This thought occurred to me a few weeks back. I was buying a new pair of racing flats at Westchester Road Runner. Asics no longer makes the model I’ve been wearing, so Andy Kimerling, the store’s owner, brought out some alternatives. I tried the Saucony A3 and thought them great so I bought them.

Meanwhile, someone asked to see some shoe in some size, and Andy interrupted that by asking why the guy wanted them. “They were reviewed in Runner’s World.” Andy got a bit pissed. “Why would you listen to a magazine when you could talk to people who do nothing but fit shoes for people. I’ll get you those, but you probably should try something else as well.”

I don’t know if the guy tried another shoe. But shortly after that I happened to wander into a Nike Store at the Westchester, a mall nearby. Someone was buying shoes. Why, I thought, would anyone do that unless she had a particular shoe in mind? I often buy shoes on-line because I know the model I like. But when I’ve thought of switching models, I go up to Westchester Road Runner to try them out.

There was an interesting podcast a few weeks back on RunnersRoundTable with someone from Fleet Feet Sports in Chicago in which he discussed what someone should do when looking into new shoes. One of the participants said that he’s a big guy and the recommendation at stores invariably is the Brooks Beast. I don’t know anything about that shoe, but apparently it is the default for big guys. But, it was mentioned, “all of us big guys don’t run the same so don’t give us all the same shoe.”

Westchester Road Runner happens to be a very good local store. (There’s a Running Company far closer, but its selection is much smaller.) There are different ones in the City. Most offer 10% discounts for members of local clubs. But the most important thing is that you can talk about how you run and what shoes may, or may not — I once asked about the Nike Free and was told that it was not for someone who has been running as long as I have — be right, and be the right fit, literally and figuratively.