Guest post by Pamela Hayes-Bohanan
My exercise regimen is pretty low key: walk the dog every day and on nice days ride my bike a bit too. New England winters keep me off my bike for about five months of the year, but it takes some incredibly severe weather to keep me from my daily walks.
These constitutionals on the sidewalks and streets of my neighborhood have been taking their toll on my almost 57-year-old-feet. The soles of my feet, especially the heels, just really hurt – a lot – which in turn occasionally causes pain in my knees and hips.
I determined that I needed some really good shoes, with good support and shock absorbtion – and I wasn’t afraid to pay for them. The pandemic and ensuing lockdown have meant that I’ve hardly had to buy anything new for the past year. Neither have I eaten out (or even gotten take-out) more than half a dozen times. I was flush with discretionary spending money.
A FB Messenger exchange with Catherine W. (who I refer to as the “guru of all things athletic for the non-athlete”) convinced me to check out REI for possibilities. She also recommended a couple of specific brands. I went to the REI website, where I was overwhelmed by all the choices. I noticed an option to set up an appointment via Teams with an REI rep who would help me to select some shoes. I filled out the request form and picked a time and date a few days in the future.
At the appointed time I left a Zoom work meeting with some campus muckety-mucks in order to meet the REI rep online in the hopes that I would soon have happy feet. I felt totally justified in leaving the work meeting because
a) the meeting with the REI rep had been scheduled first;
b) the work meeting was scheduled at the last minute and for a time when my workday was normally over; and
c) I simply did not want to be in a meeting with muckety-mucks any longer.
After exchanging the usual pleasantries with the REI rep (Adam) I was given instruction on how to measure my feet using a set up involving a tape measure, masking tape, a big book, and a chair.
I measured both feet standing and sitting, length and width. I also put on my current pair of inferior walking shoes and determined that I could indeed put my index finger into the heel of the shoe when it was on my foot. Once my shoe size was determined Adam asked me some questions about where and how my feet hurt, how much I walked, and if I ever walked on surfaces other than pavement. Once all pertinent questions were asked and answered we started to explore the options online together.
We immediately dismissed the shoes in the “Casual” category. I suggested they would be good if I just needed something to slip on to run outside for an errand, but were clearly not going to be the heavy duty performers that I sought for my daily excursions, so we moved on to the shoes in the “Hiking” category. Adam explained about differences in shoe weight, as well as other features that I should consider for cushioning my feet and providing support.
After looking at three different types of shoes I settled on the Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero Hiking Shoes.
This is so not like me. I really dislike shopping, online or IRL. If I want or need to buy something I generally find something that’s “good enough” at a decent price and am done with it. In this case, though, I realized that “good enough” really meant superb. I’m glad I spent the time and now am as well shod as I’ve ever been.
Readers: have you had recent experiences with online shoe fittings or other fittings? Have you been satisfied? Is it not working? We’d love to hear from you.
Pam’s bio: In addition to being a librarian Pam is a book-loving, dog-walking, Spanish-speaking feminist. She is unapologetic about the fact that she rides her second-hand, three-speed bike only on horizontal surfaces.