Category Archives: Tips

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.

Invicta watches review: to find the best Invicta time pieces

The Invicta watch group was founded with noble missions of producing top quality Swiss watches, that are afford enough to purchase by the common people. Invicta refers to Invincible. The term will states their high quality products. With its impressive designs and patterns the Invicta will provides the incredible values for your money. They are well known for their wonderful quality of Swiss watches. These types of watches will make use of finest materials, colorful mixtures of various styles and also high end technology to manufacture their watches. The Invicta watches are available in top class quality that for both men and women.

Classic and stylish watches

You can get these types watches in a wide variety of designs and patterns. The invicta watch group will offers the time pieces for both men and women. The Invicta watch reviews are beneficial to choose the right models of invicta watches.

Invicta watches for men

The Invicta time pieces for men are huge, durable, and also technologically advanced to include the requirements of the man. These types of time pieces are made of so articulately that is in the style of Swiss, and then it becomes the attraction for eyes. The men’s watches are going with any types of attires no matter whether it is casual, sporty, trendy or formal. The Invicta watches for men deals are huge and it will make the instant hit among several youngsters. You can get the band of this Invicta watch in brown, black and other similar colors that make use of the leather as fabric. You can also get the bands of gold, steel and also silver, as it will provides the time pieces an appearance of class and style.

Invicta watches for women

The women’s Invicta watches are about poise, elegance and fashion as these are the mainly three qualities that defines the women. A wide range of collection is obtainable for the women to select from. The women’s Invicta watches are slim and sleek and not truly chunky and huge since they will fit in perfectly. The invicta watches for the women is made with great skill in order to meet the diverse needs and requirement of women. This is because the Invicta watches are made of utilizing the designs and colors and also jewelery to make them beautiful and also attract the eyeballs. In general these types of deals are causal and also all the time pieces are go with any types of outfits and making its perfect accessory. The best about these types of Invicta pro diver automatic 8926 is that these are not over priced.

These comprises of modest price tags attached this sis due to the targeted audiences are the daily, regular clients. They will give the best deals on all types of watches that for both men and women. These watches are sold online; you can get a great deal if in case you are purchased from the right retailers. You can also read the online Invicta automatic watches review before buying them. So this will make the individuals who are limited with budget to opt for Invicta watches.

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

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.

Choose your shoes

Baseball’s Ken Griffey Jr., football’s Emmitt Smith and basketball’s Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill all have two things in common. They’re great professional athletes and great shoe sellers.

Problem is, Junior’s shoe might not be right for Emmitt. And Emmitt‘s might not be right for you.

If you need new shoes–for playing sports, not making a fashion statement–there’s only one way to buy them.

Watch the pros’ polished television ads all you want. But when it comes time to pay out cold cash, be foot-smart.

Get Fit

Your first step toward foot-smarts is to shop at stores specializing in athletic shoes. Their employees are trained to help you find the right shoe with the right fit.

When you go to the store, be prepared to:

* Tell the fitter if you play one sport or many.

* Bring your old sport shoes. Worn areas on the shoes let the fitter see how you use shoes.

* Show the fitter your bare feet. Fitters learn a lot just by looking at your foot shape, plus they can check your arch, instep and Achilles tendon region above the heel.

* Have your feet measured, even if you just bought new shoes a few months ago. Your feet change constantly.

Pick a Shoe

It is up to you to decide which type of shoe you want. Most athletic shoes are specially made for one sport.

* Tennis shoe: Experts call a quality tennis shoe best for all-around wear. A tennis player makes quick starts and stops. Built-in support straps and loot frames hold up to side-to-side moves. Low-cut tops are most common.

* Running shoe. A runner moves in a straight line, so a running shoe must raise and comfort the heel to protect the Achilles tendon. There is little side-to-side support. Many runners prefer a light shoe and pick one with EVA, a featherweight cushioning, instead of heavier but longer-lasting (and usually cheaper) polyurethane. Some have trim that reflects light for running more safely at night.

* Basketball (or court) shoe: A basketball player makes explosive starts and stops, soaring jumps and great slam landings. Strong court shoes are built with stability straps, sturdy foot frames, heel counter to cradle the heel and padded mid-cut or high-top to protect against ankle injury.

Still can’t decide? Try a cross-trainer. That’s a cross between a running shoe and court shoe, designed to be worn for many activities.

Tom Brunick, director of the Athlete’s Foot WearTest Center, has tried out tons of shoes. For all-around use, he suggests a tennis shoe or a cross-trainer.

Pick out a mid-height tennis shoe [three-quarter top], even if you don’t play tennis,” Brunick says. “It gives durability and traction on outdoor surfaces. It also gives good cushioning and support.

Pick a Price

Athletic shoes can cost $100 and up. Yet quality shoes are available for under $50–far less if you can live with last season’s style.

Ask the shoe fitter to suggest a mid-priced shoe that can perform nearly as well as the top dogs. Canvas shoes are cheaper, but leather supports growing feet better.

Be prepared to pay more for shoes the big-name athletes endorse. Those big bucks not only go into high-tech features, but extra advertising too. Think about how much that Penny Hardaway signature really means to you before paying for it.

All’s Well That Fits Well

Never leave a store with new shoes that don’t fit perfectly. Your heel should be snug, with about a thumbnail-width space between the tip of your big toe and the tip of the shoe.

Don’t buy a shoe to grow into. If a shoe is too big, your foot will rub, forming a blister. And don’t squeeze into a small size. If a shoe is too small, your big toe could cramp and bruise. Wiggle your toes to check.

Not even Emmitt Smith can do that for you.

Get to Know Your Feet

The more you know about your feet, the better you’ll be able to choose your shoes.

Try this trick:

Step into an empty cardboard shoe box with a wet, bare foot. Take a look at the footprint you leave. The less footprint you see, the higher your arch is. That’s valuable info for a shoe fitter.

Here are some words to know:

* Achilles tendon: The tendon that connects the back of the heel to the muscle of the leg.

* Arch: The upward curve between the ball of the foot and the heel. Measured as high, low or normal.

* Instep: The upward curve between the ball of the foot and the heel. Measured as high, low or normal.

* Instep: The upper part of the arch.

* Last: The shape of a shoe. Either straight (for low arches), curved (for high arches) or semi-curved (also called semi-straight, for normal arches).