Now that you're ready to run, let's start with the most basic of all running needs, the right shoes. This is the area that every new runner tries to cut corners in. So go ahead if you're feeling brave and buy those flashy new shoes from the sports store or online retailer, but be prepared for the possible blisters and injuries that might be headed your way. When I decided to become a runner, I bought a fairly cheap pair of purple running shoes. My entire reasoning behind the purchase was that I liked the design and colors, they were the right price, and I wasn't sure how serious of a runner I might become. I put a few hundred miles on them (sounds crazy, but it's easy to do in 6 months if you're really training) and then started having trouble with my ankle and was getting blisters on every surface of skin that fit inside of my running shoe.
I had been told in the past that you should put about 500 miles on a pair of running shoes and I knew I hadn't hit that number yet. A friend recommended that I go to a local running store and get fitted. I was leery at first because I didn't want to be spending an entire paycheck on shoes, but decided that getting fitted wouldn't hurt. I found out a lot that day. The amazing staff at the running store that I frequent took the time to watch me run and walk, listened to what I wanted in a shoe, and what kind of training and races I would be doing. I was told to buy a shoe that is ½ size larger than my actual shoe size to allow for movement and it turns out that the shoes I had been wearing were 2 sizes too small for me, which was the cause of most of my problems. Just to be clear, some people will do just fine running in a pair of shoes that they buy through a larger scale retailer without this type of fitting, I'm not telling you that you have to get a custom fit, I just highly advocate it.
I also found out that my right ankle (the one that felt like it was going to give in at any point during my races) supinates when I run, which is just a fancy word for turns. I was then introduced to the wonderful world of insoles. Shoes always come with insoles, but I learned this really awesome magic trick at the running store (pause for dramatic effect) the insoles that come with your shoes are removable! They can easily be replaced by specialty insoles that will support your foot in whatever area you need some stabilization. They can take a little while to get used it, but I had no trouble with them at all. I credit that part to never owning a proper pair of running shoes prior to this time. Not everyone needs insoles and any good running store will be able to recognize this, so if this isn't offered to you, don't be offended. A good pair of insoles should last you through two pairs of running shoes based on the number of miles you're putting on them, or so they say. Again, everyone is different, every shoe is different, and this might not be the case for you. I realize that I'm a woman and we tend to think our word is law, but not in this case.
So, to sum it up, if you're going to be a serious runner, get fitted and put out the money for the shoes. In all honesty, a decent pair of running shoes and insoles will probably cost you less than a sweet pair of Air Jordans. Plus you can look at it this way, you're training to be a runner in these things, so nobody's going to be able to catch you to beat you up in an alley for your kicks. (Running Shoes – 1, Air Jordans – 0). A good running store will take the time to explain to you what you need and won't pressure you into buying anything. They understand running is an investment in time & the right gear is a financial investment that some people aren't ready to make yet, but they will help to get you on your feet. Most running stores also offer a 30 day return policy, so you can test the shoes out & if they're not working for you, take them back and get refitted. The goal of the staff at the running store is to keep you on the treadmill/road/track/trail etc so they're not going to try to talk you into something just to make a buck. Most stores are independently owned, so they want you coming back and they want you spreading the word about them. As you may have noticed, I also didn't recommend any brands or stores; this is something that's up to you. What I like to run in and where I like to go might not be the best fits for you, but if you're just starting out and want some suggestions, contact me and I'll throw some knowledge at you.
Do you live in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or Baltimore? If so, you should check out this great running event: The City 5K