Running shoes are the critical piece of for the entire package of running gears for athletes doing track workout, road or trail. Whether we are a novice, an intermediate or elite level athlete, running shoes provide the support and cushioning for us to endure the sort of training that we are expected to perform. There are heaps of different kinds of running shoes on the market and is so ever confusing and information overload.
Let’s start with an end in mind. “Looks first”. I would always try to convince my athletes to firstly focus on feel by doing light jumping motion to get the landing impact. Secondly, to do the fitting making sure the front toe box and the end heel collar allow for comfort and lastly, function over fashion. We have to get the right fit and it is a big bonus if it is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Not every time.
Then, “Training needs”. Loads of running shoes with different built-in state-of-the-art technology are flooding the market with high stacked carbon-plated shoes as compare to the regular lightweight shoes where ‘energy return’ is the order of the day. When we are considering one, it is crucial to have in mind what kind of training and races that we will be doing such as interval, tempo, mid to long distances.
"What to look for". We may not be aware but the slightest differences will give us a running experience that we will never forget. Good or bad. Let’s dive into the external and upper side of the shoes, make sure that the mesh is expandable to a certain extend to allow for foot expansion when we are running. Make sure that the heel is firmly lockdown and is not moving up and down or front and back. Most of the running shoes are padded at the heel to provide comfort and eliminate chaffing. Ask the sales assistant to measure your feet with a shoe caliper to get the right fit especially the width of our feet and the corresponding toe-box. Pay closer attention to the toe-box width especially so for some of us who has bunions. A wider toe box will be needed for this case.
A tight fitting will get us blisters at the sides. At the same time, do step on the insole and making sure it is a thumb width from the end of the longest toe to the tip of the soles. This is to cater for feet expansion when out running. When trying out the running shoes, make sure it is a running socks and not office or woolly socks. After tying up the shoes, stick a finger behind the heel pocket and make sure it just feels snug. If your finger come off easily, then the shoes if a bit too big.
The difference between slipping and having a bad fall to getting sufficient traction on the run lies on the outsoles. The grove and area of coverage determine the durability of the shoes and comfort when we land and toe off. On the other hand, we also would like to look at the firmness, softness and the bounce during impact. The foam material between the outsole and the upper is call the midsole is designed and produced to cushion us from impact forces and guide the landing through each stride. On the downside, we will be dealing with added weight or appear to be chunky when the stacks are high.
As we are on the stack height, the heel-to-toe drop will play a part in distributing the stresses and the impact as we plant our foot on the floor. By changing the drop, it will alter our running gait, strides and cadence.
The term stability and control often reverberate around when runners get into shoe conversation. We are born with different foot structures and throughout our growth, we tend to learn a fair deal of motion such as over-pronation or rolling inward. Control and stability shoes appear to help us maintain our movement path.
“When to get". Our feet swell or expand between mid-morning to afternoon when we are usually on our feet. Do test out the shoes on the treadmill provided at the shoe shop or run around the shop to feel it. On personal level, if I can help it, I will want to purchase it at a physical shop rather than getting it online although it may save me some dollars.