5 in 5: Getting a lift with new shoes

In search of the best-fitting running shoe, ST sports editor Lee Yulin gets her feet measured and analysed for a custom fit.VIDEO: THE STRAITS TIMES

Maintaining an exercise regimen amid the hurly burly of life in the newsroom has been a challenge from Day One.

While I am moving slowly but surely - and am managing to move well past 10 lamp posts without stopping now - it has still been a struggle.

The weight has come off at the rate of a kilo a month, which has been OK, but hardly inspiring.

So in need of a lift, I decided it was time for something more familiar, my favourite pastime - retail therapy.

One of my abiding philosophies when it comes to my sporting activities has been that if you can't play well, you can at least look good. It is why even though my talents are better suited to the page rather than the pitch, when I am on the move, I am relatively well-decked out.

 
 

But vanity aside, the importance of being well equipped while undertaking any physical activity should not be underestimated. An ill-fitting outfit can leave one with uncomfortable problems like chafing, blisters and worse, injuries.

Being naturally kiasi, I decided that if I were going to take up running on a more serious basis, my existing pair of trainers would not suffice.

In contemplating what to clad my feet in, I decided that even though I am not a serious athlete - the 5km fun run at the July 16 Straits Times Run is the most serious and strenuous activity I've signed up for in decades - I had better get some expert advice when picking my shoes.

So off I went to the New Balance store at Kallang Wave Mall where Jason Ho, the store supervisor, took me through a shoe fitting. (Note: This is not special treatment for me. If you've ever been in their store, you will know that getting a shoe fitted according to your running style/gait is part and parcel of their service).

First, Jason assessed my arch, which is normal ie not high and not flat.

Then he put my feet in the Brannock Device which gauged the length and width of my feet and also took into consideration the size of any bunions. Conclusion: My feet are slightly broad for the average woman though fortunately the bunion on my left foot is not abnormally large.

Then he assessed my gait by making me walk up and down in the store for a short stretch with shoes off. Conclusion: I supinate slightly when walking, which means my foot rolls on the outside of the foot.

Thankfully, this is not excessive, which could cause injury and strain muscles and ligaments around the ankle. The only thing this has left me with over the years are shoes whose heels have worn out faster on the outside.

Then came the painful part: Running on the treadmill in the store where he could judge my running gait. Painful not for me but for the treadmill as I thundered away on it. Thong! Thong! Thong! My feet pounded on it and I wondered to myself if Jason and his colleagues were concerned about their treadmill and whether I had broken it.

Usain Bolt I clearly am not.

Thankfully I didn't and ironically my feet don't supinate as much when I run as opposed to when I walk. And then it was left to Jason to recommend a pair of shoes based on his expert judgement as well as to what I preferred - a well-cushioned shoe that was perhaps heavier, or lighter one, or one that gave more stability.

He picked three pairs - one a lovely purple with a thick sole that boasted both cushioning and stability, the second a bright vermillion which was lighter and the third a blue-and-green ensemble.

I must confess that even though Jason was explaining the science behind choosing the right pair of running shoes, I was more attracted to the blue-and-green one because well, it would go with the lovely outfit that I had my eye on as I walked into the store.

But Jason was extremely thorough, literally putting me through my paces in each pair and assessing my gait continuously as I walked and ran circles in the store in each pair.

The orange pair was quickly ruled out. I felt it was almost trying to correct my foot position by forcing my feet to turn inwards and upwards. And that affected my balance.

Then it came down to a choice between purple and blue-green.

Hand on heart (and head in this instance too), the blue-green one fitted better when running especially with a bigger toebox that didn't cramp my toes up when turning. The purple one felt better while walking but since I am supposed to run, I left a happy camper.

Mind you, one should never underestimate the power of retail therapy: Much like a child with a new toy, I was on a "new shoe high" for some weeks!

A kilo a month is slow going, but slow and steady ... completes the race which I aim to achieve at the ST Run. Perhaps with these new shoes, things might get even better.

The ST Run is now open for registration. Join me and others as we take to the streets of the city on July 16.

It's a scenic route with the Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands and the picturesque Marina waterfront all set to come into play depending on what distance you sign up for.

And, for the first time, we'll be finishing at the Padang. Registration details can be found at www.straitstimesrun.com