By Gillian Burdett

The cause of runner’s knee, shin splints and a host of other pains may be found on your feet. Worn-out or ill-fitting running shoes can lead to injuries that will quickly derail your training program. While big box stores or online outlets may be less expensive, there is no real savings if the running shoes you purchase put you on the disabled list.

Modern running shoes use lightweight foam to provide support and absorb shock while maintaining agility. However, after 300 to 500 miles of pounding, that foam loses its effectiveness and shoe shopping is in order. You may think a huge national chain store will be just fine, but ask a clerk in one of these behemoths about heel-toe drop, and you may just get a blank stare. Veteran runners, who’ve already found the perfect shoe, may want to order the newest model online, but beware, manufacturers often make significant, year-to-year, style changes that can affect fit.

Your best bet is to head out to one of these shops, where serious runners in Connecticut buy their footwear, to get a professional fitting.  Here’s a tip: When shopping for running shoes, bring along your old ones. They will tell an expert staffer a lot about your running style and unique fitting needs.

Runner’s Roost
25 Old Kings Highway N.
Darien, CT 06820

Owner Steve Norris is a passionate runner, excelling in track events in high school and college. He went on to coach championship- winning teams at Darien High School. Since 1978, he has brought his expertise to his business, and his staff is trained to diagnose runners’ problems, analyze a runner’s gait and recommend the proper shoe. Runner’s Roost carries top brands for training and competition. They have a liberal return policy should you find your shoes are not performing.

Ridgefield Running Company
88 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT 06877
(203) 438-7778

Physical Therapist and personal trainer Deb Povinelli, along with licensed health, triathlon and cycling coach Megan Searfoss, opened Ridgefield Running Company in 2004. They are more like a running/fitness club than a retail outlet. RRC has training programs for all level runners with weekly runs, demonstration days and special events. Povinelli, Searfoss and their staff use the modern fit analysis techniques to ensure you walk out with the footwear you need.

Kelley’s Pace
27 Coogan Blvd.
Mystic, CT 06355

Few places by the shore offer special attention the needs of runners. Kelley’s Place is an unexpected find. It is located among the quaint shops of Old Mystik Village. Don’t let that fool you, the store, founded by 1957 Boston Marathon winner John Kelley, has a modern selection of running shoes. The staff is well trained in fitting shoes to address orthopedic problems and is happy to offer advice about local running routes. Kelley’s Pace runs a Saturday Morning Running Group and hosts local races.

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Woodbridge Running Company
7 Landin St.
Woodbridge Ct 06525

Staffed by runners who know their stuff, this small shop has a great selection and the expertise to put you in the right pair of shoes. Employees will analyze your gait and fit you with the pair best suited for your run. If you are thinking about changing to a minimalist style, they can help you with that, providing the footwear and advice on how to make the change without injury. Woodbridge Running Co. has a second location at 632 Federal Rd. in Brookfield, CT. If the size or color you want, or a specific brand, isn’t in stock, they are happy to order for you.

Fleet Feet Sports
1003 Farmington Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06107

Owner Stephanie Blozy is an ultra-marathon competitor and her staff has the same energy and enthusiasm when it comes to training and fitness. All members of the Fleet Feet team are trained to fit each customer’s unique needs. A fitting session will begin with a series of questions: What is your training program? What are your struggles? What are your goals? Then, you will be measured, your gait analyzed and the shoe fitting pro will bring out a selection of shoes for you to try. A customer’s relationship with the shop doesn’t end at the sale. Fleet Feet offers training programs, weekly fun runs and informational workshops.

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