Not all that long ago, I wrote in the pages of “Out There” that I had been wearing a single pair of green Superfeet running inserts for the better part of a decade. Admitting that they were many times past their manufacturer-advised lifespan I wrote something like, “I’m sure they’re no longer helping, but they don’t seem to be hurting.” I added that I intended to carry on with them, indefinitely.
I didn’t get into it at the time, but the same was true of my shoes, a model of Asics I’ve been running in as long as I can remember (though they have been replaced regularly along the way). When it comes to running, I like to keep costs low and—in contrast to the rest of my inner life—overthinking minimal. I stick with what works, and everything seemed to be working.
However. I’ve been able to increase my mileage lately (a perk of this not-very-wintery winter) and in doing so I’ve noticed some achiness in my knees. Over the past few years I’ve done a good job—or at least a better-than-I-used-to job—of cross-training and stretching, which has seemingly compensated for previous muscle imbalances and tightness. Because of this, I felt pretty sure the culprit was my gear.
I decided to go in for a Fit ID 3D foot scan and assessment at Fleet Feet. By a happy coincidence a friend of mine, Micah Estelle, was working the day I stopped in, and he took me through the process. The first step is a quick (seconds long) biometric scan of your bare feet, then a walk across the floor while the specialist studies your gait. You also chat about your running behavior—trails versus road, what you’re training for, that sort of thing. Then, according to the results of the scan, the walk evaluation, and the conversation, you try on some shoes.
My scan showed, among other things, feet of similar length, narrower-than-average heels, a low instep, and a right foot that has a larger ball girth and width than the left. Micah noted (from studying how I walk) that I pronate—meaning that when I walk or run, more weight goes on the inside edge of my foot.
With all of that in mind he brought out a few pairs of shoes to try. One was my current model of Asics; the others were Brooks, Karhus (Fleet Feet’s house brand), and Hokas. I tried on each pair, noted how they felt, and then did side-by-side comparisons (one brand on left foot, one brand on right). I was encouraged to walk around the store or run outside to get a full sense of what was working.
Micah also had me test a pair of baseline green Superfeet against a pair of Superfeet Run Comfort women’s insoles, which are designed to better fit women’s feet, with features including a slimmer heel and arch length, as well as dual comfort foam.
It took about two seconds before I realized the Run Comforts were vastly better. My feet sort of swam, I suddenly realized, in the green Superfeet. These felt like they were made for me, almost tailored to my foot. There was no question: I was buying a pair.
When it came to shoes, Brooks Adrenaline was the winner. Compared with my previous mainstays (Asics Gel Kayano), I felt I was hitting the ground more lightly and that the structure of the shoe was propelling me gently forward.
The Fit ID itself is free; you pay for shoes or other items. For me it took about 35 minutes, including trying on shoes, etc. Even my accompanying 5-year-old seemed to find it relatively painless (it didn’t hurt that she scored a peppermint from Indaba, which shares space with Fleet Feet’s Kendall Yards location).
The Brooks are coming in the mail soon via free shipping (the color I wanted wasn’t in stock), but the new Superfeet have already accompanied me on several outings, instantly and profoundly improving my running life. Before, I’d have said my feet felt fine. No complaints. But now my feet actively feel good. It turns out that this makes a very noticeable difference—my feet are happier and I, in turn, am also happier. Who knew?
Maybe there’s something to be said for occasionally updating your gear, after all. //
Writer’s Note: Fleet Feet Spokane is an Out There Outdoors advertiser, but the whim to go in for a Fit ID was entirely my own, and no items were gifted for the story.
Sarah Hauge lives in Spokane with her husband and two daughters, where she works as a writer and editor. She’s hoping to pull off the new-to-her feat of back-to-back half marathons this May (Windermere and Coeur d’Alene).