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Vicky Hallett and Howard Schneider
Washington Post Health Section
Tuesday, March 4, 2008; 11:00 AM

He's a veteran reporter, digging up the latest fitness news. She's an irreverent columnist with a knack for getting people off the couch and into the gym. Together, they're here to handle your worst work-out dilemmas and exercise questions.

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Vicky Hallett and Howard Schneider are the MisFits, The Post's fitness writers. They were online Tuesday, March 4 and took readers' questions.

Joining them this week was Warren Greene, the gear editor at Runner's World, who will offer his expertise (and the magazine's shoe finder) to help you find the perfect pair.

The transcript follows

Discussion Archive.

MisFits Archive.

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Vicky Hallett: Hey gang, welcome to a very special edition of the MisFits! We are so psyched to have Runner's World's Warren Greene here because he knows everything there is to know about running shoes. He's basically a walking (running?) encyclopedia of this stuff, so feel free to pick his brain.

And of course, as usual, Howard and I are around too, and we can chime in about buying shoes in the D.C. area (and any other fitness queries on your mind). For the package today, we mystery shopped as many running specialty stores as we could, so we have a much better sense of what they're like.

Howard Schneider: With Warren on line I am laying low and looking for anything non-shoe related...Why does it have to rain on the first warm day?

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Washington, D.C.: Great article on shoes, better than most running magazines put out.

My question is on why the graphic with the article is of the Gel-Kinsei? I work at a running store in Arlington and most of my coworkers and I view that shoe as rather gimmicky. Its gel-on-the-outside design is unlike nearly every shoe on the market and, frankly, is questionable. Asics and other brands have many better constructed shoes (at half the price) and I honestly would not recommend the Kinsei for anyone who didn't come into the store already intending to buy it. And even then I'd try to talk him or her out of it.

Vicky Hallett: I'll let Warren tackle whether or not it's a good shoe (I think Runner's World gave it a pretty favorable review), but we used it as a graphic specifically because it has all kinds of wacky technology. I had no clue how much engineering went into constructing these things until researching this story, and we wanted something to reflect that. They seem like they're more complicated than cars.

And I'd love to hear more from the trenches! How often do you have to talk people out of buying the most expensive models?

Warren Greene: The Kinsei is a legitimate running shoe, but it is expensive and you see the runners in your shop not me. I'll leave that to you, but the gel is very cool. It's actually firmer on the inside. The dual density gel in the Kinsei has won an award from us. It's cool in shoe geek sort of way.

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D.C.: Hi! I have a shoe financing question (really). I just spent $100 on new running shoes at Adams Morgan Fleet Feet. These are the same shoes I was wearing before (based on FF's advice, after having had some shin splint problems with previous shoes).

Can I safely assume that I can stick with the same shoe next time? I'm asking because then I can take advantage of a sale price I saw on the Web -- can I just buy the same shoe, same size, and assume nothing will have changed over the next 250 miles that will mean I need to get a different model? It does get expensive replacing shoes every 250 miles, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Warren Greene: Sadly no. Manufacturers often will adjust the fit when they update a shoe. Nike for, example, changed last (the form around which a shoe is constructed) on the new women's Vomero 3 and Asics adjusted the fit of the collar slight in the new 2130. Most runners liked the changes, but it's always best to try on any new shoe.

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Small Spaces?: Hi,

I'm a first-year law student (i.e. little to no free time and a generally sedentary lifestyle of studying, class, and studying) trying to find ways to incorporate exercise. I can't go for morning runs or the like because of shin-splints that have sidelined me since they forced me to give up my track-and-field days. I normally would try to go to the gym, but the gym here is always so crowded that I spend most of the time waiting for a free spot. On a student budget, I can't afford a gym membership.

I've taken to trying to find workouts to do in a (very) small dorm room and just started the Firm's new cardioweights program, but I'm hoping there's something else I can do to workout on a shoe-string budget and a closet-sized workout space (outside isn't an option...at least not until I adjust to the blistery New England weather!!!). Any suggestions for small-spaced, cheap workout options???

Howard Schneider: Back to basics: pushups, squats, "burpees" (the old squat thrust movement from gym class with a jump tacked on the end)...Is your ceiling high enough to jump rope?...You can do tricep dips using a chair, "wall climbs" (start on the floor with your back against the wall and maneuver yourself up), and a million different core exercises. One good minimal investment is a stability ball and a couple of twenty pound dumbbells. You can get a hard workout with just this -- you don't need fancy equipment...

Courtesy of the U.S. Army, here's a primer on calisthenics...

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Kathy, Pa. : Hi. I ski about 10 times a season. I've noticed that after I ski I am famished to the point where only high-calorie carbs will do. I don't get this feeling after 20 plus miles on a bike or two hours of Pilates. I'm not skiing all day either. Because I live so close to a slope, I go out three to four hours max.

Howard Schneider: Interesting observation and I have felt the same way -- nothing like a plate of fries with gravy and cheese after a morning on the mountain...Off the cuff, I'd say it is because if you are skiing hard it is a more intense activity than either of the things you mentioned. 20 miles on a bike is that long of a ride, and once you are rolling it is all aerobic -- steady heart rate and a steady, efficient calorie burn. Pilates can be hard, but in my very limited experience it does not drive the heart rate real high. Skiing can be very intense. Even though gravity is dragging you down hill you are fighting it constant compression through the back and legs as you turn...That "springing" movement brings a lot of muscle into play -- pretty much your whole body -- so it's no wonder your wanting to gorge afterwards...What a yucky season this has been, by the way...

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McLean, Va.: Warren - Every couple of years many shoe manufactures come out with an "improved" version/model of their shoe. For example the New Balance 768 (which was the 767 and previously the 766). How often are the "new" models improvements in the shoe and isn't it mostly a marketing ploy for sales? Thank you.

Warren Greene: Good question. Most of the times the improvements manufacturers make to their shoes are genuine. The tweaks they make are based on feedback from runners. We can be a vocal group.

Most shoes, however, are on a 12-month product cycle so there is no need to buy a new pair if the color changes, for example, unless you want to.

Honestly, the innovations can come from better available materials as well. Last year, for example, most manufacturers started using light foams, which made their shoes lighter. This was a legitimate innovation.

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Washington, D.C.: I have pretty flat feet, and I developed plantar fasciitis almost immediately after I started running on a regular basis. I really don't want to quit running. Is there a shoe that will help keep this problem from recurring? How do I find it?

Vicky Hallett: There might be, but your best bet is to see a podiatrist. With the right shoes and the right orthodics, they can perform miracles.

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Washington, D.C.: Your article was very good on pronation/supination and helped me. But it left me wondering about shock absorption. Most things I've heard talked about a trade-off between shock protection and pronation control. Is there a trade-off there? I'm a big guy (200 pounds) so I look more for shock than pronation control to save me from the pounding. I run in Saucony Hurricane, a year-old model to save about $50 because if that was the hottest new technology of a year ago, it's good enough for me to save a lot of money.

Warren Greene: There's no reason to compromise. You can find plenty of over prontation control and impact protection in most higher end ($95 and up) running shoes. In fact, in our RW Shoe Lab tests, we find motion-control shoes can be just as soft as neutral-cushioned shoes.

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Burke, Va.: The doctor at my son's last well-child checkup (he's 2) mentioned that he was a bit high in the weight/height ratio. Sometimes this happens right before he shoots up in height, mind you, but I'd still like to make sure he's getting the exercise he needs (along with cutting out empty calories, too, but that's for a different discussion).

At his age, do I need to do anything specific like an exercise program with him, or is it enough to let him run and climb and jump at the playground and outside? He is a very naturally active child, more so than I ever was, and we are planning to get him a tricycle soon, once the weather is solidly spring again.

Howard Schneider: Lets meet at the playground. He could teach us something. Kids are like animal cubs -- they know what their bodies are for. At least that is my instinct as a parent. I dont think he needs programmed exercise as much as opportunities to do what comes naturally...

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Bethesda: I wanted to comment on your experience at Bethesda Racquet and Jog. I had a very different one. The salesperson was a 15-year old high school kid who didn't seem to know anything. They had no treadmill to allow me to test the shoes, and said no way could I return them, even if I just tested them out on a treadmill at the gym. The shoes ended up being problematic -- severe shin splints.

Next time, I went to Fenty's Fleet Feet. Mr. Fenty did the quick look thing Vicky described, and ended up recommending a model that was actually on sale for $50!! (I wish I had bought three of them!). He also let me run outside, as Vicky described, to test them out. Needless to say, I went back to Fleet Feet this time.

I think it is ridiculous to expect someone to buy expensive running shoes at a specialty store like R and J, and not even have a treadmill available for a test run. Just my two cents.

Vicky Hallett: The whole point of going to one of these specialty places is that the staff is supposed to know what's going on. I was surprised to find everywhere I went (even though I came at random times and didn't tell anyone I was a reporter), I had incredibly smart service. I didn't have room for City Sports in my piece, but even there, I had a saleswoman who clearly knew what she was talking about.

So it seems like you had really bad luck! My advice, especially if you're going to be spending $100, is to leave if you don't have confidence in your salesperson. You might feel like you've wasted a half hour going to a store and not buying anything, but that's better than getting the wrong shoe and hurting yourself, right?

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Washington, D.C.: I just bought weights and a weight bench. I've never seriously lifted before. Any tips?

Howard Schneider: Congrats on the purchase. My first piece of advice would be to trot out to a big bookstore and browse the fitness section and find a good intro book that has a good dose of anatomy, a good dose of theory, and a good index of exercises. I know the mistakes I have made over the years are legion -- and most notably not training the whole body, not training opposing muscle groups evenly, and not paying attention to progression. It's one thing to trot down to the basement for a quick bench press. It's another to design a program that gets the lower body and trunk, and treats the biceps and triceps as equal partners. So step one, educate yourself. If you have the cash, a handful of sessions with a trainer will buy you a lot of knowledge.

Step two: be patient. It takes your body a couple of hours to metabolize a whopping meal, and store what it does not need around your gut. It takes weeks for you body to be convinced to invest in new muscle -- and it is a process of convincing, like lobbying the county council for a new road. That's why it is important to follow...

Step three: track what you do. Over time, the amount of weight you lift needs to progress. If you don't write it down, you'll lose track.

Keep in mind that with resistance training, you can lift to gain muscle, lift to gain endurance or strive for a combination...As a newcomer, go easy for now to avoid injury...

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Washington, D.C.: What do you think of the Nike line? I have the Pegasys and like them but I need a new shoe. Would a step up to the 360 be even better? I love the cushioning they offer. When I first purchased the shoe I got blisters on the inside of my arch but that went away once I broke them in. Should that not happen? Thanks and have a nice day!

Warren Greene: I would not run a marathon in new shoes, but they should never give you blisters.

The peg is a great shoe. It has been in the Nike line forever. If it works, stick with it. If you are looking for more cushioning, try Nike's Vomero 3.

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Glover Park, D.C.: I was wondering if anyone has any experience with Bodysmith DC, a gym opening in my neighborhood? There is a location in Logan Circle and I wanted to know what people thought. I'm especially interested in the Kettlebells class.

Vicky Hallett: Would you believe I've written about the kettlebells class at BodySmith? It's true, even though I can't find the link on the Express site. Meh.

Anyway, at least when I tried it (probably about two years ago now), it was small group classes with a ton of personal attention. And those kettlebells can be killer! I don't know how familiar you are with them, but they've gotten really popular in the past few years, especially among CrossFitters. And I have a friend who works out there with a personal trainer and really likes it...

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Herndon, Va.: I am looking for the best way to lose "belly fat", I have cut calories while upping my protein and fiber, but now I need to start the exercise regime.

Howard Schneider: Hey Herndon...There's no way, unfortunately, to target the belly. That will come off as your weight drops overall. As to what to do -- what do you like to do? As we are discussing today, running is a great way to burn alot of calories -- but not the only one. Best advice is to pick an activity you'll enjoy and start with that. As you become stronger and it becomes boring, branch out from there. The aim is to get your heart rate elevated for an hour or so a day -- by how much depends on your age, fitness level and weight...

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Annapolis, Md.: Is it okay to participate in other activities like cardio classes or even using elliptical trainers in "running" shoes?

I was told by a specialty store that my shoes (a pair of New Balance stability trainers) shouldn't be used for such things...if that's the case, what on earth should I be wearing for my workouts?

Warren Greene: Sure, but remember running shoes are built for steady state forward movement. So, if you are on the EFX or stair climber, there is no reason to change shoes. Your running shoes were not designed, however, for side-to-side quick movements. So, if kick boxing is your thing get a pair of cross trainers.

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Thank you....: Thanks for a great article on running shoes. I used to be like Vicky and just pick the shoe I liked best versus picking one that is best for my feet. What a difference it makes when you have someone who is knowledgeable about shoes instead of trying to sell you the hot new shoe on the market. Thanks MisFits!

Vicky Hallett: And how helpful it is to have someone who helps you at all! My confession is I usually buy shoes at DSW, and you are so completely on your own there. There's no one around even to upsell you.

Of course, you can get lucky...I think if you come armed with a Runner's World shoe guide from two seasons ago, you really can find terrific deals. But you have to know a lot more about feet and shoes than the average person to make sure you don't do anything stupid.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi,

I run two miles a day, three times a week and I always get a sharp pain in my right ankle when I first start my run. It goes away after about two dozen strides. My guess is that it is because my right foot is a full size smaller than my left and that the shoe on the right is too big. Is that the case? And if so, is there a place where I can buy running shoes in two different sizes?

Vicky Hallett: Bad news: I have no clue is that's indeed the case, and I also don't know of any shoe stores that will let you buy shoes in two sizes. You could always buy two pairs, although that will get expensive quickly. And you might want to look into the Mi Adidas program -- you'd have to do it in New York, but they customize a pair of shoes to your feet, so maybe they could do them in two different sizes.

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: Do you have a list of shoe stores in the area where I can be fitted for proper athletic shoes?

Thanks!

Vicky Hallett: Within walking distance of you, there's Fleet Feet in Adams Morgan (1841 Columbia Rd. NW), Running Company in Georgetown (3401 M St. NW) and City Sports at 19th & L.

In case Warren doesn't wanna brag, Runner's World publishes a list of specialty running places that meet their criteria. So if you're looking for help in another neighborhood (or state), it's an awesome resource:

http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-240-319--1048-0,00.html#va

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Arlington, Va.: I'm registered for the upcoming Cherry Blossom race and I haven't really started "training" for it yet. I run here and there and haven't committed the time. I am a veteran runner -- ran a couple of marathons and 10Ks but I am coming off an injury from last year. What could I do to get ready for this race in a month?

Howard Schneider: Morning Arlington...I guess the big question is when you say "coming off an injury," how recently and how much of one? Have you gone over, say, five miles, at a time yet? Seems to me that if you haven't, then you're going to have to push the mileage well beyond what is recommended as "safe." With your experience, you certainly know your body and how it will respond. I'd just be concerned that the imposed deadline of the event will make you push beyond what's sensible. If you are at 5 miles, you could add a mile a week and be within striking distance. If not, maybe set a summertime goal?

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New York City: How does Runner's World decide what's a good shoe or not? How do you test them?

Warren Greene: We test our shoes on the feet of 350 testers. These testers are fitted just as they would be at a running specialty retailer to make sure they are in the best shoes possible.

We have three wear-test centers in the US, East Lansing Michigan, Emmaus, PA and in San Diego.

We also do mechanical tests at the Runner's World Shoe Lab and meet with each manufacture before each guide.

All that information is boiled down into the reviews we publish.

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Washington, D.C.:"Over time, the amount of weight you lift needs to progress."

How do you do this if your strength/muscle training work is dance and Pilates rather than weight lifting? More reps? Carry weights? Switch exercises?

I'm really enjoying these bellydance DVDs I've found, and I can feel my core muscles responding to them. I don't want to go back to lifting weights, as that was costing me flexibility and would require me to invest in an expensive and time-consuming gym membership, or take up room in our small house with free weights/weight machines.

Howard Schneider: Hey...Good question. Keep in mind the distinction between different types of strength. Since you bring up dancing, consider a plie. To a newcomer, struggling to complete 7 or 8 at a time, this type of bodyweight exercise will build strength. An experienced dancer doing dozens at a time is not adding more muscle, but training the existing muscle for endurance. I dont know where you fit on that scale, but depending on your goals adding more plies to your routine may or may not get you where you want to go. As to Pilates, don't the reformer and other machines have springs and straps that let you add resistance?

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McLean, Va.: What are some good strength-building exercises for quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings that I can do at home? I've heard that knee injuries often occur due to strength imbalances between these muscles and I'd like to go the preventive route.

Howard Schneider: Hi McLean....Is this in addition to other exercise, or will this be all you are doing? I ask because using your legs -- whether for walking or running -- is a great way to make them stronger, and in a well-rounded way. As for targeted exercises, the standard squats and lunges hit the major leg muscles. For the calves, you can do a good single leg left on a stair. Use the rail for balance, put one foot behind the ankle of the other, and pulse...

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Washington, D.C.: Warren, I've noticed several shoe companies have all weather versions of their shoes. Are they much different than their standard model? Do you think they are necessary or are your standard running shoe fine to run in foul weather as long as you let them dry between runs?

Warren Greene: It's a matter of personal preference. Depending on the waterproof material used, there may or may not affect flexibility, but your feet stay dry in waterproof shoes which is a good thing on wet winter runs. If wet shoes do not bother you, however, there is no reason to buy waterproof shoes.

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Annapolis, Md.: Hi,

Thanks for your answer about using cross trainers for cardio classes. When I take classes like step or kickboxing (which is my favorite!) I can definitely feel my foot moving side to side in the shoe. So hopefully a cross trainer will help.

A followup: Any recommendations on where to shop for cross trainers? I have loved going to the Annapolis Fleet Feet for advice on running shoes. It's nice that these specialty stores have knowledgeable folks working there. Do you know of any stores that sell cross training shoes that has staff who know what they're talking about? Every time I go into places like Foot Locker I get the 17-year-old who doesn't know what's what.

Thanks!

Vicky Hallett: That's a tough one! I don't know of any store that specializes in cross trainers. Chatters?

My one idea: The Under Armour store in the Westfield Annapolis Mall. I haven't been yet, but it's worth a shot.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey guys!

How often do you need to change your running shoes? Does it also matter if you use it for treadmill or outside? Thanks

Warren Greene: The general recommendation is 300 to 500 miles.

Vicky Hallett: And from what I understand, treadmills are easier on shoes than the outdoors. But at 500 miles, it's definitely still time to go shopping.

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Toe nails: I always end up with black and blue toe nails, or toe nails that fall off. But my shoes feel fine and they never hurt my feet. Am I doing damage to my toes? Should I change my shoes if nothing is hurting me?

Warren Greene: This is the aspect of fit people know best because of its not so pleasant consequences. Here is the basic mechanics, as your foot moves through the gait cycle, your arch flattens and the foot lengthens slightly. If your shoe does not offer a bit of extra length, your toes will jam into the front of the toebox, which can result in black toenails.

When you buy your next pair, tap your heel on the ground so it rests firmly in the back of the shoe. You should be able to fit your thumbnail between the tip of your shoe and your longest toe.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: As far as shock absorption and control, the Superfeet insole is an excellent tool. It is a rigid insole that provides excellent shock absorption along with excellent support of the arch. We (Fleet Feet Sports, Gaithersburg) talk to most customers about Superfeet, because no matter how much support you get in a shoe, the shoe is still flat inside. That is where the insole comes into play. According to most of the doctors we work with, they say that Superfeet works for about 95 percent of people.

Vicky Hallett: One of the podiatrists I interviewed for this piece specifically mentioned Superfeet as something shoe stores push that he hates. His theory: If you're having real problems, it's better to see a specialist and get something customized for you. Of course, that's how podiatrists pay the bills. But it makes sense...

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Chinatown: Question about running and toning and how much cardio a person needs. Currently, I do power yoga 2 times a week (intermediate level) and strength Pilates once a week at my gym. I don't always have time to do cardio every day. I try to run 2-3 miles twice a week, or if a treadmill is not available, I do the elliptical. I also try to get in an upper body workout with free weights. What do you suggest I change or add to get a lean look? Do I need to do more cardio? I am a woman who is about 5-4 and I weigh about 128 pounds, give or take a few pounds on some days. I'd like to lose a few pounds. Thanks.

Howard Schneider: With all of that underway, I bet you look pretty lean as it is...But, if you are trying to lose weight and are already running, consider adding a third day, and gradually building out the mileage...And keep up the other stuff -- all of that is maintaining and adding to the amount of muscle you have. You would not want to get thinner at the expense of losing muscle.

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Washington, D.C.: Here's my pet peeve about running shoes (and other type of athletic shoe): not enough choices in wide widths, especially for women. I have a short, broad foot -- I usually wear a 6 1/2 D width (in New Balance) -- and my choices are just so limited. Why don't shoe manufacturers realize that feet vary by width as well as length?

Vicky Hallett: You're in luck, D.C. One of the trends in the shoe world is offering more widths. From the folks I talked to, it sounded like your options are going to be growing.

Howard Schneider: Interestingly, one of the changes that the Potomac River People people suggested for me was to go wider. Never had an off-width shoe in my life...

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Fairfax, Va.: First a shoe question: I don't run on account of arthritic knees. Should I get my walking gait analyzed for walking shoes? Would a running shoe store do this?

Secondly, I am about to start varicose vein treatment, with four procedures scheduled over a couple of months. The doctor tells me to lay off my twice-a-week spin classes and weight training for the duration. I am negotiating to keep doing Pilates. He does want me to walk half hour a day, but that seems so low intensity and limited compared to what I am used to. My current regimen has helped my knees and I am in probably the best shape of my life. I hate to lose ground! Any suggestions?

Warren Greene: Absolutely. Most specialty running retailers sell more then just running shoes so they have the product you need. Also getting your gait analyzed is always a good idea because that will inform what shoes the staff puts you in.

Vicky Hallett: And as for your doc, I'd keep the conversation going with him. Would swimming be okay? Can you walk more than half an hour a day? I bet you two can come to some sort of agreement.

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DC: Warren, how can I become a shoe tester?!?!?!

Warren Greene: I get this question all the time. Runner's World has three wear-test centers in the US, East Lansing Michigan, Emmaus, PA and in San Diego. In order to test for us, you need to come to one of these locations so we can fit you in the best shoe for you. If we can't see your feet we can't be sure you are in the right shoe. If you are not in the right shoe our test will be adversely affected.

Vicky Hallett: Sorry D.C.! But somehow, moving to Emmaus just to get to test shoes doesn't seem worth it. No offense, Warren.

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Utah: Even though there is a lot of winter left, I am starting to think about mountain biking season. I started last year at the end of August, and felt I only progressed moderately. These hill climbs at altitude KILLED me.

My weekends are kept busy skiing (GREAT winter here -- sorry to brag), but I have access to a gym during the week and would like to start getting mountain bike season ready.

Are there any good workouts that I can do or links to some good workouts that would be mountain bike specific? Or just general suggestions? Will riding the recumbent bike help?

Howard Schneider: Hi Utah...Not sure the recumbent is going to do much since the geometry is so different. I'd consider investing in a trainer so you can hook your bike up indoors and have at it. Nothing is going to get you over rocks and logs except riding over rocks and logs. But you can get your aerobic endurance up and get the legs strong by doing resistance workouts.

And check this out...Your very own home state mountain biking group: UtahMoutainBiking

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Washington, D.C.: It really isn't that much that we try to talk someone out of buying the most expensive models because it's pretty rare, and usually the shoe they go for would work of them anyway.

Much more often is when someone is comes in asking for advice and then chooses off of fashion alone.

Vicky Hallett: Interesting.

And it makes me want to share one fun fact I learned about running shoes while researching this story: Blue sells! That's why basically every running shoe is blue (or at least, has that as an option). Red, on the other hand, is the kiss of death. Now you know.

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Arlington, Va.: Your article on the technology of a shoe could not have been more timely for me. I had been struggling with arch pain for about a year, trying on different pairs of shoes, inserts, arch support, etc. before I finally found a pair that seemed to work. One month later, however, I started having knee pain. I'm now in physical therapy, trying to assess the cause and the damage, and working to strengthen the muscles around my knee as well as heal the knee itself. It's more than likely that all of this has stemmed from my shoes, both current and old. I just turned 26 and I'm not a distance runner, so it was perplexing to me for awhile. Running stores are able to help you assess your walking style, and can suggest shoes for you, but is that always enough? I'm still wondering if I need to be doing more...going to a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon? The knee pain hasn't yet subsided, so the therapist started me on light therapy today.

Howard Schneider: Hey Arlington...Sounds like you've answered your own question. Hopefully you'll make progress with the therapist in figuring out what's wrong. If not I am sure the PT will refer you to a medical specialist. Have you had X-Rays or MRIs?

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NYC: Hi I have a question regarding some anecdotal observations.

I have been actively running, gym, and now cycling for over 27 years. Over the past two years I have been noticing that during my cycling about 2 hours per day on the weekend and some weekdays that I am seeing more (many more) women running then men. On bikes there are more men then women but not enough to make up the difference in running. Is there any data that shows more women are exercising then men? This seems not to bode well for men if it is in fact a trend.

Howard Schneider: This is an interesting observation...Anyone in the audience see anything to it? If so email us at misfitness.com...Curious if there have been surveys or studies about gender differences or trends...

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Washington, D.C.: If money is not the issue, what is the best shoe for a first time marathon runner? I'm into fashion so I refuse to wear those ugly running shoes. But my cute shoes are not up for running and I get injured 100 percent of the time. Now I'm ready to listen and take advice, I don't care if they look ugly so please help me, which brand do you recommend?

Warren Greene: Come on, running shoes are not ugly. Go to a specialty running store, tell them what you are training for and how much running you've done. They'll put you in the right shoe. Vicki can suggest some in the area or go to runnersworld.com/specialtyretailer

Vicky Hallett: I will agree that some running shoes are indeed ugly. Seriously, one pair I tried on at Potomac River Running were bulky and all gray, which made them look like slabs of concrete. I wouldn't even consider buying them (and then I found out the salespeople all think they're hideous, too. sorry I can't remember the brand right now!).

But I agree with Warren though that if you go to a specialty store, you'll be able to find something that looks good and feels good. It might not match your running shorts, but then you have another excuse to go shopping.

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Alexandria, Va.: Do "proper support" and "comfort" always go together?

I've been running for about 10 years -- the past 7 in the Adidas Supernova Classic. This past year, I was struck with hallux limitus in my right foot and (compensatory?) plantar fasciitis in my left. I saw a podiatrist for several months and got orthotics, which I wear in everything. (Goodbye, high heels.) I'm now running again in a doctor-reommendeded motion control shoe with a stiff forefoot -- the Adidas Brevard. So far, so good in terms of pain control, but the motion control is proving tough to get used to: I feel like I'm clumping along like Frankenstein, and my left foot tends to go a bit numb about mile 2 and stay numb for a couple of miles thereafter. Is this something I should just expect to deal with -- the price of getting the mechanical support I need to keep running? Or is this a wrong shoe/back to the podiatrist situation?

Warren Greene: Let me try and give a tip on getting rid of the numb feeling. Often an orthotic will reduce the depth in a shoe. This pushes the foot up into the laces and when you tie the shoe, you may actually be hitting a nerve. I'm guess you've taken out the sockliners your shoes came with. If not, do. Also, try our lacing tips at: runnersworld.com/lacing

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Vicky Hallett: It's 12, so we gotta go! Sorry to anyone whose questions we didn't get to. And thanks to Warren Greene for visiting with us today.

Have a great week -- maybe some of you will see my new Mizunos at the St. Patty's Day 8K on Sunday? -- and we'll catch up again next Tuesday.

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Howard Schneider: Thanks to Warren for coming on line with us from Runners World...and see you next week...

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