How to pick the perfect running shoe

by Amby Burfoot

In the market for a new running shoe?  Your first stop should be to seek out the advice of an expert at your local running store.  They can watch you run, examine your current pair, and talk to your about your running goals – and injury history – to determine the running shoes that would work best for you.

You can also use this guide, created by running legend Amby Burfoot, to help you figure out what style of shoe you should be looking for.  Motion-controlled?  Neutral?  Stability?  This guide will walk you through it.  And start you on your way to your best run.



Race report: Potomac River Run Marathon

Potomac River Run Marathon
Potomac River Run Marathon

This is probably the only picture of me in which I am not grimacing or cussing after the race. Ouch!

It has been less than 24 hours since I completed the Potomac River Run Marathon in Carderock, Maryland.  So while the pain is still fresh in my quads – and my ego- I figured I would sort out the thoughts in my head by hammering it all out on the keyboard.

Some of you may remember my announcement last week that I was hoping for a PR at this race.  As you may have guessed, I did not accomplish that goal.  In fact, I didn’t even come close.  And I’m actually OK with that.

I always hate to over-analyze a race, but it’s probably useful for me to understand that although I put in the hours and time toward training for this PR, my subsequent training for the Eagleman Half-Ironman in June meant that I rode 42-miles on my bike in what should have been my taper week. Sure, I was tapering on my runs but that was the farthest and fastest I have ever ridden my bike, and I felt it in my quads all week.  I tried to take it very easy the rest of the week, but before I even hit the half-way point of this marathon I knew my quads were toast.

And here’s the thing…like a lot of marathoners, I have experienced the ‘wall’ in the later miles – I call them the ‘dark miles’ of the race. For me it’s usually 18-23.  When I’m tired and hurting and I still have so many more miles to go and I start making deals with my brain to end the pain.

But this definitely was not the wall.  This hit at mile 11 and up until this point I had been nailing my race pace – the race pace I had trained for.  Even reeling it in during those first miles when I was amped up and eager to let it rip.  But somewhere around mile 11, I could feel that my quads were done.  That long bike ride did them in more than I had realized and even 6 days of rest wasn’t enough of a taper to get them back up to speed.

I kept running, but around mile 18 I realized that a PR of any sort would be impossible.  Around mile 21, I was barely shuffling.  I was definitely in the wall zone at this point too and I made the decision to walk the better part of the last 5 miles to minimize the damage to my legs.

As I was walking, I beat myself up for not only missing my goal to PR, but completely blowing my chance to even finish strong.  And I was wondering how I could ever think that I might be able to complete a Half-Ironman in a few weeks and an Ironman in a few months if I couldn’t even find the mental strength to complete a marathon.

But then it dawned on me that me decision to walk had nothing to do with mental strength and everything to do with my desire to remain injury-free so that I could continue to train towards my future race goals.  And I also realized that in spite of the pain, I never stopped moving.  Even though my legs were shredded on that last 6 and I wanted nothing more than to stop and catch a ride home, I continued to put one foot in front of the other until I crossed the finish line.

So while I’m disappointed that I didn’t PR, I am proud of myself for assessing the situation and minimizing the damage before it got out of hand.  And the big lesson I learned is that training for an Ironman and PRing in a marathon do not go hand-in-hand.

So for the next few months, I will continue to train for my half and then full Ironman races, and I will continue to do speedwork, but PRs are off the table until next year.  Whew, that feels better!

As for the race itself, the Potomac River Run Marathon is a small, gorgeously scenic, and well-organized race along the famed C&O Canal trail.  It’s flat as a pancake and crushed shells and rock the whole way.  Yes, that’s easier on the knees.  But trust me, you will feel every shell and rock on your feet before that marathon is over.  It’s also an out-and-back race repeated twice.  So you essentially cover the same ground four times.  Boring?  Maybe.  But I think the scenery and the shade make up for that.

The race support is good in that they are very clear about what they have for racers and where the water stops are ahead of time.  But even though I don’t generally drink that much water on my practice long runs, I would have to say that I was absolutely parched in the 2 or so miles between water stops at this race.  Particularly in that last 10K.  If you’re a camel, you will be fine.  If not, bring your own water!

Solar water heating – what’s in it for you?

Solar heated water has been around for a long time – remember the sun-warmed swimming pool in your back yard; waiting for the sea to warm up in spring before taking that first dip; or the good old camp shower – a plastic bag full of water hung in the … [Continue reading]

You signed up for WHAT?

It seems as though I have some explaining to do. Over the past few weeks, my race schedule for 2014 took shape in a pretty big way.  And it seems that before the year is through, I will be making the leap from marathons and triathlons to an … [Continue reading]

1/2 Marathon Training: Week 1

My new training plan started on Monday. But I should probably say Tuesday since my first day was a rest day. It turns out Tuesdays and Thursdays are all two-mile runs, which works out well with Girls on the Run. Wednesdays are cross-training days, … [Continue reading]

11 going on 13.1

This summer, my eldest daughter - at the ripe old age of 11 - will attempt to complete her first half-marathon. She is not new to running.  She has run numerous 5K and 8K races and in 2012 ran her first 10K at 10 years old. She is also not the … [Continue reading]

Will you help me ‘Run Like a Girl?’

A few months ago, I embarked on a new journey as a coach for Girls on the Run. If you're not familiar with it, Girls on the Run is an organization that works with girls in grades 3-5 with the ultimate goal of running a 5K. But GOTR is truly … [Continue reading]

Don’t fall for ‘The Natural Effect’

What do you think of when you see the term, 'natural?'  Healthy?  Organic?  Made from wholesome ingredients? The Google definition for 'natural,' is "existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind."  So it's no wonder that … [Continue reading]

Music helps kids with cancer connect and cope

  It's hard enough being a teenager these days and trying to relate with family and peers.  Throw a cancer diagnosis into the mix and many teens report feeling overwhelmingly isolated, even within their main support group.  Could music … [Continue reading]

4 for 40…Mission Accomplished!

I did it.  I DID IT!! Last year, around this time, as I was heading into my 40th birthday, I set  goal to run four marathons to commemorate my 40th year.  And despite an injury that sidelined me for two months - and forced me to defer entry into one … [Continue reading]

Homeschool was only 1/2 great today

I realize that it has been a while since I have blogged.  My world has been a blur of homeschooling and marathons as of late and while I have composed numerous blog posts in my head, none of them seem to actually make it to my keyboard.  In … [Continue reading]

Homeschool: Four weeks in and going strong

Tomorrow the girls and I will begin our 5th week of homeschool.  Not bad considering most of the kids in our area haven't started school yet.  So I thought this was a good time to look back at our first month and give you an update on what's working … [Continue reading]

Starting Homeschool

Allow me to rewind the clock... Two weeks ago, my girls and I started homeschool.  This is our first go at the whole learning-at-home thing, and our first day was so incredible that I wanted to be sure to capture the moment in a post.  But as luck … [Continue reading]

How not to get hit by a truck while riding your bike

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, you might have seen this gnarly picture already.  Apologies in advance for tossing it out there again but it seemed as good a time as any to talk about bike safety, or "How Not To Get Hit By A … [Continue reading]

Running like a dog

As many of you already know from my work with Shaklee last summer, I am a runner.  Well, most of the time I am a runner.  Lately, though, I really haven''t felt like much of one.  What used to be fun and freeing has become a real drag. This past … [Continue reading]