New Running Shoes
My running shoes just gave up the ghost last week, no warning, just out on a 24km run and with 10km to go I felt the whole of my lower leg pounding, moving, grinding…and I felt like my bare sole was slamming down on the concrete…Yes I thought, shoes just had a blow out.
I used to not notice for ages that my shoes had died, I would run in them, suffer through some niggles and pains, and then after trying everything I would then have a look at the sole of my shoes and think…sh**t they are stuffed.
After 20 years of running now I can tell when they are gone, and on the very same day I feel them go I buy myself a new pair. Usually I have two pairs on the go at once so I’m never left with nothing to run it. I find its best to update when the new pair are about 3-6 months old then wear them simultaneously. Rotating two decent pairs of running shoes at the same time, seems to make them last longer. Because I love cross country running I have a pair of trail shoes on the go as well. The trail running shoes I am wearing at the moment are over two years old and they are still fine, they are a much sturdier shoe and they do not get the same amount of wear and tear as my road shoes.
How do you know when you need a new pair?
If you run regularly (3-4 times a week) and about 30-50km a week you should buy a new pair of shoes every 6 months! I bet most of you are wearing shoes that are a year old or more. If you are training for a marathon and then run it, you can be pretty sure those shoes (and maybe you) are dead after it! You will recover the shoes will not.
Don’t just look at the sole and say, oh it’s got plenty of tread they are right for another 6 months, as it’s what has gone inside the shoe that is the indicator and that is something you can’t see. However if you bend the shoe forwards from toe to heel so they meet and it bends too easily or you see splits in the sole when you do that, they are on their death bed
Another way to tell is by how your legs feel and how you are running. If I start to get niggles below the knee or in the knee for no other good reason, or if you feel or hear your feet slapping the ground a little too heavily and loudly.
You do not need to buy the most expensive running shoes on the market, but I do recommend you go to a proper sports shoe store to get fitted. Tell the fitter everything about your running first, so how often your run, how long, if you have any issues with your feet or gait or If you suffer any foot problems at all. The more you can tell them the better. It’s also best to take your old running shoes in; they will soon know where they were worn and give them a chance to learn more about your feets needs.
If they go out the back and bring out three pairs of shoes all over $300 each, I think they have a profit margin to reach; if they bring out three pairs of the same brand, I think someone’s palm is being greased…but if they bring out three different pairs of shoe brands of varying cost and style and get you to try them on, walk or jog a bit in them, then you have struck a good shoe fitter. If the pair of shoes you try on feel great but you are a bit taken aback by the exorbitant price, ask if they have a similar style in a shoe that is not so expensive…it is OK to do that!
There are four main category of shoes
Motioned Controlled Running shoes
Stability Running shoes
Cushioned Running shoes
Minimal or Barefoot Running shoes
The rating for cushioning and support in shoes is from 1-12
1 being barefoot (so no cushioning) to 12 being well supported, cushioned shoes
All shoes fall within these categories and its depends on the wearer what shoe they need
Most of us would love the idea of being able to skim along the ground in the new lightweight shoes and feel like we are running on air! Or just run around barefoot like the fastest runners in the world! However, our feet, running style, our size and a whole other range of particular characteristics predict which type of shoe we need to wear, that is why it is important to be fitted and then directed towards the best shoe for you.
Motion Controlled Running shoes
|| These shoes are just that, they try to control the motion of your foot so that you land correctly. Most pronaters need these shoes as their foot rolls in when they land, so the shoe tries to control that. Motion controlled shoes are very rigid and durable. If you are flat footed or wear orthotics you will require these shoes. These shoes usually have a lot more cushioning through the heel and forefoot. However, due to all the built ins they tend to be heavier.
|There are two types of motion control shoes
Maximum Motion control- This are top of the line cushioned shoes with all the heavy duty motion control features. You will be directed to these if you are a larger runner, are a pronator or flat footed and do lots of mileage, and if you like the security of having a really cushioned strong shoe.
Moderate Motion Control is for lower mileages, for runners who don’t need as much cushioning and are in the normal weight and height ranges
(diagram at right shoes how flat footed or over pronators wear out their shoes)
Stability Running Shoes
These shoes are the most commonly sold running shoes. They do provide foot support and cushioning but not to the same level as the motion controlled shoe. Stability running shoes are for mild pronators, with a low arch. Most of the cushioning here is in the midsole. These shoes still support but are a bit lighter to wear.
Cushioned running shoes
||These shoes have the most cushioned midsole but offer very little support. They are ideal for neutral runners. That means runners who neither pronate or supinate (roll in or out), and have a normal arch. They are usually built on a curved last, if you look at the soles you will see they are shaped like a crescent, the reason for this is to encourage foot motion, not control it.
Minimal or Barefoot Running Shoes
|I am a neutral runner, my arch is high and I do not pronate, and I do not have any problems with injuries or aches or pains through my lower legs or feet, so I wear a cushioned running shoe.
(the diagram to right shoes the wear and tear on shoes of a nuetral runner)
A fairly recent idea in running are the free, lightweight or five fingered running shoes. Many experts believe we have ruined and weakened our feet over years by supporting and cushioning them too much, and now we are suffering the joint and muscular injuries due to this support.
The idea of barefoot running is that you will adjust to your most natural gait and not be directed by the shoe to run a certain way. The biggest difference you will notice with barefoot style running is you will tend to lean towards your forefoot as landing on your heel barefoot will feel quite intense.
When we land on our heel with supported shoes the cushioning in the heel doesn’t make us feel the shock as great. It’s for this reason that you have to adjust to barefoot running. Meaning you gradually start running barefoot and don’t ditch the shoes for a quite a while until your feet and body have adjusted to the new style.
Some people swear by barefoot running, and I think all new runners and young people starting out should try this style before they get too used to the supported running shoes. However, for me, after years of having my feet enclosed in the lovely padded cells, I think there would be an all out war if I told them to just hit the bitumen cold turkey!
If you are not game to go straight to the Vibram Five Fingers, not because they are so ugly, but because you are a little fearful of the results, you can opt for a transition shoe, like the Nike Free. Don’t be fooled though the Free still has plenty of cushioning through the heel and does protect the foot, and depending on the style these shoes rate at between 3-7 on the scale above.
If you have been running for years though and really want to get into barefoot running, go for it, but be really patient and beware of the risks, which are, foot injuries from debri on the ground, blisters and having trouble running on all surfaces.
Footnote on Supinators
||Supination is rarer but does occur, it is when your arch is very high and doesnt support your foot, so the shock from each foot fall goes up into your legs and can cause lower leg pain and injury.Supinators tend to roll out rather than inwards and need a cushioned shoe, but not a motion control or stability shoe
(the diagram to the right shows the wear and tear on shoes of a sunpinator)