New dates are posted.
Tip #1. Start at the Bottom
If you are doing the Phoenix Summit Challenging November 4th this year your friendly neighborhood Shack staff (the Arizona Hiking Shack at Thomas & 32nd St.) would like to make sure you are ready. Whether you are doing three, five or seven summits, you need to be prepared. It’s a grueling challenge. Phoenix Parks & Rec. does an amazing job with the infrastructure of “The Challenge,” so you will have encouraging help. But inevitably, it’s you and your team that will pound out the miles. Up and down, up and down, up and… well, you get it. Your feet are going to take that pounding. So, let’s start at the bottom. Start prepping for the race with good, supportive, well-fitting, footwear.
Your shoes are going to be your Most Important piece of gear for this challenge, on the day of AND leading up to it as you practice.
Here’s some tips on what you need to be thinking about as you look at the shoes on your feet.
Toe room. You need shoes that fit your feet well, meaning, a snug but not tight width (your foot will swell on the trail) and when you lace it up it holds the heel in place AND has toe room in front of those tootsies. Space in front of the toes allows you to hike down those hills without jamming your toes into the front causing pain and leading to bruised toes, black and blue toe nails and eventually, toe nail loss. Not fun. Generally, you will want to get at least a half size larger shoe for hiking. Better yet, come into the Shack and one of our fit specialist’s will do a “Shoe Check” for fit and condition. If you like, we can also get you in proper footwear for what you are doing.
Pro Tip: When you take the insole out of the shoe and stand on it with your heel placed flush with the rear of the pad, you should see about a finger’s or even a thumb’s width in front of your toes.
When you stand in the shoe with it properly laced and kick your foot forward in it repeatedly (simulating down hill hiking, you should not be hitting the toes in the front.
A trail runner or hiker shoe should support your foot well making you feel sure footed. The lateral support of a hiking shoe helps prevent rolling ankles and the midsole helps protect your foot from rocks and terrain hazards. This is much different than in most other sport or “tennis” shoes. The hiker tread helps grip on a variety of trail conditions. A good supportive shoe will make a lot of difference. For the PSC, a lightweight hiking or trail running shoes will be perfect. You do not need a “boot” and “no hikies in nikes”. Get something comfortable.
When you take four steps in a new shoe there should be some “wow” factor. It should be comfortable. You are going to be moving in it all day. How much support, ruggedness, tread, ankle support (in mid-tops) or weight is purely up to you. There is a lot of personal preference here to consider; however, it should feel good. Wear a new shoe around the store for 10 or 15 minutes. Walk around. If you forget about the shoes on your feet, it’s probably good for your foot. Anything wrong with the feel should be addressed because it’s only going to get worse out on the trail. Then, you will want to put that footwear through some paces on trails to make sure it is all you need it to be during the day of the challenge. Take it out on a bunch of hikes, up and down, up and down, up and ….
Come by the Arizona Hiking Shack if you have questions or want to try on some footwear. Our footwear specialists will be happy to help. Have a great time at the Phoenix Summit Challenge with comfortable feet!