absorbing much of the shock of your stride. In the well-adapted, this fancy footwork stops when the back of the heel is straight up and down.

The sad news is that for half of us, the rocking motion goes past this midpoint–we “overpronate.” The forty muscles and tendons of the foot strain to hold it steady. Another 25 percent of us–the “supinators“–have heels that roll in too little, absorbing less shock, and the joints take a hit with every step. Overpronation, together with overtraining, causes the bulk of running injuries.

If most of us have these problems, how do we find the right shoe? First of all, not every brand of shoe suits every type of foot. Nikes, for example, tend to be narrow; New Balance shoes come in varying widths and can be particularly good for wide feet. Supinators need a shoe with plenty of cushioning, something available in all the major brands.

But if you overpronate, shopping is trickier. You need stability, or “motion control.” According to the foot does, overpronators should look for a strong heel counter–the stiff back of the shoe that holds the heel perpendicular to the ground–and a rigid midsole, which are best for holding the foot in place and controlling its motion.

And what if you’re one of those oddballs who have normal feet? Find the cushiest shoe you can and enjoy the ride.