Finding a Sole Mate
What shoes do you run in?
For me selecting a running shoe that you are comfortable with is akin to dating. For some, we will be lucky enough to make a selection that immediately clicks and stick with that one for our running lives. For others we will make a number of choices, some will be ok but not perfect, some will be a disaster that we will be glad to see the back of and others we will try just once and not try again! And always keep clear of those that hurt you.
I am now settled with Brookes as my running shoe of choice. I like the fit and the comfort they provide but it is very much a case of finding what works for you. Some favour Brad Pitt, I prefer Matt Damon.
Starting out with running can be quite daunting. So too can be picking the correct shoe. The running shoe to a runner is the same as the club to a golfer. Get it wrong and nothing works. I thought I would try and share some tips that may be of assistance.
Firstly why start out with a running shoe as opposed to the training shoe that you use for the gym? Well, put simply, you will find it easier running in running shoes for a start. As with most things in life that are designed for a specific purpose, they tend to be better at that purpose than the things that are not.
Proper running shoes (rather than cross trainers for instance) are designed to allow the runner to feel the ground beneath their feet and to adapt their positioning and stride to the conditions. Runners will recognise that they use different muscles for running depending on the cycle of the stride they are in and correctly fitting running shoes enable the body to recognise this and focus its energy to these muscles at the correct time.
A good shoe offers excellent cushioning on the heel and forefront of the foot where the strike zones are. Strike zones being where the foot connects with the ground. There should be good support for the arch of the foot. Shoes that are too flat will increase the risk of injury. Calf strains and Achilles’ tendon injuries are common.
Make sure you don’t buy shoes too tight. This isn’t Cinderella. There is no pressure to squeeze into any ‘slipper’. If it is too tight around the toes or at the forefront of the shoe, they will be uncomfortable to run in. No one will care if you have big feet in running shoes I promise. I am a size 10 !
Also look for sufficient flexibility across the middle of the shoe. This will enable the shoe to mould to your foot for extra comfort. After a short time a good shoe will fit like a glove.
For me the lighter the shoe the better. There is no point carrying any extra weight. The same applies to ventilation. The more the better. I prefer my shoes to be ventilated to let my feet breathe. It also helps with keeping my feet cool.
Try not to get seduced by any gimmicks. Comfort and fit is more important than styling and features when starting out. Keep the glam for the Friday night heels.
I am a big fan of visiting a proper running shop and taking advice. I usually find specialist shops are happy to share advice even if you are not looking to buy. Independent shops more so.
Finally ensure that you try your shoes on first. It is easy to look at a shoes in magazines and articles and to fall in love with the image and idea rather than the fit. Whoops, I have drifted back onto Matt Damon again.