Trail Shoes or Hiking Boots?

When hiking or backpacking you need hiking boots, right? Because, as we all know, hikers need extra ankle support, water protection, and foot protection from the tough terrain. Plus, it helps to have the extra weight on your foot when you need to kick a bear in the face.

We aren’t buying it. From the runner’s perspective, hiking boots are heavy and hot! Many outdoor enthusiasts, including thru-hikers, are switching to wearing trail running shoes instead of a traditional boot for their outdoor pursuits. The tread on trail running shoes provides grip on rock and dirt surfaces, but without the extra 2-3 lbs of a boot. We were curious about the difference ourselves, so our very own Fast Breaker Varina put both boots and trail running shoes to the test!

Varina’s been rehabbing a messed-up ankle for the past few months, so she was very curious what the differences would be between boots and runnings shoes while hiking, especially regarding ankle support. To make a proper judgement, Varina hiked short hikes (3-4 miles) to longer day hikes (up to 18 miles), in cold weather, in rain storms, in sunshine, and up large mountains! Here are her thoughts on hiking in trail running shoes:

Varina backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, wearing trail shoes.

Varina backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, wearing trail shoes.

Varina and her husband, Andrew, hiking on the snowy peaks of Colorado, wearing hiking boots.

Varina and her husband, Andrew, hiking on the snowy peaks of Colorado, wearing hiking boots.


It’s probably an obvious observation, but hiking boots are much heavier than trail running shoes! I was using a lower ankle boot, and I still felt like they were bricks on my feet. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but trail shoes are definitely 1-3 lbs lighter. I can’t say I necessarily hiked faster in the trail shoes than the boots, but I did feel lighter on my feet and able to go much further. I hiked 14+ miles in both shoes, and felt better in my trail running shoes. It could have been due to the fit of that specific boot or not. Who knows?


Trail shoes definitely breathe better than boots. In the south’s summer heat, my feet sweat! Thick boots, no matter how broken in they are, can rub blisters on feet because water from sweat sloshes around inside the boot causing friction. I found that trail shoes allowed moisture to wick outside of the shoes, allowing my feet to dry out.


Trail shoes are not waterproof. So if you need a shoe to get you through snow or creek crossings with low water levels, then boots are for you! The downside is that waterproof boots keep the water out and in. If a downpour hits, you are going to get soaked. Boots become heavier when wet and they take a long time to dry. Trail shoes, on the other hand, drain the water and dry out quickly. Personally, I wear my boots when hiking through snow in Colorado, but when I'm in the southeast, I prefer to wear trail shoes. When there are creeks or puddles, I embrace the water and splash my way through! (I do wear sweat wicking socks which help.)

Ankle Support

The reason I tried out boots in the first place was to find more ankle support as I recovered from an injury. Having a weak ankle, I knew hiking on uneven trails was taking a risk. I found that the boots provided a little extra support and allowed me to enjoy the outdoors as I was healing. As my ankle grew stronger, I began taking short hikes in the running shoes progressing the miles each week. With time, I was able to switch over to only using the lighter trail shoes.

For anyone worried about ankle support, I suggest, first off, doing regular ankle exercises (like calf raises with your heel in line with your leg) to strengthen your ankles. Stretching and strengthening will protect your ankles more than any boot. Second, try trail running shoes on short, less technical hikes before taking on 8-12 miles up a technical mountain.


A thick soled boot is going to offer a firmer surface and more protection from sharp rocks than a trail shoe. But many trail shoes include rock plates in the forefoot to protect your foot. While wearing my boots, I felt like I could walk over anything and be fine. The trail shoes I hiked in did not have a rock plate, but I did not have any issues.  

So if I have convinced you to try out trail running shoes, here are a few pro-tips to get you started: One, go to Fast Break Athletics (it’s on Cherokee Boulevard). They know everything. Two, ask about rock plates and different levels of cushion. There are many different types and styles of trail running shoes, so find one that fits the kinds of terrain you walk on. Three, make sure your shoes have plenty of space in the toe box. With all the ups and downs a trail brings, you need room for your feet to swell and move around some.

Trail running shoes are not for everyone, since every hiker’s preferences and terrain vary. But if you think that a lighter weight, breathable trail shoe is for you, give them a try!

5 Tips for Running in the Heat

Whether you’re training for a summer race or just trying to survive till a fall marathon, running in the south east summer is draining and exhausting! After just a loop around the block, your clothes look like you’ve jumped into a swimming pool! An afternoon run can easily turn into a dangerous suffer fest if you are not prepared. So before you put on that sweat band and take off that shirt to get a nice bronzed look during your afternoon tempo run, brush up on these 5 heat training tips to prevent heat exhaustion or worse.

1. Adjust to the Heat

Heat training can be beneficial for your running as it can expand blood plasma volume, but one cannot just jump into a full training schedule in high heat. First, you must acclimate your body with incremental improvements over 2 to 4 weeks. Be patient with your runs as the temperature rises. Slowly increase the length of time and effort of workouts as you feel your body adjusting. Rushing into heat training can cause heat cramps or heat exhaustion. Listen to what your body is telling you and adjust. But if you absolutely can’t stand the heat, run in the early mornings or late evenings.

2. Correct Hydration

Re-hydrate after last night’s beer! Drinking at least eight cups of water a day is always important, but your body needs more water in the summer. An average human sweats 1 liter of water per hour of exercise. To stayed fueled (and alive), hydrate with an electrolyte drink 1-1.5 hours before your workout. Run with a hand held water bottle or hydration pack, and continue to drink 16-28 oz of fluid per hour as you workout (or 4 to 8 ounces per mile). If you have to, set an alarm to go off every 20 minutes to remind you to drink or take a gulp whenever your GPS watch beeps.

Electrolytes increase your water absorption rate and replenish the nutrients you sweat out. Drinking gallons of plain water can actually hurt you in a process called hyponatremia where too much water intake dilutes blood-sodium levels. While this usually occurs more often for long distance runners or hikers, it can be easily avoided by adding a Nuun tablet or a scoop or two of Tailwind into your water bottle to properly refuel your body. The electrolytes will also prevent heat cramps and dizziness from heat exhaustion. Remember to continue drinking water or an electrolyte drink post workout so that your body can restore itself before the next day’s run.

3. Slow Down

Running in the heat is exhausting. The body is working double time to push blood and oxygen to muscles and skin to keep from overheating. Since the heat causes an additional stress, times and intervals have to give. Slow down your pace and even take a break for a moment to get fresh oxygen and blood flowing through your muscles and skin.

Don’t panic, your training doesn't have to give. Try running hard workouts early in the morning (time to work on that bed time…), and less intense runs in the afternoon with hotter conditions. Not everyone responds to heat in the same way, so be kind to yourself, listen to your body, and don’t push it! For best recovery, treat your recovery days with extra love. Run on a treadmill in cooler air, run early in the morning, or even deep water fun. To run in the pool or a lake, wear a flotation belt and pump your knees and arms up and down, much like a high knees warm up drill, but with a slight forward lean.

4. Proper Attire

In the hot sun, light weight, bright colored, synthetic clothing that’s loose enough to promote airflow is ideal. Even though it’s outrageously hot, it’s still important to cover up to prevent sunburn which can affect your body’s ability to regulate heat. Wear a hat to create your own shade over your face and sunglasses so that you can still enjoy the scenery without getting a headache from squinting. The extra sweat can sometimes produce blisters, so make sure your shoes are sized and fit correctly, as your feet will swell some, and wear cotton-free socks. Cotton soaks up water, just like a bathroom towel, and keeps it in your shoes. Socks with a synthetic blend wick the water outside of the shoe.

5. Don’t Lay Down

If heat exhaustion does happen, you will probably feel dizzy and overwhelming need to lay down will rush upon you. Resist!!! Pavement and concrete absorbs and stores heat making the pavement hotter than the temperature at head height. If you are feeling sick, try to find shade and slowly walk around, sipping your electrolyte drink. If the suffer fest has progressed to a dangerous level, you or a friend call 9-1-1 (and on that note, run with a phone for moments like this!).

As summer begins, remember these training tips as you embrace the south’s hot, humid hug! Good luck, Fast Breakers!

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga: Tips and Tricks

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga is in less than a week! We talked with our very own, in-house tri-dork Seth Ruhling and asked him for a few tips for a smooth and fast race day! Check out the videos and tips below. Good luck, all triathletes! ! We will be cheering for you!

Gear Checklist

First things first, before race day, make sure you have everything you need! Here is a gear checklist to help you prep. If you need to pick up some last minute supplies, stop by Fast Break Athletics!

  • Goggles
  • Swim Cap
  • Tri Kit, shorts and top
  • Body Glide
  • Garmin watch
  • Towel


  • Bike
  • Bike shoes
  • Rubber bands
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottles
  • Energy drink mixes
  • Energy gels
  • Running shoes
  • Quick Laces
  • Race bib number belt
  • Running hat
  • Energy gels
  • Hydration belt

SWIM - 1.2 miles 

Before entering the water, survey the buoys and course direction. Then jump right in! This is the start to an awesome adventure! Stay calm and relaxed during the chaotic early moments of the swim. Create space for yourself to swim as soon as possible, so that you're not battling with other competitors. Pace yourself in order to finish strong and to have energy left for the other elements of the race. Watch where you're going; sight often and make adjustments.

T1 - Swim to Bike

Prep for TI (before the race):

  • Clean your bike - a clean bike is a fast bike!
  • Keep it simple, don't bring more than what you absolutely need. 
  • Place your helmet and sunglasses on your bike. 
  • Put your shoes on the bike and attach to the bike with rubber bands
  • Fill water bottles and place in bottle cages

During the race:

  • Use the time to relax and recover from the swim.
  • Be clean, don't take off your swim gear and throw it into someone's space. This could pentalize you.
  • Put your helmet on FIRST then you take your bike off the rack.

BIKE - 56 miles

The Chattanooga 70.3 Ironman bike portion is largely a non-technical course on beautiful rolling country roads. Preview the bike course either in person or via the course maps provided. On race day, use the first 15 minutes of the bike to "warm up" and find your pace. Stick to your pre-race pacing plan. Remember to drink fluids and take in nutrition regularly. Again, watch where you're going; be careful of cones, potholes, and other competitors. Stay on the right side of the road unless passing. Be cautious of the drafting zone, you don't want to snag a penalty!


Prep for T2 (before the race): 

  • Again, don't bring more than you need. 
  • Lace your running shoes with quick laces, for fast and easy shoe tying. 
  • Lay out your running shoes, running hat, race number belt, and energy gels

During the race:

  • Dismount before the dismount line! You don't want a penalty. 
  • Keep your helmet on until your bike is racked.
  • Slip on your running shoes, race belt, hat, and you're off! You can put on your hat and belt while your running through the transition.

RUN - 13.1 miles

When you get to the run section, you will be tired, but views of the scenic city and the cheering crowds should perk you up! The Chattanooga run course consists of 2 loops through downtown. Start easy and build into your goal pace. Use the aid stations to your advantage: hydrate, cool yourself down with water cups, take in nutrition, etc. Take one mile at a time. Keep a positive mind, and stay focused.

FINISH - 70.3!

You did it! Now go get yourself a well deserved burger and a drink, and give yourself a pat on the back! 

Run for the Hills: Workouts to Train for a Hilly Race

The Chattanooga Chase 8k is just around the corner on Monday, May 29. Established in 1969, the race is the area’s oldest active competitive road race, featuring a HILLY 8k and a fast 1-mile race through Chattanooga’s North Shore. Rock/Creek will be awarding a premium to the first male and female to reach the water station atop Minnekahda Avenue, the race’s most challenging climb! 

To help get your legs in shape to survive, I mean run, this historic 8k, we asked a few noteworthy, and fast, runners to give us their favorite hill workouts and tips on how to run them. Add these workouts into your weekly routine to prepare yourself for the Chase!

Daniel Goetz, local runner and coach

Workout 1:

This is a 10 mile run total. Run 5 miles uphill, then turn around and go back down. The distance is not as important as long as you're challenging yourself.

I like to do this every other week instead of a long run. I would suggest having at least one easy day after and before doing a workout. I like this workout simply because it's tough.

Because you're running uphill, you don't have to run fast to work hard. You don't have to push, just let the hill do the work. You will be breathing hard and your legs will be burning, and all you have to focus on is to keep moving and make it to the top. Once you’re at the top, stop and check out the view for a second then turn around and head back down.

Going down will feel different at first because you're not having to produce as much power to get your body up the hill. Instead, your body is working hard to reduce the shock of fighting gravity's pull. Again don't push. Just relax, lean forward, and let gravity do its job. You'll likely come down a few minutes faster than your pace on the way up.

Since there’s so much downhill, I recommend doing this workout on a dirt road, wide trail, or flat terrain.

Workout 2:

Start with a 10-15 minute light tempo run. Then run 3-5 sets of :30 seconds, :45 seconds, :30 seconds hill sprints with a walk/jog recovery on the downhill and 3-4 minutes between sets. The hill should be moderately steep, nothing crazy (a great hill is Whitehall Road).

The light tempo run at the beginning of the workout has two functions. First, it helps warm up your legs before you hit the hills. Then when you start the hill repeats, your legs will already have a good amount of work in them, so they have to push harder during the workout.

The effort on the hills should be pretty high. As you try this hill workout, you'll have to learn how to distribute effort throughout the sets. When the effort is high and it becomes harder to push, focus on being tall, using your arms, and lifting your legs quickly.

Hills are God's gift to runners. Any variation of these workouts are beneficial. Make sure to stretch well, foam roll, and whatever else to take care of your muscles and joints afterward!

Patrick Reagan, 100k American record holder, U.S. Olympic Qualifier

One of my favorite hill workouts is uphill, downhill 2 mile repeats. If you have a bridge or hill that is around a mile up and a mile down, I suggest a structure similar to this session:

Start with a 2-3 mile warmup. Then perform 3-5 x 2 mile repeats at your trail marathon effort (If you have never run a marathon, let alone a trail marathon, think of this as slower than your 5k or 10k race pace but still a quick and sustainable speed.) Rest for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Don’t stop moving completely. Practice active recovery like walking around or slow, easy jogging.

A pace example for this workout is running uphill at a 6:35 minutes/mile pace and downhill at a 5:25 minutes/mile pace.  At the end of the workout run a 1-2 mile cool down.

Alan Outlaw, our beloved owner of Fast Break Athletics

Find a gradual grade hill that is not too steep. Run 8-10 repetitions of uphill sprints for 20 seconds. The 20 seconds helps to create better running form and glute strength. Focus on running with good, total body form. Pump your arms to increase your leg turnover. Pick up your feet, and push hard in the last few seconds.

Another great workout is to run a continuous steady effort on a hilly course. Pick an area of town with numerous hills to run you mid-week tempo run. Be aware of each hill and resist slowing your pace. Keep it steady.

Add one of these workouts into your weekly training and you will be ready to tackle the hills in the Chattanooga Chase! Sign up today to stay motivated! See you at the start line!

Chattanooga Takes on Boston

Currently, about 25 runners from Chattanooga and its surrounding cities are packing their gels, racing shoes, and singlets to travel to Boston, Massachusetts to run in one of the most famous marathons in the world. On April 17th, these men and women will line their toes with the starting line along with thousands of others to run a race that has taken hours of sweat, tears, miles, failures, triumphs and pure grit to qualify for. We wanted to recognize and cheer on our local athletes as they embark on the final leg of their 2017 Boston Marathon journey. We asked of few of them to share their stories in hopes that they will inspire Chattanooga’s local running community to dream big and set their goals high!

Ryan Shrum, age 49

This will be my 8th Boston and 53rd marathon overall.

I first got into running while at Rossville Junior High School School at the urging of the track coach there. I ran the mile in 8th, 9th and 10th grade before giving it up for twenty years. I got back into it to lose weight and to kick alcohol/drugs.

I was getting ready for my 3rd marathon, Chickamauga Battlefield in 2007, when local running legend Flash Cunningham asked me if I was going to try to qualify for Boston. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I did a little research. I needed a 3:20:59 to qualify. I thought that was impossible since my previous 2 marathons were in the 3:40's. When I got to twenty miles, I realized that I had a chance if I could pick up the pace a little. I ran a 3:19:51 with an almost 3 minute negative split and went to my first Boston in 2008.

I'm always trying new things in my training for Boston. The course is a hard one to master. This year I have backed off of the high mileage a little bit and focused more on quality workouts. For me, something bad almost always happens during my training for Boston. I've had freak injuries (broken toe, sprained ankle) and normal injuries (IT band syndrome, pulled hamstring, Achilles tendonitis). I was laid off from a job once during Boston training. I've had relationships end twice. The absolute worst though was when my Mother passed away in 2014, five days before Boston. She had been in the hospital for 3 months so it wasn't a totally unexpected, but still very tough for me to train for and go and run the race. That was what she wanted me to do though. She always loved to talk about the Boston Marathon.

My goal is 2:55 with a slight negative split, provided the weather is good. Good weather for me would be overcast with temps in the mid 40's.

boston runners-7.jpg

Morgan Olson, age 25

This is my first time going to Boston. I chose to run this race because I wanted a race to look forward to during a challenging time in my life. In training for Boston, I have had time to think and enjoy the life God has given me. Don’t get me wrong, the runs hurt and are hard, but I cherish the time I get to spend outside remembering all the blessings that have been poured out on me by those around me.

Although training has not gone as planned, I am coming up on my first marathon that I am injury free, which is a HUGE accomplishment. The biggest challenge for me is to remember that my body is different from others’, and what works for some doesn’t always work for me. The more marathons I run, the better I am at understanding this. If I can encourage anybody, I hope it is to do what works for you and enjoy doing it. Life is too short to be stressed out about running!

I want to look back at the 2017 Boston Marathon and know I gave it everything I had, whether that’s running fast; being helpful, encouraging and kind to those around; or accepting if the race does not go as planned. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles.  I hope whatever runs my way, I can find true joy and hope that my fellow Chattanooga runners, at Boston and here at home, can do the same!

Andy Highlander, age 29

I started running in 3rd grade when Cameron Bean got me to try out for the cross country team and track team. In high school, I knew I wanted to run all 6 major marathons. This is my first time running the Boston Marathon and my first time going to Boston! I'm excited for both! I qualified at the 2015 Chicago Marathon a few months after Cameron died. It was the hardest race of my life. I sat on a bench in Grant Park and cried after the race.

My goal for Boston 2017 is to average 6-minute miles. It's an ambitious goal, and I'll be happy with anything under 2:45, but if everything goes right, I should be able to run that pace.

"Just keep truckin'"

boston runners-3.jpg

Kevin Huwe, 30

I first started running when I was about twelve. Both my older brothers did it, so I just assumed I could too. I beat my older brother in my first 5k, but my friend beat me by 2 seconds. From then on, I just wanted to keep running and keep getting faster.

I missed qualifying for Boston in my first marathon by about 2 minutes, so I took another shot the next year at the Louisville Marathon and got in. I ran Boston in 2013 with a time fast enough to qualify for 2014. After all the events with the Boston bombing, I decided that I wanted to come back in 2014 and run again. But in 2014 I did not run fast enough to get back in, and at that point, I was out of running regularly. But soon after, I started writing a workout schedule for my wife and started back running with her. After she ran her goal race, I decided to write my own schedule and have been building back ever since.

My most important aspect to training is consistency. Next is not overtraining, followed by knowing how my body responds to different workouts. All in all, if you train consistently without overtraining, you're going to do well. Also, nutrition and hydration are almost as important as fitness in a marathon.

My main goal for Boston 2017 is just to run to my ability, whatever that is. I think my training indicates that I can run under 2:40, so that's what I'll be pacing for, but I will just go with whatever the day brings.

boston runners-6.jpg

Katie Outlaw, age 36

I started running about 10-11 years ago, mainly as a form of escape and time alone in the woods. My father passed away suddenly in 2005, and I found a lot of peace and solitude in the woods. I always ran alone with my dogs and became pretty addicted to the way running made me feel. I mainly ran trails, so I started signing up for some trail races around town. I ran several trail marathons, 50k’s and a 50 miler at Mt. Hood. Over the past three years, I’ve transitioned off the trail to more road running. At first it was just to get faster on the trails, but now I’m hooked! Although I can’t wait to get back to the trails after Boston.

I love setting goals and achieving them. I’ve never run a big road race with so many people and so much history, so Boston seemed like the perfect goal. However, I’ve only run 2 road marathons: Battlefield and Missoula Marathon in Montana where I qualified.

It’s been really surprising how much harder road marathoning is compared to trail ultras. The hardest part of training has been the 4:20 a.m. alarm! Juggling a full-time job as a school psychologist, being a mom to a very active daughter, and coaching track and cross country for Normal Park has been challenging. So most of my runs happen before 6 a.m.! And I take recovery pretty seriously. Naps, epsom salt baths, and massages.

At Boston, I really want to relax and have a good time… and get just 1 good race photo! I’ve trained really hard, so if the weather is good and everything falls into place, I hope to have a good race (but I don’t like to say time goals out loud!).

Scott Hamby, age 46

Before 2009, I had never run more than 3 miles. That spring, I started running with a friend of mine that was training for the San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon. I told her I'd maybe work up to 12 miles but had no intention of going any further. However, I ended up running through the entire training cycle with her and running the Battlefield marathon in November. I've been running ever since.

My average marathon time for several years was around 4:15 - 4:45, so I never considered trying to qualify for Boston. In 2014, I decided to make some changes and ran a 3:50 for the first time at the Kentucky Derby Marathon in April. After that, I thought getting a BQ (Boston Qualifier) time might actually be possible. At that point, I'd run about 13 marathons, and though I had about 30 minutes to cut from my time, I decided to make Boston a goal. In December of 2014, I finally qualified at Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville. I've since qualified at New Orleans, Andrew Jackson, Kentucky Derby, Panama City, and St Louis.

But this year, I'm just happy to make it to the start line. I've had an injury since early January so will be running the race with about 4 weeks of training and  2 weeks of taper. I’d be overjoyed to qualify again but that's probably not realistic. I'll just enjoy the crowd, have fun, and try not to think too much about pace.

The blue Fast Break Race Team singlet has been the shirt of choice for most of my races last year...and probably will be for this year too!

Dianna Leun, age 45

I started running after having 4 kids. I needed to get back into shape. The Boston Marathon is such a highly recognized race, so I wanted to give it a go. This year will be my second Boston Marathon.

The hardest part for me is not the qualifying part but getting to Boston. I don’t like to fly, so the first time, I had to overcome the fear of getting back on a plane. Thank goodness for friends!

The Chattanooga running community is a group of phenomenal individuals that share their support, encouragement, and wisdom. I have developed some amazing friendships while training with people that inspire me daily with their own personal journeys as well tolerate my quirky and colorful personality. Extremely thankful for everyone!

My goal for Boston 2017 is to finish strong.

David Kieu, age 41

I got into running in 2010 for the camaraderie, challenge, and competition. When you get into running, you generally pick up a Runner's World magazine and read it from beginning to end. There's always some article with the mention of Boston. So I was like, "I want to do it!" This year will be my third Boston. I've done it in 2012 and 2015.

I had some epic failures back in 2008. I winged it trying to qualify running the 2008 Battlefield Marathon. I took a sabbatical from running for the next two years. In September 2010, I started talking to Joey from Fast Break and he helped me develop some structure to training. The Georgia Publix Marathon in March 2011 is where I finally qualified with a 3:13. It was incredibly painful and amazing at the same time. Mantras really do work, I kept telling my self from mile 18 and on, "just hang on, you've come too far to quit!" I got through it, and it took two weeks for me to recover. Worth it! I continued to build off that race and others along the way. This is gonna sound odd but I like to have a hamburger, fries and a coke for dinner before a marathon. This is my third Boston marathon and I'm just looking to have fun and make some new friends! Running is truly great sport!

Good luck to everyone from Chattanooga who is running the Boston Marathon!

Happy National Walking Day!

Walking is a non-intimidating form of cardio exercise that everyone can do. You don’t have to be a coordinated athlete or a marathoner to get this dose of cardio. A daily 30 minute walk improves circulation and loosens stiff joints. When coupled with healthy eating and a healthy emotional lifestyle, walking can improve our overall mental and physical well-being.

As runners, we often think walking is boring, slow, or not a sufficient enough cardio workout. However, walking is one of them most underrated exercises. It’s cheap, it’s mind clearing, it gets us outside, and it improves cardiovascular health. It’s a great shake out for the legs on a rest day, and it’s something you can pull friends or family into.

Here’s 4 reasons why walking is a great workout and everyone should do it:

You can walk anywhere.

You can step outside your house and walk down the street, walk down the sidewalk, or walk to work. If the rough terrain of a single track trail is too much to handle on a run, walk the trail instead. Need more of a cardio challenge? Find a trail with a big hill and walk up and down it a few times. This can be a great chance to work on your power hiking for a long trail race. However, if fresh air is not your thing, you can walk on a treadmill and catch up on your favorite show.

Walking increases mental peace.

One of the worst things we can do to our body and minds is sit all day. Stepping outside of a florescent-lit office and walking 30 minutes during a lunch break allows your mind to clear itself and your eyes and brain to take a rest. Plus, the exercise releases endorphins and serotonin to give you a natural high, often helping solve complicated work problems or restoring a positive attitude.

Walking provides time to connect.

Catch up with a friend by inviting them on a short walk after work or before you pick up the kids from school. After dinner, connect with the family on a short walk to easy your bellies after a full meal. All of you will reap the health benefits of exercise without the boredom of suffering alone.

Are you an introvert? Download your favorite podcasts and listen while you walk. But always stay alert of your surroundings when walking (or running) with headphones.

Walking provides a cardiovascular workout.

Many runners scoff at walking, however walking can ramp up your heart rate just as much as a slower tempo run. Walk for 30 minutes to an hour on a trail and work on your pace and stride. Pick a hilly route to push your quads and glutes. Still too easy? Try mixing in strength training exercises. Walk near a local park and add in squats and lunges. Use a bench for tricep dips and pushups or a playground bar for pull-ups. Challenge yourself!

Of course, with all athletic activities, we recommend you wear the right shoes. Many people stop exercising because of foot pain. Get fitted at your local running store for shoes that support your arch and allow your toes to move and operate like they were made to! Remember to replace your shoes after 4-6 months, so that you can keep on walking.

Now go explore a new part of town on a walk!

Enjoy National WALKING Day!

The Best Shoe Fit for Jobs on Your Feet

There are many occupations that require being on your feet all of or most of the day. Nursing, retail, restaurant industry, hospitably, security, technicians… you know who you are. And you probably know the feelings of back pain, sore feet, and achy knees. When our feet suffer, our enjoyment of work suffers, which can lead to less productivity, unhappy bosses, and eventually job loss.

Ok ok, that may be extreme, but your feet are important! The proper shoe with the proper fit can make the world of a difference for your arches, back, and knees when you work long hours. Your work conditions may not be changeable, but what supports the foundation of you body definitely is!  

Running and walking shoes offer lots of cushion and support for long hours of standing. But there is not one, three, or five best shoes for long hours of standing. Every foot is different, and one shoe does not fit all people. It is best to be fitted in person so that you can try on several shoes to find the right fit.

Here are a few qualities to ask about and look for in shopping for the best shoe for retail, nursing, or any job type with lots of movement on your feet.


This one may seem obvious, but we see a lot of nurses and factory workers wearing little to no cushioning in their shoes. One reason is because they are old and need to be replaced. (Hop over to this blog post to see if your shoes need replacing.)

When buying a shoe for a standing job, look for a shoe with higher cushion to provide support and shock absorption for your joints. These shoes will have an obvious extra foam in the foot bed.

Just a warning, higher cushion usually means a higher price, but they will also last longer because of the extra foam. So the cost pays off.

Proper Length

It is already important to be fitted for the correct length with running and walking shoes, but it is even more so for someone who stands on their feet all day. Feet swell and if a shoe is too tight, then the toes will not have enough room to breathe and move correctly, causing more pain and fatigue in the arch and bottom of the foot.

To find the size of a running or walking shoe, we measure the length of the ball arch. The widest part of the forefoot should fit comfortably in the widest part of the shoe. If the fit is correct, you will have about a 3/4” (a thumbnail size) space between the end of the toe and the end of the shoe. The space prevents your toes from jabbing into the end of the shoe when your feet swell and you are walking around.

Proper Width

Along with the correct length of the shoe, you want to have the right width. This is a BIG deal! If the shoe is too narrow, when your feet swell from hours of walking around, your poor feet will be screaming for relief.

When we measure a foot, we look at the width of the widest part of the foot. There are several different widths in both men’s and women’s shoes. If your foot is hanging off the sides of the footbed, you need a larger width, not necessarily a size up in length. A running or walking shoe is supposed to fit more like a slipper and less like a soccer cleat.

Arch Support

(read this if you are required to wear a specific shoe)

If you cut off the fabric around the top of a shoe, you will find an almost flat surface. There is very little arch support in a walking or running shoe. But if you are standing all day, it is very important to support the arch from collapsing.

Our solution is the Powerstep insert that was designed by a podiatrist as an over-the-counter orthotic to support the foot and relieve pain. A flexible plastic cushioned with foam provides built-in arch support. In the heel, there is a cradle to cup the natural fat pad to provide more cushion. The good news is that the Powerstep can go into about any shoe (even high heels) and comes in several shapes, sizes, and thicknesses.

Compression Socks

We know we know, these are not shoes. But compression socks will help deoxygenated blood in the veins flow from your feet and calves back to your heart to be replenished with fresh blood and be sent back to your tired legs.

Think of how much shock you body takes as you walk across concrete floors for 8, 10, 12 hours. These vibrations eventually cause fatigue in the muscles. The tight compression around the foot and ankle and lighter compression going up the calves assist getting fresh blood to flow into your legs. Compression socks will help decrease fatigue as you work on your feet. In our store, we sell CEP socks and Tennessee made Sockwell socks. Stop by to have your calf and foot fitted for the right size.

Whether you are required to wear a specific work shoe or have the freedom to wear any shoe at work, there are several steps you can take to support your arches, increase blood flow, and relieve fatigue and pain. Stop by the store to talk to one of our fit experts about your job requirements and what shoe is best for your feet.