I've blogged about how when I was in elementary school I would dread the day that we'd do the presidential fitness test. You see, I was naturally athletic (playing sports like softball or volleyball), but horrible at these arbitrary tests.  Part of me felt that my peers, these kids, received some sort of secret ninja/spy training when they were younger that prepared them for these feats. I would try my best and fail miserably at most of the tests; but I'd fail none so spectacularly as the mile run.  The fastest kids would finish between 6 and 7 minutes.  Me and the slowest boy would run/jog/walk/run/jog/walk/jog/walk/walk/walk/walk/walk somewhere between 15-16 minutes.

So this past weekend when I walked into Pacers Running Store, part of me was worried that because I didn't know the secret handshake they'd know I wasn't a runner.  Yes, I know.  I'm being ridiculous, but there was still a part of me that felt like I didn't belong there.  But I had money and a need for sneakers (I knew my sneakers were not just dying, but actually dead).
Luckily, I caught the attention of a salesperson (Tripp) and he took great care of me.  I brought my old sneakers with me (Saucony Pro Grid 3s) and I think he immediately recoiled because they were just so worn down.  (Don't worry, I donated the offending sneakers.)

He put me on their treadmill and recorded me running for a few seconds at pace (I went for 10:00 minute miles cause I don't normally use a treadmill).  Good news was that I didn't supinate as much as I thought and I was pretty well aligned from my ankle to my knee.  What this meant is that I didn't need a shoe with arch support (I have naturally high arches) or a shoe that has motion control (to fix how my foot was landing). 

The Saucony ProGrid3 was a good neutral shoe, but Tripp thought we could do better than the most recent iteration of that shoe.   He also surprised me with one little tidbit -- I actually needed a size 10.5 running shoe.   He explained that most people come in needing a half-size to a full size bigger because (1) their feet swell when running and (2) to provide enough room in the toe box so that when you land, your toes have somewhere to go.  All of this seems so obvious, but I thought the 10s I brought in were big enough (I also have the same shoe in a 9.5).

The Brooks Ghost 6s were the winner.
Tripp brought out a few models for me to try (if I were a better blogger, I would have taken photos, but alas...):  (1) Nike Zoom Vomero+ 8 (I felt like my heel was going to come out no matter what I did); (2) New Balance 880v3s (which fit, but felt heavy on my foot); and (3) Brooks Ghost 6.  During this process he also gave me a short tutorial on how to make sure a sneaker is on right -- to tap the heel into the ground to make sure it's all the way back, and then pull the laces tight at the middle, go forward, and then go all the way back again to make sure that your midfoot is secure, and that your heel is going nowhere.

I also picked up some other goodies:

(1) CEP progressive calf sleeves -- to help my calves with recovery (after my first run, I was walking a little noodly for a day or two) and they'll come in handy as the weather gets a bit cooler;

(2) SPIBelt high visibility belt (and yes, I was amazed that my GalaxySIII fit in that tiny little pocket); and

(3) Amphipod stretch reflective bands, cause well.... you can never be too safe.

In sum, I had a great experience at Pacers Running Store, I learned a little bit about how I run, and the kinds of shoes that I need to look for and all that was left to do was take my new sneakers on a run. But before I went, I asked @RunPacers if they had any advice for an elliptical runner going to the ground: 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge as seen from Georgetown Waterfront (notice how sweaty my hands get? Ew!)

Outtake:  Spike and Jack confer regarding the new sneakers.
After two short runs, the sneakers feel great and I'm not feeling the same pains in my calves that I did after that first run.

However, I'm not going on long runs.  I'm still a bit hesitant and want to see how my lower back responds.  My neck is doing great. 

I will mix elliptical and running outside for a while until I get a better feel as to how the compression is affecting my spine, and also to meet my #GoTheDist goals.


I just started reading your blog because I saw your tweets to Pacers but I think this is great. You know what helps me get motivated to run outside is signing up for races. I always have a race scheduled so I know I have to run or I will really regret it after. I am a slow runner- around 12 min/mile but it is still really fun. If you haven't already, you should sign up for a 5k and see how you like it. Pacers sponsors a whole list of races throughout the year that are great.


Ms. America -- the last time I entered a race was actually BEFORE I injured my back:

I'd love to be able to run one, but I don't know if it's in the cards. But I've put almost 600 miles on the elliptical since January. Not bad, eh?

Keep it up and enjoy your races!


At my school we had to do the "cross country" run, around the block and a couple of laps of the oval. I have no idea how far it was, but there was an official time limit of 15 minutes. If you went over that, you had to do it again the next week. And I was always over 15 minutes, often the only person in my year. I don't think I improved the next week either. I wasn't obese or anything, just a terrible runner (and generally unfit.)
One year I saw some girls jumping over the fence to cut a huge corner. Cheaters! I was way too law abiding for that, unfortunately. I just shuffled along in my own personal world of humiliation.


Natalie -- shame on those cheaters! I remember the only advice other than "Go Faster" that I got from my gym teacher was "In through the nose, out through the mouth." She gave me no advice on how to settle in to a comfortable pace or how to condition my lungs. I mean, god forbid a teacher actually teach, right?


I, too, am a terrible runner. I recently returned to my high school, though, to do a run on a track. I could still hear my high school gym teacher and all the other kids... But in some way, it felt really good to conquer my fear of the mile on that track. Good luck and hope you run injury free for a long time!


I <3 my Saucony's! They've got the best customer service as well.

As for the running, I think I missed that day in gym class where they taught everyone else how to run. I have no idea what I am doing out there and I hate every minute of it.


Pink Elephant -- "injury free" is asking a lot for someone who has degenerative disc disease. My hope is just to have a few good runs a month outside, and the rest I'll do on the elliptical. But like you, I'd love to return to the track (really, a grass field) that beat me.

Girl a Cookie -- I haven't had an occasion to call Saucony's customer service, but I had AMAZING customer service from New Balance.
Have you checked out the C25K program or other free run coaching programs (like Brad Gansberg)?


I have a C25K program and I've used Brad's.. I just can't get into the groove of it. I feel like my feet are going eleven ways to Sunday while I am trying to go forward. I think I'm just not cut out to run, lol.



I know what you feel regarding the mile run in elementary school. Not the best elementary school experience. LOL


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