Whether we’ve run in the exact same make and model of shoe for years or spent years trying to find the perfect shoe, we’ve all had it happen to us… Our most beloved running shoe of all time, gets an unwanted update.

In my 26 years of running I’ve had this happen a number of times. When I was younger I could pretty much run in any shoe, but that’s not the case now.

Here’s a fun story, in seventh grade when I joined the track team, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me shoes for more than one sport. Since basketball was my true love at that moment in time, I ran track in a pair of kid-sized Air Jordans. Man, did I love those shoes!

My 1st Track Shoes

Now, I’m super picky about shoes and know what I like and don’t like about a shoe. Which means when I find the shoe of my dreams, I search high and low for a replacement shoe that’s similar in nature. I know I’m not alone in this quest. Finding a new shoe that works for you often means a larger collection of unwanted shoes and a smaller bank account.

With the right information, you may not have to spend as much money or waste as much time searching for your new perfect shoe.

How To Shop for Running Shoes

I almost always have one Race Pace Runner who is on the lookout for new shoes, therefore I’m constantly keeping an eye out for a shoe that meets their needs. Most of the time, I’m able to identify a shoe that works best for them, saving them both time and money. Today, I’m sharing with you the criteria I use when making shoe recommendations so you can save money and time!*

The Brooks Pure Flow 2s were one of my all time favorites. None of the other versions worked for me at all so I switched to Saucony Kinvara 5s.

The Brooks Pure Flow 2s were one of my all time favorites. None of the other versions worked for me at all. Therefore after much despair, I switched to Saucony Kinvara 5s.

I want to help you waste less time and spend less money identifying what shoes will work for you. Use these steps to narrow down your options and your frustrations.

#1. Identify these things about your current favorite running shoe model. Then select which of these things matter to you the most.

  • Toe-to-heel drop
  • Width
  • Weight
  • Amount of cushion
  • Amount of support
  • Stack heights (you can eyeball this, you don’t have to pull out a measuring tape)
  • Size and any sizing issues (i.e., a size 7 worked for half marathon training, but you needed a 7.5 for marathon training)
  • Any changes you’d make to these shoes

#2: Make a list of shoe brands that you know generally fit your criteria (i.e., I need a shoe that comes in wide widths or is naturally a wider shoe or I need a shoe with a narrow heel). If you don’t know, it is easy to do some research just by googling or popping in your local running store to look at shoes.

#3: Identify which new shoes out on the market line up with your choices from step #1.

#4: Read running shoe review posts for the shoe(s) you’ve identified. You’ll most likely find a reviewer who shares your preference in running shoes. This will help when making other running shoe decisions in the future. Here’s a list of running shoe blogs I reference often:

Run Blogger

Running Shoes Guru

Believe in the Run

Ginger Runner

#5: Narrow down your choices and select the shoe that you think best fits your needs. Try to find a retailer with a generous return policy that allows you to exchange or return shoes after running in them (I’ve had great experiences with both Nike and Road Runner Sports).

Things to avoid doing:

  • Don’t stick with a specific brand just because it’s what you always wear. Updates to shoes happen often. Just because you love a specific brand doesn’t mean that brand is always going to make the right shoe for you.
  • Don’t depend just on the salesperson at your local running shoe store. While they can be helpful and a good place to start, do your own research.
  • Your needs change over time. You might actually do just as well or better in a different shoe.
  • It’s fine to search eBay and every single online retailer so you can stock up on the old version of your favorite shoe. However, eventually you’ll have to find a new shoe. When you choose your new shoe, try to find something that’s new to the market so you don’t have to waste time searching for a new shoe again next year.

I’ve spent hours on my feet and searching the internet for running shoes that would work for me over the years, but this process has helped both myself and my Race Pace Runners waste less time and money.

* This list of recommendations assumes you are not looking for a completely different shoe, but you are looking for a shoe as similar to your current model as possible. If you are looking for a new shoe because of any sort of injury or discomfort you should consider seeking out a qualified professional to help you with the shoe selection process.

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Build Your Own Acai Bowl

by Jess on February 12, 2015

Wanted to share one of my current favorite healthy (and easy to make recipes) acai bowls! If you aren’t familiar with acai berries, they are a superfood from Brazil, known for a variety of different of health benefits- and they taste great too.

An acai bowl is basically a really thick smoothie that’s been topped with oatmeal, granola, fruit, seeds or even different nut butters. They are a great breakfast or snack and will leave you feeling full for hours while also satisfying sweet cravings!

Build Your Own Acai Bowl

Below are some quick steps & ingredient suggestions. ENJOY =)

  • BLEND. First blend together two acai smoothie packs, a generous splash of liquid (you can use water, juice or milk) and (optionally) some frozen fruit. I like to add about one cup of frozen berries or a frozen banana.
  • POUR. After your acai is thick, frosty and blended, spoon it out into a bowl as your base.
  • TOP. Start adding toppings! Pile away- whatever suits your palette. I like to alternate seasonal fruits with fresh granola and chia seeds.

* This post was written by Race Pace Training Diaries Blogger, Jess D.

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Blogging My Buildup to Brooklyn

by Jess on February 3, 2015

When I look through my race history, it’s fun to see that it’s been awhile since I’ve set any PR’s. Most of my existing PRs were set without intention or any race plan and most importantly, when I wasn’t on the verge of turning forty.

What I’d like to do this year is take my past experiences from all those hard marathon training sessions and put that same sort of effort and grunt work into shorter distances. I’m signed up for a few baseline/practice races this spring with the first race I’m focusing on being the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 16th.

Brooklyn Half Marathon

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about my training and it’s been even longer since I’ve trained for a half marathon (5 years to be exact!) therefore, I thought it might be fun to document my training here again.

The race is a few months away and while I’ll be following a more traditional 10-week training plan, I’ve already been laying down the groundwork for this race. Here’s how I’ve laid things out:

January: Easy Running + Strength

The last week of December and all of January was about re-establishing a routine and changing how I look at my workouts. I’ve let go of piling up more and more cardio based workouts and prioritized strength work. I took two hot power yoga classes at Pure Yoga each week and did 1-2 strength training workouts at home while running outside 3-5 times a week.

Focusing less on running has been a welcomed change of pace!

February: Add in Hills + Indoor Cycling

This month will look similar to January. The only changes will be adding in hill repeats and heading back to indoor cycling classes for higher intensity cardio workouts. I haven’t focused on hill work in quite some time and I took a break from indoor cycling last year, therefore I’m looking forward to adding these things back in.

March: Start Training Plan

I’ve sketched out my long run workouts for the ten weeks, but not the entire plan. I’ll continue to keep up with the strength training and yoga classes, but I’ll drop indoor cycling from the schedule (it’s just too expensive and time consuming to do all of these things at once). I’ll add in track work, tempo runs, long runs and other running-specific workouts to the mix.

Here are a few of the challenges I know I’ll face:

I haven’t strategically raced a race for a PR since June of 2013. However, I’ve already started executing strategies by practicing during shorter non-goal races. I ran a 4-mile race this past Sunday, have a 5k scheduled for March 1, and a 10k scheduled for March 31st. I’ll most likely add one more race to my schedule for April.

Making the switch to shorter distances will take a shift in how I approach my workouts. As it’s something I’m already working on, it’s been interesting to notice thought patterns I developed as a result of marathon training and how a lot of those ingrained habits are no longer applicable.

Overall, I’m excited to put this plan into action and see what transpires.

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A few of my personal rules for running this winter include:

Keep it simple. Do the work. Go outside. Don’t overthink it.

The hardest of these things to do is often the third one on the list. It’s cold! It’s winter! Of course getting out the door is hard. But, it’s made easier when I make doing a dynamic warm-up a non-negotiable.

My personal dynamic warm-up routine is super simple, I enjoy doing it and my legs and lungs appreciate the time spent warming up indoors before heading out into the freezing temps. If you don’t warm-up for your runs year-round, now is the time to start incorporating a dynamic warm-up. Hopefully, you’ll create this new habit now and take it with you into spring and summer training.

Dynamic Warm-up For Runners

Instructions: Do each exercise for 30 seconds. For single leg exercises, do each exercise for 30 seconds on one leg, then switch and do 30 seconds on the other leg. Perform this routine 1-3x before heading outside. All exercises are meant to be done without weights.

#1 Body Weight Squats

#2 Walking Lunges

#3 Reverse Lunges with rotation

#4 Lateral lunges with or without torso rotation

#5 High Knees

#6 Butt Kicks

#7 Leg swings

#8 Dynamic Calf Stretch

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Race Pace Training Diaries: 2015 Goals

Race Pace Training Diaries follows Jess D, a Race Pace Runner, training with the goal of becoming a faster runner and setting a new Personal Records in everything from the marathon to the 5k. Learn more about Jess here. While I am someone who believes in constantly setting and revising goals, I recently got the Believe Training […]

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Shifting Away From Marathon Brain

How does the saying go? “Train the same and remain insane” or is it “Training the same is insane”? I don’t know, but what I do know is that when marathon training went from weeks and months to years and well years of workouts, things started to feel a bit insane. The strangest part is […]

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Why You Should Run GPS-Free Once A Week in 2015

Let’s talk about running and technology for a minute. It’s a great tool, but it’s not everything. And it should never be something you can’t run without. The only things that should fall into the “can’t run without category” are clothes (assuming you run in a public place) and probably shoes. Nearly everything else including […]

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Race Pace Training Diaries: Go Fearlessly

Race Pace Training Diaries follows Jess D, a Race Pace Runner, training with the goal of becoming a faster runner and setting a new Personal Records in everything from the marathon to the 5k. Learn more about Jess here. As we say hello to a new year, I thought I’d reflect on 2014, through a running lens […]

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Looking Back to Look Ahead: On Turning 39 in 2014

2014… The year I ran Boston. The year I ran Boston while taking over Fitness Magazine’s instagram feed. The year I ran the LA Marathon. The year I ran Chicago (again). The year I set zero PR’s. The year that when December came around all I could remember were my Race Pace Runner’s PR’s while […]

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10 Days ’till Christmas: 10 Last Minute Gifts for Runners

Oh my goodness! There are only ten more days until Christmas! Just because you can pick up something lame last minute at Duane Reade doesn’t mean you should! (read 21 Things That Will Happen to You While Christmas Shopping in NYC) If you’re like me and in a pinch to cross everyone off your shopping […]

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