Running shoes are so fun to shop far, right?! Well, in my case, not usually. I was “blessed” with what the industry calls “underpronator with high arches” style feet. Really, it isn’t as sexy as it sounds.
Being an underpronator, otherwise affectionately called a supinator, has its pluses, for sure. The main one is, for me at least, is that I can choose from the vast array of ‘neutral’ and ‘minimalist’ running shoes, and most of them work just fine. And there sure are a lot of them to choose from!
The negative side of my supinating feet? Well, they are ‘insufficient’. According to Runner’s World, this is what my supinating feet are: “Underpronation (or supination) is the insufficient inward roll of the foot after landing. Again, the outside of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. But the inward movement of the foot occurs at less than fifteen percent (i.e., there is less rolling in than for those with normal or flat feet). Consequently, forces of impact are concentrated on a smaller area of the foot (the outside part), and are not distributed as efficiently. In the push-off phase, most of the work is done by the smaller toes on the outside of the foot.”
When looking at my bare feet, I can instantly prove the last sentence: my smaller toes are just plain beat up; toe-nails missing, maybe growing back, usually not … well, I’ll spare you the full details, and I won’t post a picture (yep, you can thank me below in the comments).
So, similar to overpronator, underpronators get to buy a lot of running shoes. Why? Because the shoes wear out abnormally fast. I had a nice stock-pile of running shoes for about the last year, so I wasn’t in the running-shoe-shopping-market. A couple of weeks ago, realizing I had a number of fall races coming up, I knew it was time to go running shoe shopping.
I wanted to make a road trip of my new running shoe purchase and head down to Hal Koerner’s running store in Ashland, Rogue Valley Runners. Unfortunately, my schedule wasn’t allowing me to make the trip from Eugene to Ashland anytime soon, so I needed to devise another plan. Head to Portland!
Portland has a myriad of running stores, and everyone I know in the running community speaks highly of every single one of them. I knew I couldn’t choose incorrectly whatever store I went to. I found myself in downtown Portland on a Sunday, and remembered there was a Foot Traffic store in the city center.
Entering the store, I was immediately looking for a photo opportunity of me standing with the wood Prefontaine. Done. Now, enough playing around Jessica – go find some running shoes!
Martin “StoreMom” listened to all my whining and gripping about my feet. I told him it would be impossible to find a pair of shoes I liked, so, sorry for wasting his time in advance. I tried on about 6 pair of neutral shoes ranging from Brooks, to Saucony, to Mizuno. None were working, and I was starting to get discouraged, even though I wasn’t expecting to find anything I liked anyway. Bad attitude going into running shoe shopping, right? I know, I know. I’m picky, super picky.
After about 3 more pair of random shoes I tried on, Martin brought out a pair that he thought were worth a shot. Oh my gosh, yes, yes there were!
Pearl Izumi. What? I knew they were a brand, I knew they were kind of into running, but they sure weren’t Brooks, Saucony or Mizuno (my favorites). I was going to leave and be done with shoe shopping after trying on this shoe for a while. Martin was knowledgeable about the reviews, specifications, and all the bells and whistles on this shoe, the E:Motion Road N2. As he was telling me about the rave reviews coming from local runners on this product, I pop them on my feet, laced up and went for a spin. Oh my gosh, yes, yes these were the right pair of shoes for my insufficient, inward, rolling foot. The N2‘s were so smooth. My foot glided over the ground like I was an ice-skater with ice-skates on. It was magical. Yes, magical. I was in running shoe heaven.
Martin provided a lot more information about Pearl Izumi‘s for me while I was running. The Project eMotion shoes, available for both men and women, come in road, trail and triathlon specific formats. Pearl Izumi took a philosophy called the Dynamic Offset Philosophy and made a simple, beautiful running shoe.
Pearl Izumi’s website is full of videos describing everything about the philosophy and mindset used behind creating the eMotion shoes. After running two half marathons and a number of 5k and 10k races in my Pearl Izumi eMotion N2‘s, I can tell you I am sold on the Dynamic Offset Philosophy. These shoes are so smooth. My supinating feet are happy. I’m happy. If you are in the market for a new pair of running shoes, keep you mind open to new possibilities that are available on the market. If I would have not listened to Martin and tried Pearl Izumi‘s (I would have NEVER initially picked them out to try on myself), I would still be frustrated and looking for a new pair of shoes.
Runner’s World describes a simple and quick way to find out if you may be a supinator, too: “This places extra stress on the foot, which can lead to iliotibial band syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis. Underpronating will cause the outer edge of running shoes to wear sooner. To see if your shoes are unevenly worn, place them on a flat surface. If they tilt outward, supination is the culprit. Runners with high arches and tight Achilles tendons tend to be supinators.”
There is a lot of information available on the web about pronation styles. If you get overwhelmed with the information online, check out your local running store, like Foot Traffic, as a lot of great local running stores offer a gait analysis that will aid in figuring out your gait, which in turn will help them in helping you find your perfect pair of running shoes.