Running Changes Everything®: The Shoes and Gear of an Evolving Runner

Gina Kutz competing in races.

Over the past two years, Gina Kutz has gone from being a new runner with very little experience to an accomplished runner who has completed numerous 5Ks, half marathons and a marathon.

After dabbling in running for years, the 41-year-old resident of Fitchburg, Wisconsin decided to go all-in during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic because she needed exercise at a time when gyms were closed. Since then, she says running has changed everything in her life for the better.

She admits she might not have gotten there without the help of her local Fleet Feet stores near Madison, Wisconsin. When she started running regularly, she didn’t have any knowledge about the running shoes she needed. Fleet Feet outfitters not only fit her for a proper pair of running shoes the first time she walked in the store, but they also helped her expand her horizons with new brands and models as she began running longer and faster.

Now that she’s been running 30 to 45 miles per week on a regular basis, she’s learned a lot about what she likes and what works best for her. She’ll be using a lot of her favorite gear, apparel and accessories highlighted below as she continues to train for the Madison Marathon on November 13.

“It’s all been a process, but I’m starting to get there,” she says. “Fleet Feet has been a huge help to me. They’re very friendly and helpful and I always love the selection of shoes and gear they have. I love trying out new things that can help my running.”

Finding Her Perfect Fit

Gina poses with her new shoes.

When Gina started running, she went through Fleet Feet’s proprietary 12-camera 3D fit id® Foot Scanning process. Combined with the Dynamic Pressure Mapping System, outfitters determined the precise length, width, arch height and movement patterns of her feet. She bought a pair of ASICS GEL-Kayano, a stability trainer with ample cushioning, a plush interior and moderate support.

As her fitness improved, her running style changed a bit, too, so she went through the Fleet Feet outfitting process a second time. She chose a pair of ASICS GEL-Nimbus, a lightweight neutral running shoe with premium cushioning and moderate support to accommodate her higher running volume.

Since then, she’s gone back to the store and bought pairs of the On Cloudstratus 2.0 for longer runs in her marathon training and the On Cloudultra for trail running. Both have copious amounts of cushioning and an energetic vibe from the snappy Speedboard embedded in the midsole.

The On Cloudstratus 2.0 is an everyday trainer that features a soft and responsive midsole that provides dynamic cushioning for long-haul comfort.

“The Cloudstratus has a really wide toe box, which is good for runners with wide feet. It also has a lot of cushioning, which I found was really good in the later miles of my half marathon. By miles 9, 10 and 11, I was really glad I wore these and had that extra softness to protect against the pounding of the concrete.”

The On Cloudultra is a well-cushioned shoe that features a reinforced upper and grippy outsole lugs for reliable traction. Gina runs on a variety of trails around the Madison area with Fleet Feet’s trail running program.

“I like the Cloudultra a lot,” she says. “I had originally tried another brand for trail running, but they were too flat and wide. The Cloudultra feels great on my feet. It’s perfect for our local trails and it works great in the winter.”

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Stylish and Functional Apparel

Gina runs in the winter.

Running in the Midwest means hot, humid conditions in the summer, cool, damp weather in the fall and spring and frigid cold in the winter. Weather varies on a daily basis, of course, so that means Gina has to have a wide range of running clothes to match the wide range of conditions.

Among her favorite pieces of apparel include the capri-length 2XU Mid-Rise Compression ¾ Tights for their versatility in all seasons and how they support her muscles while running. Although she doesn’t have a favorite sock, she says she loves the above-the-ankle Balega Blister Resister Quarter Socks for their comfort and protection, especially because she can tuck her running tights into the top of the socks during cold winter runs.

She also loves Rabbit Hopper shorts and the many colorful options of the lightweight, breathable Rabbit EZ Tank, but she says her absolute favorite and most versatile piece of apparel is the Craft Core Dry Active Comfort Baselayer long-sleeve top.

“When I was at Fleet Feet at the end of winter, I bought it in several colors because I liked it so much,” she says. “Once you find something that works, you want to be able to run in it several times a week. That’s a piece I’ll wear in all seasons.”

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Don’t Forget the Accessories

To stay fueled and hydrated, Gina typically wears a FlipBelt with a small water bottle and other essentials zippered inside. She’ll often carry a packet of GU Energy for added calories (Salted Watermelon and Birthday Cake are her favorite flavors) or Nuun Sport tablets to replace electrolytes and other minerals lost in sweat on longer runs.

For running in the sun, she has numerous pairs of high-quality, low-cost Goodr sunglasses, with her favorites being the Goodr Runway Glasses of the Gods model. For night running with her friends or on fall and winter Fleet Feet group runs, she wears an Amphipod Xinglet, a lightweight vest with LED illumination for visibility.

Her most important accessory is her Garmin Instinct Solar 2 GPS running watch. She started with the Instinct Solar watch but recently upgraded to the Instinct Solar 2.

“It’s very important to me because all of my run data comes from that,” she says. “I like to know what my exact data looks like — the length of my runs, my pace, my heart rate. If I don’t have that, it feels like the sky is falling because I can’t review my data.”

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What’s Next?

Gina Kutz smiles with her medals.

In addition to training for her fall marathon, Gina is also focused on continuing to run every single day in 2022 and running at least one 5K race every month with her teenage son. She loves the fact that she’s lost weight and gained fitness, developed a new sense of confidence, met new running friends, run two half marathons, completed her first marathon and fostered a closer bond with her teenage son as one of her frequent running partners as he prepares for his first season of high school cross country.

Gina says she’ll continue to rely on Fleet Feet for all of her running needs, especially when it comes to shoe-fitting, gear and apparel advice and training groups. She hopes to go through the Fleet Feet bra-fitting service soon. She’s also considering getting a Nathan K9 waist belt and dog leash with the hopes of getting her dog — an energetic terrier mix — to log a few miles with her.

“There’s always a reason for me to want to stop in the store and just see what’s going on,” she says. “It’s one of those places you walk into and you’re immediately inspired. It’s not about buying stuff, but you just feel good about being around active runners and people who are there to help you with whatever you need.”

Need new running shoes? You, too, can go through the Fleet Feet fit id® Outfitting Process at a Fleet Feet store near you.

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