The Treads

If you hadn't already noticed, a trip to a well-equipped sporting goods store will reveal just how specialized workout gear has become. This is especially true in the footwear realm. In fact, never-throw-out-a-pair-of-running-shoes jocks like Jonathan and Joe each have at least 44 pairs. (Okay, maybe more, but we don't have the time to tally them all.) Think we're exaggerating? Here's a basic outline of the footwear you could find in our collective closets:

> Running shoes for the road (lots of them!). >- Trail running shoes. >- Cycling shoes for biking on the road.

> Cycling shoes for mountain biking and touring.

> Basketball shoes.

> Tennis shoes.

> Cross-training shoes, which are hybrid sneakers designed to do a bit of everything.

> Water shoes, which are slipperlike footwear designed for kayakers.

>- Approach shoes designed for easy hiking.

>- Sports sandals.

With the obvious exception of cycling shoes that feature protruding cleats that leave you walking like a petrified tree, most of the above are fine for just lifting weights. Remember that there have been many Olympic-level marathon runners who ran like the wind barefoot. So while the sport specificity in footwear does have its place, you can wear just about anything as long as it fits and gives you adequate support.

Herein lies the rub. Ideally, your footwear should provide you with ample arch support as well as proper medial (inside aspect of the foot) and lateral (outside) support. If you've ever had any foot pain, your best bet is to go to a store known for its sneaker savvy. Be specific with the salesperson about what you'll be doing in these sneakers. If you know that you're flat-footed (have no arch), pronate (walk on the inner portion of your foot) or supinate (walk on the outer portion), inform the salesperson; if he knows what he's doing he should recommend shoes designed for those specific conditions.

If you don't understand pronation, buy whatever feels best and, over time, monitor where the majority of the wear and tear on your footwear occurs. (If you're a runner

this will quickly become obvious.) Generally speaking, when you're weight lifting, a cross-training shoe would be your best bet for appropriate support.

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