What Does The Coach Do?
What Running Shoes Do You Wear?
I have been coaching runners for over 10 years now- in my Lazy Runner Clubs, Online and all over Australia and the world with my Running Bootcamps and Running Workshops.
I get asked so many questions about running. One of the reasons I wrote the Lazy Runner book was an attempt to answer all of the questions runners have asked me over the years about running. And often they do not only ask me questions and advice on their running , they like to know about my running as well.
This week I am going to answer a question here that I have been asked regularly in my bootcamps over the past few months-
What are your favorite running shoes? or what running shoes do you recommend?
I'm always arking on about how I have been a runner for 27years without any injuries- and when asked the secret to my success- I say there are three reasons- and one of those is the shoes I run in. No they are not super dooper expensive or a special brand and I'm not sponsored by any of the big companies (pity, think how much richer I would be!), but I wear the right shoes for my feet and I turn them over when they are gone (approx 6 months).
Its a bit of a religion for me. How do I know the right shoes for me, I got fitted by an expert- a running shoe fitter . He said I had a normal running gait and I require a neutral shoe, with some support for long distance running.
Now you want to know the brands I wear of course. And I will tell you, but everyone is different so this is just a chit chat with the coach to find out what she likes that is all- its not for you to race out and buy the shoes I wear. There are two brands I do not like at all, and I will not name and shame them here as I know lots of runners swear by those brands and have run many happy comfortable miles in those shoes- so I know we all have different needs and ideas when it comes to our running feet and shoes.
But I can tell you the brands I have liked over the years- I like Brookes and Mizuno- not so cheap, but comfortable, sturdy shoes that I believe have a longer life than other brands of similar price or more expensive. I like the On shoes, they are really comfortable and I had a craze on them a few years ago. However, my huge fetish at the moment is Merrell. Just love them.
It may sound extravagant but I usually have three pairs of shoes on the go at any given time and I rotate them around. But I believe I get more life out of them this way, and I use them for different types of running. Usually I have three different brands, but this is a first for me- I have three pairs of Merrells- I told you- I'm a bit loopy over them at the moment. (picture of the shoes I am wearing for running at the moment is above)
Pair 1. I have a minimalist pair- I only use them for when I am coaching, and light running at Lazy Runner- they are great for 5km stuff and now that I am really used to them and my lower legs and feet have adjusted to the minimalist approach I can happily run 10km or more in them. I would wear these shoes at least 5 days a week mostly for walking and some running and they are very comfortable- like slippers to me!
Initially I wasn't going to jump in on the bare foot running craze- My feet had been in their padded cells for years and I thought there would be all out war if I swapped to minimalist. But I was talking to my good mate who owns Athletes foot in Subiaco last year, he is a great runner and knows everything about shoes. He was wearing minimalist shoes in the shop and I said 'oh so you are into those are you' and he said 'not really, I would never wear them on my long runs. But the theory is they are good for your feet, ankles and lower legs and help make them stronger, so I feel walking around in them all day has to have the same affect here at work and I do some light shorter running in them, but I would never ditch my supportive shoes on my longer runs' and I thought, 'well that is a good way to approach it'. When I first started wearing them I did notice a lot of fatigue in my lower legs and I think they did toughen me up in that area, but I still think my poor feet need a bit more padding when it comes to pounding the pavements for 10km or more.
Pair 2. I have a neutral pair with some cushioning for longer distances and would be suitable for marathon distance.
Pair 3. I have a pair of trail shoes. I love to run off road and trail shoes just give a bit more support to the ankle as I have seen many painful ankle roll overs in the bush- and the tread is designed with some extra grip for the slippery surfaces off road.
Normally the life of my running shoes would be 6months, that is based on me running 3-4 times a week covering anywhere from 30-80km depending on my training program- or they would get me to and through a marathon program. However, my Current pair of trail shoes are over a year old and they are fine. Since I have been living in Brisbane I only run trails once a week or fortnight. I am in my minimalist shoes several times a week, but its not for lots of running kms, so they are about 8 months old and the stability shoes are newish, got them in the US when I was there in April and I haven't been doing lots of long distance running since I have had them.
The best advice I can give to anyone who is unsure of shoes- is get the right shoes for your running feet. If you are wearing the wrong shoes for your gait then you are running wrong- it doesn't matter if they are the most expensive shoes on the planet of the most supportive and padded- if they are not right for your feet- you are running wrong- and you can bet problems will happen.
I have been told I have a normal running gait and of course naturally you would think normal was common. Apparently its not in runners. Normal running gait is only about 25% of the running population- meaning 75% do not have the perfect running gait. They either Over Pronate, Over Supinate or are Flat footed. This is all OK, and wont stop them from running, but if they are not wearing the right shoe to support that foot or feet, then they are running wrong- and problems will happen. The shoe that gets fitted to your feet make you run right whilst you are wearing them- you will always be a pronator or supinator or flat footed- they are not going to change that- but when you are running in the shoe that supports your style of gait- you will be running right. You can read more about Shoes and Foot Types in my running tips.
A few more things about my shoes-
* I usually buy them a half size bigger, as my feet do swell after a while when I am running (most feet do) and I like some room in my shoes. If they are too firm I feel they cut off my circulation and I get a numb or tingling feeling in my feet.
* I tie my shoes laces loosely. I like to feel my feet move in my shoes, and not be too locked in
* I only wear my running shoes for running. My theory is- they are not cheap and every step I take in them is wearing them out. I have been known to drive to a run with old shoes on and then put my running shoes on as soon as I am about to run- anal I know, but that's me. And the same applies when I finish my run, I do not walk about in them for hours, I take them off as soon as I get home or finish my run.
* I always try to put them in the sun and or air them outdoors after a run. I sweat a lot and that sweat can turn into bacteria and stink up a storm- so the sun and air dries them out.
* The main indicator I use when buying new shoes is comfort. I don't care if they are the ugliest shoes in the world (as you can see by my trail shoes above!!) - if they feel fabulous on, I am taking them home. If I can feel anything not quite right, even if its tiny and as I have been told in the past 'Oh they will be right once they are worn in'- no way, if they are niggling in the shop they will niggle more when you are out running. Comfort is my number one- I will have a little jog in the shop with both shoes on to test the comfort level out. Your feet do not care about colour, glitter or style- they want to feel good in those shoes.
*I don't just dump my old shoes in the bin- and goodness knows I have had hundreds over the years. Often I use them for walking, especially my old trail shoes- or gardening, mowing the lawn etc- but I never go back to using them for running- they are dead to me (for running that is).