Comfort & remaining injury free concern all runners, regardless of experience or fitness level. During training programs, runners begin to realize how important the shoes we train in are to our continued progress. As marathon training begins, runners will ask their bodies to handle new stresses, & it will be very important to minimize discomfort in order to remain motivated for the duration of the program.
Injury, the principle reason for quitting a training program, typically occurs because runners do too much too soon, but approximately 30% of injuries occur because of inappropriate or worn out shoes. It makes perfect sense because the barrier between your feet & the running surface cushions the hammering of hundreds of pounds per square inch. Multiply these thousands of pounds by the average number of times the foot strikes the ground per mile (depending upon stride length & pace, approximately 6,400 times) and again by the number of miles, & you begin to see the weight your feet are forced to bear. Of course, humans have run for as long as they have existed, & the foot is extremely well designed for this purpose. However, over the last few hundred years (a blip on the evolutionary screen), humans have protected their feet with shoes, so they are less adept at handling the forces that bear upon them. Humans depend (whether physiologically or psychologically) upon shoes to shield them from the earth. It is not just the earth, either. New, synthetic surfaces, such as asphalt & concrete, which are significantly firmer & better suited to motorized vehicles than to the foot, complicate the matter. These surfaces do not have any cushioning properties & can cause serious foot injuries without proper foot equipment.
Aside from cushioning, the type of shoe a runner chooses must fit his or her biomechanical needs. Anyone who has stood before a shoe wall at a running specialty store recognizes the sheer number of choices presented to the runner in this technological age. The choice can be daunting without an experienced, informed shoe technician as a guide. A shoe tech examines how the foot moves & how it affects the rest of the leg, from the ankle through the hips.
When runners go to select and purchase a pair of running shoes, they should always try to bring the current pair of shoes in which they run. If they don’t run yet, they should bring a pair of shoes used for athletics or walking. These shoes speak volumes to a quality shoe technician by showing wear patterns, which areas of the outsole show the most wear, whether the heel or the forefoot strikes more, how the midsole compresses, whether the midsole indicates a tendency to pronate or supinate, if there is anything unusual about the wear of the upper that will indicate bunions or an extremely wide or narrow foot, and more. Before the shoe tech even sees a runner's feet (provided he or she brought shoes), it should be possible to determine general biomechanical propensities.
The shoe tech will examine the runner's feet & watch him or her walk. When the tech looks at feet, it is to determine the flexibility & length of the arch. The flexibility of the arch indicates the runner’s biomechanical tendency. A highly flexible arch indicates heavy pronation because the arch does not fall directly down, while a rigid arch indicates an even foot striker or supination. The level of flexibility will determine the amount & type of support one needs in a shoe. The shoe tech should also look at the length of the arch to see what brands of shoes work best with that arch type. When the shoe tech determines which shoes are best, he or she will take into consideration the width of the foot, the narrowness of the heel, the length of the second toe & any other unusual attributes of the feet. The shoe tech should also ask to see the runner walk barefoot while paying special attention to a runner who splays the feet outward or turns the feet in. Any amount of turn either way will impact the knees & should help in deciding upon proper shoes.
When choosing running shoes, runners should expect to move up a half or full size from their dress shoe size. In the running shoe industry, the sizing standard is flexible, and feet swell inside the shoe as a runner moves.
The life of a shoe depends completely upon the compression of the midsole. For this reason, a shoe may deceptively look like it has many more miles left in it. A runner's weight, the frequency of use, the time of year & other factors determine how long shoes will last. For most midsoles, that number is between 350-450 miles. Writing the running start date inside shoes or in a running log gives a better idea of when shoes might break down. Runners can usually tell if shoes are broken down by new aches & pains in the knees, Achilles, lower back or hips.
The shoe tech processes a great deal of information before choosing shoe options. This is why going to a running specialty store is important; it can be the difference between health & injury, between comfort & pain.
The staff at Rogue Equipment is highly trained & very experienced & helps runners daily in choosing appropriate footwear. Stop by for a consultation or to choose from our expansive selection of shoes. Rogue will even order shoes and equipment for you if we don't already have it!